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How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

Iowa
posts: 6,763
reviews: 27
How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

My flight LAS-DEN was delayed this morning making for a 12 minute connection at DEN. They tried to route me many different ways without success, including thru Newark. No thanks.

I opted to stay in Vegas. They gave me a voucher for the hotel which was no problem. They also gave me food vouchers for a restaurant at the same hotel and for a Dennys nearby. Actually spelled "DENNIES" on the voucher. The manager at Dennys didn't know what to do with the voucher and questioned the spelling and authenticity of it. She didn't accept it.

It looks like it has a credit card number, minus the first 3 digits of a 16 digit number, an expiration date, and a CVV three digit number. Each of the vouchers all have different numbers.

Do these act as a credit card basically? Does the merchant simply manually enter the information as a credit card rather than "swiping" the card? Just curious how they work and how the hotel, restaurants, cab companies, etc get paid.

I am scheduled to leave LAS at 6am tomorrow and arrive DSM 24.5 hours later than planned.

10 replies to this topic
Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,853
reviews: 71
1. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

Hi,

The vouchers are redeemed against United for either the pre-arranged service or the maximum indicated value.

Normally hotel vouchers don't have a set price or value on them as the carrier would have already arranged or pre-arranged with that specific hotel and what the agree upon rate will be for any/all certificates presented... So when presented and accepted, the voucher will be redeemed by the carrier for that amount that was agreed.

For food, since they are or in many cases can be accepted by multiple vendors (at their discretion unless a previous agreement was reached between the carrier and the specific merchant) they usually list a maximum redemption value and in some cases exclusions like no liquor etc.

The "credit card" numbers you saw are just the carriers way of validating the certificate and insuring its genuine when its received by their acccounts payable department.

Larger merchants who accept these certificates on bulk (like airport vendors and airport area hotels) "redeem" then against the airline via electronic method- using those numbers essentially as the authentication code for each one redeemed.

For businesses who don't accept a lot or don't use an e-system for vendor patents usually physical mail them into the carrier to receive payment.

Travel Safe,

Iowa
posts: 6,763
reviews: 27
2. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

Thanks GOPBI...To follow up what I have learned-

We went to the restaurant here at the hotel and I asked the manager how she is paid by United. Her explanation, in this case, was as I suspected and you also noted. The voucher actually has CC numbers, expiration date, and CVV number. The voucher is good for a set amount only. She said she hand enters (using their CC machine) the card number, exp. date, and CVV from the voucher and completes a charge up to the maximum dollar amount.

The problem at Dennys was that company policy states they can not hand enter CC information. They require a card to "swipe" The United agent must have been unaware of their policy. I hope to use those at Houston tomorrow during my 4 hour layover.

Italy
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,235
reviews: 133
3. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

In the past we have only recieved meal vouchers for the restaurant in the hotel we were staying at we couldn't go to another restaurant but i suppose different airlines have different policies.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,853
reviews: 71
4. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

Hi,

It really is a case of airline-specifics. It can also be a localized or case specific one..

As example, the "distress" hotel my carrier uses in Narita (for pax we have to or chose to overnight at our expense) has it set up such that the hotel voucher has *included* in it one meal at the hotels restaurant.. Its like this largely because there's not a whole that's both walkable or reasonably close to the hotel *and* we know will accept our vouchers..

So, given this reality, we've set it up such that in Narita the hotel includes a meal..

However at most other stations, hotel and food are usually separate matters with each having its own voucher. Also for some carriers, the maximum limit of the food voucher can be higher for premium cabin passengers or elite FFPs ... Hotel vouchers are easier as the carrier would commonly call or contact the hotel to specify how many total rooms are needed, and if they do a class-specific breakdown such that F and C/Js get better rooms, the carrier usually notes that either on the voucher itself or the hotel does this by the boarding pass or a name list that the carrier faxes over.

Travel Safe,

Italy
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,235
reviews: 133
5. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

Thanks for clearing that up now we know.

Illinois
posts: 10,059
reviews: 16
6. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

Interesting that Denny's has that policy. I have occasionally had the swipe machine just not read my card and they have to hand enter the number. I always have another card to use, but I wonder what would happen if I didn't. I guess that's straying away from air travel though.

Blue Mountains
posts: 5
reviews: 6
7. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

For what it's worth...though you already have the answers....here was my experience in March, 2013, when Delta messed up and left me stranded and distressed in Minneapolis. They gave me a hotel voucher for a specific hotel they use, with a phone number to call the hotel for shuttle service to there; plus I got a $25 food voucher on a 'credit card' type paper. When I arrived at the hotel, I simply asked the desk clerk which restaurants would take the food voucher. One did a delivery service to the hotel, so I used them. BTW...be careful re when you use these vouchers...they have very tight expiry dates, like under 24 hours, if I remember correctly. Good travel.

Purcellville...
posts: 1
8. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

After a flight delay out of Austin Texas to Houston caused me to miss my connecting flight to Dulles, United airlines issued me a voucher for the new Airport Holiday Inn and three $7 vouchers for food. This happened March 15th. The hotel accepted the vouchers, then also my personal credit card number for any incidentals expenses beyond that. I was shocked to receive a bill from the hotel for the entire amount of my stay. After daily phone calls over the past week and a half, the hotel desk manager finally called me to tell me that the wrong type of voucher was issued for my stay and he was on the other line with UA to correct the mistake. Holiday Inn acknowledges that the bill should be paid by UA, however, has done nothing to refund my card. UA has not responded to my complaint, holiday Inn Airport has done nothing to remedy the situation although they admit it was a mistake to charge my card. So, I am being held responsible for a bill that both parties admit I should not be......

what can I do? I cannot even get either to return calls or respond to me to correct the issue!

Edited: 5:48 pm, March 27, 2014
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 22,406
reviews: 114
9. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

well start your own post as it is a different case but in any case call your credit card company and have them deal with it. Simple

I doubt United will return calls but you can call their customer service and explain the issue and then call your credit card company to dispute the charges

Edited: 5:52 pm, March 27, 2014
Chicago, Illinois
posts: 6,161
reviews: 75
10. Re: How United meal and hotel vouchers work?

The travel fixer in the local paper in Chicago deals with various disputes and always recommends communicating via email because then you have a written record of the conversation. In other words, email Holiday Inn customer service and email United customer service with the details and ask them to correct it. If you've got a name of a Holiday Inn manager that was trying to help, email him. At least he knows what's going on. Hopefully that will work. I know the airlines respond to complaints on Twitter, too. If you use Twitter, you can tweet United about the problem and get a response that way.

Disputing the charge with your credit card is an option but typically a last resort. Depending what information Holiday Inn and United supply to the credit card, there's no guarantee they'll side with you.

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