Random Travel Tips Of The Day

1. I drove my Father-in-law to the airport a few hours ago. Ticket prices between Kansas City and Cleveland are outrageously expensive for a short-haul flight, making the United 20K short-haul award a terrific value. While he was able to fly nonstop to Cleveland there were only connecting flights available for the return.

We noticed on the way to the airport thanks to the United app that his incoming flight had not yet left the ground (aircraft servicing) which meant his flight to Chicago would very likely be delayed as well even though it was still showing on time.  I had him call United and ask to be accommodated on the nonstop flight to Kansas City due to the risk of misconnecting in Chicago.  The agent cheerfully gave him the last seat on the flight which would get him home 2 hours earlier than his connecting flight was supposed to. The $75 confirmed standby fee was waived due to the incoming flight delay even though at the time his 2 hour connection time still would have been sufficient.

While in the United Club he overheard other passengers going to Kansas City via the same Chicago flight who were trying to get moved to the nonstop but could not due to the flight being full.

In the end his scheduled flight to Chicago arrived 2 hours late at 10:23pm and the last flight of the day from Chicago to Kansas City took off at 10:20pm.  Not only did he not have to overnight in Chicago but he was able to save the 6 pound roast he was bringing home with him :D

Always check the incoming flight status and be proactive about asking to be accommodated on other flight options even before you get to the airport.  If you strike out be sure to HUCA! If you don’t hear the answer you want Hang Up and Call Again!  Sure, airport agents often have more leeway than phone agents.  However there could be long lines at the airport during irregular operations and seats can sell out so just be persistent on the phone and insist on a supervisor or play HUCA if necessary.

Not familiar with HUCA? See other success stories I’ve written thanks to HUCA in this post and in this post.

2. On a similar note when my wife and I were dating some 5 years ago she wanted to book a flight to Cleveland.  Last minute flights from Kansas City to Cleveland were running $800 but flights from Kansas City to Erie via Cleveland were $200.

A list of hidden city airports can be found on DDF. However we weren’t going to mess with hidden city tricks as Erie is just 90 minutes from Cleveland and if she missed the Cleveland-Erie flight she would lose her return trip.  Plus the great Kansas City-Erie fare was only available as a round-trip purchase.

As soon as I noticed that her Kansas City-Cleveland flight was delayed I called Continental and had them drop the Cleveland-Erie flight from the ticket as we were no longer comfortable with the connection and she would just find her own way to get there. Of course as rental cars often need to be dropped off where they are rented they were happy to cancel the Erie-Cleveland return segment as well :D

3. Last week I was stuck on an American plane on the tarmac due to a LGA ground-hold.  AA was unable to help me out over the phone so I went on United.com on my phone and grabbed the last 10K award seat on the next flight.  Once I got off the plane I was able to get accommodated by an AA agent.  Award tickets, like paid tickets, are refundable for everyone for 24 hours so it was a great way to have a backup plan in place just in case American wouldn’t be able to help me.  If I didn’t have the 10K United miles a one-way ticket would have been $600…and that’s why I love my miles.

4. Last week a local Israeli friend of mine came to me with a sticky situation and needed to get to Israel ASAP. He had 60,000 miles in his account and called United at 4am to see what could be done. The agent was only able to find a 75K coach ticket leaving the nest day. So the agent then took the 60K business saver award ticket I had already help him book for Sukkos and charged him $75 and an additional 15K miles for the coach ticket.

When I went online I found a 60K business class ticket via Newark leaving in just a few hours. This often happens with United as they typically open up seats at the saver award level on the day of the flight.

Unfortunately someone else had already snatched up his Sukkos 60K Newark-Tel Aviv business award leaving him with just 45K miles in his account and a return trip from Israel after Sukkos for 60K in business.

I had United call me and walked them through the situation. The first agent couldn’t help me but after some HUCA and convincing them to patch me through to a manager I got them to speak to revenue management and open up his original business saver seat for Sukkos and switch his original itinerary back to that.  By doing that he got an immediate refund of 15K miles and they agreed to refund the $75 he was charged.  With the miles back he had 60K in his account and was able to fly right away to Israel via Newark on a 60K business saver award.

Even when things get messed up people have the power to fix them-it’s just a matter of finding them.

He has had some good luck though.  He was in my house when the El Al deal came up and snagged a pair of $335 tickets to Israel.  He also has cleared into business class saver awards twice when there were only coach saver award seats thanks to United Plan B award itineraries I have set up for him.

Have a travel tip to share? Enjoy or dislike posts like these? Hit the comments!

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30 Responses to “Random Travel Tips Of The Day”

  1. new ddf Says:
    1

    I found that you cannot trust the united saver awards chart availability.sometimes available flights are really not available and sometimes when they write that nothing is available you often can get an agent to find you one via the phone.

    ReplyReply
  2. bostener Says:
    2

    ” We noticed on the way to the airport thanks to the United app that his incoming flight had not yet left the ground (aircraft servicing) ”

    How?

    Dan,
    How do you know this flights former trip?

    ReplyReply
  3. Great post. Thanks Says:
    3

    Please post more like these.

    ReplyReply
  4. Deal Guy Says:
    4

    “Award tickets, like paid tickets, are refundable for everyone for 24 hours so it was a great way to have a backup plan ”

    Since when do you have 24 hours to cancel, on a same day flight? Isn’t the 24 hour free cancellation policy on all airlines applicable only if the booking is more than a day or so before the flight?

    ReplyReply
  5. Cholentfresser Says:
    5

    Dan, I absolutely love these kind of posts!

    ReplyReply
  6. Piyush Says:
    6

    @bostener – United app shows the route and position of the flight which you are going to fly. It’s an awesome feature. I used it once and it saved me from staying at airport for next 8 hours.

    ReplyReply
  7. Mai Says:
    7

    120k united miles for 2 first class round trip to Jamaica from JFK, good deal???
    OR
    A little over 1k dollars for 2 economy round trip????

    ReplyReply
  8. joe A Says:
    8

    Like √

    ReplyReply
  9. LA2NYC Says:
    9

    Great post – keep ‘em coming!

    ReplyReply
  10. JP Says:
    10

    Dan

    I bought two tickets for a United flight to Denver, however, I wasn’t able to find a regular economy seat. The only seats available are economy plus (from $38 to $59).

    Please advise

    Thanks

    ReplyReply
  11. DXD Says:
    11

    Always HUCA! (or its equivalent at the airport) Yesterday, after getting off an international flight at ORD, the UAL international service desk told me that it would be $150 to change the last leg of my trip for a few days out. I just went to the main United terminal and the rebooking desk did it for free, no questions asked.

    ReplyReply
  12. Freddie Says:
    12

    I liked this post, and more importantly, I’m happy to hear that Dad didn’t have to spend the night in ORD!

    ReplyReply
  13. Moose Says:
    13

    Like! Ty

    ReplyReply
  14. westman812 Says:
    14

    @dan it also works with different are airports. Just 2 days ago my mom had a United Award LAX-EWR ticket she wanted switched to JFK. As soon as we saw the LAX-EWR flight delayed, we called united to switch to the LAX-JFK flight for no extra charge. LAX-EWR ended up delayed for 4 hours!

    ReplyReply
  15. TDweck Says:
    15

    talk about a headspin!

    ReplyReply
  16. Redbull3 Says:
    16

    Dan,
    1. I’m not Israeli, but can I be your “friend” and get hooked up by your prowess?
    2. Love this type of post like others have said.
    3. Can you answer “Deal Guy”‘s question in comment #4 – I had the same.
    4. At the end of your first story, you meant “Chicago to Kansas City” not “Kansas City to Chicago” right?

    Redbull3

    ReplyReply
  17. ihow Says:
    17

    Love this kind of posts, I enjoyed it with my Coffee this morning!!!

    ReplyReply
  18. Dan Says:
    18

    @new ddf:
    Calling is always a good idea.

    @bostener:
    Just click on incoming flight info when searching for flight status on the United app or on the AA or United website.

    @Deal Guy:
    Delta, United, and USAirways always give 24 after purchase regardless of it being the day of the flight.

    @Mai:
    No economy saver awards?

    @JP:
    At checkin they’ll give you those eats for free if regular economy seats don’t open up.

    @westman812:
    Yup, good tip!

    ReplyReply
  19. Mak (accidentally put Mai) Says:
    19

    @Dan

    It’s not showing any economy saver for the dates that i selected. I tried moving the date up/down a day and got the same results.

    Would a phone call to United make a difference?

    Also, I have a MP# already, but i am waiting for MP explorer card and MP Club to come in the mail. Would either of those change the outcome?

    (thanks for the 2BM by the way ;-) ) Took a few calls to some nice reps, some CL shifting, but worked like a charm!

    Your da man Dan!

    ReplyReply
  20. Steven Says:
    20

    Great post! I would love more posts like this in the future

    ReplyReply
  21. esther12 Says:
    21

    can you please be specific for dummies how to book with hidden city airports? for example from ORD to LGA or from ORD to LAX?
    THANKS!

    ReplyReply
  22. bostener Says:
    22

    @esther12:

    Click on the link there is a lot of information there.

    ReplyReply
  23. Ephraim Says:
    23

    If you are in the same boat as me, knowing I will be short about 20,000 miles for 1K status on UA next year, here goes. You can fly JFK-SFO on their PS flights during the month of August for about $378 RT. That comes out to about .07 per EQM’s, much cheaper than the Elite Maximizer. Getting those 6 GPU’s is the major reason I am doing this. They are worth about $1,200 each!

    ReplyReply
  24. Dan Says:
    24

    @Mak (accidentally put Mai):
    Calling can’t hurt.
    Once you start earning miles from your card on your MP account you will have access to expanded saver and standard availability.

    @Ephraim:
    That’s work for this year but not anymore starting 2014…

    ReplyReply
  25. AJK Says:
    25

    Live the post. I had the same question as deal guy. Didn’t know that those airlines will refund within 24 hours even with same day travel.

    ReplyReply
  26. mikey Says:
    26

    dan
    if i have a award ticket booked on united but its not a united flight rather a partner, does 24 hour free cancellation apply ??

    ReplyReply
  27. shomershabbos Says:
    27

    had to change my ticket to tlv on united from a monday to a thursday the first agent offered me a ticket on the later flight that arrives on fri at 410 for the same price but the earlier flight that arrives in the morn for $600 more got cut off called back and they gave me the earlier flight for 600 dollars cheaper and sent me a travel voucher for the remainder keep shabbos and get paid back double

    ReplyReply
  28. Yitte Says:
    28

    How
    can i get low priced tickets for cash bet jfk and LHR for Nov. 18 to Dec 1? any advice

    ReplyReply
  29. bobthebuilder Says:
    29

    i love posts like these keep them comming :) thanks

    ReplyReply
  30. sarah cohen Says:
    30

    thank you for your hard work please me posted about cheap deals to israel.

    ReplyReply

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