Travel Front and Affronts: Hyatt has My Loyalty, United has My Cash
In August I earned a Hyatt free night credit for any hotel systemwide. I had planned to use it for the Carmel Highlands Inn. The credit expires December 30.
My travel plans didn’t take me to some high priced city like Chicago or New York this year or some great international city or resort. Vancouver or Seattle would have been options for my free Hyatt stay last month, but I had my Starwood Hotels plan in Vancouver and staying with my sister in Seattle seemed like the better alternative to cashing in my free night with Hyatt.
I figured all along the Carmel Highlands Inn would be my backup stay.
Yesterday I called Hyatt to redeem my certificate for any day at the Highlands Inn over the next two weeks. The agent told me the computer said no. No rooms for an award night at the Highlands Inn until February. So I tried Colorado for a little ski resort ambience. Earliest room availability was Steamboat Springs for January 11.
Now I know the Carmel Highlands Inn is not doing a brisk mid-week business right now in the middle of December. What good is a certificate that can’t be used in the low occupancy period of a resort hotel? No room availability even for a top level Diamond.
At least Hilton had Diamond desk service that always handled award reservations for high demand nights like New Year’s Eve.
So I tried again this morning and the customer service agent put me on hold and a few minutes later came back with a room confirmation for the Highlands Inn.
A $550 value room for free. That is why Hyatt still has my loyalty.
United Airlines Has My Cash
I have nearly 600,000 lifetime miles with United Airlines. I was Premier Executive or 1K with Mileage Plus from 2000 through 2006. Back in 2004 I thought I would have 1,000,000 lifetime miles by 2010.
I have flown United once in 2008. I purchased tickets from San Jose to Denver last February.
I made a bonehead mistake at the time when I was searching Denver airfares. The problem with some websites when making computer searches is the search dates can automatically change when using the back button during a search. I frequently get this with hotel websites.
I saw a fare drop in my searches last February and purchased two SJC-DEN tickets for $219. Then I realized the dates I had been searching were not the same dates shown on my ticket purchase.
No problem I thought. This has actually happened to me before and United allows a ticket to be cancelled within 24 hours. I called up and cancelled the ticket with an agent over the phone.
10 minutes later I purchased two more tickets online for the correct dates. The new ticket price was $236.99 each.
The next morning I check the Denver fares and the ticket for the same fare code was $183.00. I called United and asked for a credit refund. This is the part of the story I told in this Loyalty Traveler post – Nickel and DImed By United. My United 2008 story ended last February with a promise for a credit voucher worth $53.99 on a future UA ticket.
Or so I thought.
Yesterday I went to book my second United flight of the year. I called up United and after interminable automated messages, which can be truncated by just pressing ‘0’ for an agent, I found myself talking to a woman, apparently in India by her accent, and she told me I must have the credit card number or a ticket number to locate the credit voucher information.
After an hour of searching emails and paper files I located the credit card statement, the emails, and my file on United.com. This was the shocking part.
United never credited my canceled tickets for $438.00. United never processed my $53.99 credits.
I was actually charged for four tickets to Denver last February at a total cost of $911.98.
I could understand the non-cancelled tickets mistake by itself, but the issue is a little more complicated. My United.com e- receipt for these flights shows a charge for four tickets – 2 tickets at $236.99 and 2 tickets at $183.00 for a total Denver ticket fee of $839.98. My e-receipt shows two sets of tickets with the same names for the same flights.
So how will this be resolved?
United says I need to send them my credit card statement and I can receive two more credit vouchers good for one year.
United – as I said back in February, I would really just like my cash back.
$455.99 was a little excessive on your part for a ticket to Denver.
A million miles lifetime elite status seems a United flight too far for this loyalty traveler.