A Travel Lesson: My Fiji Flights Disappeared!

So not too long ago I booked 2 flights to Fiji using United award miles.  We were flying to Fiji using Air New Zealand (an award partner to United) This is what I got in my confirmation email:

We are processing your reservation and will send you an e-ticket confirmation once this has been completed. Typically, this process takes less than an hour, however, in some rare cases it could take a couple days. Please be assured that your reservation will remain confirmed during this processing period, and there is no need to contact us unless you are traveling within 24 hours.

Okay so my reservation had been confirmed.  Great!

Then when I clicked through my United reservation I saw this:

Thank you for choosing United Airlines.  Your purchase is confirmed.  You will be promptly notified once the internal processing of your reservation has been finalized so that you can request additional receipts, export to Microsoft Outlook, refund or change your flight, view/change seats, check-in, or email or print your itinerary.

Still ok, right? I thought to myself.. hey.  It’s almost a year in advance, maybe there are no set flight numbers yet and everything will be fine when it comes time to go in May.

Well guess what.

It wasn’t!  It’s a good thing I called United today on a whim, because it turns out that United “made the reservation” but somehow Air New Zealand didn’t receive it.  And in the end, Air New Zealand cancelled it and I was completely unaware.

Apparently this has happened before with United and their partner airlines.  Example 1 (They were stuck and had to re-buy the tickets at the time of their flight.)  Example 2.

Today I re-booked another set of flights for Justin and I.. unfortunately the dates and itinerary that I had originally wanted have now since disappeared.  The taxes and fees are now a few hundred more expensive than the original setup. And we have more stopovers.

The silver lining is that we can now stay for one night in Sydney, Australia before we head back to San Francisco.  And, since this was a big mistake on their part, I told them to waive the phone-booking fee and they did as promised.  I called Air New Zealand right away (wow their accents are amazing!) and they confirmed that yes my flights were booked and ready to go.

Also, if I keep checking back for award availability and a better itinerary pops up, I can schedule it (and subsequently pay a booking fee, but it would have to be worth the change)

So.  I learned a lesson today.  I should have checked with Air New Zealand RIGHT AFTER BOOKING with United.  I didn’t, and my travel plans and my wallet paid the price.  Always check your third party airline.  Always verify your travel plans in advance.  If I hadn’t called United today and waited until my May Fiji trip…. I would have found out that I had NO FLIGHTS when it came time to leave.

When I was growing up, my mom would dispute the littlest things, especially when it came to money.  If a small banking fee popped up, even if it was just a few dollars, you can bet she called customer service to contest it.  Every time she left the grocery store, she’d check the receipt as she was walking out.  I was young and I found this behavior honestly a little embarrassing.  (“What’s the big deal everything is probably fine… nothing to cause a fuss about”)  But now I know she was right to do these things…to always re-check and follow up.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

♥ E&I