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Free (United Airlines) ticket voucher

292 comments



United Airplane

How do I use a free ticket voucher?

I never really thought I would have to ask that question. Ordering airline tickets online is just like ordering food at my favorite restaraunt. It’s easy. I assumed that using a free ticket voucher would be as easy as any online purchase from Travelocity, Expedia, or Orbitz. I was wrong. Apparently money motivates the airlines to make online purchasing extremely easy. A free flight takes the cooperation of several agencies including the Post Office.

From United.com:

The first step in redeeming a free (United Airlines) ticket voucher is to call 1-800-UNITED1 to make a reservation.

There are two ways to have the ticket issued:

Mail the free ticket voucher to the address provided by the United representative over the phone. Please allow at least 14 business days for processing. Please note that the free ticket voucher must still be valid for United to issue the tickets.

OR

Bring the free ticket voucher to an Airport Ticket Counter to have the ticket issued. While making your reservation, remember to check with the United representative over the phone for your airport ticket counter’s hours of operation.

That’s right. I had to either mail the voucher or drive to the nearest airport with a United terminal. (Portland is almost 2 hours away and Eugene is 45 minutes.) I missed the convenience of an internet flight purchase. There’s something to be said about the simplicity of entering in my credit card and having an email confirmation sent to my e-mail. I decided to mail the voucher using Priority Mail from the Post Office.

The free ticket voucher process at United needs to be upgraded. The customer service representative gave me instructions that were eerily low tech: “Write the departure flight number, name of passenger, and confirmation number on the voucher.” The back of the voucher contained advertisements for United. I wrote down my information in between paragraph breaks…

I kept thinking to myself, what the heck are all those numbers on the voucher for?

Written by Eric Stoller

October 16th, 2006 at 11:23 pm

  • Dennis Cooke

    Thanks you eric. Your blog is the only information on the internet about this process. Thank God. Have a good one.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    My pleasure Dennis. United Airlines should give me free flights for providing this information :)

    Their site is incredibly difficult to navigate. It was almost impossible to find information on the United Airlines ticket voucher system.

    Cheers.

  • James Crandall

    Eric,
    I share your frustration with United as I am also trying to apply a discount travel certificate to an itinerary. I will have to go to the airport (fortunately only 25 minutes away). The problem is that most airlines don’t value their customer’s time nor convenience. I presume the only reason why UA would make their customers either mail in the voucher or go to the airport would be to limit fraudulent use. They don’t understand that this won’t eliminate potential fraud and this policy will alienate customers. This policy implies that their customer’s time is not worth much. Because of policies like this and their hubs like IAD, ORD, and SFO (which are all crowded and poorly designed airports), I avoid flying UA on domestic flights. I try to fly only on Southwest domestcially because there are no poorly-thought out policies like this one and generally there are no problems or obfuscastion of problems. Why can’t the management or Chief Information Officer at United order the addition of a new online feature which would allow customers to apply one of the various codes (on the certificate) on an “e-itinerary”? Southwest does this for redemptions, why can’t United? Perhaps it is because United is mismanaged and content that 1)they avoided liquidation, and 2)profit margins have rebounded and jet fuel has declined somewhat recently. In the end, I thank my government for bailing out airlines like United in the past and allowing their inefficient systems and poor customer service to continue. Ah, the far-sightedness of government.

    James

  • Jeanie

    I am also having problems redeeming a travel certificate that United Airlines gave me. Here is the letter that I have posted on complaints.com and untied.com. I have sent United Airlines a letter with the actual information and a copy of the certificate.

    RE: Travel Certificate

    Dear United Airlines Representative:

    I am writing in regards to an unusable travel certificate and poor customer service. I received a $50 travel certificate from United Airlines for a previous flight. I was not able to redeem my certificate when I made a reservation online today.

    United Airlines offered me this certificate as an incentive to exchange my seat on a previous flight. It was a misleading offer, since the certificate is unusable. There are no restrictions regarding online booking on the certificate. The certificate has not expired.

    I am planning to ask my attorney if there are consumer protection laws regarding misleading offers.

    The Document Number of the certificate is xxxxxxx. My Mileage Plus number is xxxxx.. I am a former United Premier member.

    I spoke to several United reservations representatives, but they were not helpful. They had very heavy accents, and they spoke very fast. Even though I work with people from many different countries, including India, I had trouble understanding the United reservations representatives. In addition, the connection was full of static and delays, even though I was calling from my office land line phone.

    When I asked to speak to a manager, the representative refused. When I asked for the customer service mailing address, I was told that there was not one.

    In summary, I would like to have this United Airlines own up to their offers. I would like to have the $50 from the certificate applied to my flight. I have booked flight xxxx on xxx to xxx (xxx). My confirmation number is xxxx.

    Thank you.

  • Justice

    Eric

    I was searching for how to use MY free ticket voucher – it seems I got one the same month you wrote this blog. You are absolutely right, guys – it is a nightmare to use – and I suspect that is INTENTIONAL. They overbooked – you say OK, their problem is solved.

    It’s along the lines of “Sure, baby – I love you. I’ll marry you. Let’s go up to your apartment right now though…”

    Despicable.

  • Sean

    What is even more messed up is those people that live in Hawaii! I received my free annual companion ticket for being a United Mileage Plus Visa Platinum cardholder and the terms on the voucher is now only within the 48 contiguous states! WTF is up with that! I was able to redeem my voucher last year for me and my girlfriend to fly to Vegas from Hawaii this year.

  • prayag

    hey,

    thanks for the information. i received that free ticket voucher as well and was wondering how to redeem it. i was also wondering if i can redeem my voucher to buy a ticket for my grandma. it doesn’t look like i’ll get a chance to use it myself. is it possible? i am trying to contact UA’s representatives. but their service really is terrible. i have wasted 2 hours and could not get to a representative.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    Sean – That’s just dirty that they exclude Hawaii like that. Very messed up!

    Prayag – I’m not sure if you can transfer your voucher “credit” to another person. United Airlines needs to do a better job with customer service. I get a lot of visits to this post because a lot of people are searching for information on ticket vouchers at United.

  • Cynthia Smith

    oh just great ! I was also searching the United web page for info into giving my “free ticket voucher” to my daughter to use. After reading all the comments I feel that this may be a royal pain in the *#!. Why can’t anything be easy ?

  • Greg

    The United ticketing system makes it nearly impossible to redeem a free flight. After learning the hard way that the on-line method is useless. I spent hours calling different numbers, being transferred, put on hold for 15 to 20 minutes at a time only to be disconnected. Once I finally got to what I was thought to be the correct person who insisted on me spelling my very common name several times “slowly and one letter at a time” only to be put on hold again and then told he could not help me.

    If customer service was dollars United would be bankrupt……oh that’s they they are bankrupt!

  • Klaim Star

    United has disgusted me again. I volunteered my seat on a flight a couple months ago for a free 48-state voucher. It took me more than 30 minutes on the phone to redeem the damn thing and I would up on a horrible red-eye flight because they won’t give up seats on just any flight (similar to the scam they pull with ‘saver’ vs ‘standard’ mileage plus awards.

    It’s just plain sickening that a volunteer can’t get on any flight. My plan now is to burn what frequent flyer miles I have left and be done with this half baked airline.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    Hey United Airlines,
    Please note all of the comments that this post has generated. You have a serious customer service problem. It needs to be addressed.

  • Claude

    UGHHH! I just spend 45 minutes on the phone, twice today, only to get 1) told I had to go to the airport tomorrow to get a ticket and 2) get disconnected. Their CR reps spoke almost no English, and refused to transfer me to their manager.

  • Viv

    hey,
    thanks for the info – their own website was USELESS! (the irony is that the travel certficate was meant to be an “apology” for poor customer service (luggage nighmare), and all it’s done is make me more & more annoyed at them.

    i almost don’t want to use it though because it means having to fly & deal with them again!

    ~ just another disgruntled UA customer trying to use a travel cretificate.

  • Andrea

    I share your pain. I received a free voucher along with my 3 daughters after we were bumped (not voluntairily!) from a flight we were taking to leave on a Spring break Hawaiian cruise that evening. We ended up missing the ship and having to put up with a complicated series of taxi rides to hotels, getting up at dawn and being flown to our ship the next day – try that with three teenagers! Now I am trying to use the vouchers to get tickets for two of my girls and yes, it is impossible online or on the phone with India. I’m afraid my only alternative will be to go to the airport tomorrow and raise *%#*. By the way, the voucher says the booking must be in Economy W, V or Q class which is also impossible to find on the website, and these are the first seats they sell out. Thanks, UA, for your stellar (NOT!) customer service.

    Thank you, Eric, for having this blog – it is the only information on the internet about these vouchers.

  • Jer

    I would also like to add my frustrations. I recently tried to use a voucher that was in my uncles name. After going thru the long process described above to book the ticket, I chose to mail the voucher in. Apparently (though not stated anywhere) the only way for you to make a reservation in another name from what is on the voucher is for the person who’s name is on the voucher to physically bring the voucher in to a ticketing counter at the airport, and sign the voucher over and make the reservation. His generosity in wanting to give me a ticket he wasn’t going to use ended up being a long drawn out process that was hardly worth the effort.

  • curt

    Perhaps you can save me from calling India. My voucher says ticket by …(one year later). When must I fly by?

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    @Curt – Great question. I honestly have no idea when you’ll have to use your voucher. I would contact United for more information. And…I’ve never confirmed that the call centers for United customer support are in India. I think that came from some of the other commenters…

    The popularity of this post via Google searches for all things related to United Airlines and ticket vouchers really sheds light on the fact that United needs to boost their customer service information on this topic.

  • Cathy

    Okay here I go with the phone again, I was hoping if I waited until Monday I wouldn’t get India! looks like after reading your blog that will not be the case!
    Boy I hope some represenative from UA is reading this… and I have two I need to use! wish me luck, looks like I’ll need it!

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    I am a frequent web stats checker and I have not seen any incoming IP’s from United Airlines :(

    To clarify, neither I nor any of the other commenters on this post can confirm that United’s call center is in India. I’ve detected a not-so-subtle anti-India(n) sentiment within the comments and I want to point out that the issue is not with India or Indian call center employees. The issue is that United as a corporation is not providing its call center employees with enough information to positively serve its customers. It’s the process that is the problem, not the people on the phone.

  • Phillip

    How ironic that the United travel certificate is to make amends for the inconvenience caused, by giving us another inconvenient tangle. I can only assume that this United travel voucher process is designed to dissuade its use. As with several of the people above, I too asked to see a manager and then my call was dropped. As it is, I’m sending my $100 travel certificate in the mail today. This for an eight hour delay, three of which were on the tarmac. What has happened to the airlines travelers bill of rights?

  • Jared

    you can use the voucher for someone else – you just have to go to the airport to do it. In fact, if you live within, say, 200 hours of an airport, its probably worth just going. Honestly, after trying to do it on the phone a few times, its impossible. The person at the counter can do it – and its really a breeze. I hope this helps. Also, another option, instead of getting a free flight, is to get a $$$ voucher – its either $200 or $400 – my guess, its $200. It is easier to use (still not online), but its also not worth as much…

    I hope all this helps.

  • Bill

    It won’t make anybody any happier, but after a 3 hour experience with the call center in India (confirmed by United Express employee) I went to the ticket counter for United Express in Eugene Oregon and was pretty much told tough luck. Redeeming the voucher might be impossible but I am going to try one more time and if I have to make the half day trip to PDX to talk to a United (not United Express) agent I will. The United Express agent told me to keep saying “AGent” when the auto attendent answers then try asking for a US based rep.

  • Darius

    FYI,

    If you have a voucher, you will need to 1) make a reservation (I suggest skipping to agent and telling them exactly what you want. Skip the computer voice.). 2) write your confirmation number on the ticket, and 3) mail it to UA, PO Box 6057, Dearborn MI, 48121 … WITHIN 24 HOURS.

    I didn’t do it soon enough (I didn’t bother to write down the conf number the first time, and they didn’t send it via email, despite my specific request.) and they told me that they would hold the reservation for me, but I need to go talk to the airport.

    What a pain.
    D

  • Ashley

    Jared, did you have to bring the other person with you to the airport? Do they have to book the ticket? Thanks, Ashley

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    Someday, if we are lucky, United Airlines executives will Google information on United Airlines Ticket Vouchers and find this post and all of its commentary on the atrocious nature of the ticket voucher process at United.

    Someday…I hope…

  • gerry

    Like Ashley, I’m desperate to know if the person who is going to be the recipient of the transferred voucher/ticket needs to be at the airport. I have a friend who is willing to selll me the voucher to ticket my college son’s trip home for thanksgiving. But it’ll do no good if my son has to be at the airport at that time. If he were here, I wouldn’t need to buy the voucher/ticket. Help!!

  • Jami

    I’m looking to do a credit card transfer to my UA Mileage Plus Visa and they will send me a companion ticket certificate that is not airline specific. It tells me to go to http://www.companionticketinfo.com for information. Has anyone ever done this successfully? Thanks for any help.

  • Jesse

    After a half hour or so searching for a representative over that Phone number you gave me, I found that the best way to reach one is to go into reservations and

    MAKE BABY NOISES

    until the machine gets so fed up with hearing you but not understanding you, it sends you to a representative. It takes about 4 or 5 repetitions of “Sorry, I didn’t understand you then, either” before they do it, but its easy.

    Hope this helps someone.

  • Magda

    Hi Eric,

    I just went through the process–RIDICULOUS!!! They always make it sound oh so appealing and since I had time to wait around because they overbooked (surprise, surprise), I took them up on the offer to fly for free. Being a grad student = being poor, so it seemed like a great deal. Right. It’s very obvious that they don’t really want you use your voucher. Also, I loved it when the agent said I could either “surrender” my voucher to the nearest aiport or mail it to them. Since I don’t have a car, no surrendering for me, I’ll have to mail it instead. And why the last name? It’s PRINTED ON THE VOUCHER.

    Viva efficiency!

    Magda

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    Magda – I wonder if the accountants at United Airlines sit and talk gleefully about how much money United Airlines is saving each year due to the intentional ridiculousness of their ticket voucher system…

  • Jennifer

    I have just spent two hours speaking to 6 different people at United, and am completely frustrated. They say they never received my vouchers in Dearborn, and unless I have a mail receipt, they can’t help me. So if you have vouchers, MAKE SURE YOU SEND THEM CERTIFIED MAIL — RETRUN RECEIPT.

    Good luck!

  • Dave

    It’s a pain in the ass to get the free ticket!! First time, 45 min. on the phone, then they couldn’t find the reservation when I went to the airport. Another 30 min.on the phone the 2nd time. Now I have to go to the airport again to redeem it. Thank God for Southwest.

  • Josh

    If you want to get straight to an agent when you call United Reservations, just keep pressing 0.

  • jask

    great blog!

    The ticket is assignable to another person,they do not need to be with you but you need the persons name “as it appears on identification” and YOU need to go to the ticket counter to have the ticket assigned…. when I asked if a new voucher would be issued or if you needed the flight specifics for ticketing at that time, the agent I was talking to did not know!! I can only hope the mechanics take more pride……

  • Carrie

    Wow, I wish I’d read this BEFORE I made my reservations. I got a free ticket voucher after being bumped earlier this summer. So I decided, hey, me and my husband can go home for Thanksgiving this year. One free ticket, it’ll only cost 1/2 as much as normal. After being on the phone forever trying to understand the guy that barely spoke English, I ended up paying for one ticket and having the other put on hold until they receive the mailed in voucher. So, it’s been 6 days now and I’ve called almost every day and they still haven’t received the voucher. I’ve already paid for one ticket and am very worried about what will happen if they say they don’t get the voucher. It would totally defeat the purpose to fly home for Thanksgiving and leave my husband here. And the reps refuse to tell me what will happen if they say they never get the voucher. I’m glad I had the presence of mind to make a copy of it before mailing it, but now I’m wishing I’d sent it certified mail. With the experience I’ve had so far, I’m guessing a copy of the voucher won’t do me much good anyway. Getting a little nervous here after reading all the other comments…

  • Eric S

    Well, I just went through the process of redeeming a voucher as well. Just a note : I read some time ago that when stuck in the revolving door of automated operator messages, hit 0, then #, then 0. I’d say 90% of the time, this gets me to a live person, or at least the option to speak to one.

    I agree that the voucher rules must be created to dissuade their use. I’m not sure whether United realizes that those that give up their seats will probably not repeat this gesture if the voucher process is such an ordeal. And if the voucher is to serve as an apology, it rings hollow when the aggrieved discover all the rules and restrictions related to the voucher’s use.

    I am booking 5 months in advance. The airline has 8 flights scattered throughout the day from Phoenix to Chicago the weekday I need to fly. And the only options provided me (based on the W V Q booking restrictions) are a 5:30 am departure and a 5:45 pm departure (arriving Chicago about midnight). Not exactly rolling out the red carpet for me.

    And the strict 24 hour mailing rule of the voucher – what’s with that? Why not give an option to fax in the certificate, or type in the doc. number online, or at least give more leeway in the time frame for mailing?

    I appreciate the flight, but I feel I deserve better.

  • Rachel

    I hope I don’t have to have the people that gave me the vouchers with me. My mother and father in law were bumped from a flight and got to my place 6 hours after they were supposed to. They pretty much bumped the poor foreigners on that flight. They went back overseas (where they live) and gave the vouchers to my husband and me to use. So I cannot get them from Asia to come to the ticket counter to transfer the voucher! I’ve never flown United before, but by what everybody says I may not want to.

    If anybody else has experiences with transferred vouchers, please share!

  • Arthur

    Ok, y’all, have a look at what I’ve experienced last night. I got a voucher (not the free flight one), and decided to use that for my holiday trip. Started to call UA at around 9p.m., and it took me about 90 minutes to finally work things out (not quite yet, because I will have to mail the voucher to their Discount Certificate center in Dearborn, Michigan.

    First, I was connected to a service rep who told me that I have to pay $15 for handling the ticket through her (it was $5 in the past). I didn’t want to pay that just because I am using a voucher — without that, I would just book online, correct? Then I got transfered to a service rep with heavy accent in the web support department. OK, was told again that I have to book my ticket through a reservation desk agent if I want to use the voucher. Transfered back to the reservation desk, then the call was dropped.

    Called in again, a service rep told me that basically I have two options to redeem the voucher: 1). the owner of the voucher has to go the nearest airport with United counter to get the ticket for whoever the owner wants; 2). mail in the voucher and within 14 days, they’ll book me the ticket for me. This guy also said, “there is no other options” and if I did not choose either of the above, “how do we know that you physically own the voucher”. I was like “what the heck ?!#$.

    I then began to educate him that I do physically have the voucher, and I redeemed voucher before. In addition, there is no way that I waste my precious time trying to redeem a voucher that I don’t have and they can always figure it out. I have better ways spending my time.

    He agreed to hold my reservation online, gave me an address to send the voucher, and wait till they received it before I pay the remaining balance and purchase the ticket.

    I’ve just mailed the voucher to them and will see how it goes.

    With technology advances, I don’t think it is a big deal to put some features on their website to allow travelers to redeem their voucher. I’ve no clue why United wasted the resources by sending out the paper vouchers and it wasted travelers’ time when they try to redeem it. It just does not make much sense to me. Maybe it’s a cash cow for United because they’ll charge you $15/ticket when you try to redeem a voucher? If it is a high value voucher, we may take the pain to go through all this, but how about the $25 voucher? You pay them $15, say on the phone a hours for a $10 value??

  • Carrie

    Arthur, hope you sent the voucher to them certified mail…
    Luckily for me, I got notice that they’d received mine 10 days after I’d sent it to them, so it all worked out in the end. But I about had a panic attack in the mean time because I was calling every day and nobody could speak English or tell me anything. I think they want to make it as hard as possible to use these so they can book the seats to someone that’s paying for their ticket. Like it’s our fault they overbook and bump us, then bribe us with impossible to use vouchers!

  • cs

    We’ll see what they say, but I have had nothing but a hassle with United…

    To Whom It May Concern:

    On November 4, 2007, United overbooked my flight from Columbus, OH to Washington, Dulles. I was bumped and put onto the next flight and given a free ticket voucher. I appreciate the gesture for inconveniencing me; however, that should resolve the problem, not create more inconvenience, which is what your policy does.

    Let me preface the situation with stating that I was told by the United representative when my free voucher was issued that I must obtain my ticket at the airport. She did not state that I must make the reservation on the phone and then obtain the ticket physically at the airport, but simply take care of everything at the airport. I made the arduous trip to the airport and they directed me to your phone service, which is nothing more than an automated hassle, unless you magically know or take an educated guess that if you say “agent,” you will be directed to a human.

    I left the airport and was not able to take the time to arrange this trip until today. My flight that I am required to take is to Phoenix on November 30, eleven days from now. I understand you have a fourteen day policy and the situational necessity of having one, but exceptions should exist. When I called, they informed me no exemptions could be made because United has done so in the past to a fault. This, of course, was a supervisor, whom I requested to speak to because your first representative sounded as if English was not their first language, and they were unable to handle my issue without resorting to repetition of what was on the screen. At this moment, my flight that I am required to take has around thirty empty seats for each leg. The list price is around $480; however, I purchased the flight on priceline.com for $250. Am I really supposed to believe that you cannot use my free seat voucher for a relatively empty plane that is so desperate to sell tickets, your company is willing to accept $230 less than the list price, simply because it is eleven days in advance as opposed to fourteen?

    If your business practice is to be inflexible and inconvenience your customers, I do not believe you would still be in business. I would urge you to reconsider your policy because of situations like mine because as someone who is asked to travel for business, I know what my recommendation for future carriers to my employer would not be. Also, I would advise you to view:

    http://ericstoller.com/blog/2006/10/16/free-united-airlines-ticket-voucher/

    This site is a blog highlighting the process, with a number of comments from customers who were either confused or disgruntled with your policy.

  • Stu

    I just booked a flight over Xmas break with a free voucher. The flight was going for $500 on united.com. Yeah, I have to go to the airport, but I’d say its worth it. An hour out of my day driving to the airport is better than shelling out big bucks for xmas travel. The customer service rep I had was pleasant and spoke english very well. Not a bad gig. Kudos United…You are the Best, and don’t let these lazy MoFo’s bring you down. People need to blog the good and bad.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    Hi Stu. I would mention that your experience is definitely not the norm as I read through the comments on this post. 42 comments over a period of a year and most reflect negative experiences with United Airlines and their ticket voucher system.

  • Peter H. Reader

    Add me to the list of disgruntled — and now ex — United customers. I will never fly the airline again.

    I fell into the same trap as did so many others: I volunteered my seat on a flight in return for a free ticket voucher. I was certainly not informed of the restrictions that make it almost impossible to exercise the voucher, and downright impossible to get a reasonable flight.

    I had the same difficulty as your other correspondents understanding the United agents I spoke to. (I called twice.) Although they were very polite, I couldn’t quite get a handle on what they were saying. I tried to make a reservation for a flight from Portland, OR to New York, NY, three months from now, I was told, “Sorry, that flight is not available.” I was offered a single flight with two plane changes, a NY arrival time of 11:50 PM, and a departure from NY at 6 AM. Same story when I offered alternate dates. There were no options — at least as far as I could determine; the agents spoke with such a thick accent and so speedily it was hard to tell.

    Imagine: An airline with dozens and dozens of flights to New York, and only one that accommodates a voucher, let alone the hurdles one must jump, not to mention that all of this must be done via phone with no internet alternative. In the 21st century, yet!

    I plan to write United’s president, Richard J. Ferris, and the Better Business Bureau. These restrictions were never explained to me, and they are nowhere to be found on the voucher. In fact, the only way Iearned of the procedure to book a flight using the voucher was on this blog. (I wonder how you managed to find the information on United’s website; I couldn’t.)

    After having so much difficulty over the phone, I finally asked the agent if I could go to the airport with my voucher, and make my reservations there. At least I could speak to someone face to face and have any options clearly explained to me. The agent I spoke to assured me that I could. But now I’m so leery of anything United tells me, that I wonder if you have any experience redeeming a voucher and making flight reservations at the airport?

    I know my letter to Mr. Ferris and the BBB will have no impact, but I’m going to write anyway. I only wish we could all band together to let everyone know how dreadful United has become. If Mr. Ferris had to endure the hardship, inconvenience, and disregard that we all have, I’m certain he would join us.

  • Solta

    What the heck – so far my experience has been positive. I called United ticketing – they offered to transfer my voucher – I said no, was impressed I could transfer it. I then asked for tickets and got some for 14 days from now. Will drop of the voucher today it is right by where I am driving. Tickets were at good times and were for what I wanted – all is good.

  • Kyla

    Hi Eric,
    do you know the specific mailing address to send the ticket voucher to? I thought I’d try to be more informative than “World Headquarters, Box 6100, Chicago, IL”

  • James

    Hmm. Tried redeeming vouchers today — things went smoothly until I was told that that the United Flights I was booking for were, in fact, US Air flights.

    Perfectly possible, given the world of codeshares, but the customer rep wasn’t able to tell me which flights >werenecessary

  • Melissa

    Thanks for all the info! It made reserving a ticket very smooth. To be fair to United, I had no problems getting my ticket. It took about 10 minutes on the phone, and I was able to specify the exact flight that I wanted. It’s a pain that I have to go to the airport to pick it up now, but at least I saved a big chunk of change.

  • Nanda

    That was fast…. the reservation went pretty smooth. I`m not a big fan of United either but this time they exceded my expectations.

  • Todd

    I seem to be in the minority here, but I had a relative easy time redeeming my Type B United Free Travel Voucher. I had two of these that were expiring this April and booked both of them/transferred today to my brother-in-law and his wife today. Today is 21 Jan and they will be traveling 7 Feb. Got the flights and times I requested. I called the United Reservation Number and reserved the flights in their names by the automated system. The only trouble I had was when it came time to pay for the ticket, the automated system just kept asking me for a credit card number no matter what I said. Tryed the baby talk like mentioned earlier in this blog to no avail. The machine kept telling me in did not understand my CC #. Finally pressed 0 a couple times and got a voice. Like mentioned earlier, it was a voice in broken english, but none the less, a helpful voice who helped me through the process of changing the free ticket voucher into my relatives names and giving me a confirmation number. The reservation was good until the following night and he explained to me that I would have to go to my local Airport, about 30 miles away, and sign over my tickets, to complete the reservation. Drove over today, the lady at the counter was very receptive and had obviously done a transaction like this before. Within 5 minutes, I had signed over my Free Ticket Vouchers, and had an itinerary in hand for my relatives travels who are E-ticketed. The lady even appologized on behalf of the airline figuring I had gotten the tickets for having a bad experience, but I explained I volutarily was bumped. I would not hesitate to take a free voucher in the future!

  • John

    So far, I have no idea what it will be like to use my vouchers, because I’ve been waiting since December 29 to receive them. I was told 10-14 business days, max. No luck with United; the process sure doesn’t cultivate good feelings towards their business. Absolutely no reason other than financial for them to discourage customers from using their vouchers.

  • robert Michaels

    Ditto to most of the comments above. When you speak to india, it like talking to someone
    underwater, everything has to be repeated several times, and you still don’t
    understand them.
    i have a $25. voucher so my ticket has to be purchased over the phone, for which they are
    going to charge me $15.
    UNITED AIRLINES needs to read these commements.

  • Vera

    Beware the United voucher. My husband got a $250 voucher for being bumped from an over booked flight on United. We tried our best to use it, and I actually booked a companion seat on United so we could take a trip. So I will be out $100 dollars for canceling my flight with united and the other 128$ in credit because I will never fly United again.

    Yes, United’s call center is in India. No doubt. They were rude, hung up on us, called my husband “Ma’am” , didn’t know what they were doing, put us on hold every 2 minutes – hoping we would give up and hang up. This went on for 4 calls totaling 4 hours. Worst customer service ever. I am not racist , nor against Indians. I am against poor customer service.

    You should go to the airport to book the voucher, should you be brave enough to try. They obviously lost the voucher we mailed to Dearborn. This is deliberate on United’s part to keep you from using your voucher. In fact – you even flying their airline creates a great inconvenience for them. They need to change their motto to “United – are you STILL here?”

    On the flip side, we called Frontier airlines, quickly booked 2 tickets using our frequent flier miles. We messed up and couldn’t book the seat assignments, so we called Frontier’s call center. We got an American who quickly straightened out our tickets and went above and beyond to make us satisfied. The whole process took 15 minutes. Frontier gets my business from here on out.

    Good luck and God speed with your vouchers.

  • LC

    I have not had the same negative experiences with the voucher that most of the posters have had. I was given 1 and I purchased 1 on eBay. I did extensive research online and with UAL before hand. I understood all the rules. In one instance….I booked my reservation online at UA.com and put a 24hour hold on it. The seller (eBay) went to their local UA ticket counter/office and redeemed the voucher and emailed me the eticket. This was all arranged in advance so no surprises. In the other instance, the give of the voucher mailed the voucher to UAL at the address given by UAL. The reservation was made in my name and the confirmation info was sent back to the original voucher holder. (That is a pain, but I knew that in advance.) Then, sent to me.

    I guess patience and knowing what to expect were the keys for me. I would do it again.

  • Timothy

    My experience was positive but odd. My girlfriend and I missed our flight by 5 minutes, so they rebooked us and gave us 4 free vouchers because they could not rebook us from the same city and rebooked us from an airport 90 minutes away (which worked well as from the other airport flight was direct and we saved some time even with the drive). When I used one of the vouchers last year, I did not know if I could use the web, so tried, found a trip using the right codes, reserved it and then looked for a place to enter the voucher. No such animal, called customer service, they could not find any flights for me, when I said I had an itinerary reserved on the web, rep asked for the itinerary number, found it, and gave it to me, mailed the voucher in and got the ticket. The interesting thing is that the rep could not see all the flights that I could see online. Lesson: reserve it online, get the itinerary/reservation number (make sure all the classes fall within W,V, or Q classes), then call and ask to apply the voucher to the reservation.

  • John

    Still no vouchers.

  • Brian

    I’m seeing a lot of negative comments here, and I’m not quite sure why …

    I got a type B travel voucher, and was told to do everything online and well before my flight. So, when I’m trying to book reservations online I couldn’t figure out how to enter my voucher number in. Since I had no idea what to do, I clicked on their prominent ‘customer service’ link at the top of the page, and typed in free ticket voucher (exactly what it says on my voucher). I was redirected to a page that gave explicit instructions on what to do and how to obtain the voucher.

    So, I called their automated reservation number … since I’d already looked up flights online I knew exactly what I wanted. I went through the automated process, and on the payment section kept making confused noises and asking for help until it told me to say ‘agent’. That was the only bad part … really it should always be listed as a prominent option on these phone trees – how to talk with a human.

    Anyways, my call was transferred to an Indian call center. The man answering me had an accent, but thats fine – it was completely understandable (some people would probably call it a heavy accent, but really … its not too hard to get past these accents). He set up my reservations on the exact flights I wanted (exact times and exact dates) and told me to head to my nearest airport to confirm it and such because there wasn’t enough time to do a mail-in. I said, OK, thats fine. He offered to refer me to a rental car service if I needed it (which I didn’t), which I thought was nice.

    Overall I will have to spend 1-2 hours going to the airport and back … and I will save hundreds of dollars. So unless you make about $200/hour (I certainly don’t) its a good use of time.

    Do I wish I could have done it all online? Sure I do. Is what I’ve read about their policy of writing down all of the redundant information on the back of the ticket silly? Sure it is. But I am more than willing to jump through a few hoops to (effectively) get hundreds of dollars.

    I should mention that the entire process (getting my voucher from the obviously hectic and frantic gate agent to calling in to redeem it) was much easier than I would have been led to believe from the posts here. A little bit of planning ahead of time and making sure to read everything on the voucher (it specifically lists things like that you have to make reservations 14+ days in advance) pretty much ensures that the process is quick and relatively painless. Booking a month in advance, for instance, gives you enough time to mail it in and receive your ticket if you are too far from your airport to go. 2 weeks and two days are so in advance is all you need if you live within driving distance of your airport.

  • John

    Brian – you are obviously an insider. If you had a positive experience, why in the world would you go looking for a blog such as this? Do you think we’re stupid?

    For your information, I have spent countless hours on the phone to no avail. Yes, I insisted the Indian give me the voucher NUMBERS; however, NONE of the physical (you know, PAPER), vouchers have yet to arrive on my doorstep.

    So, regardless of how easy you may think it is to USE the vouchers, they are UNUSABLE if they are not provided.

    Go vote for Hillary, gomer.

  • csicks

    Agree that John sounds like an insider. However, I followed the advice on this blog, and my experience wasn’t too bad. I also checked this United page: http://tinyurl.com/2meh2m

    The Indian dude on the phone made my reservations (10 weeks before flying, so there were seats). And I went to the airport the next day, got the tickets issued…haven’t actually flown yet, but so far so good.

    Maybe they’ve been reading this blog?

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    The interesting thing about this post is that I feel like it is a community within a community. This single post continues to generate a lot of interest/comments. I would love to think that United Airlines is following this post…any UA employees out there who want to comment on the ticket voucher process?

  • Carlos

    I will say they dont make this easy, but I can address a few of the comments here.

    1. Look for the Class that your voucher is allowed to be used on. Go to United.com (this site is slow) and look for the dates you want to travel. My guess is their lowest cost flight should normally come up with one of the codes allowed.
    2. To see the codes you have to select the flights, but once you do the flight class is right there.
    3. Call Uniteds automated system and book it. This is a little tedious, but unless you want to hold for some 15 minutes it is better. Just use the exact time and dates of the flights you found.
    4. Save your itenerary, it is one of the voice prompts. This will give you a reservation number (actually letters)
    5. Call united on and give them the itinerary and say you want to book it with your voucher. Or if you live close, just go to the ticket counter.
    6. FYI – you can go to the counter and do this whole process in about 10 minutes too.

    Good luck. I have used vouchers the last three summers running so I know it is possible, but it does take some patience. I always use mine for the most expensive trip I am going to take and book like 3 months in advance.

  • John

    Should have checked this blog out first, spent two hours on the phone and eventually talking to someone who didn’t speak very good English, having him repeat things over and over! United customer phone service stinks!

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    The main issue seems to be that United’s process stinks and they are not equipping their agents with information/tools/processes that they can then use to assist a customer in making a ticket voucher transaction.

  • SAM

    My wife reserved a flight to Chicago for July last week, she was told that she should mail the voucher to Dearborn or take it to the airport. I took it to the airport on Tuesday and found a sign that said “NO TICKETING BETWEEN 11 AND 2PM”. The agent told us (there were 4 people trying to get tickets) that they had to check in passengers first, but there were no passengers checking in and all the supervisors were in a SAFETY MEETING. I think they were just trying to stay SAFE and away from very angry customers. After waiting one hour for the agents to check in the “lines” of passengers, one agent decided to start earning his money and took care of us. The worst part was that when it was my turn the agent told me that because I had taken the voucher to the airport instead of mailing it in that the fare was 22.00 more. I took the voucher and left and now the ticket will cost us 4.00 more for the hour that I had to pay for parking.

  • Wendy

    After United cancelled my flight last summer, causing me to miss my international connection in LA and therefore miss my grandmothers funeral the following day in New Zealand, I was borderline homicidal. The whole experience (which is too long to describe) was the absolute most stressful thing that has ever happened to me and what did I get out of it? Two SEPERATE vouchers. One for $125 and one for $200. Today I attempted to redeem these vouchers for one ticket. Nope! Can’t use more than one voucher for one flight, even though a)that’s how they were issued to me b) it was one flight that got cancelled and c) I don’t believe United has any flights from Seattle to anywhere that are priced for $200 let alone $125. Okay, fine. So after calling and making the weird automated phone reservation, having it held, getting the confirmation number and then saying “agent”, I was patched through to India where I talked to someone very slowly and for a very long time, finally receiving the address in Dearborn and being told to get my voucher in the mail tomorrow. I am pissed that I have to pay the difference instead of being able to use the other voucher because I pretty much swore that I would never give another penny to such a terrible, evil airline, but apparently I love punishment. Judging by the majority of other comments, my story probably won’t end here, but I have my fingers crossed.

    I will say this: Last summer when I was dealing with customer service and again today, I found them to be incredibly kind and patient, even when I start to freak out. That’s part of the frustration! How can I scream at someone being nice to me? It’s the airline’s policies, the bigger system, that’s totally screwed up, not the specific agents (in my experience).

  • Mary Ann

    I’m about to begin the process to try and use my vouchers. Question: My vouchers say “Ticket by July 17 2008.”

    Does anyone know if I can fly after July 17 as long as I book my ticket before that date?

  • Carlos

    Mary Ann – Yes you have to purchase the tickets by July 17th, but they can be for up to one year in advance.

    Also if you are able i would look up the flights on the internet, then call the 800 automated service to create a booking and finally go to the ticket counter and use the vouchers there. This will save you a tremendous amount of hassle and the ticket agent will have very little work to do, so they are happy too.

  • Isaiah

    Experienced excellent customer service experience with this issue at United!
    I did mention this blog first ;)
    And I went directly to the airport – even managed to book a companion ticket (normal fare) along with free/redeemed one…
    Thanks to the blog and thanks to United!

  • Marina

    Dear bloggers,
    Maybe someone has that Dearborn address handy? I just went through the same ordeal – redeeming the voucher that served as the ‘apology’ for their earlier mistakes, and although the Indian guy said it 4 times, I couldn’t make it out.
    Please help with the POB #!
    Thank you :)

  • Reply to Dearborn address request from Marina

    Reply From a post (above) from Darius August 30, 2007 | 1:26 pm

    FYI,

    If you have a voucher, you will need to 1) make a reservation (I suggest skipping to agent and telling them exactly what you want. Skip the computer voice.). 2) write your confirmation number on the ticket, and 3) mail it to UA, PO Box 6057, Dearborn MI, 48121 … WITHIN 24 HOURS.

    I didn’t do it soon enough (I didn’t bother to write down the conf number the first time, and they didn’t send it via email, despite my specific request.) and they told me that they would hold the reservation for me, but I need to go talk to the airport.

    What a pain.
    D

  • Teal

    I have used these vouchers a few times, and each time have learned a little better how to use them. My advice:

    1) Do not fly United. It is a terrible airline with the worst customer service in the industry.

    2) If you, like me, live in a town serviced only by United, then you will likely get bumped off your flight periodically. If you then consent to taking a voucher, remind yourself right there that this is going to be a hassle, but if you play by their rules and don’t give up, eventually you may be able to use it.

    3) When you know when you want to fly, call 800 UNITED1 after 1:00 am EST. They are less busy at this time, so it will only take about an hour to get your flight worked out. Go through the first few stages of talking to the computer voice and then push 0 or say Agent. (If you skip the first few stages, it will be harder to get to a real person.) Once you get a person, try to make friends. This is especially important if s/he does not speak very good English. They will speak slower if they are more comfortable, and they might do some of the things for you that they say they can’t, if they like you and you make their day better than the last person who screamed at them through the phone and made them miss their lunch break. They are just as annoyed that United didn’t give them the relevant information as you are.

    4) WRITE DOWN your confirmation number right on your voucher. Without that, you are lost.

    5) Once your flight is booked, they will reserve it for 24 hours. You can call back within that same time span and get them to give you another 24 hours, but this will, again, take about an hour on the phone. You have to get to an airport within the time they reserved. I do not recommend sending it by mail, as they often lose it, perhaps to dissuade people from trying this in the first place.

    7) At the airport, immediately thank the person who is helping you, and let them know that you are relieved that someone will finally help you with this difficult procedure. This will allow you to complain that United handles things badly, without blaming them personally. Definitely complain, though. You should be able to get your tickets within a few minutes.

    8) Calculate the total time you spent on the phone, plus going to the airport, plus any other time you spent on this. Multiply time spent by your hourly wage and add that figure to the other expenses (parking, gas, etc.) to get the actual cost to you of redeeming this voucher. If this cost is lower than the cost of the flight, take yourself out to a nice dinner to congratulate yourself for success in this ridiculous process.

  • Sarah

    This is a very informative thread.

    Would anyone happen to know how to book two tickets for both me and my husband using the same voucher? If the voucher is under my name, and the voucher value is greater than the cost of one ticket.

  • Carlos

    I havent used a dollar value voucher for some time, but when I did last, about 4 years ago, they applied the value of the voucher to my entire purchase and I paid the remainder by credit card. Not sure if this is still the way they they handle it, but I am pretty sure that if the voucher has a dollar value they must treat this like currency. When I use a dollar value voucher on Delta they actually wrote me a new voucher for the difference between the ticket I purchased and the value of the voucher.

  • Den

    I am sitting on a free round trip voucher that is to expire in July. I want to use it and have tried several times to speak to a United rep over the phone. All I receive are computers with no option to “Speak to a Human Being” Since I travel frequently, I’ll wait until my next flight to speak to a person. But like the rest of the world, I think I too will switch airlines. If the govt is gonna bail you out why worry about your quality? Just look at Chrysler, even Mercedes couldn’t deal with their incompetencies.

  • Mandy

    I’ve read through most of these comments. I can confirm that the call center is in India… actually, 2 of them are in India, but there is one in the US, as well. I used to work on the United Airlines helpdesk. I took calls from United employees, provided tech support, and often dispatched for a technician to go on site. The phone systems crashing in one of the call centers in India was a HUGE problem, because a majority of the calls go to India. Very few actually make it to the call center in the US.

    That being said, I have had so many unpleasant experiences with United, I have vowed never to fly United again. After a nightmare in January of 2007, I was given a $100, but I don’t know really if it was the same as what you guys get, because I was able to use it online. I used it to book my fiance (now husband) a flight, and it went through okay, but he ended up not taking the flight. We didn’t try to cancel it, because we both hate United.

    However, now his mom has decided to buy him a ticket to fly to California (From Tulsa, OK) for a family event. It was very generous of her, but I should have known she’d choose United. I just had this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, and my instincts were right on the money.

    His mother had problems with the site. It is horrible to navigate, and I do know there are a lot of issues with it (The United.com desk was on the same floor.) Anyway, as she booked it, the site locked up. I was on United.com at the same time as her, and I was receiving numerous error messages. So, when she received the confirmation email, she was relieved that it went through despite the locking up. I looked at the email she forwarded, and it was the wrong return flight. It had him getting home HOURS after we needed him to get home. I requested firmly that he ask her to try to get it fixed, because neither of us have it in the budget to pay their $100 change fee, and we felt it was not fair to be expected to pay it, since it was the fault of their glitchy site.

    A few days later, she casually mentioned that she tried to call and couldn’t ever get through to a real person. The voice recognition unit on their system is just horrible, let me tell you. You probably mostly know that, though.

    I decided to take matters into my own hands and I sent an email. I’m much better at writing things out than trying to verbally communicate. I can be pretty creative when I’m angry. ;) The response from Bhuma was basically a ‘sorry for your inconvenience, but we can’t waive the $100 fee.’ I, of course, didn’t let it go. I asked that she forward my message to a supervisor or manager because I wished to discuss this with a superior representative. I kept emailing her back. She offered a $100 travel certificate, to which I responded that I despise United and a travel certificate won’t do me any good because I’d only fly United if it was a choice between that or be stranded. I also asked her if it was customary for them to refuse to escalate issues to superiors if requested. She responded offering a $175 travel certificate. I thought about it and figured if I got the travel certificate like the $100 I had gotten before and used for my husband, perhaps I could find a return flight for around that amount and just book a totally separate flight.

    I responded making it clear that I was still very upset, but if that was the best they could do, I guess I’d take it, and asked her to send me the information. I expected to receive the code via email as I had before. I got no response for several days. Finally, I got a reply from “ELITE” customer service. He stated the usual “I’m sorry to learn of your disappointment” crap they do in every email and said that Bhuma had offered me the $175, and that was all they could do. He said to contact him once I had changed the flight and he would send me the certificate. I replied and told him that apparently I am not typing clear enough, because I had told Bhuma repeatedly in several emails that we cannot change the ticket because our budget is extremely tight right now. I told him I found it highly unethical of United to only accept responsibility for THEIR problem if I was willing to fork out the $100 change fee, which essentially meant she was only offering me $75.

    After a few more days, he responded and stated that, again, he was sorry for my disappointment. He said as a one time exception, they will issue a check in my husband’s name for $100. I am to make the change on the ticket, then email him again and he will mail the check after I have done so. Of course, now I look at flights and it is only 30 days before he returns from California, so all of the flights are a fortune now! I responded and told him that it was nice that they finally seem to be more flexible about it, but that I was not sure it would help now. I told him that back when I first contacted Bhuma, the flights were relatively the same cost as they were when the flight was booked, but now they are significantly more expensive, so if I have to come up with the fare difference on my own, it doesn’t really help.

    That last response was just today, so we’ll see what happens. United is a nightmare. I hope to God we are never in this situation again. Next time his mother offers to pay for the ticket, my response will be emphatically NO THANK YOU! We would rather try to come up with the cost ourselves to book a flight on a different airline than deal with a flight with United, even if it is paid for by someone else. Even if the flight were free! This really goes to show me that even if it’s free, it’s never ‘FREE’! The stress and trouble just isn’t worth it!

    DOWN WITH UNITED! BOO!! HISS!

    Now, that was just for drama, but I’m sure several of you agree. And by the way, if you are one of the people who has posted saying your experience was easy, smooth or (laughing as I say this) PLEASANT, you are a fortunate soul and you should get down right now on your knees and thank whatever deity you worship that you have not had a typical experience with United Customer Service, then you should turn around and buy a lottery ticket and hope you didn’t use up all your luck on flying United.

  • Pleasure

    I just tried to contact a rep to get info on the free voucher I have as well.
    The way I got a hold of a human being, was by answering every question the recorded human being asked by responding over and over again with:
    VOUCHER VOUCHER VOUCHER
    I had to do this repeatedly for aboout 5 minutes, but eventually it got me to a human.
    It was kind of fun, actually.
    But then I have too much time on my hands these days.

    Thanks for the info.
    It was very helpful.
    Pleasure

  • Heather

    Thanks so much for all the great information here. I found a booking online that worked for my free ticket voucher terms (no code share, class W, V, or Q only) and had that handy when I called United. The customer service rep had a very heavy accent and apparently a very bad cold. She literally kept sneezing into the phone about every 10 seconds. She also spoke so fast that I constantly had to ask her to repeat herself.

    If I hadn’t had the flight numbers and times already, there is no way she could have helped me. I had to give the information to her about 8 times, and kept getting scripted responses like “I’m not seeing that flight.” or “I’m sorry, I can’t book you on a code share.” I kept repeating my flight numbers and times until, magically, she finally got them straight and gave me a confirmation code.

    About 30 minutes and quite a bit of frustration – sadly, it seems like I got off fairly easy compared to some on this site! It is shocking to me that United would make it this hard to redeem a free voucher, since most people who are trying to use them have already just had a bad customer service experience with United from being bumped, etc. They are really ticking people off!

    Hope they are reading this blog. Fingers crossed that this all works out when I head to the airport to finalize this!

    Good luck, voucher-holders of the world. Fight the good fight :-)

  • Steve

    I am embarassed how smoothly it went for me today after reading all these horror stories. My situation is that I want to take a trip with my son this summer and use the voucher for one of us, so naturally there are extra logistics involved. I first looked online and found the flights I was interested in, then called the dreaded 800 number.

    I got a human in about 3 minutes (I said “operator” and the robot said, “I heard you say ‘agent’, is that correct?” so maybe just say “agent”), with what sounded like a hispanic accent, no problem communicating. The flights he suggested matched what I had on my screen already, and then he gave me the confirmation number with the 2 options: mail or go to an airline desk. I asked if I could go to the tiny regional airport near me, and he said yes, but gave some baffling combination of hours it was open (10-11am, 12:30-1:30pm, 3-4:30pm, 6:30-7:00pm). It was 6:30pm, so I said, “great, I’m on my way there now”. He quoted me a price for the second ticket which was more than the online price, and when I said so he advised me to just get it online.

    I went to the airport and got there at 6:59, but the guy was completely cool and issued the ticket. He even switched the name to my son and corrected the mistake the first guy made of somehow not indicating that it was a free voucher.

    I then went home and bought my matching ticket, and that was that.

    On a side note, the way I got the voucher is that I volunteered to get bumped on a cross country coach class redeye. The flight I took left 5 minutes later, and went to JFK instead of Newark, but with the 9 hour layover it made zero difference – and it was FIRST CLASS! I know, I would hate me too, but that kind of stuff never happens to me. I slept all the way in an almost real bed.

  • Rachel

    Hey, i’ve been reading the stories on free vouchers from United. I also recieved 2 vouchers and have successfully been able to use them. The best bet is to go directly to the airport to make transactions. Life is much more easier when dealing with people for these types of things than computers.

  • John

    Hallelujah!

    Of sorts. Get this: after 11 documented letters and emails, 22 hours accumulated time on the phone, and sending a confirmation letter asking for signatures of the friends of whom I had purchased tickets last fall, a CR named Geet finally sent me 3 of my 6 vouchers. Yes, you read that correctly; 3 of my 6 vouchers. Lo and behold, I got a phone call from one of my friends, who is now the proud owner of voucher #4. Appears that Geet ignored the fact that the all of the tickets had been purchased by me for my 5 friends and myself, and decided to treat one of them with a freebie.

    Wow. This is such a hilarious comedy of errors that it borders on the unbelievable. United knows the program and is doing this deliberately to discourage voucher usage. Who out there knows how to punish them politically, punitively, for their actions?

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  • kaszeta

    I’m not surprised, seeing that I just found this post due to difficulties I was having getting my own vouchers redeemed. The information here was helpful.

    And I agree with the “if at all possible, go to an airport”. I just didn’t do this, since the airport is 90 miles away.

    Knock on wood, I hope the mail approach works right.

  • kerry

    I have read all your wonderful comments about United and I am now knee deep in their run around crap. I have sent emails and spoke to India several times. I was told by my uncle who is a pilot that if you send a letter that actually states the words I would like to file a formal compliant then they must send it into the FAA, and a different branch of customer relations will handle it. I have had no look in finding the address. Does anyone know of an address for customer relations in the US.

  • ricky louis

    Does anyone know how soon I can use my ticket voucher.It says I’d have to book my flight 14days in advance and i wanted to book it for the 19 of June.

  • anna

    Great blog post! One thing that isn’t clear on the United Customer Service page regarding free ticket vouchers, is that the flights must be on United or United Express (which a United agent told me). I’m wondering if United Ted also works? Anyone know?

    I tried to book tickets using my voucher, but I have a slightly complicated situation (three people flying from two different airports), and the United customer service agent clearly was not trained as a travel agent to help with that kind of situation. So, I’m going to do the flight research myself and call in when I’m prepared.

  • bob

    Thank you Eric,

    I was told by the rep that the mailing option needed to be received in 14 days, not “mailed in 24 hours”. I spoke to the rep yesterday after the Post Office was closed but I will mail the voucher via certified mail today.

    I too was floored that ual website could not handle the vouchers, of course, after I found my flights and selected my seats online. I also expressed my dissatisfaction to the sales rep that a large airline website is unable to handle this type of transaction.

    I also should state I do not normally fly UA, and they did issue me a voucher for the remainder of my canceled flight. I normally fly American Airlines and I am pretty sure their website does handle travel vouchers.

    To answer John (5/26/2008). The only way to hurt UA is to simply make it unprofitable for them. I get the feeling that is very profitable when people do not want the bother of redeeming these vouchers and they expire. I would express to the sales rep that american airlines website handles travel vouchers and that is very valuable to a customer and they will have your future business (or whomever).

    Hope this helps…

  • Maggie Beddow

    Ugghhh…same thing. We made a reservation using frequent flier miles. We were told by someone with a heavy accent that we had to complete this transaction at our local airport the following evening as my mom was transferring the miles to me. The reservation is for 9 months from now. We drove to the airport and got a HORRIBLE agent who kept repeating over and over again that he was wasting his time with us as I was questioning him why he would be charging an extra $30 for the ticket for ticketing at the airport. I would not let up that that was not fair–that I had just spent my money on gas and time to drive to the airport for what–to pay MORE????? I asked to speak to a supervisor and he threw up his arms in disgust and said the rules are the rules and that speaking to a supervisor wouldn’t change anything. Well, it did. The supervisor calmly apologized and said that I should write to United as they find that “the operators are in India and they are not advising the customers properly.” She waived the fee and told me that I did have another option and that would have been to do this transaction via snail mail with verification from my mother. Yes, they used the fraud excuse but it sure does seem like an antiquated method. Whatever, the rude agent had egg on this face and made the whole thing horrible. So much for being loyal United customers. We were treated like dirt.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    A lot of commenters on this thread have mentioned the “heavy accents” of United’s call center employees and the fact that United’s representatives are in India.

    Does this really matter?
    The majority of commenters on this post have had a negative experience with United Airlines, not because the company’s call center reps are in India or have accents that differ from most commenters, but because United Airlines does not give its call center employees the power and information to makes its customers happy.

    The call center could be located in Oregon (where I live) and staffed by people with non-heavy accents (whatever the hell that means) and people would still be receiving lousy service from United Airlines when they attempt to use their ticket vouchers.

    So once again to reiterate my question, does someone’s accent and location (in this context) matter in terms of the service that any of us have received?

  • Margot

    Thank you for all the good information.

    Heather, you write: “I found a booking online that worked for my free ticket voucher terms (no code share, class W, V, or Q only)”

    How do I find this specific information about flights online?

    I may have an additional problem in that I live in New Orleans and United, like a few other airlines, flies minimal flights out of here still. My husband got the vouchers for giving up his seat twice on a business trip to California booked by the federal government. I would never have used United…

  • carlos

    The way to see the codes is to take a look at the flight details after you choose your flights. Of course the free vouchers are always given on the low code flights, but you can usually find a flight if yiu are willing to book early.

  • Rachel

    No luck for us. My in laws gave us 2 free ticket vouchers because their flight was overbooked. They were stuck in D.C. for 6 hours and they are not from the U.S. United seems to like to bump foreigners because there were many others waiting for them. Anyway, they were only in the U.S. for a month, so they figured we could use the vouchers. My husband and I went to United ticket counter and waited forever to be seen. Then the woman was doing it and said that she didn’t seem the same names on the vouchers as on our licenses. She told us that my husband’s parents have to be there to sign it over. Well, we told her they live in India and we do have the same last name, so she asked her manager. .She told us that they have to go to the airport, issue the ticket, and it would be an e-ticket. The evil manager told us to overnight the vouchers…to India. It isn’t so simple. My in laws live an hour away from the airport and my father in law does work. Plus it is impossible to overnight the vouchers and still have your reservation on hold. I’ve never used United and I don’t think I ever will.

  • Rachel

    Complained to United and they offered me 2 $100 e-certificates for future travel. They will supposedly send vouchers to me and then I have to send them into their Chicago office. Then they will send me the 2 e-certificates. They really need to improve the way they do things. Why can’t they just send me the 2 e-certificates with a number unique to me? Can’t they assign a number to a name? Well, at least they replied in 2 days and offered me something, but these e-certficates will surely be trouble when trying to book a flight.

  • Jaime

    Unbelievable. The free travel certificate is designed to keep to get more money from us and not to make up for their shortcomings. Between the phonecalls and navigating th United website, it is almost impossible to get your ticket. The best part is I had a $200 voucher and was going to use it for a $150 flight. They were quick to point out that I would would lose the remaining balance of my certificate. I assume their intent was for me to use the voucher for a ticket of over $200 dollars in valur so they could squeeze more money out of my already thin wallet.

  • geoff

    Its true;
    * “0” through prompts to get AGENT.

    * no code share, class W, V, or Q only. This means United, UExpress, or TED only; no UA flights run by USAIR. Doesnt this almost guarantee connecting flights unless you are traveling to a hub?

    * 2 week advance notice required. call 8/1 to fly 8/14.

    * Must ticket by expire date, says call center.

    * transfers ok

  • Ryan

    Just submitted a $100 United voucher for reimbursement today via mail, now kicking myself for not just going to airport after reading the above comments. Although the address cited several times in previous comments is PO Box 6057, Dearborn MI, 48121, the United agent on the phone today gave me PO Box 6046 as the destination. I cannot find any PO Box confirmation on the United web site, so I’ll cross my fingers that 6046 is going to get me to the right place. The flight for which they let me use $100 voucher is to Las Vegas on Sept. 3, and they let me pick my own flight time without restriction. For what it’s worth, I did have a positive customer experience… That is, as long as the dude gave me the right PO Box.

    I truly am surprised that United has not responded to this thread or reached out to you, Eric — a Google search for ‘United Airlines certificate Dearborn’ provides you as the top search result. Cheers.

  • Lou

    Anyone have any problems with using ecert $50 coupons purchased off of Ebay?

  • Selby

    Unfortunately I recently shared in the nightmare. Yes, the United Customer Service Voucher Reps are Indian. I suspect they are trained by United to make it difficult if not impossible to redeem a voucher. United saves money by the system not working for the consumer.

  • Camille

    Wow, United is worse than I thought.

    My friend was supposed to get one of these free vouchers from her parents for her birthday and she had intended to use it to come visit me. The voucher expires in October and she wanted to book the dates this week for the first weekend in October. (A little less than two months in advance.) But when she called, UA claimed that they don’t have any “voucher seats” avaliable. They claim that people generally book months in advance because there are “limited seats.” When she wanted to speak with a supervisor, they also refused to put her through, claiming that the woman on the phone was the person in charge.

    I’m absolutely furious! We’d been extremely excited about this and I know they have empty seats on the flight because you can go online and pay $500 some odd dollars to buy a ticket, but they’re just refusing to allow her to use the voucher they sent out.

    Really, what’s the point in the vouchers if you can’t use them anyway? (She checked from now until the voucher expires and “they have nothing.”) Personally, I think it’s a crock. The airline just doesn’t want to do anything.

  • Kathy T

    I am a United Airlines reservation agent for 10yrs now. I am very good at my job. When I talk to someone who is using a voucher, I always advise them all rules of the voucher. I do realize the frustration that people have using them, but there are certain policies to go by. I hope all of you will try to understand and continue to fly United.

  • Amanda

    Kathy, I’m sure nobody meant any of this as a slam to the hardworking agents. I’ve had numerous bad experiences with all airlines, not just United. But when the policies by your corporate office make it impossible for you to give good customer service, even you have to admit there’s a problem.

    I was given a free voucher because they bumped me from my seat over Christmas (I’ll never fly over christmas again, any airline, not just united). I still haven’t had an opportunity to use this voucher and I see it going to waste because I had a year and it’ll be up in a few months.

    Frustrating? Yes. Do I hold the agents responsible? Not so much. Granted, some could be nicer about the situation, more empathetic (most of us just want someone to at least PRETEND to listen to us) but in the end it’s the fault of the airline.

  • El

    This blog is great – the first thing that comes up if you google “united free ticket voucher”, and certainly seems like the best advice around!
    I wanted to confirm that I was told the same mailing address as Ryan noted above: P.O. Box 6046, Dearborn, MI 48121 – and this is indeed the current address at United.com’s “how to use a free ticket voucher” page – which I found eventually, but apparently is not very popular, not even on the first page of google search results!

    I wanted tickets for 4 months away so I looked up the flight numbers on the United website first.
    Called the 800 number. Pressed “0” many times to get rid of the stupid automated system.
    It was late at night so I got to speak with someone after only a few minutes. She was very helpful, took the flight numbers I wanted and issued a confirmation code very quickly.
    I chose the snail mail route as I live too far from the nearest airport. But, thanks to reading this blog first: photocopies of my ticket vouchers, check. Return receipt, check. If my vouchers get “lost” they aren’t going to be blaming the post office.

  • John

    I find it hard to believe many of these accounts posted here. The Free Ticket Vouchers are for people who can read and are willing to follow instructions. It is not very complicated unless you choose to make it complicated.

    I called the 800 number and I had my reservation in 10 minutes. United was very easy to work with. I chose to drive to the airport and picked up my ticket. This blog sounds like a lot of misinformation.

  • Elmo

    I just got home (3 weeks now) and was thrilled that I had gotten a free ticket. So to find out how to use it I googled “united free ticket vouchers” and this blog came up. After reading several of the entries I was very concerned that this might not be as free or as thrilling as I first thought.

    So I looked at UAL site and found the instructions for using the voucher. Since this blog was so negative, I called the 1-800-United-1 number to test how complicated it was going to be. The instructions seemed clear and the guy on the phone seemed quite able and willing to help and do what I wanted. So hmmmm, I wondered what is the truth here. What is going on with all these complaints?

    I googled the booking codes W, V and Q, but the information did not help a lay person like me. I did notice that after about the 3rd step in the resvation process, these codes do come up and so you can see which flights are not W, V, or Q.

    Last night I chose a date to use my tickets, used the UAL site to choose the flights I wanted, and call 1-800-United-1 number. Within approx 10 minutes I had the flights I wanted and a confirmation number. I was all set. So this morning I went to the airport, and I was at the counter less than 10 minutes and was walking out the door with my free tickets.

    When I went to pay for parking – the lady said “no charge”. I was in and out so quickly that they did not charge for parking. I was thrilled it was so easy and FREE.

    This blog is helpful in one way. It shows that if you are lazy and uncooperative. the process can be unpleasant for you. But UAL was awesome. There is no plot on UAL part to keep anyone from their free tickets. But you do have to use your head, be patient, be willing to learn what the process is and then you will have a pleasant experience.

    I feel like it is Christmas – I now have my free ticket in my hand and all with a little effort on my part. Thanks UAL.

  • Tickled Pink

    Yay for Elmo!!!
    Give me a break!!! I would say you work for the airlines, if not the CEO yourself.

  • Elmo

    I would sugget that people don’t pay a whole lot of attention to all the negative comments on this blog. Take them with a grain of salt. The free ticket vouchers are very valuable and they are easy to use. Read my post under Elmo if you have any doubts.

    Instead, I would suggest people learn from the mistakes that others have made. Something is wrong with someone who says they were on the phone for 4 hours with an UAL agent. You do not have to do that. And neither did they. Anyone with a little bit of discernment should be able to see that some people are very frustrated and are just venting their anger. It is like hitting a coke machine when it does not give you the coke. It does not make any sense. And it does not solve the problem. I have read many of the posts here and soon detected a tone of bitterness by some of the people. That is why I say read them with a grain of salt.

    The expereince I told is true and accurate. I was on the phone 10 minutes and was at the counter for 10 minutes and I had my tickets. If you don’t believe me, call the 1-800-United-1 number and pretend you are ready to use your ticket. You don’t actually have to get the ticket at this time. But a test run on the phone will reveal just how easy this is.

    You can believe everythng you read here and join the frustrated angry people who choose to have a bad day. Or you can use your head, be patient, try to learn and understand how it works and presto – you will have free tickets and a nice day.

    Thank you UAL

  • Elmo

    Here is the UAL Link to instructions:

    http://faq.ua2go.com/al/12/1/article.asp?aid=1706&bt=4

    And this is what the page says:

    How do I use a free ticket voucher?

    To redeem your paper voucher, first call United Reservations at 1-800-UNITED-1 and ask for an agent to make a reservation with your free ticket voucher.

    Next, there are two ways to have the ticket issued:

    · Mail the free ticket voucher to United. Please allow at least 14 business days for processing. Please note that the free ticket voucher must still be valid for United to issue the tickets.

    OR

    · Bring the free ticket voucher to an Airport Ticket Counter to have the ticket issued. Check your airport ticket counter’s hours of operation here.

    Mailing address
    United Airlines Discount Certificates
    P.O. Box 6046
    Dearborn, MI 48121
    (Telephone: 800-UNITED-1)

    For FEDEX or Express mail deliveries, please use the following address, as these carriers do not deliver to a P.O. Box
    United Airlines Ticket by Mail
    17501 Michigan Avenue
    Dearborn, MI 48126

    It is that easy folks!

  • Lisa

    I received a United travel certificate when they damaged my luggage, thinking it’d be great for booking future flights. I went through so much hell trying to use it, that I complained… and they gave me another voucher. Now I’m going through it all over again. At least I’ve managed the process by now. But I agree with your blog – they should be a little more into using the technology available and let us use these things for online bookings!

    Yes, they are easy enough to use. The problem I had with the first one was that a United agent gave me wrong information, screwing up the entire process.

  • Joseph

    Thanks for the blog, I’m about to attempt to redeem a couple vouchers I got from offering my seat on an overbooked flight, and this information should save me a little trouble in figuring things out.

    I wanted to respond to your question Eric, about whether or not the foreign call centers made a difference in the customer service experience. You’re certainly correct in maintaining that it’s United’s terrible policies that are the root of the problem, but it doesn’t help when you are trying to resolve a problem and end up on the phone with somebody you can barely understand. I know that the reps are simply doing their job as best they can and the blame is not on them, but it is certainly a negative factor in the whole customer service process.

    By the way, I think United has finally taken some notice of your blog…Elmo and John are certainly receiving UA paychecks!

  • Elmo

    Lisa

    You “went through so much hell trying to use it”. My question is – why would you ever let them give you another one? Now you are going through it all over again? Are you crazy? Or maybe you know how valuable they are and you decided to whine until they gave you another one just to shut you up.

    And then finally you say – “Yes, they are easy enough to use”. – No kidding. Duh.

    Oh, you say “At least I’ve managed the process by now”. That is my point all along. Learn the process. Use your head.

    Finally she learned there is a process and it is easy. Good for you Lisa.

    You too can be a Lisa – learn the process.

  • Elmo

    Joseph

    Are you saying UAL is now giving paychecks? Cool, that is even better than the Free Ticket Vouchers.

    By the way, your post makes no sense. You have no solutions that help anyone. You mention the terrible policies of UAL, but you never say what they are. Good for you Joseph. You are so helpful. You have made things much clearer for everyone.

    My suggestion to others is “don’t be a Joseph”. Instead, be a Lisa. At least she was willing to learn. She was a little whinny, but finally she did learn.

  • Ryan

    Just an FYI regarding my entry from Aug. 4. I did indeed get my voucher credit for my flight to Vegas last week, so I am a satisfied customer. I do agree with people who lament the United web site as being difficult to navigate for useful information. Having worked in recent years as a web services consultant for a Fortune 100 company, I can provide a certified professional opinion that United.com sucks; as you can probably see from the web address that Elmo provided, the URL for that voucher page, as well as every page on the United system, is completely non-intuitive. Conspiracy against travelers, though? I doubt it. If you are patient with the United process and follow suggestions within this thread, I believe you’ll get appropriate credit for your voucher. But as LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow, “Don’t take MY word for it…” Regardless, thanks for providing a lively forum, Eric.

  • Elmo

    Ryan – August 4

    You say ” I am truly am surprised that United has not responded to this thread or reached out to you, Eric — a Google search for ‘United Airlines certificate Dearborn’ provides you as the top search result. Cheers. ”

    I say – “They might reach out to Eric, but not in a way that he would like.” Have you ever heard of a lawsuit? Eric has exposed himself to a lawsuit. He has said things that are either not true or could be considered very damaging to UAL.

    People should know when they say things on a blog, they have also exposed their IP Address that will lead right back to their house. It is not very hard to do find the persons who has written each of these entries.

  • Brian

    Either Elmo lives in a perfect world or he does work for the airlines. Also pretty sure UAL CAN”T sue Eric for any reason.

    While I didn’t spend 4 hours on the phone with CS reps in India, I did spend little over an hour talking to 2 different reps because the first hung up on me when I requested to speak to a supervisor.

    First a little background…….I’ve been flying for over ten years with the last few on United. I have over 400K FF miles with United and have been 1K member and currently Premier Exec member. Basically this means don’t fire back that I don’t know what I’m doing.

    I called hoping to use my first free ticket voucher ever and taking a bump. Looked up the flighs I wanted to fly and made sure they fell within the code structure on the voucher (W,V or Q). Was told that there were no available seats but I could take a different flight…..not the flight I wanted obviously. We went round and round, I asked questions (very politely), she answered (very politely)….I finally asked to speak to a supervisor and was put on hold for about 15 minutes.

    At this point, I called back on my cell and spoke with another CS agent. Was told similar information that the flight I wanted had no seats available but would book me on a different flight. When I told her that the flight she could book me on was operated by US Air, she went “Oh, yea I guess you can’t have that flight either.”

    She did, however, let me speak to her supervisor. Again, we went round and round….I finally gave him my FF #, he saw my status with the airline and his attitude and United willingness to fly the flight I requested was amazingly done very quickly at that point.

    The other amazing thing is when I went to look on my itinerary on the website, it shows that all tickets are for Q booking.

    Just wanted to share my pain and say it pays to have status otherwise…….you crap in their eyes.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    @Elmo – What have I said that was not true about United Airlines ticket voucher system, policy, etc.? And, what’s up with the threatening comment?

    Saying things that are damaging about a company pretty much occurs at the speed of light on the internet. The comments on this post reflect the viewpoints of United customers who for the most part have had a negative experience with the ticket voucher system.

    Good luck with your pending litigation…

  • Elmo

    Lawsuits Filed Against Bloggers Increasing

    Lawsuits filed against bloggers are increasing according to a USA Today news story.
    Legal analysts say the lawsuits are challenging a mind-set that has long surrounded blogging: that most bloggers essentially are “judgment-proof” because they – unlike traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and television outlets – often are ordinary citizens who don’t have a lot of money. Recent lawsuits by Banks and others who say they have had their reputations harmed or their privacy violated have been aimed not just at cash awards but also at silencing their critics.

    “Bloggers didn’t think they could be subject to libel,” says Eric Robinson, a Media Law Resource Center attorney. “You take what is on your mind, type it and post it.”
    Robert Cox, founder and president of the Media Bloggers Association, told USA Today that someday a blogger will be successfully sued and lose his or her home.
    Robert Cox, founder and president of the Media Bloggers Association, which has 1,000 members, says the recent wave of lawsuits means that bloggers should bone up on libel law. “It hasn’t happened yet, but soon, there will be a blogger who is successfully sued and who loses his home,” he says. “That will be the shot heard round the blogosphere.”
    That is an alarming thought. It goes without saying that bloggers should be careful and avoid blogging things they know are not true about businesses and people. The EFF has a good FAQ about libel here. Cox does encourage bloggers to fight back and protect the right to free speech in lawsuits that are “filed merely to silence critics.”

    50 lawsuits have been filed over postings on blogs and web message boards over the past two years according to the USA Today article. The article didn’t differentiate between blog posts and blog comments but there have been lawsuits over both. It also didn’t say how many of the 50 lawsuits were filed specifically against blgos and not message boards. The bright side of the story for bloggers is that fifty lawsuits is still very, very small compared to the 50+ million blogs Technorati is tracking.

  • John D

    Elmo, I agree with everything you have stated. I just got off the phone with United and booked a ticket using my voucher. I did have a 10 minute wait on hold, but everything else was smooth. I am heading to the airport now to pick up my ticket. Wish me luck.

  • Elmo

    John D – I am glad to hear a positive comment. I suspect you will get your ticket without incident. But today was very busy at Portland airport and also at Ohare. I flew today.

    I used my free ticket voucher this weekend. I flew to Portland, Oregon on Saturday to visit my sister and flew back home today. The flight was over 4400 miles round trip. I volunteered to give up my seat and was able to get another free ticket voucher. I was hoping to get 2 or 3 tickets but at least I still have a free ticket and will fly again soon.

    When the lady at Ohare gave me my free ticket voucher she saw my smile and said, “This way, everyone wins”. And I said, “Exactly”. So I am now looking for another place to go visit for a day or two – for free.

  • Kevin Eckhoff

    Does it actually say on the voucher that tickets must be picked up in person within 24 hours of making the reservation? United will not issue my tickets since I did not pick-up within the 24 hour time frame. At no time during the reservation process did the United agent mention this, and there was no mention in the confirmation email.

    The agent at the counter would not return the vouchers to me…said they were property of United, so I have no way of knowing that if there is wording on the voucher about the 24 hour timeline.

    Any suggestions are appreciated….kevin

  • Ram L

    Wow! Such an useful post. Thanks to Eric and all other contributors.

    I made a reservation for my US-Canada travel, which costed about CAD 700. Today I found a lower price (CAD566) for the same flight and called them up to ask about this. They said they would send me a voucher for the difference. I was all smiles but after going through this post it doesn’t seem as easy I thought it would be.

    About the accent, I absolutely had no problem with that. Hang on a sec. Thats bcos, I am Indian too!!! He He!!!

  • Elmo

    Kevin Eckhoff – Sept 22

    You asked: “Does it actually say on the voucher that tickets must be picked up in person within 24 hours of making the reservation?”

    I just looked at my voucher and I see no mention of the 24 hour rule. I did not know they would take your ticket from you and not give it back. I hate to say it but it sounds like you lost your ticket. That would be my guess. I don’t know if you have any options available to you. If others have suggestions, I would like to hear them. My agent told me of the 24 hour rule and so I was there withing the 24 hour time slot. I just looked at the UAL website and it dose not mention the 24 hour rule either. (See my previous post on UAL instuctions).

    This should be a warning to everyone. I know this is no comfort for Kevin, but everyone should pay attention and learn from this.

  • Elmo

    My question is this. What happens if you miss your return flight home? Do you have to pay for another ticket to get home? I woud not like to find out. I know these are treated as non-refundable tickets. So I suspect you may be out of luck.

    Does anyone know the answer to this question?

  • Sharon

    Keeping my fingers crossed…
    I just called and booked my flight and will pick up my tickets tomorrow.
    The agent I spoke to was Indian, but spoke very well and was extremely polite.
    I gave her the numbers of the flights I wanted, but on the return flight she suggested a later flight that would get me in at the same time to my final destination.
    So far, so good!
    Now, how do I avoid having to pay any fees tomorrow when I hand over my voucher and pick up my tickets?

    Sharon

  • Micah

    I just had the most flawless experience with United Free voucher. Booked a ticket for THANKSGIVING weekend, without a hitch, with multiple multiple options given for me. Phoned in to extremely polite and well spoken customer service agent (likely in Inida though). She put my tickets on courtesy hold. Went to the ticket counter at airport the following day and reservation was confirmed without a single fee, and an e-ticket with a confirmation number was issued. I was even able to select my seats online at United.com when I was done.

    So far excellent, I don’t know what all the complaining is about. They did a very nice job with me and would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • Very Disappointed

    I am another victom of a totally inefficient system too. Believe this – I have over 500,000 lifetime miles on United and I received a $150 dollar certificate after filing a written formal complaint. Now I am trying to use this certificate and I am encountering the same problems as everyone else has reported. To make matters worse, I have travelled to San Francisco on business for the next several weeks and wanted to use the certificate to bring my wife out for the weekend. She has to do all that is reported above in Eric’s original message PLUS – I have to fax her with my valid ID for her to also deliver to the ticket counter since it is my name on the certificate and the certificate is at my home not here in San Francisco. .

    After the several hours I have already put into this and the 2 hours she will need to invest just to get to the airport and back to get the ticket and the gas fee … IT MAY BE LESS EXPENSIVE TO SIMPLY NOT USE THE CERTIFICATE AT ALL!! Just maybe that was United’s plan all along.

  • http://www.edustyle.net Cody

    Wow, there’s a lot of comments. I believe the only reason for the convoluted process is to discourage people from actually using the vouchers. The biggest problem with airlines nowadays is that most airlines treat customers as something they have to put up with instead of the solution to all their problems. The irony.

  • Laura

    My husband & I each received travel vouchers for giving up our seats on an overbooked flight. After initially calling the 800# to check out the process, and with reassurance from the travel agent that we could travel in February 2009, I went ahead and planned our vacation. I researched where we wanted to go, motels, car rental and booked vacation time from work for each of us. Finally I had all the pieces in place, just needed to book the flight and then confirm my motel & car reservations. I called the 800# with the travel dates of February 2009. GUESS WHAT. I was told that I couldn’t fly on that voucher on the days requested. Our week vacation would have to either be 3 days or 12 days. There was no way we could use the voucher to fly in & out for a 7 day period. When I asked the travel agent if United would cover the additional motel & car rental expense for the additional 5 days he just laughed. (I wanted to get him to see how expensive his offer of a 12 day vacation would be for me.) Although he was very plesant he was of no help in finding us a flight for our weeks vacation. There are so many restrictions on these vouchers that unless you are flying from a major airport hub they are virtually useless. Chicago, IL is our nearest major airport – a mere 7 hour drive 1 way.

    I went so far as to question the agent that if in the future we were offered a voucher again, what type of voucher should I ask for. After repeating the question about 5 times, because the agent didn’t want to offer this information, he finally said I needed to get a $ voucher. But in reading the above comments it seems the $ vouchers are just as difficult to use.

    We were not able to give the tickets to anyone else and we couldn’t find a flight for our travel dates. So now we have a week vacation in February 2009 and no where to go. THANKS FOR NOTHING UNITED.

    Lesson learned, we will NEVER fly UNITED AGAIN.

  • Elmo

    Laura

    You did it all backwards. These tickets are not first class tickets that allow you to pick any date and any time. They are based on boarding classes W, Q, and V. The boarding classes change from day to day. I am not clear what W, Q, and V actually mean, but they are classes that allow you to pick any flight, any date, and any time. They are somewhat selective. But I have found that with a little flexibility, I can always get to where I want to go – Always. The reason I say you did it backwards is because you must secure your flights first and then plan your hotels, car rentals, etc. These are free tickets, and so you can not just pick any date and time you like. Sorry, but that is life. People will read your entry and will only see your mistakes. You have to grow up. Whinnng is not helping anyone.

    Since you find these tickets worthless, would you be so kind as to give them to me? They are transferable you know. I would love to have your valuable tickets. But I am sure you know actually know how valuable they are.

    Seriously – send me the tickets!!!!

  • Sharon

    Does anyone know if it is possible to take care of the *entire* process at the airport ticket desk? I live very close to the airport, and it seems that even booking the flight in-person might be easier than doing it by phone. Or do I still need to call the dreaded 800 #?

    Also, has anyone had to change their flight after receiving a ticket by using a voucher? I’m assuming there would be a fee, but would it be the same as with a regular booking?

  • Laura

    Elmo It seems you didn’t read my entry very well. We were not trying to fly first class and I was flexible with my dates, all I wanted was a week, 7 days, during the month of February 2009. And I called first to check to see if we could fly from point A to point B in February 2009 with those tickets and the agent said yes. So I then checked on availabity & price of motel & car rental. I didn’t actually book them, just confirmed the price & availability. THEN I attempted to book our flight. At no time during the month of February 2009 could the agent I spoke with get us from point A to point B. I was even flexible on airport departure, which could have added an additional 1 to 3 hours drive time each way. If as you say the boarding classes change daily then maybe I should call back and check. Don’t you think the United agent should have suggested this? Also, the United agent told me the tickets were non-transferable, because I wanted to give them to my daughter & granddaughter to fly home to visit us. That according to the United travel agent was also a no go.

    And if your idea of being flexible is taking a normal 6 hour, 1 plane transfer to fly from point A to point B and making the trip a 14 hour trip with 2 to 3 plane transfers you go for it. I have better ways to spend my time.

    Glad these so called free vouchers are working for someone. I have talked with 3 United agents and have had no success.

  • Elmo

    Laura

    You can check out the specifics about flights for yourself beforehand on the internet. You don’t have to call an agent to find out what is available and what is W, Q, or V. Their reservation system will tell you the boarding class after you select a flight. I know this is a pain, but it works and I know when I call the agent, he should see the same thing. But you can’t wait for days to call after you know they are valid boarding classes. They could easily change.

    I have notced that the Borading Classes will change as you get nearer to the date of the flights. They will eliminate Classes W, Q, and V the last week or two before the flight. What was a W, Q, or V, may not be so the last 2 weeks. I think it is because the flights are filling up and they are interested in paying customers. I can’t blame them. But you must reserve your tickets 2 weeks in advance, so that should not be an issue. I have noticed that some locations have very few flights with W, Q and or V.

    For example, for me to fly to Key West, Florida, I noticed that there are not a lot of W, Q, or V flights. Also, for me to fly to Riverside, California, I have noticed a similar patteren. I think the reason is that they reserve them for paying customers and they don’t have that much leeway or margin for free tickets. The patteren I have noticed is that the smaller towns and locations do not have as many W, Q, or V.

    Concerning “Transfering” these tickets to someone else – I was clearly told by the agent that they are transferrable. And I believe that other posts here say the same thing. I have not done any transfers, but the impression I have is that I would have to transfer the tickets at the airport. If you have 2 tickets in your name and want to take your spouse with you on a free ticket, I believe that can be done. I also believe that you can transfer your tickets to anyone, but you both might have to go to the airport to do it. I am not sure about exactly how that is done.

  • gloria

    wow, i can’t believe your blog info is the most valid info i find for using my voucher….
    even it’s been two years since you posted this blog.
    thanks.

  • Ann

    I just wanted to add my positive experience to this collection, for what it’s worth. I received a free travel voucher after being bumped last week. Went online and made a reservation, checking the flight details to make sure that the flights I reserved were W, V, or Q class. Instead of paying, I clicked “Hold my Itinerary for 24 hours.” The I called United, gave the automated system my confirmation number, and chose the “purchase my itinerary” option. When the system asked me for my credit card, I said “agent” and was immediately transferred to an agent – no wait time at all. He was very pleasant and quickly transferred my itinerary over to the free travel voucher system, then even went as far as to look up the hours of the ticketing desk of my local airport so that I know when to go there tomorrow. I’d say the entire transaction, including making the reservation online and calling United, took less than 10 minutes. A breeze!

    Sorry to everyone who has had a less than pleasant experience. I strongly recommend making a reservation online first. It makes things run very smoothly.

  • Elmo

    Ann

    I would have to say you certainly take first prize for creativity. Very clever!!!! Now that is what I call using your head. I would never have thought of doing that. I may try your method the next time I use my free ticket voucher. Thanks for the great tip.

  • LuckyDog

    For anyone trying to redeem a voucher, definitely pick your flight on line first. I used the United automated phone system to reselect the flights (i didn’t hold my reservation which is faster) then said ” agent” to pay. I will mail in the vouchers. My flight is 8 months out so I didn’t have a “seat not available” problem. Total phone time was 16 minutes with a very helpful agent.

  • Carrie

    Lucky Dog- Make sure you send the voucher in via certified mail! The only real complaint I had was that they kept trying to tell me they hadn’t received the vouchers. They eventually did get them (about 2 weeks after I mailed them), but I sure was wishing I could track the mail in case they claimed they never received the voucher.

    I will admit I was a dummy for just sending regular mail, but I also agree that their voucher system is not very user friendly. I learned a lot from my first experience, and from this blog. I think that these ticket vouchers can be great if you know how to properly use them. Too bad so many people have to go through such a rough time learning.

  • Laurie

    WOW!!!! All I seem to be hearing is people complaining about getting a free round trip ticket and having to acutally put a little effort into redeeming it. I have gotten many free Round trip vouchers and…….yes you have to follow the instructions/guidlines that they have but I have NEVER had a problem………REMEMBER it was a FREE!!!!!!!!!!! ticket people.
    Also keep a copy of the voucher before you mail it in. That is just good business practice in case something should go haywire.

  • richard

    Thanks for this fabulous information. Am trying to use the certificates, ie. four certificates in my name for a total of $600 and four certificates in my wife’s name for another $600 I have three questions:

    1) The agent on the phone said that I can only use three certificates out of the four for any flight I choose. Is this correct?

    2) How can I pay the difference between the value of the certificates and the value of the ticket?

    3) The terms and conditions on the certificate also talk about using a travel agency authorized to issue United Airlines tickets. Is this true? How does one know which travel agency to go to?

    4) We live in Ottawa, Canada and the United counter here at the airport does not issue tickets. It’s several hours to travel to Syracuse. If I want to use certificates to allow my daughter to travel, is going all the way to Syracuse airport to change them to her name? If I do so, do I have to bring her with me in person?

    5) The certifcates were obtained on our way from San Francisco to Hawaii last year. Can we use them to go back there next February?

    Please advise.

  • Elmo

    This blog should be divided into a couple or more categories.

    1) Bellyachers – Several posts are merely statements by people who are angry and they want to tell everyone. These posts are pointless. They are not helpful to anyone. So you are angry, my question is how do I use my free voucher. So you hate UAL, what is your point? You are wasting everyones time. Stuff happens, that is life. Whining is not helping anyone. People read these entries by people who are grumbling and think to themselves – what a loser! I could do without these posts.

    2) Brainless – These are posts where people show their own stupidity as much as the faults of the airline. Anyone who is on the phone for an hour is only showing themselves to be not too smart. What could you possibly talk about for an hour? The phone has been around for longer than anyone, and they still don’t know how to use it? If you can’t get satisfaction in a couple of minutes, hang up and call back. Talk to someone who is helpful. One person who was a self proclaimed computer expert said that UAL website was terrible. They could not find any information on their website about free ticket vouchers. But at the top of their website is an input field for Seaching their website. Two clicks and you have the information you need. The only thing the computer expert proved was that he was an idiot. You have to know how to use the phone and the internet folks. The good thing about these kind of posts is that others can learn from their mistakes. You don’t have to repeat their mistakes.

    3) Beneficial – Some people stay focused and try to share information that is helpful to others. They give examples of what worked for them. These are the best posts when people share their knowledge. The system really does work, but you have to be able to follow a few simple instructions. Lately, there have been some really good posts by people giving good information. This blog has a lot of good information, but unfortunately you have to read thru a lot of nonesense just to see what works. After all, it is all about using that free ticket voucher.

    People need to give up the conspiracy theory. There is no conspiracy to keep you from using your ticket. I heard it costs the airlines less than $50 to give you a free ticket. The agents that gave me the tickets were more than happy to give me the vouchers. They know how valuable they are. I would guess that most of the people that know how to use these tickets don’t bother to post their positive information here. They get thier ticket and go on.

  • http://N/A Nancy Mumbi Mburu

    WOW!!!! All I seem to be hearing is people complaining about getting a free round trip ticket and having to acutally put a little effort into redeeming it. I had never got any free Round trip vouchers and…….yes you have to follow the instructions/guidelines that they have but you will have NEVER had a problem………REMEMBER it was a FREE!!!!!!!!!!! ticket people.
    Also keep a copy of the voucher before you mail it in.

  • Dhaval

    This was the only place that gave me exact steps to redeem my free ticket voucher. United might have it on their website but this was easy to find here. I might be the one in thousands, who was able to book the free ticket right away in 10 mins of call and thats because V class was still available. The trick is keep an eye on the trip you want to take and call it as soon as you see the tickets are open. Probably, after reading all the reviews I had already prepared myself for lot of adversities to redeem my voucher, this seemed very straight forward and saved $519 on my trip across the continent…Newark to San Fransisco. Cheers!!

  • AJ

    My first attempt and input to redeem the tickets and my take on this little adventure for redemption: strange that when I looked on United’s website that nothing is listed (so far) to show how to redeem the tickets. I even used the search option thingy that Elmo recommended and did following – typed in “free ticket voucher” or the” redeem free tickets” and etc. Nothing popped up so I must be an ideoit, idout, idiout… stupid. Next I’m gonna try using LuckDog’s (thanks Dude) recommendation and give it shot again. Looking through all the other posts (very helpful too) that some people blogged to say that “hey, your getting a free ticket, a little effort here“. But I also believe that if United (and other airlines) are serious about offering this good deal, they should be more up front to assist with the tickets. After all, it takes very little programming effort to creat a link on how to redeem free tickets. If the airlines put up too many roadblocks to redeem the tickets, nobody will care to use the voucher program. Besides, my effort was to volunteer to travel at a later time (a small inconvenience). Anyways, I found your blog and the info you (and other peoples input) provided as being really helpful. Thanks so much and Happy Thanksgiving Eric.

  • Elmo

    AJ

    1) At the top of UAL site is an input box. Enter the word “Vouchers” and press the Search button. That’s one click. A new page will appear.

    2) On the right side of this new page you will see a section called Related Questions: The first question I see is: “How do I use a free ticket voucher?” Click on this link (2nd click) and you will have UALs instructions on how to use your free ticket.

    The good thing is that what UAL says is accurate, the bad thing is that what they say is not very thorough. So after reading the information you see on UAL’s site, read the stuff you see here on this blog and you should have pretty much the whole story. Just keep in mind, there are some inacurracies on this blog. When in doubt, go by the information on UAL site.

  • Elmo

    AJ

    You raise a good question that others have raised before you. The question is this: “Why is it so hard to find information on UAL’s website about the free ticket vouchers”? I would say that that is a fair question. There is no option under the any of the menus that I could see that would lead me to this information.

    First you have to realize that UAL is a huge website. They could not possibly put every thing on the home page. I just used a tool to crawl UAL website and after the tool visited over 1,110 pages, I stopped the tool. You have to agree that 1,110+ pages is a large website. The question is, “how do you make information easily available on a website that has over 1,110 pages?

    Second, you also have to realize that UAL’s main business is about “selling” tickets and not about giving away free tickets. So if you had to make a choice between “selling” tickets or giving them away, I think you too would make the decision to “sell” tickets a priority. You would put the “selling” pages easily accessible on the main page.

    Third, not only are there a lot of pages on UAL site, but the pages on their website are an eclectic collection. The amount of subjects that they cover is huge. Unfortunately, free-ticket-vouchers are just not a great priority to UAL. They have bigger fish to fry – like staying in business.

    Having said all that, I would have to say that the only reasonable thing for UAL to do to make information about the free-ticket-vouchers easy to find is thru the Search Button. You tell me how else could you make this information available to people and still not detract from you main business of selling. I would say that on a scale of 1 to 1,000 that free ticket vouchers are close to the bottom.

    This is not uncommon on other sites. More and more sites are using the Search Button. The amount of information on websites and varied kinds of information on websites just does not make it feasible to create a menu item or a link on the home page for every topic or subject. The Search Button should be the first thing we should look for when entering a website.

    So maybe UAL has done it right all along. And maybe people just need to wise up and learn how to use a Search Button.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    I really wish that United Airlines would just sponsor this post instead of paying Elmo* to represent them ;-)

    *This claim is sponsored by the makers of zero, zip, zilch, and the United Airlines website search function.

  • Elmo

    AJ

    The airlines don’t care if you don’t use your voucher. If they did, they would make it easier to use. But they have made them available. And that is all they have to do. But the burden is on you to redeem the ticket – not them. Sorry, but that is life. It is the same with mail-in-rebates from manufacturers. The burden is on you to get the rebate, not the manufacturer. If you want the rebate money, you have to follow all the rules, meet the deadlines, cash the check. etc. Same with these free ticket vouchers.

    So all this talk about making it easier is not going to happen. But they are available and they are real and they are valuable. Some people continue to bark up the wrong tree. You need to focus on how to successfully redeem your ticket not how to change UAL. I would be willing to bet that that won’t happen. UAL will not read this blog and realize the error of their ways and add a link on their home page that points to how to use free ticket vouchers. Never gonna happen.

    If you want your free ticket, you have to go after it.

  • Shelbs

    I, like the rest of you, am trying to use a ticket voucher to fly United from Indianapolis to Phoenix. I realize the proces is complex, but I’m willing to go through a little hassle for a free flight. I just need to know how to redeem the voucher and fly when I want to. I have read all of the posts and completely understand what I need to do to redeem the voucher… EXCEPT for finding a seat in W,V,Q class.

    I have searched the dates that I want to fly, as well as random dates as far as 4-5 months out (including non peak days, etc.) and I am only seeing Y and N class fights. Is there a way for me to specifically search for W,V,Q class fights? Or do I just have to keep picking random days and looking at the flight details. Searching online, then finding the flight I want and reserving it before I call seems like the logical thing to do, but that is proving impossible. Any help would be greatly appreciated. And I promise I’m not on here to complain about a FREE FLIGHT!

  • Elmo

    Shelbs

    I just found flights going thru Ohare for Jan 17 (Q) and return on Jan 18 (W). I realize that this probably is not when you want to go. But I just picked 2 dates and picked the first flight for each day and they were Q and W.

    United 7619 Q @ 6:01 am
    United 2399 Q @ 7:15 am

    United 1233 W @ 6:00 am
    United 5948 W @ 10:10 am

    I know of no way to search by Boarding Classes W, Q, or V. I realize this is a pain, but for free, I don’t mind a little work.

  • Dave

    Fascinating site. Started off just wanting to double check the PO BOX number and found this in the first hit. I think like Eric’s very first post, I was just surprised that I was writing down info on the voucher and needing to postmark it in the next 24 hours. It just seemed strange in 2008. But since I’m commenting about my experience, I will go all in… my call with the agent was smooth. I knew what flights I wanted already and the whole thing was done in about 15 minutes. I spent more time prepping my mailing. Though the voucher is in my name, I was able to use it for my wife… I just had to write her name on the voucher and send copies of both of our ID’s in with it. I will thank the previous people who posted about mailing certified with receipt, I certainly was not planning on it and that seems like a great idea. My only other comment is mere observation: The “saint” comes on with a litigation claim and now is captain voucher of this blog. I’m not saying I understand the problems of other folks on this site, but wow buddy– relax. No need to respond to me… just passing through and not returning. Best.

  • Elmo

    Dave

    Good luck on your mailing – you may need it. Some of he information on this blog is incorrect. The PO Box number is incorrect on this blog in a couple of places. I would use the information on the UAL website – not the information posted here. But since you will not be checking back, you will not know why UAL never got your vouchers in the mail.

    I wonder how may people have gotten incorrect or misleading information from this blog and thus lost thier free tickets.

  • Carrie

    Elmo, Elmo, Elmo….This is the ERIC STOLLER blog, right? Anyone else think Elmo needs to get his own blog? I mean, really, why is it YOUR responsibility to reply to every single post here?!

  • Jennifer

    I’ve heard a lot about redeeming free travel vouchers but what about redeeming a TRAVEL CERTIFICATE? My husband and I were bumped from an international flight (I was 7 months pregnant and they made me stand for 6+hours in line waiting for a resolution and trying to get rebooked on a flight – they kept taking away the wheelchair my husband found me…it was horrible). Water under the bridge, but now we would like to give these $300 travel certificates to friends to redeem. Does anyone know how to redeem travel certificates? There is no info in the united website – surprise surprise!

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  • Warren

    This is still the same process. Beware af them charging you $25 for booking with a representative. I made all the flight plans on the automated portion of my phone call then asked for a representative to close it out. I avoided the fee this way. Now I’m off to the post office. Good luck. At the end of the day .. it’s still free. Cost of my ticket outright was $430.

  • Greg

    FREE, HUMBUG! HUMBUG I TELL YOU! their idea of free = Lots of frustrating calls, terrible customer service, and a red eye with 4 connecting flights. United is terrible, but almost all airlines are these days, so they don’t have to compare to any other decent competitor. My free voucher turned into a non-free pain in the tushie! They need to shape over there.

  • http://keithtom.com keith

    I’d like to add my name to this adhoc testament to the crap this airline pulls.

    The site doesn’t let you redeem the voucher even though it makes it look like you can. I had to call in, and now they make me mail the stupid thing to their office, post marked by the next business day or it’s invalid.

    This seems like an obvious ploy to make it difficult to redeem these vouchers. It feels like an insult to make me jump through hoops with next day deadlines.

    Boo, United Airlines. Boo to you.

  • Glenn

    If anyone ever makes it down this far in the blog, here’s the information I got from the United Airlines person I just spoke with (which I got when I was issued my Free Ticket Voucher but partially forgot):
    Firstly, I volunteered to get bumped on a flight to one 1/2 hr later, which flew to the same city (different airport but it didn’t matter to me), it was a non-stop istead of my original one-stop, and it arrived 2 hrs earlier. So even if I didn’t get a free voucher, I still made out well.
    I spoke with a guy by calling United Airlines 1-800-241-6522, and typed “0” or said “agent” a few times. In a few minutes I was speaking with a friendly guy with an easy-to-understand Indian accent. This is what he told me:
    I can use the voucher myself (I believe I can give it to a family member if they have the same last names), or I can use it for someone else if I myself go to the airport or mail it in. I need it for my mother so will mail it in (I’m giving it to her now so she can mail it in when needed).
    1. She finds a flight she wants to take 7-14 days in advance (he recommended 15-20 days to be safe for mailing it in).
    2. She then calls up United to book the flight, and tells the agent it will be paid for by a voucher and gives the voucher’s profile code (printed on the voucher). Note that there are restrictions printed on the ticket: Economy, W, V or Q classes. She gives her number and e-mail address to the agent.
    3. The voucher gets mailed to: United Airlines Discount Certificates, Ticket by Mail, PO Box 6046, Dearborn, MI 48121. Her name and reservation confirmation number must be written on the back of the ticket. (The ticket also says to write her name on the back.) Note: Another guy I spoke with to confirm this info also said to include copies front & back of my license or ID and her license or ID, plus the flight info (flight # and departing/arriving cities of the last leg of the departing flight), but that seems like it may be overkill.
    4. United confirms payment by email or phone directly to my mother.
    5. She goes to the airport and picks up her electronic ticket.
    This does not seem to be in conflict with the above posts, though I didn’t make it through all of them (!). Seems to me if you know before you go, and are willing to follow the prescribed procedures, it isn’t so bad.

  • JS

    Just like to share my experience. We used two vouchers for a trip to CA during Christmas. I got one voucher directly from United for being bumped off a flight, and another one via ebay. The person who sold me the voucher on ebay sent a copy of her license along with the voucher.

    I followed the advice from this thread and checked out the flights for voucher eligibility before I called to make a reservation so this part of the process was relatively quick and painless. I confirmed with the rep that I’d be able to use the voucher by showing a copy of the original holder’s ID.

    The hiccup occurred when I went to the airport (an hour drive away) to have the tickets issued. The agent at the counter refused to issue the ticket even after I presented the ID of the holder and a note from her stating her intention to transfer the voucher to me. They insisted that the original holder must be present in order to make the transfer. I asked the agent to call customer care to confirm that a photo ID was sufficient, she sneered at that suggestion and said that it didn’t matter what customer service says because she had the ultimate say.

    Frustrated, I called customer service support again and they suggested that I mailed it in instead. The mail-in process worked much faster than I expected-tickets were issued two days later.

    Maybe I just had really bad luck and ran into a less than accommodating agent. But if you’re using a transferred voucher I’d suggest you do the mail-in option to save an unecessary trip to the airport.

  • Krey

    Clarification needed please:
    Had a short hassle free experience (so far) booking my free ticket voucher today for ORD – MCO in March. Per the instructions, I am mailing it in ~ postmarked by tomorrow~ the itinerary is already showing up online under my milege plus number & I was able to select seats this evening.

    My question is ~ since this is an electronic ticket ~ do I have to go to the airport at somepoint and “pick up” my electronic ticket even though I am mailing the voucher to Dearborn?

    The agent made no mention of this, but some confusing posts lead me to believe I may have to go to pick up the ticket within 24 hours of being issued.

    Sorry I’m a bit confused ~ thanks in advance for your help/advice.
    Happy New Year!
    Krey

  • Glenn

    Dear Krey, per what I’ve been told from UA customer service, when you mail in the voucher, they should call or email you with the ticket confirmation number. You then take that confirmation number to the airport when you are going to fly, and get the electronic ticket issued. So based on this you would not need to go a day early to pick it up–just go the day of the flight. This is based on two guys I’ve spoken with at UA and I didn’t see anything contradicting this in the above thread. Hope this helps.

  • Laura Sturges

    I have two free vouchers that I got off ebay I have a copy of one persons ID for one voucher but not for the other one. Will I still be able to book my flight Via mail for these vouchers. If so how?

  • Marissa

    Make sure you make a copy of your travel voucher! I am so glad I did because one of the two vouchers was not applied when I sent them to the Discount Certificate-Ticket by Mail address. I suggest certified mail when mailing your voucher.

  • JS

    Laura, you definitely need the person’s ID. Email the seller and ask him/her for a copy of their ID. Otherwise you’d not be able to use it.

  • PPK

    Hello everyone,

    I am in the process of redeeming free travel vouchers, I hope I will not be having any complaints (Are you listening, United?). Last summer, my wife, son and I voluntarily gave up our seats for 3 free travel vouchers. Yesterday I called UA and spoke with a very helpful young woman. She was obviously Indian and I am assuming UA has outsourced this phone bank, but this is a non-issue for me in terms of customer service. It took about 15 minutes for me to get pretty good flights booked.I am mailing in the vouchers today, so let’s hope things go smoothly. I checked the UA web site this morning and found my flights are listed and confirmed in my name. Hopefully UA has taken some of these criticism to heart and has upgraded their service. I’ll check back later and let you know the conclusion.

  • Linda

    I also have a voucher from a bumped flight. I called the United phone # and this was easy for my friend and myself. I live 2 1/2 hours from the airport that we planned to fly from and was also told to come there to retreive our tickets or mail them. I also live 5 miles from a small airport in our area that few fly from. We were told we could get our tickets there. SO off we go to get them The ticket agent at the airport ask “why” we did not fly from there? he informed us that all we had to do was call them back and rebook our flight which we did. So now we can fly 5 miles from home and we have no extra $$$ in gas, parking etc.. Maybe we just lucked out with this, not sure. So sorry for everyones problems.

  • Fred Sanchevez

    Oh boy! And here I thought I was sitting pretty with my UA travel vouchers for the time when my wife and I were bumped a day on our flight due to UA’s total ineptness. I called the airline to find out how to use them, and the Indian woman (no prejudice here, but I call it like it is) on the line kept blathering about how our miles were already posted to our accounts. No amount of explaining could persuade her that she wasn’t understanding me. I searched online intead to find out how to use them, and this is the conversation that comes up. UA is the worst airline in the universe.

  • PPK

    Checking back in after my late January posting. I have nothing but good things to report. My inital reservation got messed up because the person who was supposed to mail in my voucher failed to provide the proper postage. The vouchers were returned to me by USPS and I called United. Turned out it was the day after my reservation had expired. The woman I spoke with, accent and all, was very helpful. She simply re-entered all the flight information and re-confirmed the reservation. I mailed the vouchers and the e-ticket receipt and itinerary arrived yesterday. I’m all set to fly in April. Kudos to United.

  • http://keithtom.com keith

    I’m glad you were satisfied with your voucher experience, but I think you aren’t comparing it to what the other airlines have.

    I too used my voucher by mailing it off and had no problems. But I felt like a monkey jumping through hoops. I had to call in because their website didnt work, then mail it off the NEXT business day or it would be invalid. That last part just seems unnecessary and designed to make you lose your voucher.

    Now I recently used a NWA voucher through their online site and it was virtually the same as booking a ticket online with the exception of entering my voucher number in a field. No tricks, no games.

    That is my main problem with United. I feel like they treat you like a puppet.

  • Step

    Someone already asked this, but I never saw a response.

    Can you skip the 1-800 number and just go directly to the airport to redeem your vouchers? does anyone know?

    Thanks.

  • ppk

    Keith, you may be right that other airlines make it easier than United. The only previous voucher I used was about 20 years ago, I don’t even remember what airline. I agree the idea of having to mail the voucher in the next day seems ridiculous. I got the impression, however, that this doesn’t mean anything. My initial reservation was valid on the web site for a couple weeks even though they hadn’t received my voucher because of my mailing mess-up. Plus, when I spoke with the United rep the second time I told her I could not get to the post office the next day. She told me it was no big deal, just get it in the mail as soon as I could. I wish I would have asked her why they initially say to get it postmarked so quickly if it doesn’t matter. Maybe so they don’t keep the seat reserved if it’s not really going to be used?

  • Harry

    With the benefit of reading this blog , it wasn’t bad at all–I had a 3 minute wait for an agent, who was very pleasant and knew exactly the procedure to tell me and was helpful beyond the call of duty, for example by telling me the hours of operation for the UAL ticket counter at the airport where I redeemed my voucher. And I got the flights I wanted.

    BEFORE I found this blog, I was in a murderous rage because I could find no way through the United automated line nor any other phone number I could come up with, in order to talk to a human to get this simple task accomplished. The Google search that found me this blog was a last resort.

    Although I am happy about how things are working out, I still think it is completely unacceptable that one has to have the good luck and obsessiveness to stumble onto some unafiliated DIY customer support page in order to realistically be able to redeem a voucher at all. I can’t believe that the people who have posted, more or less, “quit whining and do the legwork” really think this is how it should work. I have no problem doing legwork–I just drove 100 miles round trip to the airport to redeem my voucher. I have a big problem with being given no clue how to obtain a ticket that the airline has–by giving me the voucher–admitted I deserve, for having previously been inconvenienced by their screwup. Are you really saying I’m supposed to GUESS that I should say “agent…agent…agent” over and over to a machine until miraculously an agent picks up on the line? Give me a break.

    It seems like UAL could save themselves a ton of ill will, abundantly in evidence on this blog, by simply adding “talk to an agent” to the automated line’s menu options. I expect that would cost them money by increasing the wait times etc. But consider that the alternative is the kind of fury many posters here express, that these posts must represent a very small fraction of the people who have these experiences and opinions, AND that the same thing must happen to people calling the automated line for any number of other things not covered by the main menu. (I bet some of them are actually trying to figure out how to BUY something, not redeem a freebie.) Is whatever UAL is saving worth this kind of terrible P.R.? Why have the “Agent” option if you’re not going to tell people it exists? It makes UAL look incompetent at best, deceitful at worst.

    But, to repeat, once I figured out how to talk to an agent my experience was a breeze.

  • Shelley Douma

    Thanks for the information. In case anyone else needs it, the address you send the voucher to is: United Airlines, PO Box 6046, Dearborn, MI 48121. I couldn’t find it anywhere and finally had to call back.

  • Sydney

    Ok, everyone, there seem to be some bad experiences. I had a very positive experience. It took me about 45 minutes total to get my ticket. Only 12 minutes of that was on the phone. Here’s the skinny:
    1. Go to United.com, choose your itinerary just as though you would purchase it.
    2. Make sure all flights you choose are of the classification you are limited to (shown on your voucher).
    3. Rather than purchase, choose to save the itinerary.
    4. Call customer service (I called at 8:00am Pacific Time) 800-864-8331. Tell them you have a saved itinerary. They will ask for your reservation number. They will give you an address to send your voucher to. They will tell you the cancellation and change policy.
    5. Send your voucher to the address along with your printed reservation
    6. A few days later you will receive a confirmation email of the ticketing. That’s it.

    Hope this helps those who are having trouble.

  • tony

    Hi everyone, just thought that I’d add my comments – really appreciated your blog as I’ve just redeemed some vouchers here in the UK. It meant that we were well prepared and in fact it went very smoothly.

    Just a couple of points in case anyone from the UK reads this. The United ticket office is in Terminal 1 at Heathrow, you have to go there to book with your vouchers. The only flights you can redeem against are direct United flights – from the UK that means (off the top of my head) only 5 direct flights from London, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco and 1 other (sorry can’t remember).

    We booked to San Fran, because although you can change flights, of course, it’s a long time flying. My tip is make sure that the flight is less(cost) than booking a package, or less than a discouted flight. They worked out the $ conversion on that days rate, which was great for us as we were given the vouchers a year ago when the exchange rate was $2 to the pound.

    We found the United guys behind the desk very very helpful and the whole thing was done in 20 mins, including us deciding where to go! I wouldn’t bother with the call centre, they didn’t really want to help there. BTW we redeemed 4x$150 vouchers for each flight without a problem around multiple vouchers.

    Hope this is helpful, just to make clear that we have no connection with United and in fact we were very p***d off with them as the took a day out of our honeymoon last year because they turned up with a plane smaller than the one we had checked-in on, on-line(!) but the booking goes OK, I think if you can make it to a United booking desk easily.

  • Joe

    Thank you for this helpful information. I have read every post here. This blog would not be necessary if it “were” made convenient to book these tickets. These are not “FREE” tickets. They were given as compensation because of an inconvenience caused by the airline.

    Time is money! Please don’t make excuses for how complicated this process is. If redeeming these vouchers “for a service that has been promised” was made convenient for the consumer then this blog would not be necessary.

    Do not make any of these people feel stupid. They are not stupid. They are smart. This practice needs to end. I will be redeeming this “promised service” soon. I am hopeful that I will not be inconvenienced because of corporate greed more than two years after this blog began.

    Sincerely,
    Joe consumer

  • Laura S.

    I need help!! I have two type A vouchers worth $425 each that were given to me(Ebay) and are going to expire april 9th, 2009 I know I can use only one voucher for 1 ticket. ie I need to book two round trip tix. I have the ID of the person who”gave” the vouchers to me. On the back of the voucher it states that if the voucher is over $25 and the name is different than on the voucher that person needs to go to the airport and make the reservations. Is this true? Or can it be done by mail if I send them in with a copy of our IDs. also the price difference how do I deal with that? Any help would be great!

    Aloha Laura

  • Abi

    In addition to all the absurdities mentioned above, I was also unable to use my voucher for a multicity flight, even though my “return” flight was much shorter than an actual return to my original departure city would have been. So, I booked a round trip flight with a layover in the city I actually want to get to, and plan to not take the remaining two flights on that leg of the trip. I feel bad for reserving a ticket for two flights I’m not actually taking…but I had no other option!

  • Laxmi

    I have redeemed this voucher two times with absolutely no difficulty. A simplest way is to book the roundtrip ticket at airport itself even someone else on your behalf can book this ticket provided the ticket is for yourself . You can also redeem this voucher for someone else as well as last time I redeemed free ticket voucher for my husbands travel tickets whose cost was sixes more than what I paid earlier :) , just plan 14 days in advance and enjoy:)

  • MplsTCH

    Bad day at ORD Sunday. Ended up staying overnight, and flying out Monday…… wife an I missed a day of work. United heavily overbooked theor Minneapolis flights

    We have 2 free ticket voouchers………….anyone know if they are good on US Air? When I check flights on the United site…………all the flights I want, come up US Air

  • T

    Hi,

    I was wondering if there is anyone out there who has tried taking advantage of this overbooking freet ticket system by deliberately reserviing a place on a flight which is likely to be overbooked inorder to volunteer for later flights to get free tickets ? if so, how many free tickets were you able to get and which airports did you choose for this?

    Thanks

    T

  • Hayley

    After having my return flight to Vegas cancelled and being put on one 24 hours later (Nov/08), I spend 2 hours on the phone to United to complain. I was transferred to 5 different people in India and had to repeat my story over and over again. I was finally offered a travel certificate for $150. This didn’t really compensate for the hotel that I had to move to for the extra night.

    Yesterday I called to book a flight for a trip in August (I live in Canada but will be flying out of Detroit). I have already booked and paid for the hotel. I was told the procedure and decided to take it to the airport. I told him what city I live in (I’m 2 hours away from Toronto and about 2 1/2 from the Detroit airport) and he said I could take it to “any” airport so I went to my local airport because I only had 24 hours to do this. **Sigh**.. I got there and as suspected they couldn’t help me as we don’t have a United counter yet. The woman did go out of her way to call United Canada, and was told that I would have to mail it. She then called the United number for the US. He told her that I should take it to Toronto and she told him that it’s a 2 hour drive each way and I couldn’t do that. So I now have to mail it. I’ve made copies of everything and will be mailing it today. If I can send it inexpensively by Priority Post I’ll send it that way. I suspect that it will not be the case so I’ll have to rely on snail-mail. Has anyone had any luck sending it from Canada to the Dearborn address? Did you get your ticket issued? My biggest concern is that it will get “lost” somewhere along the way and I’ll have a huge fight on my hands. I will not fly United ever again unless I have no other choice.

    Just for the record, this isn’t about India or the people there. I realize they probably have a list that they refer to… complaint A, use response #3.. but this is terrible customer service and they may not live in a culture where customer service is all that important. This is not their fault, this is United’s fault. If they are going to represent an American airline they must be trained to deal with customer issues no matter where they live in the world. I recently had to send my laptop back to HP and dealt with reps in the Phillippines. I had no issues and their customer service level was what I was expecting.. so I credit HP with proper training.

    Bottom line, I won’t fly United if I can help it after this trip (assuming my voucher gets to the right place and is actually applied to my account and I get my ticket!). I am also sending a long letter of complaint so who knows? :)

    I would love to print off this blog and send it along but I think I’ll be killing a tree or two and I wouldn’t be able to afford the postage!

    Thanks for reading
    :)

  • J

    A trip back from England had half the lavatories not working and the television not working almost the entire time. I was not bothered by it one bit as I slept almost the entire trip. I received a $250 voucher for this incovenience.
    I tried ticketing on united.com, but no where does it ask for a voucher number, this brought me to the automated telephone method. I did not want to pay the $25 fee for talking to an agent and it took 10 minutes to get the automated system to know what reservations I wanted. After it asked for my credit card number, didn’t ask for voucher, I asked for “help”. The agent came on and I told her about the voucher, she immediately gave me the same Address as discussed in this blog, and I confirmed with her twice, as I was sure my voucher would get “lost” in the mail. I asked if the address could be found on united.com, to be certain of the address given, she was unable to locate the URL.
    I read this blog and took the advice to get delivery confirmation when mailing in my voucher.
    Boy was I shocked and pleasantly surprised! I mailed the voucher on a monday, had not even had time to check the delivery confirmation, and received e-ticket confirmation two days later!

  • http://www.octopistudio.com Stefan Knorr

    Thanks Eric!

    I agree – United sucks at making information easily accessible. It’s truly inexcusable in this day and age. With some simple readjustments they could make many people happy and inspire loyalty rather than mutiny. Seems like a pretty straight forward business decision to me…

    hey United – I’d be happy to do some IA consulting with exponential ROI guaranteed!

    That said, I’ll add my two cents – since, thanks to Eric and all the rest of you, you just made booking a Free Ticket Voucher infinitely smoother.

    1. As Sydney mentioned, go to United.com and choose your itinerary. Save this Itinerary as a trip template, and/or take a screen shot for reference. This way, when you call, you can tell the agent exactly what you want.

    2. When you call the United number say “agent” like Harry above advised. It’ll get you straight to a person. This will save you a lot of time.

    3. If you have a frequent flyer number – don’t wait for the agent to ask for it (they may not), give it to them. This will also save you lots of time, since you won’t have to repeat all your information – they’ll just have it at their fingertips.

    4. Yes it’s india. Be polite. Karma goes round, just like that little globe we all live on…

    Happy travels!

    Stefan

  • http://keithtom.com keith

    this doesn’t have to do with vouchers but still a funny video that shows the little guy winning for once. i wish someone made a video for this voucher crap…

  • yuu

    First off, if this many people had to resort to a blog for help, UA definitely needs to fix something. It’s been 4 years since the original post and I don’t understand why there still isn’t an easier, online way to redeem the ticket.

    I’m really not sure I want to bother redeeming my ticket anymore, especially since I wanted to use it for a trip that probably will be sooner than 2 weeks.

  • Barry S.

    I’ll keep this short and simple! Thank you Eric, for posting your blog on United’s free voucher. Ditto: to the reply on customer service, (Call center in India, and a worthless web site), and United’s policy of over-booking. TY all, for usefull info. which will help me to redeem my free voucher (Hopefully)!
    P.S. Im redeeming mine at the ticket counter, on the account that, I dont trust sending it to them.

  • Larry

    Thanks for the info Eric. But I can simplify the process quite a bit. I learned this trick from information I got for a completely different problem.

    1. Once you get the dreaded computer generated operator, simply answer “I DON’T KNOW” to any and all questions that you are asked. It took about a minute to get a living breathing operator and about two minutes to get my ticket. You still have to mail it in, or locate a United Ticket Counter within 48 hours.

    Seems to work on all Computer generated answering machines. The possibilities are endles. GOOD LUCK!

  • andrew

    Now i do regret mailing the voucher. One week later and they say they have not received it . I was free on that day i should have driven to the airport 20 mins away

  • TINA

    I was wondering if anyone has tried to split their vouchers into 2 separate flights. (If this was addressed earlier I apologize for overlooking it.) I flew this past weekend and gave up my seat for the free vouchers that were issued as 4 separate $100 coupons. The idea in my head when I first jumped on this was to use two of them towards a one-way flight to send my boyfriend back to Oakland and then possibly use the other two for a future flight for myself. After reading all the posts I’m thinking this probably isn’t an option. Can anyone help?

    Thanks.

  • Carl

    My parents and I were volunteers to give our seats to obtain 3 free tickets vouchers last September. However, I realized after the fact that the vouchers were only good for the 48 inland states, and we live in Quebec City, Canada. Despite the fact that there are 3 UA flights departing Quebec City everyday, I was obliged to reserve my tickets with Burlington VT as departing airport (4 hours drive one way). This restriction was a pain for me and it was not a so good deal finally.

    However, the reservation process went smoothly despite the fact that English is my second language and surely the second language of the agent who answered me. I was lucky to find the necessary info on your blog. Thank you.

  • melody

    I received voucher because my flight was delayed last may. Now I am trying to use it. but all the outbound flight is not the class they allowed while my inbound has class V. Do you think I can use it?
    Thanks

  • Lee

    I spent 45 minutes on the phone with some guy in India who could not type more then one number ot letter at a time and it took 5 minutes for him to get may street name alone correct and my street name is two words with only 4 letters in each word. After 45 minutes he said I had to take the voucher to an airport to purchase my ticket and get my seat assignments. At that point I said cancel the transaction as there was only one window seat left and I wanted to grab it – I told him I will go elsewhere – then he said I could mail the voucher in. If you have a paper voucher – just go to an airport to satrt with or call United when you have nothing else to do!

  • Lew

    I got my voucher for giving up my seat on a flight home. Upon using the flight voucher, I called the United 800 number and I ran through the voice activated prompts. Once I finally got a real person, I was amazed it sounded like an American on the other line. The transaction took about 5 minutes (being I had researched where I wanted to go and when to fly/return). He further went on to tell me to just send him the voucher to get the e-ticket or go to the airport to get the ticket. I did the latter and finished the transaction in 10 minutes once I talked to the United person at the booth. It was a pleasant experience

  • KentaKJ

    This is what I would do. Go online and find the itinerary you want. Then, call the 800 number and use the automated system and go to reservation to find the itinerary you found online. Then start the process of purchasing that itinerary on the automated system and give your frequent flyer number, name, phone number, address, anything and everything the system asks you until it asks for your credit card, that’s when you say “agent”. That’s when you will get a live person who will already have ALL YOUR INFORMATION in front of them except for your payment and that’s when you tell them you have a voucher. You’ll still have to mail it or go to the airport but hopefully this will eliminate a lot of the complaints I read about talking and giving information to the live person. I spent a few days looking for the itinerary I wanted online, then I probably spent 5 minutes finding the itinerary on the automated system on the phone, another 5 minutes giving them my information and finally 5 minutes talking to the live person to finish my transaction. I got a confirmation number and I just have to mail it in. Entire phone call was about 15 minutes. Hardest part of all of this was the days before I called I spent looking for the best itinerary online.

  • Kimm

    I used the same process as KentaKJ above. I am mailing my voucher to United today (the PO BOX 6046 Dearborn address, as instructed). However, the agent asked all my flight info again (despite the automated promise “the agent will have all your information in front of them”).

    I normally fly Northwest and found redemption of certificates MUCH easier. We’ll see how they are as Delta now.

  • Jill

    Maybe United is listening. I received a free travel voucher after a voluntary bump on a flight last July. I went online Nov1st hoping to find a ticket for the Christmas holidays. I found my preferred itinerary, called the 800 number, started through the phone tree but ultimately asked for an agent (he had no information that I had previously provided so don’t bother) and managed to book a flight, get preferred ticketing hours for my local airport ticket counter and even got the seats I wanted and some advise on upgrading to economy plus (don’t do it now). The experience went smoothly and efficiently (other than the phone tree) and he was exceptionally polite and well-spoken and from India. The airport ticket counter was empty when I arrived and the agent told me that the free ticket vouchers were the easiest to process and sent me on my way within 5 minutes. I have not flown United in the past decade other than the free trip in July due to surly agents and flight attendants but if they continue to do well I may add them back to my list of airlines.

  • Stewed

    Eric, thanks for this awesome blog on how to use the free vouchers. It definitely made the whole process much easier. It seems the best way to go about the whole process is to get on United’s site and find the flight that has the booking class that is covered by your voucher. For me it had to be either W, V or Q class. This may take some time but will save you time in the end. Once you have the info for your flight, the call United to make the reservation. I did this and it was pretty easy (despite the agent’s accent). She tried to tell me my return flight was unavailable…so I made her double check and it was available. I am going to the airport tomorrow to pick up my tickets for a flight in January. Will post how that goes as well.

    If you do a couple things before calling United to make the reservation, it will make the whole transaction much smoother.

  • cowtown

    Hey Carl in Quebec, did you have the option to deliver the voucher to United at their ticket counter at the airport in Quebec City? I’m in the same situation…the nearest US airport is 500km/300miles away but I live in Calgary which of course has a large airport and a United ticket counter. I was told that I could bring the voucher to an airport but when I mentioned Calgary had a United ticket counter she said that no it had to be a US airport. Not sure why a United ticket counter in Canada is different….United should start implementing computers instead of paper and pencil for their ticketing system and then it wouldn’t matter where the ticket is printed ;-).

    Anyways, my point is that previously I redeemed a $1000 denied boarding voucher from United a couple years ago at the Calgary airport in Canada and they printed the tickets there and then; it seems weird that the free flight voucher has to be at a US airport. Just wanted to know from Carl (or anyone else in Canada) if he had to mail it in or if you had the option to redeem it at the Quebec airport…maybe I was given the wrong information.

    Second question, if you make a reservation on Saturday night, and they insist that you have it postmarked within 24 hours, how do you think that they handle Sundays? If I drop it off at the post office immediately after the reservation phone call on Saturday night, the post office ain’t open until Monday morning. Thanx folks!

  • Stewed

    So, I went to the airport the following day to pick up my tickets and all went well!! Thanks again to Eric for the awesome blog and to everyone who has posted here!

  • T

    After reading the horrible experience of everyone else. I guess I am having rather positive then. I got a $350 Discount Travel Certificate for being stuck at Chicago for 7 hours last Christmas, expiring in 2 weeks. I have called UA customer services earlier and I was told that I could only book my flights by calling the UA reservation. I looked for the flights online before calling. First, I was stuck with an Indian agent whom I could hardly understand. I live in Toronto and going to fly out from Buffalo. The Indian agent kept asking for my international address. After about 30 minutes, he said that he has to transfer me to speak to an agent in the US.

    It was a breeze from then on. The US agent was polite, has a good sense of humor and most importantly efficient. I received by itinerary before the phone call is ended. At first, I was provided the P.O. Box 6046 Dearborn, MI 48121 address for mailing in the Discount Travel Certificate and asked that to be sent by registered mail. Then I asked for a street address so that I could send it by courier. The street address provided to me was Ticketing Desk, 17501 Michigan Ave., Dearborn MI 48126. Now the Discount Travel Certificates are off by courier along with my travel itinerary. Hopefully I am going to receive my e-ticket soon. This part of the phone call took my about 15-20 minutes.

    I guess after tracing all the comments posted on Eric’s blog, UA probably has upgraded their customer services.

  • Sevon Torosian

    I received a free voucher ticket last year for switching my flight to accomodate the airlines. This voucher is set to expire and says on the ticket ‘TICKET BY: 25JAN10′ My question is this…do I have to use the ticket and fly by that date above or can I book a flight for the spring as long as it is booked by the date above. Pleas let me know…

  • Megan

    Wow, I feel so much better after finding this blog. I was about to go crazy trying after spending over an hour on the phone and having no results. My question was the same as yours Sevon, so finally after making strange noises and pushing 0, I got to talk to an actual person, and I was told that when using a voucher the flight does not need to be before the expiration date, the ticket just needs to be purchased before that date.

  • George

    I think T works for United Airlines, their customer service is horrible. I just spent the last 45 minutes on the phone trying to use a free voucher, no where on it does it say that you have to go to the airport to cash it in. I have to go to O’hare airport, I’ll pay 20 bucks just to park for the hour or two it will take me to go in and I’m sure hassle with the crew inside about the tickets. I am convinced that it is not fraud that they’re worried about, it’s the fact that if you have to go to the airport or send it in,,you’ll be as pissed as I am right now and say screw it, I’ll go another way.

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
    Eric, Thanks for the blog, sometimes shared aggravation has some sort of soothing effect.

  • Todd Ignasiak

    Looks like a lot of people are in the same position here… I originally got my voucher because of a horrible flight experience last christmas (bumped from an overbooked connection on a 2 hour lay-over I was early for, rather than being told it was overbooked at my departure flight where I could have made other plans. I ended up being stuck in O’Hare for 13 hours).

    Of course, when decided to redeem it, I found that the person who gave it to me was not disclosing all the details when she said that there were no restrictions on the tickets available with the voucher. I found I could not get ticketed on my preferred afternoon return flight (she said it was not “blacked out”, but it wasn’t available 7 months in advance?). Best of all, now I get to drive to the airport to redeem my voucher… No, they’re not trying to make it difficult to use, to weed out a good percentage of the free tickets… they just can’t automate such a process.

    Air travel has become so painful, with so many elements stacked against the customers, and all the unpleasantries of the actual travel. I avoid air travel whenever possible, and all this crap is a big part of the reason.

  • http://www.greatdiv.com charlieq

    I’m glad I read this site first. However, some of it may be out of date.

    I just completed my reservation in less time than it took me to read all the horror stories.

    I called, got an agent as soon as I asked for one. Everything went smoothly.

  • http://www.greatdiv.com charlieq

    Just to complete the story, I drove to airport (Minneapolis/St Paul), completed the transaction and departed from the parking ramp 14 minutes after I entered.

    Moral: Don’t read two-year-old complaints. Follow the directions. If possible, do it at the airport on a Saturday afternoon.

  • Debyjay

    I have a voucher for $400 but it’s in the form of an email. Can I print out the email and take it to JFK? I live 10 mins away so that’s not a problem for me.

  • tvo

    Debyjay – I had an email voucher too. Just follow the link on the email and you can redeem it online. It’s a much easier process then paper vouchers.

  • DKBT28

    hey my voucher says ticket by 18FEB10…just wondering wat that means?

    i want to go to san fran from seattle. so does that just mean i need to book a flight before that date? If so can i just go to the airport and do that w/o having to call the stupid number or book anything online????

    let me know thanks!

  • otenga

    Thanks for the information.
    I just redeemed my coupons February 11, 2010. I used the 1-800-241-6522 number instead of 1-800-UNITED1, which put me on hold longer than I can bear. Got everything taken care of on the 241 number in 5 minutes.
    Cheers

  • Phillip L

    Thank you so much to Eric and everyone else who posted on here – I’ve been having panic attacks about redeeming my “free ticket voucher” ever since I read all the horror stories! Just to add my own experience to the bucket:

    – Called 1-800-241-6522 – the reservations number given to Mileage Plus members.
    – Started going through the reservation voice prompts and just gave up about halfway through – asked for AGENT and was routed accordingly
    – Waited about 5-10 minutes on hold and a woman picked up who had a slight Indian accent but was still very clear and easy to understand – she walked me through the steps of getting the tickets (make the reservation by phone and then either mail the physical voucher or take it to an airport w/ United deck within 24 hours of making the phone reservation – I chose to mail) and she had the information I had started typing in from voice prompts (departing date/airport).
    – I gave her the preferred flights that I had chosen from United.com already – keeping in mind that the website sucks that you have to choose the itinerary before they show you fare class – this may mean clicking through a bunch of combinations to ensure they have W,V, or Q class available for those times.
    – My first choices for flights were available so she gave me a confirmation number, took my mailing address, email, and phone number and also emailed the confirmation right away.
    – For mailing the voucher, she told me to put the confirmation number and my return flight number (only the final leg for some reason, since it’s a 2-part flight home) and mail to United Airlines, PO Box 6046, Dearborn, MI 48121 – which is not the ticketing deck most other people have posted, so a bit worried about that. I’m definitely mailing via certified mail and she said once they receive the physical voucher they’ll send me tickets to the address I provided.

    Once again, thanks to everyone for your tips – I really appreciated all the best practices people have been posting to limit the awfulness of this process! Keep up the great work and get United to notice how broke-down this process truly is!

    FYI: Searching “redeem free ticket voucher” on United.com returns 5 search results, none of which have any relevance to this process. What a bunch of jerks.

  • Jasmine

    Does anyone have a solution for me? I received a travel voucher from United b/c they overcharged me for baggage and insisted that they could not credit my credit card. Seems a little ridiculous in this day and age.

    The problem is we received that voucher on a one way flight to Cancun and now we are looking to get home from the Cancun airport and would like to book United b/c their flights are reasonable. I have been told there is no United desk at the Cancun airport and I don’t know if I would be able to mail the vouchers and then have them mail them to me in Mexico. We don’t really have an address here. Does this mean I just can’t use them? I assume we can’t have someone pick them up for us in the US since we have the vouchers with us down here.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  • Marc

    Just spent 30 mins reading the prior posts and was getting real nervouse about useing two free vouchers.
    I called the 1-800-united1 number and said agent at the voice promts and ended up talking to nice CR rep (yes she was Indian but had no issues hearing or understanding her) she was very polite and was able to book everything in about 10-15 min.

    Yes there are some restrictions.
    The way they effected my plans consisted of a arival time 1 hour later then if i had bought the tickets on line, and a longer delay on the return flight.

    Since the free tickets saved me 1400.00 dollars i can handle the small delays.

    The process is not as easy as booking on line, but it is not a difficult process either. Just make sure to read the site and know what restrictions are on your voucher.

    Good luck.

  • Jim Smith

    umm, I thought this was easy. I redeemed a voucher for my wife. I put the voucher, a copy of my id a copy of her id, and the itinerary that I had booked for her in the mail (certified). A couple of days later, I got the e-mail confirmation for her…Im happy and my wife is coming with me on my trip..thank you United.

  • Emily

    I have honestly had the worst customer service of my life with United. My fiance bowled the Master’s in Reno, NV earlier this month. He borrowed a teammates bag and on his returning flight, the supports were all broken in half (you could essentially fold the bag in half now). Due to weather and closed roads, we could not get the bag up to the airport later that day. We called United, they made a note/exception, and told us to go to the airport first thing the next morning and we’d be taken care of.

    Wrong. We got up there and, according to him, the “only person we could talk to” yelled at us, refused to check the computer for the exception, turned his back on us, and then yelled at a lady in a wheelchair to “get on to the gate” (she was waiting for wheelchair assistance). We then called United again (while standing at the baggage counter – while the man working refused to come out of the back room). We were told we would have to talk to the manager, who conveniently only works 4 days a week. This was a Friday, he’d be back on Monday. Over the phone, we were asked for all of our information and email address – and were promised a voucher for our inconvenience and their poor service.

    3 days went by. No email. I called to check on our way back to the airport on Monday (30 minute drive). Our information was taken again – and we were promised the voucher again. Got to United counter and spoke with the manager. He told us the bag had “normal wear and tear” (we beg to differ), but we took it in stride. At that point, we just wanted the voucher and for the process to be over.

    The manager took our email, information, etc and promised the voucher.

    It’s been two weeks and we have not received ONE email. This is completely unacceptable. I don’t know if this is a ploy to get people off the phone or what. But I am appalled at the low level of customer service United offers their customers.

    I called again today. I asked to speak with a supervisor. I was told that was impossible. I went through relaying my information for fourth or fifth time (not fun with the whole “lost-in-translation” element). I asked for a different number to call to check on the voucher (in case it doesn’t come AGAIN). I was told that was impossible too.

    At this point – it’s the principle of the matter. I honestly don’t ever want to fly United again. I would GLADLY give my business to another airline that actually values it. But I’m not going to sit back and have a company lie to me REPEATEDLY and get away with it.

    Sorry for the long rant. I’m just running out of ways to communicate with United and receive what they promised me…four separate times.

    Any suggestions???

    Thanks everyone!

  • Franklin

    I voluntarily let my seat go to another person with the understanding this Free Voucher would be somewhat easy-ish. I fear the worst now. What would stop them from simply refunding the ticket price on the original ticket? Rather than being forced to go through all of this, couldn’t United credit my Visa and avoid all of this? Okay, I am being naive. I would certainly fly with them if that were the case. But then again reality is a cruel mistress.

  • Mike

    The United Airlines is not able to fix their pre-flight notifications system. They are sending out pre-flight notifications from Unitedpreflight@unitedpreflight.p0.com email address, which is a fake email address (try to send a message to this address to confirm this statement). No wonder their notifications get blocked, discarded, rejected, or deleted by many email servers out there. If the notifications reach the end user’s email client at all, they will likely end up in the SPAM folder.

  • Neildo

    This blog has just entertained me for the past 40 minutes. Very informative. I love hearing people calmly helping each other out and then out of the blue somebody decides to hop in and start trouble.

    And I find this especially amusing……

    Carrie December 9, 2008 | 8:34 am
    Elmo, Elmo, Elmo….This is the ERIC STOLLER blog, right? Anyone else think Elmo needs to get his own blog? I mean, really, why is it YOUR responsibility to reply to every single post here?!

    Elmo took the hint and scrammed….or at least started chiming in with a new name to try and save United’s doomed reputation.

    Well done Carrie.

    Good blog Eric

  • Carrie

    LOL Neildo! Thanks! I had forgotten about Elmo :) Anyways, to any of you newcomers to the blog, I’d like to restate the advice I originally wished I had taken. If you do not live close to an airport (ours is about 2 hours away) and you have to mail in the vouchers, make sure to send it with some kind of delivery confirmation, like certified mail. And make a copy of everything for your records before you send it.

    Good luck all!

  • Lind

    Eric:

    Great job on putting this info out there. I was fortunate to find this site before making up my mind.

    I was tempted to mail as instructed by the Indian speaking (but easy to understand) customer service rep and was almost ready to put the stamp on the envelope. I only live 30 minutes from the airport, so it was not a huge deal to drive out there. The rep was very clear in his instructions; however, he did not indicate to put the confirmation number on the ticket. I think this would be wise (I did print a copy of the email itinerary to enclose with the voucher).

    What most folks need to realize is to go online and look for the desired flights prior to calling United. This made the process much easier.

    I did get into the voice command system and after stating the arrival and departure cities I asked for Agent. The rep asked for the profile code and the profile name located at the bottom right corner of the free ticket voucher. He then asked for departure and arrival cities and then asked what times I wanted to depart. The exact flights I wanted were found and the reservation held. I was informed I had 24 hours to pick up the ticket at the closest airport or to mail in the voucher (after making a copy for my records) and to mail it with last name and the last flight number to be written on the voucher. Again nothing was said about the confirmation number nor anything about sending it return-receipt requested (but I would strongly suggest doing this).

    When I arrived at the aiport, there was absolutely no line (unbelievable) and the ticket agent most helpful. I stated I was tempted to mail and she said it was a good idea to do the transaction in person. She took great time to explain the check-in process, both online and in person at the airport, carefully explaining the online baggage process. Sadly it is still $25 a bag to check in; but as of this writing, no they are not charging a carry-on fee like Spirit Airline.

    I did question the original rep whether things could be handled by my emailing the voucher to facilitate the process. No it had to be in person or via mail. I do agree with those who stated that United needed to update their process.

    This is not my first time to use a voucher, but it has been a while; so I already knew to check the internet first before making the call. The ticket agent did intimate that by being flexible on return flights, there was a good possibility of landing another voucher.

    I have not flown United often, but when I did last year, I had no problems and my flexibility did land the voucher to be used for my upcoming trip. Cross your fingers all goes well!

    Again, great job in providing this forum. Hopefully, the information I provided will help those in need.

    Linda

  • eTHAN

    I’m not a fan of United anymore and I’m unimpresed with the need to even go through this process, but I followed the instructions on this page and had an extremely easy time redeeming my voucher for exactly the flights I wanted (one month out, a $380 ticket). It’s riidiculous that you can’t do this online, but the phone agent and airport agent both were extremely friendly, knowledgable, and familiar with the process. The phone agent suggested that going to the airport is “better” and said I should use some kind of tracking or delivery confirmation if I mail the voucher. I’m still not thrilled to be flying United, but this is my secon free trip due to one screwed up trip with them last summer (that I “bought” with miles).

  • Trent

    United Airlines is unbelievable!

    My wife and I had to cancel our paid trip to Australia. Rather than refund our money, United issued paper vouchers for the value of our tickets. Because we fly a lot, we thought that the vouchers would be easy to ‘cash-in’ for future travel. Boy were we wrong! United has made it virtually impossible to use our vouchers! This makes no sense because the vouchers represent our money. Here is what happened:

    My wife called United Reservations and attempted to use the voucher over the phone. After almost 20 minutes delay, she was told that she could reserve the flight, but could not use the voucher unless she either: (1) drove to the airport (45 minutes process); or (2) mailed the original voucher along with an explanatory letter to a P.O. Box across the country. My wife expressed concern that her flight was in 12 days and she was told not to worry; the ticket would be issued in time. We (perhaps foolishly) trusted the United agent and mailed the original voucher.

    8 days later, my wife called United to express concern that she had not received email confirmation that the voucher had been received or used by United. After another lengthy delay, my wife was told repeated not to worry, that everything would be fine, and that she would receive a confirming email from United before her flight. No email was received.

    2 days later (now 10 days after mailing the voucher), my wife calls United again, and after another 20 minute delay before speaking to an agent, she again is told by an agent not to worry and that she will receive an email confirming receipt and use of ther voucher. Again, no email from United.

    The next day (now 11 days after mailing the voucher — as suggested by the United Agent), my wife calls United again. This time, she asks immediately for a supervisor. The supervisor (who is located in the Philippines) tells us for the 1st time that she should not have mailed the original voucher because it may take at least 14 days to process. When we told her that a United Agent specifically told us to mail the voucher, she denies that this ever happened. Huh?? She also tells us that the U.S. Mail failed to deliver the original voucher. (We explained to her that even the U.S. Mail does not take 11 days to mail a letter). Because the flight is now the next day, she tells my wife that her only option is to purchase a new ticket at the airport, and that we should trust United to mail-back the original voucher. (Trust United?…that is a good one).

    When we asked to speak with her supervisor, we were told that “he does not take calls.”

    When we asked to be transferred to the United Department that handles cutomer complaints, we were told that this was the “Customer Relations Department” and that they also do not take calls. We were told to send an email online and that somebody would return our call.

    When I asked for United’s legal department — as a lawyer, I believe that sometimes a company’s legal department can cut through red tape — I was told that they cannot provide me with a phone number to the legal department, or its address. Instead, I was told to call United’s toll free number for its main switchboard.

    In sum, here is where we stand. The paper voucher represents OUR MONEY. In order to use OUR MONEY, United establishes a procedure that is VERY cumbersome, and is clearly designed to prevent you from using your own credits. Also, when we followed the specific instructions of United’s own reservations agent, we did so without knowing that the Agent was unaware of United’s own processing time for vouchers. In fact, 3 separate agents were unaware of the processing time. It was not until we spoke to an agent in the Philippines that we were told that we should not have followed the advice of United’s agent; in other words, we should have driven to the airport ot use the voucher, rather than mailing it.

    At this point, we had to buy a completely new ticket (for more than $580) and hope that United will return our original voucher. (How much do you want to bet that we never see that voucher again?)

    As a customer of United for more than 2 decades, I am more than disappointed. I feel that we are being cheated by United. We have decided to take our business elsewhere, and given that my wife has been a Premier Executive member of United for the past 5 years, this is a significant amount of business.

    As an attorney, I believe that United is doing something unlawful. I am not a fan of most class action lawsuits, but I plan on exploring a class action against United. I would love to hear if more of you have had similar experiences. Keep posting your experiences here.

    Eric — this is a GREAT forum!

  • Matt

    Eric! Thanks so much for the research and the info… Now I know the steps i need to take… I’ll get right on that. Maybe i’ll comment after I go through the whole ticket voucher redemption experience….

  • Jeni

    I just returned from the airport today to “surrender” my ticket. It was under my sister’s name, but I am the one who will be flying. I was a little nervous they wouldn’t issue the ticket to me since it sounded like my sister had to be the one to go to the airport with her government-issued ID. They denied me and mentioned that it wouldn’t have been a problem if we had the same last name. Note:I just got married and changed my last name, but fortunately I made my maiden name my new middle name… and so my maiden name appeared on my license. They accepted it! I am glad it wasn’t a wasted trip to the airport.

    On a side note, I once had a free ticket voucher that that I gave TO my sister. They didn’t ask for any ID at all.

    No problems booking the ticket over the phone both times. Listen to what the others have said about pressing “0” until you get a human being with a heavy Indian accent.

  • http://alternet.us.com William Dillon

    How strange is it that googleing for this information, the #1 hit is a blog by a fellow OSU’er.
    Thanks for the info!!! I guess I’m driving to Eugene. :(

  • Tom

    I had one riduculous situation where I booked 2 tickets (using a companion certificate) on a Saturday, but would have to send in the certificate within 24 hours. Since the post office is closed on Sunday, I could not get the required postmark. I ended up cancelling the reservation and waiting until Monday.

  • STEVE

    Sounds like a long list of mad people that I now belong to. United bumped me and gave me a voucher also….What a boat load of crap to and try and use it. I will never fly United again. they SUCK

  • Raeleen

    I find it incredible how long this post has been going on – almost as far as the eye can see! And yes, I agree that a class action lawsuit would be a possible way of getting some much needed attention on the part of United. Just last night I was reminded of my frustration with large coporations fanning out their help wanted signs to other countries as I sat on the blasted phone not understanding a word that was spoken to me! After 40 minutes of being put on hold to check on various flight options for a voucher, I finally hung up and said forget it because there was nothing in my window of time… then came back and tried again.

    I will say that the 2nd time, though it took just as long, was much easier – the agent on the line was a bit easier to understand and appeared to know a bit more than the 1st one.

    Yes, I will be sending my husband into PDX tonight to turn in the voucher to pick up the paper tickets (voucher in his name) and it will be a bit of a pain – but because it’s his name, I won’t even try – I had actually done this through Alaska a number of years ago to get a ticket for my sister in law and it worked out fine. I will say that the process was much easier than what I have experienced with United.

    Hopefully tonight will be easier than the time spent on the phone – at least my husbands chances of getting a native, English speaking American will be greater than mine were!

  • Brenda

    I just have to say I found this blog over the weekend after googling “united airlines travel voucher”. I was pretty anxious about trying to schedule a trip after reading that so many have had trouble. But I’m glad I did read the tips because I did not have any trouble at all. I did speak to someone in India, but they seemed to speak relatively good english and I was able to book my trip for next month. The voucher was in my husbands name, but I’m going to be using it. He took it to the airport today and was able to get the tickets printed out at the United counter without a major problem. He did get a little bit of attitude from the first agent at the counter, but the second person helped him and put in the confirmation number and voila…tickets!

  • Michelle

    Hello everyone,

    Just as a note, you can only use up to 3 vouchers on any purchase. I received four $150 vouchers and was trying to pay for a flight from SMF to PHL and had to pay $150 out of my pocket because they only took three vouchers.

    Also, on another note, the address the ticket agent gave me was the same as noted above:

    Mailing address
    United Airlines Discount Certificates
    P.O. Box 6046
    Dearborn, MI 48121
    (Telephone: 800-UNITED-1)

    For FEDEX or Express mail deliveries, please use the following address, as these carriers do not deliver to a P.O. Box
    United Airlines Ticket by Mail
    17501 Michigan Avenue
    Dearborn, MI 48126

    I could barely understand the agent over the phone — his English was so bad — and it took me 40 minutes to book my flight, but oh well, it wasn’t so bad.

    Good luck to you all.

  • Joe

    I’m looking at buying 2–$250 ($500 total) vouchers from someone for $350. Does anyone know if the UA vouchers are transferrable? Do they typically send them to you via email? Thanks for your input!

  • Alison

    Hi all, So I received to booklets of vouchers from my grand-parents that they received for having an overbooked flight, long story short, I had to mail mine away with copies of my drivers licence, my boyfriends drivers (as he was using one booklet of vouchers) and copies of both my grandparents id’s as well. I mailed them express post last Thursday and have been tracking them on canadapost.com to keep tabs on them, I mailed them off to United ticketing Desk 17501 Michigan Avenue Dearborn, MI 48126 and I’m hoping and praying that I get the tickets without hassle (seeing as they aren’t in my name) I would of definately gone to a united desk had there been one in my city, but alas, there is not….So now I’m in the mercy of United airlines and I have to say, I’m desperatley anticipating the tickets arrival in the mail…..My flight is Aug 1st so I figure that will allow for enough time to get the tickets back….BAH! I wish there was a ticketing desk in my city!! Also, about the accents, I laughed when I read that..I had the same converation with my boyfriend. I was sooo frusturated with the call center for 1. I kept getting different answers as how to redeem my vouchers that were in a different name, and for 2. Their accents, the ppl I talked to were very southern, and with me being as confused as I was, having little or no understanding of what they were saying was beyond frusturating. I had to hang up the phone twice just to call back and hope someone who didn’t have such a thick southern accent would answer…Finally! it happend! :) Well ta ta for now, I’m going to go back to sit by my mailbox.

  • CJ

    This blog was a big help in understanding how to get around United’s unfriendly customer service and voucher program. I had a free ticket voucher issued from a flight that was overbooked in December 2009. I called to make a reservation and had little trouble getting through to an agent (for those who would like to avoid the automated voice, remember to hit 0 to get directly to an agent).

    The agent was clearly from overseas, but understood what I was asking for. The ticket is redeemable only on United/United Express flights, which often include stops (the best flights for my trip were actually through US Airways). Just have the voucher in front of you- they will ask for the two PMO codes in the bottom right corner.

    MAKE SURE YOU ARE GIVEN THE CONFIRMATION NUMBER BEFORE YOU HANG UP. Also, make sure they send you a confirmation email for your flight- have them doublecheck your email address. I went straight to the airport after confirming on the phone, and waited in line for less than 20 minutes.

    Just stay patient and it will be fine. Thanks to everyone who wrote on this blog for the help.

  • http://digitalflare.org Marc

    Might as well add to the litany of complaints about this ridiculous process. I was issued a free voucher last August when I got bumped from a flight at the last minute, and have put off trying to use it until now. Last night I went online and found a couple of flights I thought would qualify for the conditions listed on the voucher, then made the call.

    I dealt with the automated voice for a bit before saying “Agent”, to which the system replied with a series of loud beeps and then.. silence.. waiting patiently for over an hour before I gave up and dialed in again. Waited another 15 minutes and finally got an agent.

    The lady I spoke with was nice enough but she couldn’t find a single flight to my destination from any of the 5 airports in my immediate vicinity. All of them were codeshare flights operated by US Airways which are ineligible for the voucher. The alternatives she proposed were completely ridiculous, I would have had to fly in the opposite direction for the first leg and spend 10 hours traveling each way. Um, no. I hung up and found a 2-hour direct flight with American.. would much rather just pay for that than be “gifted” another crappy traveling day.

    Seriously, what an enormous waste of time this has been. I’m shredding the voucher and will instead take my compensation in the form of avoiding another experience with United.

  • Arjun

    Thanks eric for all the info

  • Carol

    Same old story… my husband and I have travel credit vouchers for voluntarily taking a different flight on Christmas Eve. Impossible to redeem online or by phone. We don’t trust their “mail-in” system so we are on our way to the airport ticket booth now. Nothing like wasting our evening!

  • Erin Dooher

    Great! I will be using a United ticket voucher in the fall, and yours was the first that popped up according to my search criteria. Thanks for the information

  • Mickey

    Wow, like everyone else, I’m really glad I found this blog. When I called United to redeem my voucher this evening, the nice lady was so hard to understand that even after repeating things multiple times, it was still unclear exactly what I had to do. That, dear Eric, is the main complaint about accents, not country of origin.

    I began searching the web because I needed a complete address so I could send in the voucher. All she could give me was Discount Center, Tickets by Mail, Dearborn, MI 48121. Now it’s possible United redeems enough vouchers to warrant their own zipcode, but I would feel safer with either a PO Box or street address. Fortunately this was the first place I looked and I now have that information. Certified mail is a great precaution, as is keeping a photocopy of everything I’m sending.

    United did send an confirmation email with all the flight details, so that part went right but the truth is, their schedule to Portland, OR is lousy. Alaska Airlines offers better flights and in my experience treats people like the valued customers they are.

    Anyway thanks to everyone for their tips on how to do this. I wonder when corporations like United will understand how quickly word about corporate indifference spreads on the internet. For a great example, watch United Breaks Guitars:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

    Thanks again, Eric.

  • http://www.heartandhandspdx.com Elizabeth Fischer

    Thank you so much Eric! Spent nearly 2 hours reading your blog which resulted in a fairly hassle free experience. The phone agent had only a slight accent; had to wait an hour at airport before they could help (short staffed), but in 5 minutes had my ticket.
    Only complaint: few (if any) direct flights. So my trip from Portland OR to Phoenix AZ will be very long both ways. But as pointed out, it is a FREE TRIP! Not likely, though, I will fly UA again after this since their overall rep is so poor!

  • Dorothea Nelson

    I phoned United on Aug.2 and made a reservation for a flight on Aug. 16. I was given a confirmation number and was told to mail my voucher to United at their Dearborn, MI address. As of yesterday (Aug. 13) I had not received email confirmation, so I phoned United, and was told that they had not received my voucher. I now learn that United conveniently “loses” free travel vouchers on a regular basis. I foolishly neglected to make a photocopy of the voucher, and I now realize I should have sent it registered mail. The United reps have made it clear that they are under no obligation to replace a “lost” voucher–even though I could provide them with the date of the flight on which I gave up my seat to get the voucher.

    I was also offended by the doubletalk given me by the agents with whom I spoke. One told me my ticket is currently being “processed”–but when I asked if this meant I would definitely be able to take the flight, she then said no, they haven’t yet found my voucher. She told me to call back tomorrow for “confirmation”–but when I again asked if this meant my voucher would be honored, she put me on hold a long time and then reported back that I would have no recourse if they can’t find the voucher.
    Do not trust United. Think twice before voluntarily giving up your seat, as United may make it very difficult for you to use your voucher.

  • Danielle

    I wish had seen this thread before trying to redeem my voucher it would have saved me a lot of hassle. I started trying to redeem my voucher a month ago and now United has lost it in their mail room or some such other nonsense. I wrote down all the information from it but didnt photocopy it. I very naively thought this would be a very simple process like the United Agent i talked to the first time said. Well all that was very wrong and now United is telling me there is nothing they can do for me without the voucher. How is it possible that a company doesnt keep any records of when it gives out tickets for overbooking fights. I will never fly United again after all this

  • http://www.nelsonic.org jerry-VA

    E-CERTIFICATES WORK, VOUCHERS DON’T

    We received an alternative to the paper vouchers handed out in airports to placate people caught in a bad travel experience. We were caught at home in a bad on-line experience: when we went to get on-line boarding passes and leave for the airport, we discovered that our assigned seats had not been saved for us after all, and only by agreeing to very uncomfortable seats could we save the reservation. We were given an e-certificate number by e-mail for our placation present. Getting free flights with the e-certificate months later has been possible, but not on-line.

    The United Airlines on-line pages for redemption of e-certificates did not work. After taking in all the information and calculating a flight cost of 1 cent, the software failed and told us to phone in. The phone call went smoothly.

    My goodness, it was a software failure that led us here in the first place, namely, it is possible to reserve a flight and get seats while another customer is pursuing the same transaction. The flight and its seats are not “locked” and can be reserved out from under you. The software detects no problem, and you never get notified that, oops, er, actually your seats were assigned away you while you worked on buying your ticket.

    United Airlines transaction-processing software flunks the “ACID test”. It fails to achieve Atomicity of each transaction, Consistency, Isolation and Durability. Apparently it is myopically cheaper for United to deal with known software problems by handing out free tickets than by leaving known shortcoming behind with an investment in new technology. Presumably all the firmware and software on the planes gets a different kind of management review.

  • maya

    did anyone who’s voucher has been lost, ever turn out to a positive story?
    for instance if you insisted on having them look into the flight you have been bumped from (when you got the voucher)? or looking into any other record that can prove that you owned the voucher?

    • Brenda

      When I called to confirm my flight that I already had a confirmation number for, they told me my voucher was not received. I sent it to the 6046 PO Box and did not use certified mail (silly me, trusting that it would be processed without a problem). They told me there was nothing they could do and there was no way to track that they had issued the voucher. I screamed, I implored calmly and then in the third phone call, I cried. Finally they ticketed me on a flight at the lowest rate available on the date I had originally booked it. So, instead of paying $1448.00 for a flight departing in two days, I paid $300.00 for a flight that was suppopsed to be free.

  • Julian

    Hi Michelle, regarding to the 3 vouchers maximum policy, I just called the 800-241-6522, and I was told there is no limit on the number of vouchers you can use. At least not for my case which I got $400 travel credit (type B voucher) in the form of $100×4. The agent, although with strong accent but sounds very firm about this, told me I can use them all together.

  • Matt

    After having been given two different PO Box numbers when I called united, I called a third time spoke to a native english speaker who didn’t hesitate when I asked the address:

    Mail to:
    Discount Certificate, Ticket by mail
    PO Box 6046 (not 6057!)
    Dearborn, MI 48121

    Include:
    returning flight number
    last name of passenger
    confirmation number

    Was also told that there was no limit to coupons, I also received 4x$100 credit coupon vouchers as someone else in this thread mentioned.

  • Joe

    Also found this “voucher” process to be dehumanizing. It seems that the call center must stall you for a set amount of time before they can treat you cordially and communicate decisively. On two separate occasions, all I experienced was seemingly preplanned miscommunication and confusion until around the 20 minute mark. A feeble attempt to make the customer angry and fearful.

  • Drake

    This blog helped immensely. I just got off the phone with India and was able to slog through it despite the difficulty with understanding and the great noise and what seemed like adults at recess in the background. Here’s the best plan:

    1) Go online and using the booking process to find flights that qualify (UAL and United Express) and during the review process (prior to purchase) confirm with your own eyes that the flights are within W, V, or Q booking class.

    2) Print or write this down for reference.

    3) Immediately call the voice reservations number. Go directly to agent by whatever process you prefer.

    4) Tell the agent you are using a voucher. Make sure they understand the type of voucher you are using. The codes and details are on the bottom right of the voucher.

    5) You tell them the itinerary you have already proven (in item 1. above). Don’t let them deter you! I had to try three different times and exercise a lot of patience when they said the flights I found did not exist. I insisted that these were Q class flights (as I had seen) and got them.

    6) Get the confirm number from the phone agent! Write it down!

    7) Do the airport exchange method if at all possible. Otherwise, keep a copy of whatever you mail and for heaven’s sake be sure you track the letter!

    This is clearly a bad system and you have to do whatever you can to reduce the chances of getting overwhelmed by the built-in weaknesses.

    Good luck!

  • Drake

    (follow-up of prior posting, update 9:15 a.m. next day)

    I was up early and ran over to LAX at 6:45 ahead of traffic to see how it would end. I figured there would be a long line, etc. but was wrong! I parked in the structure across from ticketing, ran across the parking bridge and down the escalator to the ticketing area, and saw several lines. But there was a specific line (line number 9) reserved for future ticketing! The line fed three agents and there was only one person in front of me. I gave the woman the confirm number, my ID and the voucher. She had me sign the relinquishment form, proofread the proposed itinerary, and then voila finalized everything including seat assignments.

    I was in and out in less than 15 minutes and only $3 for parking.

    Now my daughter will be coming home from college over the holidays to visit her family and we avoided paying $865 for a ticket!

  • Charles

    Just wanted to say that I just called last night and had a fairly good experience. Yes, I have to bring my voucher in/mail it. The lady apologized and agreed with me when I said that was inconvenient, but was very polite and helpful. No problem booking any of the flights.

  • Maritess

    Hi — Thanks for this great info. I followed Drake’s advice & made my reservation with no problem. I have vouchers from volunteering off a flight this past summer. Regarding booking class from Drake’s post, I was told that it didn’t matter. Maybe it’s the type of voucher? The rep said it was considered simply a form of payment and could be used for any class. She also said that I would get another voucher for the difference since the cost of the flight ($600) was less than the amount of my vouchers (using 3 $250 vouchers). My husband is going to the airport tomorrow so we’ll see how that part goes.

  • Maritess

    p.s. If you go to the customer service section of United’s site, and enter ‘voucher’ in the search, you will find an article entitled “How do I use a free ticket voucher?” I was going to post a direct link but discovered it won’t work; a sessionID error occurs.

  • Drake

    Addendum to my posts above. I see the notation by Maritess and it’s clear that United has changed over to “dollar value” certificates and away from “free flight” certificates. Apparently they used to let you have a free flight, but didn’t want you to get too much value. Now the dollar value is a natural limitation, as the cost of flights generally increases as you get closer to the departure date.

  • Mickey

    Update to my earlier post. In August I used my ‘free’ ticket to book flights from Palm Springs to Portland via San Francisco for Thanksgiving week.The itinerary was confirmed. A few weeks later United sent me a ‘schedule change.’ I now leave Palm Springs 2 hours earlier to go through LA where I have a 2-1/2 hour layover. I arrive in Portland within minutes of my original flight. I thought the SFO flight had been canceled, but no. That flight is still shown with at least one seat available. Apparently they felt I wouldn’t mind being bumped -again- and put on a less desirable flight so they could sell my seat to a paying customer.

  • Julian

    I just returned from a trip which I booked with vouchers. The booking experience was pretty good overall. I called on a Saturday night, and it was answered by a very nice lady who knows what she was talking about, not someone from an oversea call center. I used my $400 voucher ($100 x 4) on an international flight, and I got a confirmation email right after. I mailed in my voucher without using any delivery confirmation, and after a few days, my credit card was charged. I didn’t get a second email to confirm that they have received my voucher(that’d be something they can improve), but I logged in with my UA account and found my confirmed intinerary there.
    Hopefully UA will keep it up.

  • Bob

    Mailing in the vouchers may be a problem. I made the reservation for my flights over the phone and then received the address to which I should mail my 4 x $100 type B vouchers. I dutifully wrote the confirmation number etc. on the back of each voucher and sent them to:

    United Airlines
    P.O. Box 6057 <—NOTE THIS
    Dearborn, MI 48121

    After 10 days, no indication that the reservation had been ticketed (no charge on credit card and itinerary online says not yet purchased). I call United and tell my story. Just to confirm as I had before, carefully, what is the address. This agent gave me: P.O. Box 6046

    I now see that earlier posts here had been given or used the 6057 number. It seems improbable to me that after I carefully asked the first time to confirm the address I would be given the same wrong P.O. Box number. Calling again to complain, another agent says, we will send back your 4 vouchers; please send those back to P.O. Box 6046. All this time like Eric Stoller, I'm wondering what are those numbers at the bottom of the vouchers for? What are the odds that United agents would give out the same P.O. Box numbers? Go to the airport if you have vouchers, that's my recommendation.

  • David

    This is a fantastic blog. I have spent the last 45 minutes reading these posts and slowly becoming less angry and more hopeful. These posts go back almost 4 years, and we are still having the same set of problems.

    I received my 4x$100 vouchers by volunteering to be bumped from a PHL-SFO flight this summer; I boarded a PHL-LAX flight departing minutes later along with about 10 other customers, and was pre-booked on a short connecting flight, arriving in SFO just a few hours later than expected. For $400 credit, I was thrilled.

    On Thursday I called and booked an April flight from Newark to SFO that I had previously researched; it’s listed for $460. I was stunned to learn that I had to either mail the vouchers in or go to the airport, but I chose to mail them. Based on this blog, I will be driving to Newark airport and paying the parking fee the next time I use them… and there will be a next time; keep reading. I did have the foresight to send them certified mail. On this call I had the standard accent problem, making it very frustrating. But not as frustrated as I would be in a few days when I found out he didn’t know what he was doing!!

    On Tuesday morning I get an urgent email that Dearborn has received the vouchers but cannot use them for the flight I had booked, because it is a codeshare flight… with Continental. Continental and United are of course merged by now. I knew it was a Continental flight before I called, the Indian agent had informed me that it was as well, but HE NEGLECTED TO INFORM ME that Continental counts as a separate airline, and that the vouchers would not be usable. Rather, he proceeded to reserve my flight and had me send in the vouchers.

    So I called customer service back. I tell Indian #2 my problem. (Much more palatable accent, but much worse static this time.) He does his best to offer me other flights departing from La Guardia, a less convenient airport as I live in central NJ, at impossible times of day. I decline, multiple times, and ask that the vouchers be returned. Continental has the same exact flight, the one that I really want, listed for over $100 less ($338), so my plan is to book the Continental flight immediately, pay for it, and use the vouchers some other time. To do this, he needs to put me on hold so that he may call Dearborn. At some point he comes on the line to tell me that HE IS ON HOLD WITH DEARBORN. After about a half an hour, he assures me that the vouchers will be returned to me in 7-10 days, and that my flight will be unreserved. I hang up, check that the flight is unreserved via my account on United (it is immediately), and then book and pay for the flight on Continental. The same United flight, mind you.

    The next day I get a voice mail from an American, presumably in Dearborn, saying that she knows that I already spoke to one (sic!) other person about this, but am I sure I don’t want to use these vouchers for a $481 flight out of JFK? There is a “do not send” note on these vouchers, so if I really want the vouchers back, would I please call customer service (in India) AGAIN? Grrr.

    This is where I am now, and what prompted me to find this blog. I’ll post an update, but I am hopeful that, because I certified them, they will at least tell me they send them back (whether I receive them will be a different story), and if I receive them, thanks to this blog, I am fairly confident I will be able to use them by driving to the airport (over an hour away plus the parking, but still worth it, even if the net value is less than I thought it would be when I volunteered to be bumped).

  • David

    Update on previous post. I am now as a matter of routine asking agents for their names and locations so that this may be included in the letter I plan to write to United when this is over.

    Call #3, 12/09/2010. ~20 min. Manila, Philippines.
    This woman was completely useless and EITHER dumb OR could not understand English so well (aside: unlike in India, English is rarely a first language for Filipinos). She had a very difficult time understanding my problem, but at the same time always acted as if she understood perfectly. Thus much of what she said did not make sense. Near the end of the call it came out that she thought I was referring to an April 2010 flight rather than an April 2011 flight, even though she had the records in front of her. She kept thinking I wanted a refund. She told me several times that I needed to go to the airport to get this processed (no one had suggested this before). She also suggested I email Dearborn. I perked up, hoping that she would give me the contact info for someone there, but she could not. Her last words to me before I asked to speak to her supervisor were, “Um, how about mailing your concerns to Dearborn, Michigan, sir?” After I was transferred to her supervisor I eventually hung up after waiting several minutes.

    Call #4, 12/10/2010. 38 min call. Also Manila. Agnes, a very helpful agent. (I also asked her if English was her first language, and she said no, it was Filipino, but her English was just as good as anyone’s.)
    Like calls #1 & #2, I have every reason to think that things were taken care of correctly. However, after those calls, it turned out that either the agent had made a mistake (#1) or someone at Dearborn interfered after the fact (#2).

    She had me on hold for quite a while, as did agent #2, while she spoke with her local supervisor, who placed a call to Dearborn. Apparently Dearborn has received the message that I really would like the vouchers back, and this agent did cancel the JFK flight that was reserved in my name and that I never requested.

    She was unable to give me any contact information for anyone in the Dearborn office, so I cannot confirm this myself. This is part of the overall problem that has come up in various ways on this blog: the physicality of the vouchers combined with call centers in separate locations from Dearborn introduces a level of complexity regarding confirmation. Assuming no conspiracy theories, but rather simply that United is trying to protect itself from fraudulent use of these paper vouchers, it has constructed a very difficult system to allow itself to both do that and ensure that vouchers do not get lost in the shuffle.

    In light of the protection of the Dearborn contact info, it strikes me that it may not be a coincidence that although I received a voicemail from Dearborn, I did not receive a “missed call” message. It’s possible the call was placed “directly to voicemail”. I certainly would have called back Dearborn if there had been a record of where it was placed from. Online searches for this information have yielded only out-of-date phone numbers.

    Stay tuned for further developments. I will post again either when I receive the vouchers or I learn of the next problem.

  • Useless UA Voucher

    I too am an unlucky United Airlines sucker. I actually had 2 vouchers. I went through the trouble of mailing the first to redeem the voucher. Surprise, surprise….it was lost. The second time I actually drove out to the airport to redeem voucher only to find out that it can’t be used. READ THE FINE PRINT. Apparently, it cannot be used by airlines flights that are branded as United but operated by another carrier. I didn’t realize how many carriers “operate” United flights. It’s not like I was going from Idaho to South Dakotak. I was trying to from San Francisco to Houston-two of the busiest airports in the nation. The only way I can go on a “purely” United Only flight from San Francisco to Houston would require nearly 24hrs of travel time. How convenient. Bottom line, UNITED AIRLINES VOUCHERS ARE A SCAM. They are too much trouble to redeem and I’m sure management is laughing knowing that fewer than 10% actually get redeemed.

  • David

    Update: I received the vouchers in the mail today! Just 10 days after my last call to customer service (see Dec 10th post). They are indeed the same exact pieces of paper with my signature on them – they didn’t just reprint new vouchers. At least in my case, they had the opportunity to deliberately ‘lose’ them but did not, so this is evidence against the companywide ‘scam’ theory. One of my maxims is to never attribute to conspiracy that which may be explained by ineptitude. I think that applies to the United paper vouchers. In the future, I will not be mailing them but will be driving to the airport and dealing with humans face to face. I am grateful to this blog for providing a much-needed perspective on this whole affair.

  • Debi

    I just booked my flight using a voucher with my name on it and a voucher with my husband’s name on it, with no problems. My husband will be taking our vouchers to the airport tomorrow and we will see if it goes ok, but so far it has been effortless.

  • Debi

    Just wanted to update everyone. My husband went to the airport today and picked up my ticket – no problems. They even gave us another voucher for the unused balance.

  • Angela

    Debi…so you were able to use 2 different vouchers for two different people to purchase only 1 ticket?? I have 4 vouchers about to expire but they are all in different names (mine, husband and 2 kids)..I only need 1 flight for myself, so if I could apply their vouchers to my ticket that would be sweet!!!

  • Seraphina

    DO NOT send in your vouchers to united. Go to the airport. They like to use the “we didn’t receive the vouchers in the mail” excuse and it will result in you loosing money. My mother is a United 1K member and this hasn’t been the first time that they “forgot” to give us a refund or credit us with a travel voucher when flights were delayed or canceled due to their error. Each time we get on the phone with customer service, hours will be lost in our day. At this point it’s just getting ridiculous.

  • rosemary

    I wish I read this before I decided to give up my seats for vouchers. Never do it, especially with United. I mailed my vouchers 3 weeks ago and still United does not have them. I leave in 2 weeks, I will have to pay and charge these tickets and maybe hopefully United will recieve them and give me back my money.
    United needs to redo the policys as more and more people will learn NOT to fly United. !!!

  • MARILEE KESSLER

    Well I have a humdinger for you. Well over a year ago Spouse and I received three $25 travel certificates. Each has a different code number stamped on the paper AND a peel off paper with the same code. There is a blank square that says Date and Place of Issue. It is still blank. When we received the travel certs I said there is no number here. Person giving the voucher said it wasn’t needed. We were told there was no expiration date.
    Item #6 on back of cert says Not Valid After Box: Enter EXPIRATION DATE shown on face of the Certificate.
    These were issued to us in Sacramento, CA after United misent three pieces of luggage for 2 days.

    Are these Travel Cert the same as everyone is talking about or are mine different. They also say United Express and United. Also there are all kinds of codes referring to making the reservations. Boy do I have a worry or not????

  • SJW

    ***ATTENTION!!!***
    I had huge problems with these stupid tickets.
    Firstly, if you booked your flight online, YOU ARE SCREWED. You cannot book your flight online and then have the vouchers back-apply as one would believe is logical. If you book your tickets online your vouchers cannot be applied, tough luck. DO NOT BOOK YOUR TICKET ONLINE IF YOU ARE TRYING TO USE YOUR VOUCHER.

    You ABSOLUTELY MUST CALL THEIR AGENT to use your voucher. Additionally, when you call their agent, “A BOOKING FEE MAY APPLY.”

    So…basically,
    You call them, you get charged probably around $30.00 for their “booking fee” and then you STILL have to mail your vouchers in ($5.00 or so if you send it snail mail) with your flight information….or you must go to them and wait in line and pay for parking to get it done.

    THESE VOUCHERS SUCK AND WASTE YOUR TIME. They probably PLAN on people being so irked by the damn process that people don’t use em, and therefore, they win.

  • tom

    I went to the United ticket counter at the airport. The attendent was very helpful and was able to book my flight with no problem. Calling the 1-800 number does not work because you get an automated answering service, who, after you have booked your flight, wants your credit card #. Going to the ticket counter is the way to go.

    • mike

      Didn’t work for me, was refused because the line was too long.

  • Steve

    I’m glad I found this website because it saved me some headaches. I recently was bumped from a flight and received four of the “B” vouchers. I wanted to use one of them for an upcoming flight. I went to the United website first so that I could find the flights/times I desired.

    I then called the United 1-800 number and at first went through the automated menu that lets you select your flights. But at the end of that I realized that it was unnecessary to do it since you are not making a standard reservation where you would pay for it on the phone. So at the end of the selections I said “agent” and was surprised that I instantly got one. I did not have to say it multiple times. I told the agent that I wanted to use a voucher and gave him the specific times and flight numbers I wanted although you don’t have to do it they would find ones for you if you want. At the end of our conversation he gave me the confirmation code and told me the thing about either mailing in the voucher or going to the airport within 24 hours.

    Fortunately I live near two major airports in Washington DC. I went to the airport this morning, Sunday, and found the “Future ticketing” line. Luckily there was only one person in front of me although I had to wait about twenty minutes. But after that I told the agent that I had booked a reservation on the phone and gave her the confirmation number.

    The only thing that seemed to confuse her a little bit was that I was only using one $100 voucher for a $159 flight so I had to pay the $59 difference (which I knew). So i paid it and she printed out a paper boarding pass looking form that had my flights on it and then told me that I could get the actual boarding pass on the day of my flight at the airport.

    I started on the phone at around 8 am and was out of the airport and driving home by 10:00 am and the total amount of time spend with customer service was about thirty or forty minutes…not bad!

    Of course who knows the day of the flight, i may get bumped again but overall I had a good experience.

    Thanks to this site for all the tips, it really helped!

  • Jim

    After volunteering to be bumped 2 days in a row in Chicago, I got 2 nights in town on United’s dime for a mini vacation seeing the sights plus two $400 Type B’s for my trouble. The original bumped flight was paid for with a voucher, so it was a net gain. Fast forward a couple of months and I was lucky enough to score a shuttle launch ticket for next month, so I figured I’d use my vouchers for a free ride.

    I did a Google search on vouchers and wound up here. After reading the horror stories here, I was prepared for problems. It should be noted that a search on United.com brings up the correct info regarding using them. Following directions and actually reading the fine print on the voucher goes a long way. I looked for non-codeshare flights (there is no fare class restrictions on Type B vouchers) and found a perfect set that met my needs. I called the 800 number, went into the reservation system, and said AGENT. Within seconds I was talking to a nice Indian woman who was helpful and easy to understand. I immediately gave her my Mileage Plus number so she had all my info already in the computer.

    Since the round trip fare for my desired flights totaled nearly as much as my two vouchers combined, I split the trip into two one way flights so I could use both 4x$100 voucher books and circumvent the no combo rule (it’s OK to combine all vouchers WITHIN a book). She had no problem with that, and had me booked into my desired flights within 5 minutes. There are no booking fees with Type B vouchers, which she knew.

    Armed with my confirmation numbers, I rolled over to the airport. The woman at the United desk had my vouchers redeemed, flights fully confirmed, and seats chosen in 10 minutes. I told her the story of how I got them, and she said she was surprised more people didn’t do that. Soon I was back to my car with my free ticket itineraries in hand, and out of the lot with a $1 parking fee being my only cost other than a couple gallons of gas.

    All in all I’m happy with the experience. Be prepared, be calm & friendly, and definitely go to a ticket counter instead of hoping your mailed vouchers wind up on the right desk.

  • Julie

    I was on the phone forever with someone who had a harsh accent to book my ticket. I wasn`t too happy to hear that I had to mail the voucher in or go to the airport to finalize my booking. I opted to mail it in and had no problems. Within a week my flight was confirmed and I wasn`t charged any booking fees. The experience was annoying but ended up working out.

  • Cunited

    First off I’d like to say I enjoy flying United, and the elite program and award mile redemption has never posed a problem for me, but these type B vouchers are a total scam.

    I too had a horrible time trying to use two booklets of $400 for giving up my seat a couple times this last year. My family and I are all traveling, and I figured could use award miles and these vouchers to go for free…. so I thought.

    First phone call; agent said I could only use the vouchers for a ticket in my name only, and that my family would have to be booked on seperate itinerary using award miles. I knew better (reading this blog and the instructions clearly say so) but I knew arguing with the agent would get me no where. The agent ran through the flight I wanted, and said the cost was over $900 per pasenger…. So I hung up and regrouped the plan.

    I booked the award travel(online) for the family and was able to squeeze three tickets, only leaving myself to fend for a seat using these vouchers.

    Second call went about the same as first, but this agent told me that I could combine the two sets of $400, so I could apply $800 toward the $900 ticket.
    When I went to my local airport, the agent at the counter said I could only use one set of $400 as they are not combinable, so I would have to pay over $500. So I said forget it…..”maybe I can sell them on Craig’s List”

    Here’s the real kicker, the online price to buy the ticket outright was $414 (which I searched before starting this entire dilemna); so in order to use the “free” vouchers – I had to spend more money than to just but a ticket direct from united.
    So I went home and ended up just buying my ticket for $414.

    All of my co-workers will be hearing about this horror story next week…. they all travel united, but never give up their seats… now they’ll have a reason not to.

    I travel 50-75,000 miles a year and the next time they are looking for volunteers, I will only take it if they book me in first class for next flight instead of giving vouchers.

    I wonder how this voucher redemption will change after the merger finishes, because for most other aspects (bedsides the paint on the planes) they are keeping the better of the two airlines programs…hmmm?

  • cowgirlsf

    What a nightmare. I received a voucher, mailed it in, there was an issue, I called, an agent said they booked my flight and gave me a confirmation number. I looked online about a month later and there wasn’t a reservation under my mileage plus number.
    Ugh.
    I called back, furious, and received new flight information, another confirmation number, and a bunch of promises. Looked again after a couple of months and, guess what? Nothing.

    I called back today and they said they didn’t have my birthday so they couldn’t book the flight. Really? My birthday was in my account information before. What happened to it? And they never called to let me know why the flight wasn’t booked. Convenient for them.
    I laughed when I was promised that in 24 hours the tickets would be booked.
    What a load of shit and time waste. I’ve always been treated well with United, but this is absurd. They need to figure out their voucher system before someone really gets mad.

  • Brenda

    Oh, boy! I am presently on the hold with the third United agent regarding my “lost” free travel voucher I sent in over a month ago. I believe I sent it to the 6057 PO Box. If I had my secretary mail it, I would have had her mail it certified. I did it myself and didn’t take the time to do so. I should have just gone to the airport to redeem. I’m now on hold waiting to book my flight at the rate of $340.00 which was the lowest fare on the date I originally made the reservation they have since cancelled. Well, that’s better than the $1448.00 it would cost me to book it today but I’m not done with United yet. I want my money back and they better get me on a decent flight for all this hassle.

  • http://profiles.google.com/siobhanbarrett1214 Siobhan Barrett

    Wow… I cannot believe how many people have been dealing with the same BS. Last Thursday, April 27th, I called in a reservation for my son and I for this coming Saturday, May 7th, and used the 4x $100 vouchers I was given for giving up a seat two months ago. (I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN!!!) I specifically told the agent I’m not near an airport and need to send them in… I should have just driven there, in retrospect. I sent them as directed (with all the information on the vouchers), to Dearborn, MI on 29th of April, via certified overnight USPS, and have been waiting for a confirmation email from United. I called today, on May 3rd, and was informed the reservations had been cancelled because it was noted I would bring the ticket to the airport within 24hrs. I was told to send in a complaint in order to receive refunds for the vouchers, but that the complaint wouldn’t be responded to from anywhere between 5-to business days. So probably never. I called three times, tried to speak with a supervisor and was told I would be informed of the same policies, and could barely understand a thing that was said because their accents were so thick. I finally got so mad I burst into tears on the phone… I’m so irritated.

    If this is such an issue, why the hell do they issue PAPER VOUCHERS?

  • Kathleen Baynes

    After reading these comments, my daughter, husband and I  drove to the airport yesterday to apply two books of $400 worth of vouchers to an August trip. We all went because my daughter and I “earned” the vouchers and my husband and I planned to use them. We did not call and make the reservation as requested, but we did go online and write down the dates times and flight numbers that we wanted. When we got there the ticket agent said that they prefer that you call because it can take up to an hour to choose flights and they do not have time to do that at the ticket counter when it is busy. However, it was not busy and she said she would be happy to help us. She was happy we had the flight information, all of our identifications and we left in about 15 minutes with our tickets in our hands. Great deal for us and very easy, but we are close to an airport, so getting there was not a hassle. She said plans are in the works to make the entire transaction electronic, so I hope this will be a worthwhile experience for more people in the future.

  • Jertan

    Well, I’m having the same problem. I purchased three tickets for a total of $717.90 and was told to send my $600.00 voucher to United in Dearborn,Mich.. I sent the $600.00 voucher certified mail as instructed. When I got my credit card statement. I was charged $567.90 instead of the $117.90. I contacted united by phone and was asured that my card would be credited back $450.00 in 7 to 10 business days. That was May,3rd… I sent an email today May 20th and was told that it would take another 10 days to answer.
    I’ve had enough of their crap….If I do not get this resolved by Monday I’m going to the news media and who ever else I need to contact.

  • Jertan

    Well, I’m having the same problem. I purchased three tickets for a total of $717.90 and was told to send my $600.00 voucher to United in Dearborn,Mich.. I sent the $600.00 voucher certified mail as instructed. When I got my credit card statement. I was charged $567.90 instead of the $117.90. I contacted united by phone and was asured that my card would be credited back $450.00 in 7 to 10 business days. That was May,3rd… I sent an email today May 20th and was told that it would take another 10 days to answer.
    I’ve had enough of their crap….If I do not get this resolved by Monday I’m going to the news media and who ever else I need to contact.

  • GP

    I was happy to come across this page. So, I wasn’t going to take a chance by mailing my voucher and going through all the changes that others went through. So, I went to Reagan since it’s only 20 minutes from my house and am so happy I did. Everything was taken care of without incidence and I got my eticket right then and there.

  • Wandcgrayer3

    I have been online for over 2 hours…. I refuse to have to go through all the extra hassle. Lord have mercy. I did United a favor giving up my seat. Now it’s time to redeem the ticket and I called United a month previous and they said just call us and we will be happy to take care of it for you.
    So here I am calling now and guess what they want to tell me that the online ticket price of $451.50 can not be redeemed over the phone and I have to pay 650.00… You have lost your mind. Same Flight and just because I am talking to you I have pay 199.00 more money. Why……
    Still holding to see if ticketing will honor the flight. I can go to Orbitz. com and find the ticket cheaper than $451.00 with out an lay overs…..
    Are they SERIOUS?

  • Edgy

    Today I redeemed my United’s type B voucher to buy 2 one way tickets for me and my wife. I had to call reservation where I had to deal with machine first and then finally connected me to other part of the world. I can say by accent it was nowhere near the US. She made a reservation for me and asked how would I like to get my ticket ( ticket counter, mail or travel agent). I decided to go to the airport ticket counter which is about 20 minutes from my home. Went there and gave my confirmation number and the ticket agent issued me a ticket within 15 minutes. Actually my total cost of the ticket was $320 and I was planning to use 3 vouchers and pay $20 by my credit card but the agent said I have to use all my 4 vouchers or pay $130 since he cannot split one voucher for $50 each so I had to use all my 4 vouchers. I am just wondering will I ever get remaining balance of my voucher in the near future? Although everything went smoothly but I really don’t liked United still using this stone age methods to redeem vouchers. I had $400 travel voucher from delta too which I used for my return trip. I did it all online for 2 one way tickets in about 15 minutes with $70 balance still remaining which I can use for my future flight. Using e-credit in delta was also a hassle as I had to separately book two tickets. Now, my wife and I have different seat in one of our sector from BNA to MSP. I tried fixing it online but wasn’t able to do it. I called their customer service and they said they can only do it for medallion members but not for regular folks like us although I am their frequent flyer member. Anyway, I had much better experience with delta trying to redeem my travel credit voucher as I was able to do it online from my computer. Because of this I will be flying with Delta more often than United. Also, Delta seems to oversell its ticket more than United so I might be a lucky one again to get another travel voucher.

  • Pamela Johns

    thank you so much for updating and for this offer.

    Pearson Airport Taxi

  • GMan from LA

    I agree with the other comments using this voucher….I had made a reservation a few weeks ago and was told to mail in my vouchers.  No problem……today, I received a call from a ticket agent in Michigan and was told that to complete my reservation I would need to give her my credit card number ( mind you, they block their number when calling you ).  I asked for her name and contact info before I gave her this info…..no, she would not give me any infor…and she proceeded to tell me that I would be on hold with an agent from  “another country” if I wanted to call United back.  I just spent 3 hours on the phone with the Phillipine’s call center.  The net result was they do not have any record of who called me from Michigan and that my reservation will not be complete because they do not have a record of my voucher !  Did I mention that the person from Michigan called me back and was upset that I would not give her my credit card info….she stated, ” sir, it is only $24.00 you owe us, I have been working for United for 23 years…the people in the Phillipines have been with us for less than 10 months!   She became increasingly frustrated with me and eventually hung up the phone !  No, I am not able to track who I spoke to.   Will never use these vouchers again !

  • Virginia

    Thanks, everyone, I learned so much, so was ready when I called & spoke to the “friendly” personnel.  I was able to reserve my seat on the flights I wanted, and as expected, she gave me the “You can take them to a United counter, or mail them in.”  I said I would take them to Dulles Airport (45 mins. away) but she told me I could only go during THREE HOURS in the day, 8:30-9:30, 12:30-1:30, or 9:30 pm to 10:30!!!  Can you believe that?  So I picked the middle of the day hour, my husband dropped me off & went to the cell phone lot to wait, & I went to the counter.  The ticket agent who waited on me had so many “problems” getting my tickets printed, it was not believable.  Twice she gave me tickets that were wrong, and said “Be sure to check these before you leave.”  I did and saw the first error, handed it back, and she gave me a ticket for that day for Tokyo (one-way).  I turned it around to her, couldn’t help making a face, and the agent next to her looked at her in disbelief.  She finally got it right.  I asked for a separate receipt for the $15 overage, since someone posted that they were actually charged the full fare, but she said “I CAN’T DO THAT,” and pointed to the one place that had “$15. a.c. (additional charge).  So I left, and have checked my credit card, and the correct amount was taken out, but honestly, I’m so appalled by all this, I am writing a letter to United.  When will they get to the 21st century & issue e-vouchers? 

  • Maddingly

    The exact same thing just happened to me. I was astounded. How ironic that I had to call halfway around the world (to India) to hear that I had to use such an antiquated method to redeem vouchers. Ridiculous!

  • joe Bet

    Right to the point, most frustrating, I’m sure that this is done on purpose to discourage the use of your coupons. All airlines have the ability to process these vouchers online, however, that’s not in their best interest every company transacting business on the internet should set up to accept vouchers.
     

  • Shanda McKenzie

    United Airlines has to be the WORST airline in the industry and I can honestly say that being a MILLION + MILER with 2 other airlines, I WILL NEVER EVER fly them again.  My son, who is in the USMC was given 3 days over Christmas to fly home from Quantico.  Did I mention 3 days?  He had his PAID reservation for almost 3 weeks and it wasn’t cheap either.  He gets to the airport 3 hours early just to make sure he gets on his flight.  He is told just before he checks in by the agent, that “I’m sorry sir, the flight is oversold”  Hmmmm…While not even a flicker of sympathy for a military person trying to get home for the only 3 days he has, they state that the other flights for the day (his was the 1st flight out 7:30 AM) are also oversold and that he can be on standby for the one later on that day, however he would be number 8 on the list.  We all know that is not a good number on a any waiting list.  After I called United because my son being a professional and wanting to represent the USMC in that manner, spoke to 3 different people in 2 countries OTHER than the U.S.  Not only could I not understand them, I think I heard “I’m sorry, there is nothing we can do” over 20 times.  That part you can clearly understand, so my guess is that they say this quite often.  I refused to hang up and they decided to put me on hold just for spit until the call was finally disconnected, 2 hours later.  After my son wondered around the airport with NO HELP from United, they finally offered him travel vouchers.  Now, let me ask you this…”Does anyone, let alone a military person, want a voucher for travel at a later date, vs. getting home for 3 days?”  They are robots who have absolutely NO sympathy and wonder why they have more negative blogs than any other airlines that I can find.  After sending a letter to their Customer Service two days later, their response was so typically generic I wanted to vomit. In conclusion, if you fly with them, you will notice that you can’t go online and chose your seats, “OTHER” than the “Upgrade Economy with more leg room” seats for 39.00.  Now I’m not a lawyer, but I’m not sure how they get by with doing this.  It’s their way of getting you to purchase a seat for an additional charge so that you are comforted by the fact you now have an assigned seat.  We taped the conversation with the “agent” in India and I’m pretty sure there was a lot of information that was not correct or even honest.  I caught him in 3 lies in my conversation with the first agent (1. Sorry we can’t Code share with another airline to get him home..THAT WAS LIE # 1..then he proceeded to tell us that a flight we found on line that had seats available and could be purchased…was already cancelled so they couldn’t put him on that flight..another lie..You don’t cancel a flight 9 hours before it leaves with no reason..#3 They tried to say that the reason my son was on Standby was because “maybe” he didn’t get to the airport on time..However the agent in India couldn’t verify that, even though my son was at the airport by 4:30 AM and spoke to the agent in Dulles).  United, wake up, not only for your Civilian Customers, but your Military.  Delta and Southwest are Elite airlines that put their military passengers in a totally different category and would NEVER leave them with absolutely no backup plan to get them home.

  • Heather George

    Does anyone know exactly what the phrase “Valid for one year from date of issue” means on my type B voucher – does it mean I just have to TICKET by then, or actually TRAVEL by then?  I just tried to call United but they said it would be 25 minutes on hold before an agent would get to me – yikes. Thanks for all the other tips on here, very helpful!!!

    • Friendthegirl

      I got a voucher for being bumped on a flight. Don’t know what type it is. I called and asked that question recently, and was told it just had to be booked by the expiration date. I’m going to call back again soon to ask again, just in case she was wrong. I like things confirmed.

  • Kevin Garrelts

    I just went throught the exact same process this moring trying to redeem my vouchers.  The United Airline agents was pleasant enough, but the user experience to try and redeem my vouchers was not as pleasant.   You cannot help but feel vulnerable mailing in your only evidence of credit with hand written information that you hope someone at the receiving end will understand.  To ad a little confort on our part, we are taking photos of the voucher in case they are lost or simply misplaced.

    It was not made clear if we were to write down the traveler name, mailing address, telephone number, email address, confirmation number and outbound date on each of four vouchers we had and the cover, so we did all five.   I hope they can read bewtween the lines!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/E4D4SJ3H3O7N3WYUQPYXMUNLE4 Krista

    Well on my flight from Aruba last Nov I was kindly offered a “free ticket” to anywhere in the US or Carriebean.  Aware that I did indeed had afuture plans to return the following year, my husband and I gladly signed up for the Mastercard, thinking…free ticket?  Why not!  Sadly, I should have known, nothing is really free.  Even though we would like to think that companies as Mastercard and US Airways would not use trickery to get nice people to sign up for creditcards, they do.  Beware…nothing in life is free.  Shame on US Airs and Mastercard.

  • http://www.thetampainjurylawyers.com/ Tampa injury lawyer

    The exact same thing just happened to me. I was astounded. How ironic that I had to call halfway around the world (to India) to hear that I had to use such an antiquated method to redeem vouchers. Ridiculous!

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