The personal website of Chris Coyier

Hey United, Little Help?

Yesterday I had a triple-leg flight:

Wellington > Auckland (Air New Zealand)
Auckland > San Francisco (Air New Zealand)
San Francisco > Orlando (United)

Here’s the itinerary I had for that.


United Confirmation Number: DCP8G4

The person who printed my boarding passes at the Wellington Airport told me they couldn’t print my United boarding pass, I would have to get that once I arrived in San Francisco.

In San Francisco, I cleared customs and gathered my bags and all that. I took them over to the United desk to get my boarding pass as I’d been instructed. Only they told me I had no flight booked. My ticket just didn’t exist. I’d have to buy another ticket if I wanted to get on that flight. I talked to two different agents since I was so bewildered I wanted a second opinion. Both said the same.


I didn’t have a boarding pass, but I thought that was completely normal based on my other international travel. I had a confirmation number and the triple-leg flight looked correct when I checked in in Wellington.

Even my baggage tag was all set for Orlando:


My only recourse was to buy another ticket to Orlando. But of course I was damned if I was going to do it on United. I’m sitting on a Delta flight right now writing this enroute to Orlando, with a substantially lighter wallet.

Isn’t this illegal? What if you order a washer and dryer from a store, and they deliver you just a washer? Aren’t you entitled to get the dryer, or at least the money you paid for the dryer back? It feels like an even-worse version of theft to me since not only didn’t I get what was paid for, but there were additional costs incurred from being stranded somewhere unexpected.


United is refunding my re-booked Delta flight. Hopefully anyway, they said 7 days.