United cancelled all of my four flights to San Diego two weeks before Spring break. It substituted for my one stops with convenient connections at Dulles, an outbound flight with a 5 hour layover in O'Hare and a two-stop return featuring a 4 hour layover. After 45 minutes of research and more than an hour on the phone, I finally changed my return flight to a day later, thereby incurring at least $265 in additional lodging and parking costs. On the outbound flight though, United claimed that no space existed on decent flights to San Diego getting me in at something like the early hour I booked. Since, I'm driving from San Diego to Palm Springs, I proposed that United give us seats on a convenient flight to Palm Springs, which would get us there only a little later than originally planned. Unfortunately, there were only three seats in coach on that flight. So, I proposed that United give us one first class seat to solve the problem. After more than 3 hours over two days trying to talk with customer service and conversations with two supervisors, plus an attempt by Orbiz to solve the problem, United made it absolutely clear that it was not going to solve this problem.
I still do not know why United cancelled our flights. Surely, it knew that doing so on a busy travel week would cause chaos. At several points, employees took the position that any change in destination would require a bunch of onerous fees, even when a timely flight to my original destination was now impossible. And in the end, it treated its guidelines as inflexible rules prohibiting the only decent solution either they or I could come up with.
They likely cancelled the flights in order to enhance revenue. But waiving its guidelines might cost it something, so tough luck. I'm dreading the beginning of my vacation, and have doubts about whether we'll even arrive in San Diego the first date on this late schedule. And in the future, I'll change destinations rather than fly United.