I have recently learned that United Airlines will not honor four international flight tickets (3 from a total of 180,000 miles and 1 purchased) that would have allowed my husband and our two children to accompany me on an art historical residency in Florence in 2017.
The longer part of the story was that we had booked these tickets for the summer of 2016 for travel with me on a research trip to France, Spain, and Italy. Then, right before we were slated to leave, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required immediate surgery and making travel impossible. I was also in the midst of my employer, Sweet Briar College, being slated to close its doors that same month and so was finding another position as a professor. It was a most extraordinary time. I put our tickets on hold, planning to use them in the future.
I feel very lucky in that my surgery went well. I was also able to find a position at the University of Richmond, but only for one year. We moved our whole family to allow me to still take the position in Richmond while recovering from brain surgery. It was an extremely busy year, adapting to our new life. Thankfully my contract was extended for an additional year and I was also lucky enough to be chosen for a fellowship that would allow me to develop my latest project, Mapping the Medieval Woman, while in Italy in the spring semester of 2017. We decided that all my family would come along, both for the educational benefits, and because being apart for six months was too long a time.
So, I went onto the United website ready to update our travel dates and found that all of our tickets had disappeared. I immediately contacted United Airline’s Customer Care department and explained that our tickets were missing. They say that we had needed to update our travel plans by one year after the original booking date, not one year from when the tickets were put on hold, or when the travel had originally been scheduled to occur. And those original booking dates were already passed.
We have emailed back and forth to no avail and we can not possibly afford to purchase that many tickets again. We had saved up those miles for MANY years as well as the funds for my ticket and so this is disappointing beyond belief.
I am wondering if you can recommend any other course of action beyond appealing to their best nature and human compassion, neither of which has worked so far.
I very much appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.