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Posts: 73
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:49 am

Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 5:46 am

Note: I am looking for some feedback from fellow frequent alliance travelers + airline credit card holders.

Both myself and my family find ourselves traveling often many times each year.

Many years ago, I became a loyal UA/LH/Star Alliance traveler since they tended to focus on my destinations that I frequently traveled to (i.e. Eastern Europe and the middle east).

I maintained this blind loyalty to United and the rest of the airlines because I valued their service, their network, and we have a ton of miles with them.

I never liked AA or One World, as AA is worse than an ULCC in my opinion. I worked for them for a period of time when I was younger, and could vouch single handedly for how cheap and bad they were.

I never gave Delta an honest shot, because their prices tended to be more, and I valued my status/mileage with UA/Star Alliance from my city.

Once the pandemic took foot this year, the aviation world was thrown into a tizzy. We found ourselves traveling a lot, as it is a great opportunity to get out and see the world without tons of tourists everywhere. Not to mention the rock bottom prices. However, from my hometown, Delta now seemed to dominate both AA/UA/SW/etc. I mean this in terms of pricing and schedule.

My wife and child had to fly overseas, so we booked a business class ticket on United + Turkish Airlines (Our city) -> IAD -> IST -> (her town). She is traveling with a little baby, so minimal connection time is key. About a week before their departure, United notifies us that their connection in IAD is no longer only 90 minutes, but is now 9 hours. That is insane! With no other options, we had cancel this ticket, and then fly up to New York City, spend the night, then the next day they flew out of JFK with one stop in business on Aeroflot to their destination.

For their return trip home, since options are limited, I had them booked on Turkish/Star Alliance again. This flight routed (Her town) -> IST -> CPH -> IAD -> (Our city). Everything was fine and dandy. My wife had a question about her flight the other day, so I logged into her account to get her the info, and i see a little caution mark next to the dates. I see that her departure flight is now 2 days after her connection in Istanbul. I know what this means. The flight was canceled, yet no one bothered to call or email us to let us know about this change.

After a long wait on the phone with United (who we booked the ticket through), they told me the flight was canceled for January 19th, and they would gladly put her on a new flight ASAP. That date.... February 12th. ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!! After a lot of arguing and speaking to supervisors, i was able to get them in business class for the 23rd, but of course, all of this additional time is at our own expense.

I know that COVID is a nightmare for the airline industry, but, I find it hard to believe that after years of flawless travel with UA/Star Alliance, I am now out of pocket many times more paying for last minute business class tickets on other airlines instead of the comfortable prices i paid up-front, long before traveling.

Our personal credit cards and my business cards are all through United in order to reap the benefits of accruing miles, etc. However, after experiencing Delta (8 flights on them so far this year), and how great their service, scheduling, aircraft are, I really think I want to switch to Delta for travel and their credit cards going forward.

My question to the aviation audience is this: Have you ever experienced a situation like this in the past where you had blind loyalty to one airline/alliance, yet after numerous situations, you got so fed up and switched? Thanks for the feedback.
usflyer msp
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Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:01 am

If you don't have schedule flexibility you shouldn't be traveling internationally during COVID. Frequent airline schedule changes and changes in documentation needed by border officials is the norm no matter what airline/alliance you are flying.
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Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:34 am

It’s actually not a great time to get out and see the world without tourists, as you say.

The reason there aren’t any tourists around is that most people around the world are staying home and doing their bit.

You are electing to travel during a time where it’s impossible for carriers to provide schedule integrity, and then even though you knew this when booking, complaining about the outcome.

Stay home. Pull your head in.
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:41 am

Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:14 am

So to summarise: You booked a trip during a global pandemic and during an ever-changing aviation dynamic, and while knowing that schedules and operations can change at any minute? Then gave the call centre a hard time for something which isn't in their control (or really anyones control), yet they still offered an option which you didn't like. Finally you booked additional tickets and wondered if anyone else here got so mad about a situation, which isn't really anyone's fault, gave up on their FF points and credit cards? Did I summarise that right? Did I misinterpret your issue at all?

FYI, there are thousands of people still stranded overseas and would have loved knowing they'd be getting home in three weeks (of course subject to change).
Posts: 209
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:20 pm

Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:58 am

Well, yeah. Everything has been said about flying during a global pandemic.
But I somewhat get the point. I’m a client that has been loyal for all this years and I want this loyalty to be rewarded. I’m even bringing them money they so desperately need to keep the boat afloat. I expect them to treat me accordingly and to recognize my loyalty. I will remember this because it’s during tough times that you see the real character of a firm.

Taking this into account I still think they’re doing everything they can. They’re burning cash every day, new regulation and hot spots come up every day. There’s not much they can do but react. There’s no planning. I’m very sure they’re not causing you trouble because they like to.
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Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:25 am

It's a pandemic, stop travelling for leisure.

With that said, I pulled my business related travel away from Lufthansa this year. First they announced the new and "improved" miles and more program, then they cut the 3rd part lounges and lately announced buy-on-board low cost service. Don't be afraid of jumping ship when it starts going down.
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Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:23 pm

Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:32 pm

The global aviation industry is presently facing its greatest challenge ever, far more acute than 9/11. Schedule changes can be abrupt, service standards aren't harmonized and continuously evolving due to the pandemic, and with business travel virtually dead (with less than 10% office occupancy, people aren't traveling for work), the focus the airlines have is on the selfish few that feel the need to travel for leisure, or because they are bored, or because they found some cheap deals. We're in a pandemic. It's not safe to travel and you risk getting sick or worse, passing COVID along to others directly and indirectly. If you're complaining about service standards amid all this, well, then, maybe you might consider yourself being part of the problem, not the solution. That said, when things do eventually move back to normal, if you have status at certain levels, the airlines will often give you a one time opportunity to switch and give you the equivalent status on their brand for a period of time.
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Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:22 pm

Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:18 pm

I'm pretty sure at least one airline has explicitly said they're no longer notifying customers of flight changes, at least until they're last minute, because they change so frequently and there's no point telling people their flights have been re-booked a month out.

Stay at home unless it's essential. You're why the world remains a mess.
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Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:36 am

Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:37 pm

Take UA out of the picture and replace with "X" carrier. Once you realize loyalty now is a one way street it's time to become a free agent.

This is also happening with hotel programs, so do what's best for you. It's extremely liberating once you vote with your own money.
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Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:37 pm

Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:39 pm

USAir707 wrote:

My question to the aviation audience is this: Have you ever experienced a situation like this in the past where you had blind loyalty to one airline/alliance, yet after numerous situations, you got so fed up and switched? Thanks for the feedback.

To your question, no. But if you don’t want to feel stuck again in the future maybe a non-aligned card which gives you points to use for trips on any airline may make more sense. Services will continue to be in flux for awhile. Who knows what the future may bring?
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Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 2:15 pm

I agree with others here that this is not the time to travel. There is a pandemic going on and you don't want to be responsible for spreading the virus around the globe. Therefor, no matter how low the fares are, stay home unless you really have no other option.

That's what I'm doing as well. I used to travel a lot, both for business and for leisure, but about a year ago that has come to a full stop. I haven't been out of the country ever since, in fact I barely left my home town.

But even aside from the pandemic, I have to say you're a lousy traveler. Just the fact that you book blind on a specific carrier/alliance says a lot about you, in quite a negative way. You should NEVER book blind, always compare options. Blind bookers are known to be overcharged because they don't compare. Personally, I always compare. I don't give a shit about status with any airline or alliance, but I book whatever option turns out to work best for me. Both on my schedule and my wallet.

You say you've never given Delta/SkyTeam a try. I have and I always found them to be quite satisfactory. Not always the cheapest, but certainly the highest quality. But as said, if another airline turns out to have a better schedule or price I might pick that one. I'm not loyal to anyone, only to myself.

Changes in the schedule can happen at any airline, that's just the way it is. It doesn't matter which airline you pick, it's the same everywhere. You just got to accept it. You were whining about having to pay out of pocket to get an earlier flight (yes, whining is the right word for it). That flight was only a few weeks earlier, what difference does it make? You have to quarantine upon arrival anyway. And besides, I'm pretty sure if that earlier opportunity was that important you could have gotten it on another airline easier and cheaper.
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:56 am

Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:35 pm

Were the tickets at issue award tickets? I'm presuming so given the routings involved. If so, reward tickets on partner carriers are BY FAR the riskiest tickets to fly on right now since 1) schedules changes are frequent and 2) there's very little the issuing airline/FFP can do for rebooking if it does not serve the destination directly (and if the partner carrier does not have another flight available). Some Star members -- such as Singapore Airlines -- are blocking partner access to its award inventory for precisely these reasons.

I'd recommend leveraging the full breadth of the Star Alliance to go for the most direct routings possible every time, even if you have to buy tickets out of pocket.
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Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:03 pm

Ordinarily, I would agree 100% with you. I am a long time member of MileagePlus because (with the very partial exception of Alitalia) UA has been the only airline that over the years has had a nonstop IAD-FCO flight, even if they have suspended it for years at a time, and made it just seasonal. Over that general route, i.e., including connections, IMHO they have offered consistently the worst service and the worst value for the price. LH has been much better, and in fact it's my favorite if I don't have a nonstop option, so it's been another reason to stick with MileagePlus. Things may change if/when AZ resumes its nonstop service.

Again, ordinarily, I would suggest the following: (i) always remember that loyalty is one-way only, especially with UA, you are loyal to them, they are not to you, they can, and will, and have, change the rule at their discretion, and the changes are never in your favor; (ii) don't let miles accumulate: as soon as you can redeem them for a trip you are interested in, do so; (iii) do a little bit of financial homework, because there is no free lunch, miles are not free at all, they are not a gift, and it's worth comparing the MileagePlus perks (in dollars and cents, including yearly fees) with those of other non-airline cards that also give you miles.

All of the above, ordinarily. For these COVID times, I have to join all the other posters. These are not good times to travel, and what happened to you, yes very unpleasant, unfortunately may not be out of the "ordinary".
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Re: Frustration With UAL/Turkish/Star Alliance (Opinions Needed)

Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:05 pm

I am sorry to say but I agree with what everyone says here. Prior to the pandemic, I travel international very frequently (several European short hauls and at least 4 long hauls- 2 of which are usually to the USA) for leisure. oneworld Alliance is my alliance of choice and I hold British Airways Executive Club Silver (oneworld Sapphire) which I personally think is the best frequent flyer elite status to have. In addition, I also hold Asiana Airlines Club Diamond (Star Alliance Gold).

Prior to the pandemic, I've had several trips booked that were cancelled: Japan (April 2020), Mainland China (June 2020), Brazil and Argentina (August 2020), USA (September 2020) and Norway (November 2020) all in business class paid using cash. So this year I was only able to go to the USA in January and Germany in August 2020 to take advantage of the UK travel corridor with Germany which now doesn't exist. Me and a group of friends booked a last minute trip to Turkey in October for a week when it was still included in thr corridor list but was since taken off the list 2 weeks after- we were lucky to get the refund for what we paid for because the airline was not planning on giving cash refunds but vouchers. Also, when we were booking the flights, we were warned that flight schedules were SUBJECT to change. We took the risk so even if we've all been to Istanbul, we allowed extra days to allow and give window for the changes. Ever since, I haven't looked at any trips abroad. Airlines constantly change their schedules due to demand and entry requirements. Yes its good to explore and see the world with less tourist but its not worth the risk associated with it. Also I tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago and I wear mask and eye protection everywhere I go, I sanitise my hand regularly. It's not worth it. My BA status will expire this year but I know I'm not the only one and things WILL get better. Luckily my Asiana status has until the year after but things will change also noting that Korean Air recently took a 30% stake in the airline. Nothing is very certain at the moment.

It sounded like you gave the staff a hard time for things that are out of their control. You might want to reconsider your choices.

But to answer your question: YES. I previously had AF-KL Flying Blue/Skyteam Elite Plus. I got so fed up with the constant strikes by Air France and the French Air traffic control. I didn't find Delta to be a pleasant to fly with and several other reasons so I switched to BAEC/oneworld. A few years down the line and out of curiosity, I decided to give Star Alliance a try hence the Asiana Diamond Status. BA/ oneworld still wins in me.

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