US Airways’ IT System Continues to Be Broken (Or why I can’t wait for the merger to finish)

It’s no secret that US Airways’ IT system is broken.  But I just had a situation more bizarre than any I had in the post.

To recap previous situations:

The award flights that you see aren’t always the award flights you book.

What airport code you choose in co-airport situations can affect the pricing of the same exact flights.

Flights will re-price during the payment portion of getting the ticket (watch out! easy to miss!)

And don’t try rebooking cancellations through the website.  Call if possible.

Back in October, I decided I was ready to settle down with an airline. I didn’t really care which airline it was overall. I just wanted convenience, great status benefits, and an easy way of getting it. I originally had my eye on American Airlines for status. I flew them a few times already and they have many flights out of Washington-Reagan (DCA). But I began to waver when I saw US Airways Trial Preferred Program. For just $200, I could start with Silver Preferred Status and earn it with just 7,500 miles. I was already planning on flying more than that amount, so I had that in the bag.

This recent situation revealed a huge IT logic failure.

US Airways will use the same flight numbers for flights that take the same route, turn around, and then go right back where it came from.

I connected through Charlotte for a flight.  I was on the same flight number the next day to go back to Charlotte in the morning.

We had some weather related delays, so the agent protected me on another flight.  We landed about twelve minutes before my next flight was supposed to take off, and I did probably the fastest airport sprint of my life.  I made it onto the plane just as they were closing the doors.

I was already checked into my morning flight on my cell phone.  So I had no reason to think anything was wrong.

But then I went to print a paper copy of my reservation from the kiosk.  And there was no record of my reservation there.

My ticket had been completely canceled.  I had been in first class for both my legs, and at this point, the agent wasn’t sure if she could even get me on my flights.

She finally got me into a middle seat, and I immediately went to see another agent at the gate.

The gate agent pulled up the record of my flight and said it looked like the agent yesterday protected the wrong flight.

Somehow she switched my return leg onto a flight that had taken off already.

US Airways and American Airlines post-merger loyalty points, elite status, and alliance.

So here are the multiple issues with that:

1.  The agent was able to switch my return flight to before my first flight.

2.  The agent was able to switch my flight to a flight that had already occurred.

3.  Even though my “missed flight” wiped out my entire return, it somehow didn’t affect my flight out from Charlotte (at least, that I noticed).

I’m really glad for #3, but that’s what really puzzles me.  It’s possible that the protection didn’t get pushed through until I was in the air, or possibly, my ticket wasn’t actually valid at that point but no one noticed (I doubt that because my miles posted with no problem 😛 )

I was in such a rush to get on the plane in Charlotte that I can’t even remember if there were any strange issues in scanning my ticket.

The gate agent got me into a nicer seat and apologized profusely.  So this isn’t a complaint about the customer service side.  I could also see when you are trying to rebook a ton of people, selecting the wrong flight when the flight numbers are exactly the same.  The gate agent also said, “Wow, I’m sorry, it really sucks that this happened to you,” which somehow made me feel so much better.

But this is one of those bizarre IT issues where I can’t think of a single way of being proactive in protecting yourself about it.  I had digital boarding passes for my flights already.  I think the only way to prevent this is to pray for faster IT integration with American!  😉

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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