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Air Dolomiti

We're headed to Italy on Saturday for the Rick Steves Best of Tuscany tour; I booked flights months ago.

Our return was from Florence to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to Dallas; I had confirmation codes, was set to go, but hadn't been able to get seat assignments for the 1st leg, from Florence to Frankfurt, which was with Air Dolomiti, but booked by United.

I called this morning, after trying last week, and was told that we had reservations on the flight, but didn't any longer. They told me to call United, which I did; after wasting an hour on hold with a rep, I was told that although the flight was now full, she was going to "email Air Dolomiti and ask to have our reservation reinstated," and that she would be calling me tomorrow. She also said that we might just have to fly home the next day. I'm sure hotel and food compensation would have been forthcoming (NOT).

This is the worst sort of service; we will do everything we can to never fly this awful airline ever again. While I do understand that accidents happen, I should have gotten resolution this morning, and if they really cared about their customers, offered some sort of compensation for this unacceptable situation.

Posted by
10298 posts

This would be covered under EU 261 law since this is an EU flight. If you have been unwillingly denied or cancelled, the penalties are stiff. I'll try to get the link for you. It gets complicated when it's two airline partners. Make screenshots of your original reservations.
Don't tell United you'll never use them again b because they'll have no motivation to solve your problem. Cross your fingers that this snafu can get you an upgrade.
Here's an explanation from Chris Elliott, the consumer rights advocate. If you Google EU 261 you'll see a lot of companies willing to file for you for a cut of the compensation. There are also more articles to read.

https://www.elliott.org/airline-problems/eu-ec-261-european-air-travel-rights-guide/

Yes, under EU 261 hotel and food and hefty compensation are awarded. Call Air Dolomiti and tell them you will be filing a claim. That one would be filed in Italy You will be able to file against United, too, since your second flight, which could be denied unwillingly, originates in Germany.
Even if a plane is 2 hours late, food is rolled out to the waiting area under EU 261. European airlines take this law seriously.
Your United rep sounded uninformed.

Posted by
2267 posts

I know how stressful these things can be, but I’m glad you’ve caught this snag well in in advance. (More than two weeks before those travel dates, I’m guessing?) that sounds like plenty of time to sort it all out.

It would probably be a good idea to look at alternate routing options on StarAlliance carriers, so that you can be proactive in the problem solving.

If I wrote off every airline that presented me with an irritations that can be overcome, I’d have to row to Europe.

Posted by
365 posts

Did you book with United Airlines directly?

And in general on the Flyertalk.com forum every day there are posts saying "I will never fly American airlines, British Airlines, Delta Airlines,United airlines. So bad experiences are happening on every airline.

Posted by
8528 posts

This morning for you was evening in Europe. It may be that time was required for Air Dolomiti staff that would be needed to resolve this issue for you to return to the office. While I certainly understand your frustration in having a paid reservation disappear, I think you need to be realistic that waiting a day for resolution two weeks out is not unreasonable.

I hope that this gets smoothed out and you can relax and have a wonderful trip.

PS. As a point of reference, United was great to me last fall when Lufthansa went on strike and cancelled my flight the day of flight. United made the reroutes quickly and got me where I needed to go. I don’t know that I would write them off just yet.

Posted by
118 posts

Bets, thanks for the link; I'm on it!

Since this is the return flight, we do have about 3 weeks to sort this out, and we have the 2nd leg intact (at least, I think we do, since we do have seat assignments). United is supposed to call me tomorrow with a resolution, so I'll wait a day or so to see how things shake out, but right now I'm certainly not a fan.

I'm a meticulous planner; I book hotels, dinners, and excursions far in advance, and then I double-check out reservations as things get close. Because I wanted to make sure we had assigned seats, I was able to catch this, or we would've shown up at 5am in the Florence airport, with no flight.

Rowing to Europe is starting to seem like a pleasant alternative!

Posted by
118 posts

Carol,

Actually, I called early this morning, so it was only 2pm in Italy (7 hours difference from here in the Dallas area).

While I do agree that it might take a day or two to sort out, keep in mind that I booked these flights months ago; had I not been vigilant and tried to get assigned seats, we wouldn't have known about this until we arrived at the airport on the 12th at 5am, with no flight to board.

I agree with those who point out that problems with airlines are common these days, but for some reason, I've always found the lowest-quality service on United. We fly Southwest a lot, since they're based in Dallas, and I love the company; they've always allowed free no-penalty cancellations, have never expired our points; sadly, I can't say the same for any of the others.

For that matter, none of our miles are showing on our United account; I suspect it's because out of 5 flights, none of them are actually on United planes--but since we booked with United, one would think they'd give us the points. I'll hold my breath.

Posted by
5645 posts

I know it is frustrating, but it is good that you found this out now while you have plenty of time to deal with it. It is much better than showing up at the airport to find your flight is cancelled or that you have been bumped.

I will second Scudder’s advice to try to find an alternate flight on Star Alliance to your liking. In addition to Florence, you might also look for alternate flights out of Pisa. When you speak to the agent, if they offer you an alternative that is not suitable, be ready to bring up the alternatives that you found. Be calm, patient, and exceedingly polite; it will get you better service.

Unfortunately this happens a lot on many different airlines and it is exceedingly frustrating. I hope you are able to get an alternate to your liking.

Posted by
118 posts

Well, we've already paid thousands for the flights... I don't want to go through the ordeal of trying to get our money back weeks later.

Posted by
5645 posts

We fly Southwest a lot, since they're based in Dallas, and I love the company; they've always allowed free no-penalty cancellations, have never expired our points; sadly, I can't say the same for any of the others.

I’m guessing that you didn’t have any flights booked last December when Southwest had their big software meltdown.

For what it is worth, I fly United internationally more than any other airline. While there have been problems, they have all ultimately been resolved to my satisfaction.

Posted by
5645 posts

For that matter, none of our miles are showing on our United account; I suspect it's because out of 5 flights, none of them are actually on United planes--but since we booked with United, one would think they'd give us the points. I'll hold my breath.

United doesn’t post the miles until you take the flight. You should see them posted a day or 2 after you complete the flight.

Posted by
118 posts

Laura, thanks for the info; I'll watch out for the points.

We've probably flown United more than any others overseas, but in the US it's either Southwest or American (both based in Dallas) for us, since we're less than an hour from the 2 airports that service these 2 airlines.

Back in the 90s and 2000s, when I was still touring the US in the music business, I flew almost every week, and we certainly had a few bumps here and there (one time, flying back from Chicago to Denver, the airline lost all 40+ pieces of baggage for our group--most of the pieces were heavy instrument road cases--how exactly do you lose them, one wonders?), but for general service and support, I have to rank United at the bottom (now that Jet Blue is gone!).

Posted by
23431 posts

....I'm a meticulous planner..... That may tell us more than anything. Things happen and sometimes it is hard to find someone to blame. Was it United or AD? You can direct your anger at United but you might be wrong. Over the years we have received good service from United.

We had a flight to Europe cancelled while we were sitting in the plane buckled up and ready to fly when the plane was deemed unable to fly. A fully loaded 747 puts lot of stress on the reservation system. Three days later we finally got a couple of seats on another flights. I would be more concerned, especially for the future, about how or why my reservation was cancelled. Unfortunately travel does problems from time to time. Try to relax and deal with it going forward.

Posted by
118 posts

While I suspect Air Dolomiti is to blame for somehow losing us in their system, it's United who set up these flights, so they're the ones to whom I have to turn to get things straightened out.

Having spent more than 20 years traveling professionally all over the world, and now traveling overseas 2 or 3 times each year, I know how things can get fouled up, and that sometimes travel arrangements go awry. But... having an airline rep tell me she'll call me tomorrow, rather than resolving the issue today, was a bit disturbing. Granted, we do have some time before our flights home, but I assumed they're straighten it out this morning.

Now, what a really GOOD company does in this situation is to do something to mollify th customer--replace a badly-cooked meal, offer a refund or replacement of an inferior product, offer a seat upgrade. Sadly, phone reps on airlines have no ability to do anything to unruffle the feathers of a passenger.

Posted by
4438 posts

When I encounter a "really good company" these days, I am pleasantly surprised. It's certainly not the norm since Covid. I've learned to assume that things will go wrong, service will be slower, etc. In the US, the loss of retired people and mothers since the pandemic means that workers know they can find another job, so many do not work as hard.

Posted by
2267 posts

Now, what a really GOOD company does in this situation is to do something to mollify th customer--replace a badly-cooked meal, offer a refund or replacement of an inferior product, offer a seat upgrade.

This approach to business has been slowing going extinct for over 40 years. It’s the economic system we’re in, which we chose (though largely passively), and from which we also benefit in many ways. Expectations of non-existent service standards will only lead to frustration and disappointment.

Posted by
2984 posts

bob, if it's any saving grace at least you weren't screwed by Unites on your way to Europe, thus possibly missing a tour. I guess if one is going to have a travel problem, it would be better on the return flight.

I understand the frustration of being on the phone for an hour and getting nowhere.

Posted by
118 posts

Final outcome:

It was a good thing I had checked on seat assignments, or we would've shown up at the airport at 5am, only to find that we had no flights.

Because I called yesterday, Air Dolomiti reinstated our reservations and we're good to go--for now at least. I'll double-check for the next few weeks though!

Posted by
9779 posts

Glad that for now things are taken care of.

Indeed, it's excellent that you were checking so that you found the problem well in advance of its becoming an actual problem.

I hope everything goes smoothly for you from here on out.

Posted by
118 posts

Yes, someone from United did call me back, but not before I'd already called them at 9:15am (they'd promised to call at 8 central). But they did call...

It was a good reminder to me to be vigilant about checking flight reservations in these crazy travel times that we're in; we didn't realize until this week that we were flying out on Memorial Day weekend...

But it's all good--Tuscany here we come!

Posted by
57 posts

Bob,
As an FYI, you might check Air Dolomiti reviews for future reference. They are not particularly good. While their safety and comfort ratings are fine, they have poor ratings for delayed and cancelled flights. The last trip to Florence I specifically booked away from them, and ended up taking the train to Rome to fly back home as their delay and cancel rate out of there was over 35%!

I'm not sure I would consider this is a United issue (though the code share service support should have been better). I fly on United domestically and internationally regularly and typically all flights and service has been very good to excellent. Yes, there have been minor schedule and/or flight # changes (less than an hour and all connecting flights fine) but all in all nothing beyond any other airline, and I find their app very workable. If you can, try their Polaris Bus class international some trip - I find it's now one of the best there is, outside of the usual "best of class" airlines such as Singapore or Emirates - and certainly better than American, Delta, AF, LF and BA.

I would definitely check back with AD before your flight. Best of luck and safe travels!

Posted by
118 posts

I think you're probably right that the problem was Air Dolomiti, not United, but...

When I called AD, they told me that, since the booking was with United, who uses other airlines like them, Brussels Airlines, and Lufthansa (all of which we're flying on this trip), I would have to contact United for assistance.

The first United rep I spoke to told me we may have to fly home a day later... which of course didn't sit well with us.

Fortunately, United was able to get us reinstated on the flight; we're here in Florence now, and will be flying home on June 12th, so hopefully everything holds between now and then, but I suspect you're correct about AD--who we certainly didn't select for this trip. :)

As a quick trip report: Florence is really crowded.

Posted by
33131 posts

given that you appear to have found the culprit in the partner airline does your pronouncement in the thread and in the headline that you will never fly United Airlines again still stand?

Posted by
1193 posts

I suspect you're correct about AD--who we certainly didn't select for this trip. :)

This is more for others who might be reading this, but most airlines--United being one--says something like "Includes Travel Operated by Air Dolomiti" on their website when you are choosing your flights. It's a good idea to look carefully at all the proffered itineraries for any notes such as this. I speak from experience on this. My first ever international trip, my first flight had a Lufthansa flight number. Dutifully went to their terminal at LAX for departure, only to be told that, nope, it's actually a United flight, so we had to schlep down to terminal 7. I had no clue about code shares at that time!

Posted by
26 posts

Tip: To reserve seats on a code share flight.

Example you booked via United but were flying one leg on Air Dolomiti; this is a code share. Your reservation always indicates who is operating what leg of a flight (United, BA, TAP).

You cannot reserve a seat on the United app or web site for a flight operated by another airline.

You needed to log into Air Dolomiti's web site with your conformation code from United.

You would then have been able to choose your seats.

It's best to download the APP on your phone for each airline you will be flying.

Posted by
118 posts

Yes, I know about going to the airlines' sites to book seats, but AD of course doesn't seem to have it together for me to book our seats, even though we're only 12 days from the flight.

As to whether we'll fly United again: well, when we have to, and when someone else (like Viking Cruises for example) books it for us, we will, but I'll try to avoid them. The customer service we received was dodgy at best; telling me, "you may just have to fly the next day" (when I had already gotten reservations months before) was not the answer I was looking for from them, but I do attribute that to one subpar employee.

Nuff said on this subject...

Posted by
3300 posts

This post is very reminiscent of your "I will never fly on United" post. I see that you just changed the title. So United is okay now?