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UAL Switched Aircraft, No EP Seating

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I am a UAL Mileage Plus member. A little over a month ago my wife and I flew between IAD and LAX. For various reasons, flying regular economy is physically difficult for both of us, so whenever I fly on UAL I always pay the extra money and purchase Economy Plus seats when they are available - which was the case for this flight. However, when we boarded the plane (which looked like a new 737) it became obvious that there was no EP section on this aircraft.

I emailed UAL customer service when I got home, requesting a refund. When I hadn’t received a reply after a week, I called them. After being on the phone with them for more than 30 minutes, all they could tell me was that my request was being processed. They couldn’t tell me when the processing had started or how long it would be before my refund would show up on my credit card.

A day later I did get an email reply, stating that the processing could take up to two weeks and that it might take two billing cycles for my refund to show up on my credit card. Thankfully, it got credited to my account exactly a month after I had taken the flight.

I know that UAL has the legal right to change aircraft as it sees fit and that purchasing an EP seat doesn’t mean you’ll get one. But UAL should have made every effort not to use a no-EP aircraft on a five and a half hour cross country flight.

In addition, it would have been nice if UAL would have at least contacted me ahead of time to let me know of the change of aircraft. (They had to have known at least by the time I printed out my boarding pass the day before, because my boarding pass said “Economy” on it, and not “Economy Plus” - but I didn’t think anything of it, since the seat numbers were correct, and I’ve never had a situation like this happen before.)

UAL sure didn’t take any action in this situation that would make me want to fly them again or to recommend them to others.

I guess the moral of the story is - if you want to make sure you’ll get an EP seat, make sure you pay attention to your boarding pass when you print it out.

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