Tomorrow we’re headed to Costa Rica for a quiet and relaxing weekend at the new Andaz Papagayo resort. I originally booked this fare back in June when I somewhat-cared about re-qualifying for status on United. Now that we’ve seen devaluation after devaluation, this Premier 1K will happily be stepping down to a Premier Silver in March 2015.
Rather than canceling the ticket after several schedule changes, I decided to make it a fun family get together and add baby points traveler to the reservation at the last minute. Since the Andaz Papagayo is a category 4 property, we’re using my yearly free-night certificate from my Hyatt credit card and 30,000 Hyatt points for the next two nights. This property is definitely a sweet-spot redemption since rooms during peak season (now) can top $400-$500 a night.
It’s common knowledge for even the average traveler to know that a cool perk about traveling with a baby as a lap child is that they travel free up until age 2. However, once a passport is required and it turns into an international trip, the lap infant must hold a ticket and pay 10% of the base fare + the taxes and fees.
Here is the fare breakdown of our original ticket. The base airfare was $210 per person and taxes were a little under $100 a piece:
Our routing is EWR-IAH-LIR. Since we made the decision to add the baby last week, I did a quick price check on the current fare prices so that I could get an estimate of what I would be paying for the little guy. First, I priced out EWR-LIR and selected the exact same itinerary we’d be flying:
With that thought in mind, I priced out Houston to Liberia and was presented with a slightly higher fare for the exact same flights. This total came to $143.92:
With those numbers in mind, I called United and spoke to a total of 3 agents. They presented me with a price of $177.xx. Granted it is not substantially more than what I quoted, I was curious to see how they came up with that number, so I politely asked if they could share how it was calculated, so that I could understand the breakdown and get an idea for future bookings.
All 3 agents were defensive and rude when I asked that question (which seems to be the norm now with my horrible luck with UA). They thought I was trying to be a smart-a$$ or “cheap” when I expressed truthfully that I had every intention of buying the ticket and that I just wanted to know how it was calculated.
They all said “I don’t know. Our supervisors don’t know. No one knows but our pricing wizard tool.”
Rather than beat a dead horse, I gave in and paid the fare that I was quoted because quite frankly, my time was with more than to sit there and argue with an agent (still, I think it would be nice of them to at least educate someone instead of them talking down to me like I’ve never flown on a plane before. I had to keep reminding them that I was a 1K and understood fare breakdowns quite well).
My next step was that I wanted to apply my GPU upgrades to my reservation. I remember reading United’s upgrade policy for lap infants traveling in first class, and I asked if/how that would affect the price of his ticket. The agent repeatedly told me there wouldn’t be a reprice even though I read the policy verbatim to her.
Well what do you know, a day later I received this in my inbox:
Dear Ms. Angelina M. Aucello,
Thank you for booking your travel on United Airlines.
We are unable to ticket the above-referenced reservation for the infant ticket. Please call us at 800-UNITED1 (800-864-8331) so we can resolve the issue and ticket the reservation.
United.com Web Support
Surprise surprise. Turns out, because the upgrades were applied to the reservation, baby points’ ticket was canceled and had to be repriced at a fare that is a a few dollars less than our adult fares. Of course, I paid, but now the next question I have for United is this: does he earn miles for his ticket? (or at least 10% of them? This is a semi-serious question for United or anyone else who can answer because apparently United’s agents aren’t the slightest bit of an expert in this field).