page contents

Flying Star Alliance partners: How safe for United Airlines passengers

Flying Star Alliance  partners: How safe for United Airlines passengers

On June 11 the CEO of Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance gave the go-ahead for new technology investment and wide-ranging enhancements to operational processes to meet the evolving demands of today’s travelers.

Not much must have happened when it comes to Computer Systems of Star Alliance members airlines not talking  to each other . Unfortunately the victim in this process is always the passenger.

eTN Publisher Juergen T Steinmetz was stranded on three different tickets and three different airports, three different countries and on two different Star Alliance airlines.  Every time his ticket was issued on one Star Alliance Carrier: United Airlines.

First case was in Amman, Jordan. Steinmetz was trying to board a Lufthansa flight on October 27 to travel from Amman to Frankfurt. He had a business class ticket. The ticket was part of a through ticket and originated in Honolulu. His ticket was issued on United Airlines ticket stock. The ticket number started with 016.

When Steinmetz tried to check in two weeks ago in Amman Jordan, he was told by Lufthansa Airport Service manager Rauf Madan, he had no valid ticket. Madani confirmed Steinmetz had a business class reservation, but no ticket. Steinmetz had a similar situation another United Airlines customer experienced in Amman on the same flight. This passenger also tried to check in for the same Lufthansa flight holding an electronic ticket issued by United Airlines

According to Lufthansa service agent Madani, this situation is very common. He said: “Numerous United Airlines passengers already got stranded because of it.”

Madani said, United Airlines never responds to computer messages or phone call and they “simply don’t care.”

He added: “I noticed Mr. Steinmetz reservation with no ticket and started sending electronic messages to United Airlines 3 hours before the passenger arrived at the airport. There was no response. I tried to call United Airlines and  after I was on hold for 45 minutes no one was able to help.”

Luckily Steinmetz was able to use his own mobile phone and got a hold of a United Airlines Agent 1K agent  in Chicago.  This agent first tried to tell Steinmetz he never had a ticket on this Lufthansa flight, but when digging deeper corrected herself and transferred the call to a senior agent.

After on hold for 15 minutes the senior agent said the ticket was in the computer and there was no need for her to call Lufthansa. Steinmetz handed his phone to the Lufthansa agent. The Lufthansa agent said  this ticket was issued as a “paper ticket”. He took the ticket number from the United Agent and handed Steinmetz a boarding pass. Steinmetz booked the flight on – there was never a paper ticket of any sort.

Two weeks later Steinmetz was in Cairo, Egypt. This time he was trying to check in for an Egypt Air flight from Cairo to London. His business class reservation was made by United Airlines. United Airlines collected the air fare ($200 more compared to the Egypt Air website) and had issued the ticket on UA 016 ticket stock.

The same situation in Cairo two weeks later. There was a reservation visible on Egypt Air’s computer system, but no ticket. Only after Steinmetz provided a ticket number, he was able to get a boarding pass for the flight. Egypt Air  told Steinmetz the airline had many issues like this with United Airlines Passengers.

A year ago Steinmetz checked in at Duesseldorf airport for a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. His ticket was issued by United Airlines and he was booked on a connecting flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco.

The ticket was bought on Lufthansa  had no ticket, but had a reservation and was unable to reach anyone at United Airlines. They let Steinmetz board without ticket and sorted it out later.

United Airlines blamed Egypt Air and Lufthansa and issued 20,000 miles compensation to Steinmetz’ mileage plus account.

The fact remains. Many United Airlines passenger get stranded anywhere on the globe on a daily basis, and the airline seems to not care. Star Alliance doesn’t see a problem in airlines communicating with each other.

A United Airlines supervisor told Steinmetz it was not her job to bring this problem to her superior. It was over her pay level. She recommended for Steinmetz to email

Why would anyone want to fly on a United Airlines ticket using another Star Alliance carrier, and in the process pay more money and may run into issues?

Here is the answer. Two years ago United Airlines required to have all tickets issued on 016 ticket stock if a customer wants to receive qualifying Dollar credits on his or her Mileage Plus frequent flier account. Qualifying Dollars are necessary to keep the elite status with United Airlines.

If a United Airlines 1K Customer cannot show $12,000 issued on United Airlines ticket stock over a year, he or she will not receive a renewal of his or her 1K status the following year . Even if this customer traveled double the  miles necessary for this status and  spent double the amount necessary with other Star Alliance Airlines – he  or she will not get his Star Alliance Status on United Airlines renewed.

Smooth as silk may only apply for THAI, but certainly not for Star Alliance.