Anatomy of a Cancellation

About two weeks I was booked from Copenhagen to Frankfurt, on the LH A380 on to San Francisco and finally on to Honolulu with United.

The ticket was the return of a trip from HNL with United two weeks before.

Of course my travel day happened to occur on the same day as LH’s cabin crew decided to strike and was the day when about 80% of all Lufthansa flights were cancelled.


About three days before the trip it became clear that LH was likely to cancel many of its flights and so I checked their web site. At 7pm there were only about 20 flights cancelled and none were mine. However, about 2 hours later I received a text message saying that the FRA-SFO was a victim of the strike. LH offered a number to call, but as I reported elsewhere this was a hugely expensive number – $5 per minute.

Proactive Rebooking

Having rejected the option of paying LH to call them, I looked for other LH numbers. My Booking web page on the LH site said that they would rebook me – of course checking that site showed no new flights. There was however a free phone number for the UK. After half a dozen calls, each terminated in less than 5 minutes by the LH system I looked for other options.

Calling United

At this point I was reconciled to having to deal with LH on the day, at Copenhagen. However, as the ticket was United’s and I had one flight with them, I called their 1K line in the US. I explained the problem, suggested what I would like to do, and asked if they could help. After 45 minutes and UA calling LH to confirm their agreement, I was rebooked with SAS to London (LH would only agree to Coach), and then UA to San Francisco on an old 777. UA rebooked me in to Z class – it was a P fare with LH.

At the airport

I was able to check-in without incident with SAS and received boarding passes all the way to Honolulu. Using the Fast Track Lane at CPH made it quick to the Lounge as it comes out right next door to the SAS lounges. I got to use the Fast Track as UA had rebooked me in to Y which enables you to sit in a forward part of the coach cabin and gets you a free snack and Fast Track.

a sign on the wall of a building

The flight to London was without incident although we arrived a pleasing 20 minutes early. After Flight Connections at LHR (complete with body scanner), I was at the UA check-in desk as you need to obtain new boarding passes. They suggested a change of seat (you can imagine there was little choice once I had been rebooked), and I even managed to waitlist for an upgrade from the rebooked Z fare. (This didn’t clear).


There was something of a queue at SFO as Singapore’s flight was in before us but I was through in 40 minutes and on to the TSA and United Club. The flight left for HNL on time despite delays to boarding which kept us in the jet bridge for 20 minutes.

United meal to HNL:

a plate of food on a tray

a person's legs in a plastic bag

UA 767-400 Legroom



  1. Wow, I have a very similarly titled/written post scheduled to post tomorrow morning!

    But at least the food looks pretty good on the way to HNL.

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