I read Christopher Reynolds' column about his problems getting another flight after his United Airlines flight to Charlotte, N.C., which he had booked through Hotwire, was canceled ("Bargain Hunters Pay a Price for Web Discounts," Travel Insider, Oct. 21). In November 2000 I purchased a ticket on the same midweek flight on United through Hotwire.
Upon my arrival at LAX, I found my flight to Charlotte via Chicago had been canceled. I was told to wait for a few minutes. Then a United agent returned and presented me with a nonstop ticket to Charlotte on US Airways that was departing in an hour and would arrive in Charlotte two hours earlier than my original flight.
So United agents can't blame Hotwire for problems, and if they say they can't reassign you to a flight--well, they did, in my case. I guess it depends on the agents you talk to at the ticket counter and how willing they are to help you. I wrote a letter to United thanking them for the great treatment.
I love the response of Hotwire's spokeswoman when asked what customers should do if surprised by a schedule change: "Call Hotwire when the trip is over and speak to a supervisor."
They have your money and have fulfilled the contract of getting you where you were going. The more important of the two: They have your money.
I have encountered similar problems as a passenger. Keep on telling the truth about the total lack of regard for the average traveler, no matter what you pay.