View Full Version : Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked Liar, liar, pants on fire

May 1, 2007, 5:37 PM
May 1, 2007

I am writing to express my, disappointment, displeasure and disgust with United Airlines at the service and treatment I received on my last flight in the unfriendly skies of United. On Tuesday, April 17th I received a call from UAL reservations telling my originally booked flight for the next day had been canceled—no reason given—and I was booked on a later flight. Fine. Seating assignments were made satisfactorily. When I checked in the agent asked if I wanted to upgrade since I was confirmed upgraded on the return flight. We used 500-mile certificates. Even if I did arrive disappointed two hours later than planned, the flight was uneventful.

On Wednesday, April 25 I checked in at SEA and received my confirmed upgrades for the San Francisco leg and the Baltimore leg using 15,000 miles from my account. The flight was delayed due to weather in SFO but was uneventful as well until we landed. Instead of the customary announcement of passengers continuing on to Baltimore the gate agent informed us that the flight had been canceled and we needed to see the service center about rebooking.

The lines at the center snaked back down the terminal and were not moving. After waiting in line for a half hour and making little progress I attempted to reach the Premier Reservations by cell phone. The first agent I reached was so heavily accented and the connection so poor I could hardly understand or hear him. He did manage to explain some options to him but I decide it would be best to try another agent since I did not trust he knew what he was doing. The second agent was better and the connection better but I could not convince him I was in San Francisco and not in Seattle and I did not want to go to Dulles Airport. On to the third agent who did manage to finally give me some options that included a 6:12 am flight the next morning. I asked about the confirmed upgrade, he didn’t know, I asked about lodging and he referred me to the service center.

I then attempted to reach customer service via the number given by the agent and wound up in endless loops that took me back to reservations and the automated system. By repeating “agent” to every automatic question I would talk to someone who would forward me on—back to reservations. This went on for 20 minutes before I gave up in disgust. By now I had deplaned over an hour and half ago.

I decided to go to Premier ticket counter to see if there was a shorter line. The line was shorter but due to handling similar problems it was over a half hour before an agent was available to talk to. My seatmate, who was in a wheel chair, had been at the counter the entire time and said she had waited 30 minutes for the agent to come back with hotel information for her. Another passenger on the same flight gave up in disgust, booked a flight on American Airlines via cell phone, and left.

The agent behind the counter was polite and understanding but was at the end of her shift. It took her almost a half-hour to sort the mess out and get me boarding passes for the next morning. I asked about the confirmed upgrade I held and she told me none were available (my seatmate got hers but then United is a class driven carrier) but that I would be waitlisted. Now I am really disappointed with the way UAL was treating customers. So I asked about a lodging and agent was able to make a reservation for me and gave me a $10 voucher for dinner. Yes, ten whole dollars for dinner. How generous. The hotel I was booked into was a Red Roof Inn, barely one star hotel, but at least it was clean. I did not arrive at the hotel until after 5:45, almost six hours after I had deplaned.

The next morning when I arrived at the airport at 5:00 am for my flight I was told that I was so far down the upgrade list that I would not receive it out of San Francisco in spite of having been charge mileage and held a confirmed upgrade on the original flight. Still disappointed and displeased I went to the gate only to find out that I had been placed in the center seat of a B-777. At least it was the front exit row. Now I am really starting to get disgusted with UAL’s treatment. When I arrived in Chicago I did receive the upgrade for the flight home. But wait! We are not done with the disgust. When I arrived home I checked my Mileage Plus account a couple of days later only to find out that I had been charged an extra 15,000 miles for the Chicago to Baltimore leg. What a bloody rip for an upgraded bag of pretzels and drink served in a glass instead of styro-foam! For the really disgusting part of the whole episode my hotel voucher and ten-dollar meal voucher (yes, I said ten dollars for dinner again) listed the cause of cancellation as “mechanical.” It was the same plane we had just flown in on from Seattle! I am suspecting now that the mechanical failure was made up to justify canceling the flight since none of the crew seemed aware of the problem until the gate agent made the announcement.

If this is the way United treats its loyal customers I hate to think how others are treated. Again I am disappointed, displeased, and disgusted with this kind of treatment and I remind you that as your flight attendants say at the end of every flight: “there is a choice in air carriers.” I have always believed in loyalty to a business but United’s indifference to customers and poor customer service is making me re-evaluate my commitment.

Now, what is United going to do about this? Honor its commitment to customer service listed on the webpage? Refund the extra 15,000 miles taken out of my account for the upgrade I had already paid for would be the least I would expect. What else can United do to make up for this grievous betrayal of customer loyalty? After over 18 years of flying UAL almost exclusively and logging some 630,000 miles I am now seriously considering alternative carriers. South West Airlines did just open a new terminal at BWI, my preferred airport and I have heard lots of positives about flying South West.