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Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked
COMPLAINT: United debacle caused $1.6K in expense

 
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Old Jan 5, 2010, 5:35 PM
jennifep80303 jennifep80303 is offline
 
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My recent experience with United was horrendous. I was supposed to fly out on 12/19/2009 on a direct flight from Denver to Phildalephia. After having 3 different flights cancelled and rebooked, I was finally scheduled for a flight leaving from Denver to Dallas the morning of Sunday 12/20/2009. Then Dallas to Philadelphia that same day on USAirways. United apparently knew well in advance that all flights were cancelled into Philadelphia but chose to fly me and my 2 1/2 year old son to Dallas regardless. After waiting in a line for an hour, I was treated rudely by a United employee who insisted I was in the wrong line and would have had to wait at the end of another line for an additional hour and a half. Then she yelled at me that all of the other people were in the same situation as me and forced me at the back of the other line. As a result I was told we were to be stranded in Dallas for two additional nights/days before getting me to anywhere in the northeast. They could not even find me a flight back to Denver. Well, that was an unacceptable solution for me as I had no supplies with my for my 2 year old (he was being dropped off) and could not wait in a hotel for that long with him in tow.

My only option at that point was to rent a car and drive. I drove for 11 hours that day and another 4 hours to Nashville where I found another Southwest flight that got me into Baltimore the next day. Upon which I spent the night at a relative's and drove to Philadelphia another 3 hours. This episode cost me an additional $977.53 for the Southwest airfare, hotel, car rental, gas and basic supplies for my 2 year old. This is on top of the United flight expense for two tickets of which we had to forfeit the leg getting to Philadelphia.

Stranding me and my 2 1/2 year old son in Dallas and costing me a ridiculous sum of money is unacceptable. Additional expense is $977.53 for additional unanticipated expenses for another 2 flight tickets, hotel, car rental, gas and supplies for my son. Plus the lost miles owed by United from Dallas to Philadelphia. Plus the original cost of the two United tickets of 50,000 miles and $598.20.

Damages include a total of $1,575.73 and about 52,000 air miles.
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Old Jan 5, 2010, 7:00 PM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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Unfortunately weather happens. Combine that with the busy holiday travel period (the weekend prior to Christmas, 12/19&20/2009, are two of the busiest days of the year) and it's indeed a hassle.

Originally Posted by jennifep80303 View Post
My recent experience with United was horrendous. I was supposed to fly out on 12/19/2009 on a direct flight from Denver to Phildalephia. After having 3 different flights cancelled and rebooked, I was finally scheduled for a flight leaving from Denver to Dallas the morning of Sunday 12/20/2009. Then Dallas to Philadelphia that same day on USAirways.


I hate to say this but you probably should have given up right then and there. Either that or insist on a non-stop flight to Philadelphia. Instead you accepted re-accommodation to fly on two different airlines (even though they are both members of Star Alliance) through a city which is not a hub for either! You would have been better off with a change of planes in either Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte, or either of the two DC airports (Dulles or National) as they are all either United or US Airways hubs. Had you been able to get to DC (or even the New York city area or Boston) you could have taken the train to Philadelphia.

My point is when you travel, especially in the winter months and around the holidays, you need to have a backup plan. An airline agent only wants to get you booked on any available flight that will get you to your destination so they can move on to the next person in line. They aren't really thinking about optimal routing which will give you the most options if "plan B" falls apart and you need to come up with "plan C."

Originally Posted by jennifep80303 View Post
United apparently knew well in advance that all flights were cancelled into Philadelphia but chose to fly me and my 2 1/2 year old son to Dallas regardless.
It's impossible to book re-book you on a cancelled flight. If in Denver they gave you printed confirmation that you had seats on the flight from DFW to PHL then at the time the agent re-booked you the DFW to PHL flight had not yet been cancelled. It must have happened after the fact. The agent had no way of knowing if that flight would be cancelled or when. In his computer at the time he looked it up to re-book you it was still scheduled and available. If any front line agent knows in advance that a flight will be cancelled I want that agent picking my lottery numbers!

Originally Posted by jennifep80303 View Post
After waiting in a line for an hour, I was treated rudely by a United employee who insisted I was in the wrong line and would have had to wait at the end of another line for an additional hour and a half. Then she yelled at me that all of the other people were in the same situation as me and forced me at the back of the other line.


It sounds like the agent was probably somewhat frazzled after handling so many people. It also sounds like you challenged her instruction to wait on the other line. It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong arguing with agents at the airport will only cause more problems. Don't do it.

Originally Posted by jennifep80303 View Post
As a result I was told we were to be stranded in Dallas for two additional nights/days before getting me to anywhere in the northeast. They could not even find me a flight back to Denver.


It was a busy weekend leading up to the holiday compounded by the fact there was a huge east coast storm that disrupted travel across the country. Add to that you were in a non-hub city and I'm not surprised there was nothing available to either Denver or the northeast.

Originally Posted by jennifep80303 View Post
Well, that was an unacceptable solution for me as I had no supplies with my for my 2 year old (he was being dropped off) and could not wait in a hotel for that long with him in tow.


Why not? It seems to me that two nights in an airport area hotel would have cost far less and been far less stressful than driving a two year old from Dallas to Nashville. I'm also curious why Nashville? Did you call Southwest and that was the only option available? I'm wondering since you wound up on Southwest anyway why you didn't just get from DFW to Dallas Love Field to fly Southwest.

Originally Posted by jennifep80303 View Post
This episode cost me an additional $977.53 for the Southwest airfare, hotel, car rental, gas and basic supplies for my 2 year old. This is on top of the United flight expense for two tickets of which we had to forfeit the leg getting to Philadelphia.


The airline isn't going to reimburse you for any of those additional expenses. Had you purchased travel insurance you may have had some of those costs at least partially covered. The answer United will give you is that the weather was out of their control (which it was) and that you chose the other travel arrangements voluntarily which you did). I'm sure a DFW area hotel would not have cost more than $150 per night and add to that meals and other expenses and you probably would have spent just under $500 out of pocket and would not have had to endure the 15 hour drive from Dallas to Nashville or the extra night in Baltimore and drive up to Philly the next day.


Originally Posted by jennifep80303 View Post
Stranding me and my 2 1/2 year old son in Dallas and costing me a ridiculous sum of money is unacceptable. Additional expense is $977.53 for additional unanticipated expenses for another 2 flight tickets, hotel, car rental, gas and supplies for my son. Plus the lost miles owed by United from Dallas to Philadelphia. Plus the original cost of the two United tickets of 50,000 miles and $598.20.

Damages include a total of $1,575.73 and about 52,000 air miles.
I'm assuming your ticket was the round-trip award ticket since you said you were traveling to "drop off" your two year old in Philadelphia? If so did you use the return portion of the ticket to get back to Denver? You can't expect them to return all of your miles when you used the return half of the ticket without incident. You may request and I believe if you approach it reasonably they will give you half the miles back for the award ticket. Was $598.20 the cost of the one-way ticket for your two year old? A fully refundable one-way ticket on UA from DEN to PHL is $370. If $598.20 was a round-trip fare then you can reasonably request half of the round trip be refunded in some form. You will probably only get a travel voucher if it was a non-refundable fare. Unfortunately, as I said before, they won't pay for the rental car, hotel or the tickets you purchased on Southwest.

About all I'd expect is 25,000 miles back (and perhaps some additional "bonus" miles for your troubles) and a travel voucher for around $300.
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