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Old Sep 30, 2012, 6:45 AM
HongKonglife HongKonglife is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3
Default Flight 895, Chicago to Hong Kong, September 6 at 1:30pm

Yesterday, I sent the text below to a name in United’s customer service office. Today I received an email saying the 17,500 miles option has been selected for me.

WHAT HAPPENED:
1) Flight 895, Chicago to Hong Kong, which was to leave on September 6 at 1:30pm, was canceled.

2) Flight 1750, which was taking the same 300+ passengers from flight 895 on the same plane to HK on September 7, was further delayed.

RESULT: After a 24+ hour delay, we still had a 15-hour flight ahead of us. More DETAILS about the delay below.

CURRENT SITUATION:
On September 27, after not receiving any response to my complaint (made over the phone and through email), I spent almost an hour on the phone with Customer Service Manager (CSM).

MY OBJECTION: For a 24+-hour delay before a 15-hour flight, the compensation offered by “customer appreciation”-- 17,500 flight miles-- is inadequate. When I was delayed for three hours last year on a United flight Chicago to Hong Kong, I received 5,000 miles. For 24+ hours delay, the compensation should be at least 40,000 flight miles.

CSM asked what my problem was because I finally did get to Hong Kong. I said that a 24-hour delay preceding a 15-hour trip was inexcusable. She said, “We want you to be safe.” I pointed out that the second delay had nothing to do with technical problems. The pilot did not have a flight plan. It took two or more hours to get one. In the meantime, the old plane overheated in the back. Just after the flight plan was secured, the smoke alarm went off. Once that was repaired, it was too late for the pilot to fly anymore.

CSM said that she could not compensate me more than what was offered by “customer appreciation.” She said she was going to put on my “record” that she had advised me to take the $400 E-certficate, which I could use WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS. I asked several times, “Are you sure that I can use it for any flight?” She was irritated at having to repeat herself.

After concluding the call, I checked my “customer appreciation” link. The $400 option says: 1. Permitted Travel Area: You must begin your travel in the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and fly to a destination within the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands or Canada.

Over the next year, I am flying back and forth to HONG KONG. I was severely inconvenienced on my flight to Hong Kong, and I cannot use my compensation for a ticket to Hong Kong.

MY EXPECTATION: To be compensated ˝ the cost of ticket price, which was $500, and that I am able to use it to fly to Hong Kong on any type of a ticket within the next year.

WHY DO I PURSUE THIS? A flight attendant told us that when they describe tortuous flights like this one to management, the response is, “We haven’t heard anything about that flight from customers.” If customers do not complain en masse, nothing will change and we leave flight attendants high and dry in their advocacy.

On this flight to HK, at least 50% of the passengers were not from the U.S. My seatmates were Vietnamese, a mother and daughter trying to get to the hospital in Vietnam where the grandmother was dying. They told me that over 30 Vietnamese were on the plane and most did not speak English, Mandarin, or Cantonese.

Many customers cannot complain. So I will. It is possible to effect change. The reason why we were allowed off the plane during the first delay instead of being held hostage for hours was because some years ago, passengers complained about this issue and a law was enacted.

This site seems to be a good beginning, but I do not see another entry from another fellow passenger from these flight numbers for September 6 and 7.

It took some effort to find this site. Many passengers CAN complain, but all too often, people just want to forget a hellish flight. Then it happens again. Airlines get away with this because they can. If more people demanded fair compensation for unreasonable delays, even if airline management continued to refuse requests, the complaints would still have an impact.

DETAILS: We boarded flight 895 on September 6, Chicago, on time, for a flight that was to leave at 1:30pm. After almost an hour after the departure time, the pilot announced that there were technical difficulties. Around 4:00, it was announced that the technical difficulties were resolved, but now the flight crew had been delayed past the time where they were allowed to fly. We were all to deplane and come back for an 8:00pm flight.
Within an hour, this flight was cancelled and we were told to show up the next morning for a 10:00 flight. I received hotel and meal vouchers. There was only a small shuttle bus to the hotel for the flight of 300+ people. It took another two hours to get to the hotel.
The next morning, we boarded on time for a 10:00 departure. Same plane, but the flight number was now 1750.
11:00: The pilot said the reason for the delay was that the plane did not have a flight plan. After another hour, we watched the safety video. After more waiting, the pilot said that the smoke alarm had gone off in the back. Many of us wanted to find other flights but there was no customer service at the gate. I was at the door of the plane when I heard the bursar say on the phone, “Get all your customer service people here immediately. This group has been delayed again a second day and they NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHAT THEIR OPTIONS ARE.”
Only a few customer service agents came to the gate. They would not reschedule passengers on new flights, and they would/could not tell us if our flight was going to leave that day. They did not show compassion that we were being delayed a second time on a second day.
The flight crew was very different. They were exceedingly sorry that we had been delayed a second time. In fact, our pain WAS theirs, because instead of being sent back after they had been delayed beyond their time, they were made to serve on flight 1750 the next day, which was again delayed. They were kind but powerless to help us in the way that was most needed. They could not tell us what was happening.
The pilots were replaced. It was now 1:00 p.m., three hours since we were supposed to be in the air. There was a new pilot, but now we were delayed because of air traffic and could not get on the runway. At 1:10, the bursar had the doors shut and had the plane pulled away from the gate. She explained that at 1:15, if the plane was still at the gate, the flight crew would be too long in the plane and would have to be replaced, and that might mean another night in Chicago.
The regular 1:30 flight for Hong Kong left before our flight.
We sat in the plane for another hour until we were finally released for take-off, between 3 and 4 pm.
  #2  
Old Sep 30, 2012, 7:43 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default

All the tairlines rely on the inertia of passengers to get away with outrageous treatment of their passengers. In this case, a voucher which is only applicable to a journey you don't want to make is ridiculous. Ideally, someone would put their head over the parapet at the time and gather the names and addresses of the passengers who are willing to make a joint complaint. You are right, there is power only in numbers.
  #3  
Old Sep 30, 2012, 1:53 PM
HongKonglife HongKonglife is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3
Default I'd like to be prepared

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimworcs View Post
Ideally, someone would put their head over the parapet at the time and gather the names and addresses of the passengers who are willing to make a joint complaint. You are right, there is power only in numbers.
Thanks for this response. I'm trying to think of a way to be prepared and pull together people to react after a specific flight. Perhaps a circular note (Psst, pass this on) that gives email addresses to whom they should write as soon as they get off the plane.
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