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COMPLAINT: Beware of unjust late guidelines! -Cost me $2800, cost United $80

 
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 2:05 PM
Jerry Gadbois Jerry Gadbois is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
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The following letter (I removed some personal contact info) was sent to Mr. Smisek, the CEO of United airlines. He forwarded the email to a customer service rep who informed me that United followed their guidelines and would not refund me the $875 they charged me to book a flight on another airline.

In summary we were 15 minutes late from United's check-in guidelines of being 30min early and missed the flight from LHR to Rome via Brussels and were charged $875 by United to be able to spend another $1660 with British Airways to get to Rome. This doesn't include the $231 we spent to spend the night near the airport and the loss of a day in Rome (which we had already pre-paid another $150). Whereas, on the way home it cost United $80 in meal vouchers when we missed the connecting flight to Austin in Newark by 15 minute because we were 15 minutes late leaving Rome. We then had to wait 5 hours in Newark too.

I am not saying United didn't follow their guidelines or did anything technically wrong, I am saying their guidelines are unjust and everyone should know it. It would have been bad enough to have to pay the $1660 for a flight I had already paid United, but being held hostage without any options other than to pay an additional $875 is outrageous.
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Mr. Smisek,

While most of my air travel is as a High Tech manager I am writing this email based off of an injustice that occurred in my personal European vacation in September 2012. I am writing directly to you based on the very clear direction from one of your employees that it wouldn't help to elevate (and she wouldn't let me speak to anyone either) and by another that I was treated unfairly and should make this known.

As an aside my current employer doesn't use United as its preferred carrier and thus my Mileage Plus standing doesn't reflect my business travel as it would otherwise.

The injustice I am referring to is how we were treated when we were 15 minutes late and missed a flight versus how we were treated when United was 15 minutes late and we missed a flight.

In summary we were 15 minutes late and missed the flight from LHR to Rome via Brussels and were charged $875 by United to be able to spend another $1660 with British Airways to get to Rome. This doesn't include the $231 we spent to spend the night near the airport and the loss of a day in Rome (which we had already pre-paid another $150). Whereas, it cost United $80 in meal vouchers when we missed the connecting flight to Austin in Newark by 15 minute because we were 15 minutes late leaving Rome.

Bottom line is we were 15 minute late and it cost us $2767 plus a day of our vacation and when United was 15 minute late it cost United $80 (and forced us to wait an additional 5 hours in Newark) this is just not right!!!

I have provided some additional supporting details below, but based on your busy schedule and the information provided above I hope you will make this right and refund back at least the $875 change fee.

Here are some additional details for reference:

Due to Para-Olympic based congestion in London it took us nearly 2 hours longer on September 9th to get from our hotel to LHR then it did when we arrived on flight UA34 on September 6th. We planned for about 2 hours thinking we would have plenty of time and it took 2 hours and 30 minutes. Although we arrived 15 minutes prior to the departure, we were not 30 minutes before and therefore were turned away from flight SN2096 (LHR>Brussels>Rome).

After several hours at the Swiss Air ticket counter (with two small children) we were given two options: 1) pay over $4000 to use the existing reservations through Brussels Air, 2) accept a charge of $875 to be able to pay another carrier to go to Rome. I was told that the reason for the $4000 was that it was too expensive for United Airlines to re-issue the tickets for the next day and that United had no options but to charge me the full fare if I was to use the original tickets. While I understand that Brussels Air wouldn't allow United to use the tickets based on our discount codes and the value we had already consumed getting to London, I do not understand how United can justify charging me $875 for missing a flight that I already paid for. Charging me to change the flight destination is one thing, but to charge me for not using something I paid for is just wrong. We booked our flights with United and trusted they would manage their partners.

When I spoke to the United representative and after she explained the situation I asked to speak to her Supervisor she said no as it wouldn't do any good. We now were held hostage with no other options, so I agreed to pay the $875 change fee and re-booked on another airline for $1660. In addition, I had to pay $231 for the hotel and lost a day in Rome which I had already paid too (another $150).

Again, based on the extenuating circumstances, to correct this injustice and the fact that it didn't cost United anything to remove the stopover I request a full refund of at least the $875 change fee as it wasn't a change, but a removal of a stopover.

Sincerely,

Gerald Gadbois

Ps. Not to be petty, but you should also be aware that at least one of our entertainment systems were non-operable on both transatlantic flights (flight 34 from Houston to London and flight 963 from Rome to Newark). We made due, but it did make the flight more challenging with two small children.
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