Here is a letter I sent to United describing my experience of them attempting to deny me and mother a seat on their plane because they wanted to accommodate a pilots family members.
To whom it May Concern,
I am writing in regard to the inhumane and humiliating experience that I
endured at the hands of your employees on January 4th in Logan Airport,
Gate 25 terminal B while flying out to Los Angeles. My reservation
number was. Upon checking in for the flight, the machine displayed a message offering an opportunity to volunteering to give up our seats in exchange for a $500 voucher each and be booked for a later flight. We agreed and were given our boarding passes along with instructions in regards to volunteering. We waited at the gate and later I spoke to an agent
(elderly woman with about shoulder length grey hair)to get more details.
She informed me that if we were needed that we would be booked for a
9:45 pm flight to San Francisco and later arrive at 12:40 am in Los
Angeles. That option suites us and we agreed. She gave us two forms to
fill out with our names and address which outlined our agreement to give
up our seats in exchange for a $500 certificate each. Finally our names were called and I spoke to an agent who was quite short with me and told me that it would not be possible or us to fly out today if we were to volunteer. I said that it wouldn't work for us to fly out tomorrow and she said that she would
take us off the volunteer list.
Upon boarding the flight I heard the announcement that once again asked
for volunteers. Once we got to our seats we heard a loud child sitting
at the seat across from us. We thought that rather then fly for six
hours next to a screaming child we would accept the condition offered to
us as volunteer to be re booked on a flight for tomorrow. I spoke to a
male flight attendant and explained the situation that we wanted to re
volunteer if they needed us. Saying "That if the airlines still needs
volunteers, then rather than sitting next to a screaming child we would
accept the offer given to us earlier" He said he would call and find
out. Coming back a few minutes later he informed us that we can go to
the agent and re do everything.
Upon exiting the plane we approached the same agent who
demanded that we give her our boarding passes and told us that we
wouldn't be able to get our luggage off the plane, which we were fine
with. She said that we had to go to customer service and re book our
flight. I walked over to customer service and told the man that we
volunteered to get off the flight and needed to be re booked. He called
the gate agent and from their conversation I understood that that was
not the case. He told me that we just left the flight and vacated our
seat due to noise complaint and we were not considered volunteers. I was
quite shocked to hear that and he said that I can go back to the gate
and figure it out there.
Upon returning the gate, the same female agent we've been dealing with
saw me and told me that I had no business being there and I need to go
re book the flight. I told her that there must have been a
misunderstanding and that we only left the plane under the impression
that we were volunteering to give up seat for the compensation promised.
She immediately picks up the phone and called a manager telling him to "come deal with us" and that we are causing problems. I explained to her that if there was a misunderstanding we'll just go back on the flight to our
seats. She said that she already gave them away and we would not be
allowed back. When I said that she couldn't do that, she immediately
pick up the phone and said that she needed security and police at the
gate. The amount of fear that went through me at that moment is hard to
describe. I have not raised my voice, cursed or have done anything to be
disruptive in any way. To face the fear of being arrested for simply
questioning her actions was beyond my understanding at the time. She
then refused to look at me and started to ask people if they had
assigned seats because now she had seats available. Basically letting me
know what our seats are going to someone else. When the manager arrived, he didn't let me explain the situation before saying that he will believe
his staff and that they are professionals and are the only once able to
tell him the truth. All I was trying to do to is to explain to him that
it was not explained to me when I was leaving the plane that I'm not
being used as a volunteer but are just giving up my seats. If that was
made clear to me, we would have never left our seats. I began to cry and
beg him to understand that it was not our intention to cause trouble or
to do anything but help out the airline with their need for volunteers.
He told me to sit over there before things got worse. The fear of being
arrested was again used against me. I couldn't feel my legs as tears
streamed down my face and somehow I made it back to the nearby benches.
I sat there crying as my elderly sick mother looked at me at disbelief
not fully realizing the extent of the situation. My only solace in this
satiation was the fact that my mom does not speak English well enough to
understand what was happening. I couldn't imagine what she would have
endured if she did. She did begin to cry as a result of seeing my tears
and desperation. I was in constant fear that incident would trigger a
panic attack as she is prone to getting them under stress.
I could hear them laughing at the gate as my situation was a source for
their amusement. The manager walked up to me and told me that we would not be getting back on the plane. I cried and begged him to show me a shred of humanity. My begging and pleading seem to be falling on deaf ear as
another man showed up. In my condition I was unable to get his name.
Perhaps it was Warren. I begged him to let us back on the plane, I
feared for the loss of my job, we didn't have the money to book another
hotel room for the night, my biggest fear was for my 70 year old elderly
mother who suffers severe depression and panic attacks and has been
under medical care for those for over 20 years . But most I feared that
I would be arrested and thrown in jail for simply trying to help out.
Finally he said that if they were able to find seats that they
would let us back on. At this time Gil found his satisfaction in
humiliating us by constantly repeating and smirking "What about the
noise?" "Now the noise is not going to bother you?" "I thought you
didn't like the noise?" This came from an adult who was looking at
crying desperate woman and her elderly mother and found it appropriate
to humiliate them during the worst experience they could possibly
When we finally got on the plane the fear and panic continued to grow.
It took longer the usual for the plane to depart. With every second I
imagined the door being open and police coming in to drag us off the
plane. My hands were shaking, my heart palpating and it was then that I
experienced my first panic attack which I though was a heart attack.
While I needed medical help, I was too terrified to ask as that looming
fear of being arrested held me back from asking for any help. It was
when the plane finally took off that I was able to let the fear subside
a bit. For six hours and half hour straight I was reliving that
experience over and over. It was just unbelievable to me that we could
have been treating in such an ugly and inhumane manner for trying to do
the good thing for the airline.
I have been a member of the United Rewards programs since 1997 and have
accumulated over 100,000 miles with United, my mother has been a loyal
member as well and is the holder of your credit card also allowing her
to accumulate a lot of miles. We have been always loyal to United and
have also flown many different airlines where United doesn't fly and we
have never been treating in such a disgusting demeaning manner. To be
made to feel like we are less than dirt, was beyond anything we could
imagine. I am so incredibly sadden that I wasted years of being loyal to
a company that treat us like garbage. It is unthinkable that we had to
be mocked mercilessly by your employees and treating like second hand
citizens for doing absolutely nothing. We had to beg and plead to get
the seats that we paid for and were confirmed for, that were taken from
us under false pretense. It took time for me to get enough strength to
write this letter as I'm still trying to recover from the incident and
am plagued with nightmares. As I write this letter, I can't help but cry
having to relive this incident over again. I am forced to seek medical
help as medicine is not helping me get over this incident.
Flight Number: 717
Flight Date: 1/4/2017
Approximate Departure Time: Anytime
Origin: Boston, MA, US (BOS)
Destination: Los Angeles, CA, US (LAX)
Airport: Boston, MA, US (BOS)