Sunday, July 8, 2012

United Airlines - It's Worth it to Complain

Round 2 - United Airlines Finally Owes Up to their Mistakes

On June 24th, I was scheduled to leave Newark Airport at 9:25am on a United Airlines flight to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.  I was headed on a dental mission to give free dental care to underserved Dominicans.  I go to the airport at 7:15am, before the recommended 2 hours before an international flight.

The place was busier than I had ever seen it.  There must have been about 100 people waiting on line past where the line is supposed to end (after the poles and ropes end).  The line was also moving very slowly.

By the time I got to where the line normally starts, it was already 8:45, an hour and a half after I got there.  Part of the problem was that the workers would randomly choose people from the back of the line and bringing them to the checkout so that they could make their flights, but it made every one else wait longer.

I asked if I could go to the front of the line so I could make my flight and the worker asked me when my flight was and I said 9:25 and she responded, "I'm sorry you already missed your flight.  You need an hour for international flights."

Everyone around me was missing their flights and really upset at United and giving the workers a very hard time so I decided that it wasn't the time to get angry with a kipah on my head.

I rescheduled for the same flight the next day and left.

Here is where the helpful tip comes in: 

I called up United and I spoke to someone and explained the situation and I said that I wanted compensation (if you don't ask for it, they won't give it to you) otherwise I was not flying on United anymore as this wasn't my first significant problem with their airline and their customer service.  The person on the line said I should have been their earlier and it was my fault.  I was clearly not satisfied with that response.  Two hours before a flight is the airline's recommended time of arrival.

My Email to United:

After I hung up on United, I then sent their customer service the following email:

Message: I got to the airport at 7:15, over two hours before my flight.
I was going on a dental mission to Puerto Plata to provide free dental
care to under-served people.  I waited on the line until it was my turn
at 9:45 (my flight was at 9:25) in order to rebook my tickets.  I have
never seen such a level of mismanagement.  Randomly, people would be
picked off the line to make their flights while everyone else had to sit
there waiting in the regular line while the their flights left without
them.  I am not able to go back until tomorrow, I have missed my group
flight and I will miss a day of my mission.

If you know it is a peak time, you need to have more people working so
that the line moves faster

I was very disappointed that United was unable to get me on my flight
considering I left with plenty of time.  This is not the first time this
has happened to me on United and I cannot imagine flying United again.
I booked the flight on Continental hoping I would Continental service
and I was seriously mistaken.  You have lost one more United customer (a
lot of other people on line were also saying the same thing).  I hope
you are able to rectify the situation for the future.  You can't
mistreat people, give them no compensation and expect them to keep
coming back.

United's response:

After a couple of days, I got the following response from United:

Thank you again for taking time to let us know about your recent experience with United Airlines.

An Electronic Travel Certificate has been issued to Oren XXXXX (Mileage Plus xxxxxxxx) valid towards the purchase of one electronic airline ticket, where eligible, on United up to $150.00.
Redemption information - Total Value: $150.00  Promotion Code: xxxx  PIN Code: xxxxxx  Issued Date: 7/3/2012  Expiration Date: 7/3/2013  Original Ticket Number: xxxxxxxx

If you have a bad experience with a company, tell them about it, who knows what you will get.  $150 is about a third of what I paid for the ticket, but it is more than $0 and I'll bet 99% of the people on line got a big fat check of $0 and just a big headache.