Few things are more irksome to me than writing to an airline about a problem and receiving a form letter in return that does not address my concerns and sometimes is so poorly constructed grammatically that I have to wonder if the letters are all generated by non-native speakers even though they bear the signature of "Patty Jones" or "Debbie Smith".
But after reading some of the complaints on untied.com, a website created for disgruntled passengers and employees to complain about United, I have a new found sympathy for what types of issues that UA Customer Relations representatives have to deal with.
I have a feeling that passengers who post on untied.com thinking they are posting on united.com and so united.com allows for a fascinating examination of what typical complaints look like. Take these complaints for example, randomly pulled from January 2010 in the complaints section of the website.
When I buy a seat (economy plus extra leg room) I want all my space. A fat person should buy enough space for his big body, his fat thighs and fat upper arms. Going thigh to thigh for two hours is disgusting. Two fatties in a row is even worse. Make them buy first class or two seats. You pay extra for heavy baggage: why not extra for heavy bodies?
Or this one:
YOUR GATE WITCH HAS MADE UP HER OWN RULES ON HOW AND WHO IS GOING TO BOARD THE PLANE. THE PLANE # IS UA7368 so another passenger says are you going to O’Hare? I say yes we are. She says no you won’t be she has ALREADY BOARDED THE PLAIN AND FILLED ALL THE SEATS WITH STANDBYS FROM WE BIG SNOW. THE DOORS ARE CLOSED. I SAID WHAT HOW CAN THIS BE. I HAVE A BOARDING PASS. SHE DIDN’T CALL OUT ON THE MICROPHONE OR MAKE ANY ANOUNCEMENTS. SHE WAS ONLY TALKING TO WHOEVER COULD HEAR HER.
Or this one:
I was very dismayed by my seating. I was seated next to a gargantuan black women who weighed at least 250 lbs. Her body spilled into my seat. I was on flight United 2 on December 27. I could not imagine flying all the way to Chicago with her reeking of cheap perfume. I was in the middle seat. Fortunately, I was able to move once the flight got going to the last row in my section next to the lavatories.
Then on the next flight United 7299 on Dec. 28, I was seated next to a man who coughed the whole flight. I could not change my seat because the flight was full. I was stuck in an awful situation. I caught his cold and took it to Houston with me where I was sick for 4 days.
I think it is unconscionable for United Airlines to allow people who smell and who they know no one wants to sit next to to allow them on the plane and put them next to a unsuspecting passenger who has paid a good price for her seat. Also, to put a sick passenger on the plane who can infect the passenger next to him is also not right.
Imagine United allowing black people on planes…
Or how about this one:
I have been a loyal customer of United Airlines for many years. We use a United credit card, we book our flights on United.com and we fly United, so that we may use our United Miles. We were unable to use our United miles on this flight, and even though we booked a United flight, it turned out to be operated by US Air, who did not even accept our United miles. It also turned out that the communication between United and its partner US Air was so bad that they booked a connection flight that allowed less than forty minutes for a run to a completely different terminal, requiring a wait in the security and a re-booking and the US Air ticketing agent. To make matters worse, I was in need of a wheelchair, I was told that a wheelchair would be waiting for me at the connection city. When I arrived, I was not allowed to use the wheelchair at the gate and was forced to hop in a brace through the terminal to a different terminal. In the past I have swallowed travel problems with United Airline, but this time the treatment my wife and I received was simply intolerable…This has been a very trying and awful experience, but we do hope to continue our relationship with United. In order to put this matter behind us, kindly pay us $2,500 and award us each 1,000,000 frequent flier miles.
ROTFL. 1,000,000 miles and $2,500 because of a wheelchair problem.
You’ve got to check out the site when you have some extra time. Names, contact info, and Mileage Plus numbers often accompany the letters and I must admit I’ve thought about answering some of the complaints before…