A new friend has joined Facebook: United Airlines.
image courtesy of United Airlines
UA’s wall is already filling up with interesting material–from greenhorns seeking advice on how to redeem travel vouchers to discussion over the future of UA’s livery to Double EQMs to StarNet bocking.
I’ll stick to Flyertalk for such discussions, but I will be monitoring the Facebook page to see if UA addresses any of these items specifically.
Check it out here.
A Thanksgiving Travel Saga
Today I was scheduled to fly United from Little Rock to Milwaukee. The flight was to depart around 2:30, arrive in Chicago approx. 4:20, then depart for Milwaukee at 5:15. After a month alone in our winter home in AR I was anxious to be going home for the holiday. I couldn’t wait to see my grandbabies, family and friends, spend Thanksgiving with my siblings and ailing parents, the day after with my in-laws driving in from Rochester NY, and then Saturday with “our girls” who wanted to start a new tradition of a “chili Thanksgiving”.
So, at 11:30 I drove the hour and a half to the airport, got my boarding pass, cleared security and sat at the gate with about 20 others. At around 2:00 with no plane in sight, no ground crew in sight and no UA representatives in sight, several people got up to check the departure screen. It still read “on time”. As it did at approx. 2:15, 2:30 and 2:45. Soon after it disappeared from the screen completely.
People began pulling out cell phones and checking their computers. I went in search of help. A rare, live airport rep pointed to a courtesy phone with a sign that I’ll paraphrase: pick up the phone and a friendly voice will assist you. So, I did and a friendly voice answered. I requested a UA representative at gate 12 to explain what was going on with our flight. She looked up the flight number and informed me that our flight was delayed (DUH!) and rescheduled to depart at 5:30! Who knew? I asked her to page a UA representative and she did. 10 minutes later we were still waiting, so I went back to the phone and asked the “friendly voice” to page again. This time she told me there was only one UA employee at the ticket counter but she should be up to answer our questions at 3:15. When I called back at 3:45 the “friendly voice” was no longer so friendly. She curtly informed me that there was a flight scheduled to arrive around 4:00 so there would “definitely” be a representative at the gate at that time. The flight arrived but still no agent. There was another flight scheduled for Denver around 4:10, so the gate was getting crowded, and at 4:20 when there was STILL no UA representative, a LOT of people were agitated.
Finally, around 4:30 a UA representative arrived and immediately boarded the Denver flight. Once they were on board, she disappeared, so I hunted her down. I informed her that there were people needing answers about the flight to Chicago with connections. Her response was “whatever”. A gentleman on his way to England asked for information. She told him there was no computer at the gate counter, but she knew the connecting flight to England wouldn’t be available so he should rebook a flight for TOMORROW. So, I asked about the connection to Milwaukee, which she stated wouldn’t be available until tomorrow as well. She told all of us we’d have to go back down to the ticket counter to get information. WHAT? She said there was nothing she could do, which prompted me to state VERY firmly (and loudly) that THAT was completely unacceptable. Where was she 2-1/2 hours ago? – to which she responded, she wasn’t going to talk to me EVER AGAIN. So, I asked again, what she intended to do and again she told me she was NEVER GOING TO ANSWER ME SO I MIGHT AS WELL GIVE UP. And she left – leaving me crying and the other passengers staring in disbelief. That was it – she was the ONLY UA representative on premises and there was no place else to seek information at the airport. I stopped at a Delta desk and the representative there told me he could get me to Atlanta – which at least made me laugh.
I called 1-800-United1 (I recommend no one ever, EVER call them without vodka, straight up, in their hands). An agent named Rasamtbazanajoui Simboujartu told me he could get me to Chicago by 7:45 but there were no available flights to Milwaukee. It never occurred to me to ask the guy in India why our flight was delayed.
In the end, the flight to Chicago was cancelled altogether.
I was told at the ticket desk they can no longer issue refunds- contact United.com. By this time I could barely contain myself. I drove the hour and a half home (in tears) where I’ll be, alone, for the Thanksgiving holidays. One can only wonder what happens to the people who don’t have a home in Little Rock? Or the passenger flying out to see a dying parent? Or the guy standing up at his best friend’s wedding tomorrow? Or the 80+ yr old couple connecting through Chicago? All I know is that the administration at Little Rock airport, and especially United Airlines, really doesn’t give a damn.
Whoh! Diane–Sorry to hear about your horror story. I’d like to help and have sent you an e-mail with instructions.
One point of clarification–the idiots working at LIT are NOT United Airlines employees–UA contracts these positions out to the regional carrier, in this case Skywest, serving the airport.
But they represent UA and I hope UA takes your note to heart. I can help make sure someone at UA sees what you have been through…
United Sells Bogus Premium Packages; Misleads Consumers. United sold us a premium service (on top of regular fare) for $362 roundtrip–Economy Plus. We have a disabled child who requires both parents at this side, and United (and its website) told us that this premium service would ensure we could have three seats together and front-of-plane seats with greater legroom. Our seats were confirmed in writing six weeks prior to flight date. When we get our boarding passes, we discover that we are shoved to the back of the plane in standard seats, and our three seats have been separated–and we were still being charged $362! Contacted customer service, which eventually was forced to acknowledge paying the premium doesn’t guarantee anything. So what exactly is Economy Plus? Just a ploy to mislead consumers and milk more money from them. To promote and charge a premium for a bogus service is an unethical business practice and may likely be illegal. It is certainly a good reason not to fly United. And if you are flying with someone who is disabled and United ensures that your needs will be accommodated –well, good luck with that.
Has anyone noticed that United will charge passengers an extra $500 for their non-stop Denver-Tokyo flights on the Dreamliner?!
Advice: use United’s one-stop flights to Tokyo via the west coast — it only takes 3-4 hrs of extra travel time, and you’ll have $500 extra to spend on sushi in Tokyo!