Thursday, April 10, 2014

United Airlines

This is a letter I plan to send to United Airlines.  My advice?  Don't fly United; they don't give a shit about you.

To whom it may concern:
On Thursday, March 27th 2014,  I flew United Airlines Flight 5245 from RDU to IAH at 6:30pm.  Because the plane was re-routed around a storm, we arrived at IAH at 8:45pm—15 minutes later than scheduled.  I had a connecting flight from IAH to LOS, which was departing at 9:15pm. 
Along with my husband and four children, we hurried to the gate for UA Flight 142, and reached there at 9:00pm, exactly.  Upon arriving at the gate, the UA representative told us the captain had already received the final head count and no additional passengers would be allowed onto the plane.

NOTE: we arrived at the gate 15 minutes before departure!

Without even a word of apology or any show of empathy, the gate representative abruptly directed us to Customer Service. 

Frustrated, and very nearly in tears, we spoke with the Customer Service representative, who informed us that we could not board Flight 142, because the final head count was already done and they did not have time to make new calculations.  Again, there was no apology or show of empathy.  In fact, when the Supervisor showed up in response to an irate customer, he shouted and them and threatened, with unmitigated gall, to “shut it down”.  
Behind me, in line to speak with a Customer Service representative, were about fifteen other passengers bound to LOS—a fact that I pointed out to the representative.  Along with my family of 6, those of us who had been denied boarding on Flight 142 numbered at least twenty.
The Customer Service representative casually informed us that UA cannot hold a plane for 20 people when the 100+ people on the plane needed to arrive at their destination on time.  I responded that UA would not have been holding the plane, because we had arrived at the gate with fifteen minutes to spare.  Regardless, we were not allowed to board and the next flight to LOS was scheduled for the following night at 9:15pm.  Also, because the weather was not the fault of the airline, UA would not pay for our overnight accommodations.
I would argue that United Airlines was, in fact, to blame for denying us entry onto our scheduled flight on March 27th, 2014.  Therefore, United Airlines and its company policy of denying people boarding when they arrive at the gate with time to spare was, in fact, the reason that we had to stay the night in Humble, TX.
Feeling rather disenfranchised, we gathered up our children and luggage and called the 800-number the Customer Service representative had given us to book a hotel room.  The only available hotel was the Baymont Inn, and the room cost $80.  We had to pre-pay over the phone.
A shuttle service picked us up from airport and took us to the Baymont Inn, where we learned that, because of the size of my family, we had to pay an additional $20 to upgrade the room.  We paid it and were shown to a room that reeked of cigarette smoke and mildew.

While the staff at the Baymont Inn was wonderful—kind, friendly, far more empathetic than the staff at United Airlines—the room did not meet our expectations.  With nowhere else to go and having pre-paid for the room, however, we settled in for the night.

On the following day, we arrived at the airport at 2:00pm and began the long wait—with 4 children—until boarding time.
Boarding began at 8:29pm, and we were on the plane within fifteen minutes of that time.  At or around 9:15pm, the PA system came on, and we thought we were finally going to leave.  However, the captain did not tell us to prepare for takeoff.  Instead, he told us that another UA connecting flight had just landed—just landed—and we were going to wait for them to arrive at the gate and board the plane.
It took a massive bolus of willpower to keep from bursting into tears at that moment.
On the day before, we were denied boarding at 15 minutes prior to takeoff, then told in no uncertain terms that the flight could not be delayed for twenty passengers (even though we would all likely have been in our seats before 9:15pm).  On the following day, not only did United Airlines delay the flight, they delayed it for an entire hour!
After making us lose a day in Nigeria, making us pay $100 to stay in a filthy hotel, and making us sit in the airport from 2:00pm until boarding at 8:29pm, United Airlines then delayed us another hour.  On a plane from which I had no cellphone signal, thus could not notify my family in Nigeria.
I would like to point out that I am glad United Airline did the right thing and waited for those other passengers on March 28th.  However, after having been adamantly told that the flight could not be delayed (which, I reiterate, it probably would not have been) for us 20 people, it was like a blow to the gut when this airline did exactly what they had told us they could not do.
After paying nearly $6300 dollars to fly the United Airlines brand, I was treated like nothing more than a number that was stricken off a flight roster.  
Thank you, United Airlines, for making me spend another $100 to pay for a sub-standard hotel room.  Thank you, United Airlines, for taking away a full day of the vacation for which I had saved and paid.  Thank you, United Airlines, for making me spend yet another $388 to rebook our flights within Nigeria (because we arrived a day late).  And most of all, thank you, United Airlines for showing me precisely what you think of me and my money.  
I will take my business elsewhere.
A Very Disgruntled Passenger

UPDATE!!! Here:

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