I will never fly United Airlines or any of their affiliates ever again.
Rene and I recently flew United as part of a work retreat to Hawaii and it was the third and final time we will ever use them. Hell, the only reason we’ve flown them the last two times is because someone else purchased the tickets. I could re-hash the story for you, but I feel that my complaint letter will do better:
May 9, 2013United Airlines Customer ServiceTo whom it may concern and that should be anyone who is related to the customer service department all the way up to the corporate executives.My wife and I recently traveled on your airline for the last time. Ever. We have never experienced such consistently bad customer service, and these recent flights were not the only times. The last three times I have flown on United, only once by choice, we have been extremely dissatisfied; not to mention yelled at, dismissed and watched as other passengers were treated as badly, if not worse, than we were. Frankly, I’m shocked that you remain in business at all.While our flights to and from Hawaii were ridiculous and our treatment completely unacceptable, I feel that it is important for you to have some context as to how my wife and I have been treated by this company in the past and why, when we discovered that our flights to and from Hawaii were on United airlines, we were immediately put off.My wife, Rene Bordelon, was a member of your frequent flyer program, Mileage Plus, from the late 90’s through the early 2000’s. She made multiple trips to Australia and has fond memories of those flights. She racked up a lot of miles.In 2009 we cashed in some of those miles to fly to Utah to attend the Sundance Film Festival. On the morning that we were to leave my wife received a message that our flight was cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. We called in and when we spoke with the United representative she was only willing to put us on a flight that left two days later. Due to the fact that we had no place to stay, and no offer was made by your representative to help, we asked if we would be put up somewhere while we waited. The representative said no. Since we would be missing work in addition to now having to find a place to stay in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival, an impossible task, we told her that was unacceptable. She told us that because we had used miles for our tickets we were not a priority.That’s right, you’re representative told a LOYAL frequent flyer who had spent THOUSANDS of dollars on international flights and EARNED the miles that she used that she was NOT A PRIORITY! It took over an hour and her continued excessive attempts to try and make us stay two extra days we were finally re-booked for a flight that morning.When we got to the airport there was only one ticket agent working for the whole United ticket counter. There were many people trying to leave that morning, and the lack of desk personnel meant that we were all running late. Thank God the employees at Salt Lake City airport were on the ball and professional. They are the only reason why many people were able to make their flights. Flights they were only late for because you failed to staff the ticketing desk correctly.The real kicker of the whole 2009 experience, besides the fact the my wife’s loyalty to your airline was completely disregarded, was that after all the effort we had to put in to get the flight in the first place the flight was then DELAYED OVER TWO HOURS! When we got home we called customer care to tell them how horrible our experience was. They blew us off. That was the last straw. From that time forward we decided that we would not fly United by choice ever again.There have been two times since when I have flown United, and each time it was only because someone else purchased the tickets.In January 2011 I was flown to Connecticut for work. I was booked on United. Because of the memories of 2009 I was cautious. For my return trip I was unable to check in online. My flight was early, 5 in the morning, and I was unable to get anyone on the phone. When I got to the airport I was told that my ticket was returned and that I was no longer booked on the flight. No one would help me. I had a confirmation in hand showing that a ticket was purchased, but no one would help me. I was grateful that, finally, a United ticket agent, from the other side of the airport, was able to help me. Even she agreed that there was no reason why my ticket “vanished” and she essentially re-booked me on the flight and actually escorted me through security so I could make it on time. I wish I had her name because of all the people at the ticket desk she was the only one willing to help me. All the other agents just told me I was out of luck. ALL OF THE AGENTS! It was abysmal. Had that single employee not been working that morning I have no idea what I would have done.That brings us to this most recent flight. We were flown to Hawaii with the confirmation code ATR9CP. Originally my wife and I were booked with seats together. Our flight was changed three times! No reason was given. When we got our final confirmations we were no longer seated together. We were on flight 670 April 28, 2013. Online we were unable to move our seats back together without paying an upgrade fee for “economy plus.” I don’t understand why our seats, that were booked together, were suddenly no longer together. The flight was booked with my wife and I on the same reservation. You, United Airlines, changed our flights multiple times and yet somehow got us separated! And let me be clear, I do not want the same excuse that my wife received when she filed her complaint. I do not want to hear that I am merely guaranteed a seat on your flight, I want my booking honored. I expect that if you are going to make changes to a flight you do your best to make sure that my experience isn’t modified. It is already hell to fly, so the additional problem of you not being to handle your seating correctly is not only disappointing but unacceptable.Not being able to make the seat change online we made sure that we were early to speak with a ticket agent. When we arrived at the airport the check-in line before the security check point was chaos. There weren’t enough real people and the do-it-yourself terminals were not helpful – especially in regard to changing our seats. When we got to the gate my wife and I watched as the ticket agents were rude to the five customers ahead of us, most of them with similar complaints of – “we were separated from our parties”. The agents wavered between being disinterested and downright rude. There was one traveler, it was clear that English was not her first language, and she was trying to get clarification on something having to do with the flight. What got my attention was the yelling from the ticket agent, I tried to get her name but her name tag was covered and she was not forth coming with it. She kept repeating “Sit down, ma’am” with a raised voice, even though the woman was far from being rude or aggressive. When I approached the counter I was pleasant and respectful and when I asked if we could be sat together I was dismissed and told that my best option was to trade with another passenger. This was repeated with at least three other sets of couples. As I mentioned, there were seats available – the economy plus seats and other regular economy seats. We did not expect an upgrade, but there’s no reason why these seats couldn’t have been offered to Mileage Plus members allowing my wife and I to sit together. It was not a full flight. Several stand-bys were able to be seated and there were empty seats on the flight. We were fortunate enough to find a single traveler who was willing to upgrade from a middle seat to my wife’s aisle seat, but why did we have to do it at all?! Our seats never should have been separated in the first place! Watching all the separated families made it feel like United made it a point to separate everyone. It was ridiculous and embarrassing to see a company, who’s return business relies on happy customers, treat everyone so poorly.This put a sour taste in our mouths for the beginning of our vacation, a honeymoon for us.Our return flight also had us separated, by nine rows. We came back on flight 1215 on May 6, 2013. Since we had very poor luck getting our seats changed on our arrival flight, we weren’t holding out much hope for the return. It’s sad that we had to dread the flight home before we even got to the airport and not because we were leaving an island paradise, but because we knew that we’d have to deal with United personnel. When we arrived the ticket agent at check-in flat out told us that the flight was full and no seat changes would be possible. He was at least polite about it, but it didn’t set us up for a good flight. When we arrived at the gate we were told that that flight had been oversold and that they’d require two volunteers to take a different flight to San Francisco. No mention was made of any kind of offer to cover the inconvenience, just “Hey, we need to people to go to San Francisco.” I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that no one was jumping up to take the flight. Again we watched as family after family tried to get their parties put back together, including ours; each time being met with a “no.” Seriously, and I’m actually asking for an answer, why is it so hard to keep groups together? Clearly you are re-seating people on the plane when you change a flight. Wouldn’t it make sense to re-seat according to reservation? There is no reason why my wife and I shouldn’t be able to sit together on a 5-6 hour flight.Once on the flight the attendants were grumpy and surly, muttering things under their breath as they passed by about other passengers. We heard them, even though they were trying to be quiet. And I’m not even going to bring up how ridiculous it is to charge $25 per checked bag and that your food choices do not make up for the fact that I must purchase food on a flight over 3 and a half hours long. If you can’t afford to treat your customers with respect and train your employees to at least act like they care then maybe you don’t need to be in business.There’s an old corporate adage that every time someone complains you lose eleven customers. Well I’m complaining, and I’m holding you to a higher standard. I’m telling everyone. I want to turn eleven into 11, 000. I’m telling anyone I can about our experience. I’m posting it online. I’m writing articles about it and I’m throwing it out on all the social media. I’m sending this to the Better Business Bureau and anywhere else I can file a complaint. I want everyone to know that people that fly your airline are merely cattle so they can make better choices in their air travel. Other airlines manage to get it right. JetBlue has always been wonderful to fly; I’ve loved my trips on Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic; so I never need to travel on your airplanes again. You have continued to drop the ball repeatedly in terms of customer service and it doesn’t take much of a Google search to find so many other people who have had similar experiences.You failed, United. I’m telling everyone. I’ll never fly you again.Curtis Andersen
Turns out we are far from the only people who have had problems with United – there’s a whole Facebook fan page dedicated to how much they suck: United Sucks.
They have a tendency to kill dogs on their flights. These two garnered national attention.
And they break guitars:
He has multiple songs about this and a nice statement. He’s Canadian and here’s his YouTube channel: Sons of Maxwell.
I want to take comfort in the fact that other people have had trouble too, but unfortunately every story has a very similar ending – United doesn’t care and won’t do a damn thing to make it better. So, as far as I’m concerned, they need to go out of business.
That’s why I hope you’ll join me by saying Never Again to flying United. Maybe, when the airline is shut down, the employees who are able to get new jobs in the air travel industry will get proper training from a better, more customer conscience carrier.
Go to hell United.