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United Airlines - Horrible ordeal while flying united airlines.
Posted on Friday, December 31st, 2010 at 8:04pm CST by 09a4fee0
Company: United Airlines
Location: P. O. Box 66100
CHICAGO, IL, 60666, US
United Airlines,This is a letter of complaint. The purpose of this letter is to explain in detail my wife and mine's traumatizing, nightmarish experiences when attempting to fly as United Airlines customers. My name is Harvey Lunsman, and my wifes name is Jeanne Lunsman. While this letter will explain the details of our experience, it falls short of expressing the true degree of our disappointment, sadness, anger, and frustration that still afflicts us as a result of this experience. We feel that United Airlines is responsible for our emotional distress, and that United Airlines could learn from our experiences. It is our hope that this letter will help to prevent this degree of emotional distress from afflicting future customers of United Airlines. A United Airlines representative in the Chicago OHare airport recommended that we write a letter to customer relations after he heard about our experiencesWe were attempting to fly to Richmond, VA from Minneapolis, MN, with a connecting flight in Chicago, IL (OHare) on 12/29/2010 with a returning flight on 01/03/2011, with the purpose of visiting my sister and her husband. We paid for this flight using flight vouchers that United Airlines had given to us as compensation for a flight that was delayed in Chicago (OHare) for 22 hours on January 3rd, 2010; it was also flying out of Minneapolis, MN with a connecting flight in Chicago, IL (OHare) destined for Kahului, HI. This 22 hour flight delay was not because of extreme weather conditions as one might expect to happen in January; it was instead a result of mechanical problems with the plane, and unfortunately this delay caused our planned, simple, and stress free wedding to become complicated, and stress-filled. It delayed our marriage license appointment, and caused havoc with our car rental agreement and hotel reservations. United Airlines issued each of us $400 flight vouchers which at the time helped to soften the emotional impact that this caused to us; (It is important to note here that the vouchers were given to Harvey Lunsman and Jeanne Peterson as Jeanne had not yet changed her legal last name to Lunsman.) We were pleased that United Airlines compensated us in this way. My wife and I were excited to fly somewhere again, and we were more than willing to give United Airlines another chance because of the vouchers they had issued to us. Our excitement quickly turned into pure frustration and anger as we were stranded in Chicago once again.
We would have liked to have flown direct to Richmond, VA from Minneapolis, MN. These flights were more expensive and our flight vouchers would not cover the full cost for a direct flight. In fact, the vouchers themselves were not at all easy to use. Your website would only allow me to use one voucher at a time so we were not even guaranteed to be on the same flight, or sit by one another. I called United Airlines to see if they could book it over the phone for both of us at the same time, and on the same flight. They informed me that the vouchers could only be used online, and that they could not help me. Because we were given these vouchers to compensate us for our wedding and honeymoon almost being ruined, and the stress that caused for us, I felt that United Airlines could at least help us to book our flight over the phone. I had to explain what had happened several times to several different United Airlines representatives before someone finally did book the flight for us. Because we were stranded in Chicago at the OHare airport previously we were slightly nervous to have a connecting flight out of there again, but we had no choice as all the other flights were too expensive and our vouchers would not cover the cost. Our budget for this flight required us to choose a flight in which the vouchers covered the majority of the cost, and our only choice was to have a connecting flight out of Chicago OHare.
We flew out of MSP bound for ORD on 12/29/2010. The flight was on time until we were unexpectedly put into a holding pattern and the pilot informed us that we were going to be cutting it close on fuel. At first the pilot said we would be delayed for 20 minutes and Jeanne and I became anxious as we would barely be able to make our connecting flight because of the 20 minute delay. The 20 minute delay became a 30 minute delay 10 minutes after the original announcement of a 20 minute delay. We circled in the air for approximately 40 minutes until we finally landed. My wife Jeanne had hurt her foot a week before this happened, but we knew that we had to catch our connecting flight or we might be stuck once again in Chicago for a night. So we ran as quickly as we safely could while carrying our bags across practically the entire airport to our connecting flights gate. Jeannes foot was hurting much worse after this. We did not even know the gate for our connecting flight until we arrived, and so we were not in any way prepared for the long distance we would have to trek. I was the first one to arrive at the connecting flights gate, and I had arrived 4 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart. I watched the plane taxi away from the gate, and I looked around for a United Airlines representative to help me. There was no representative in sight anywhere around me. Other people from our flight arrived at the gate after me; they were equally as disappointed as I that we missed the connecting flight, and just as frustrated that there was no representative at the gate to help them. My wife arrived and I had to explain to her that we were once again stuck at the OHare airport not knowing how long we would be there for.
I am extremely frustrated that United Airlines would not have a representative at the gate when they know people are probably going to be missing that flight and will need some questions answered. We had to walk all the way back to customer service, and stand in line for at least 45 minutes to figure out what we were going to do now. I had to call my sister who was almost heading out the door to drive to the Richmond, VA airport to pick us up and inform her that we would not be arriving as planned. We eventually were put on standby for a flight later that night (flight # 8044) which was scheduled to depart at 9:05. We had not eaten anything as we had no time for that. We walked across the airport once again to our new gate that we might or might not catch a flight at. We arrived and the monitor said that the flight would be leaving on time. The flight was predictably delayed, and the reason given on the screen for the delay was, aircraft delay which was frustrating because that is not a reason. It would be easier to deal with delays and cancellations if the reasons for them were clearly communicated to passengers in a timely manner. Then suddenly our flight disappeared off the monitor at our gate, and we were left not knowing what was going on. My wife waited until the current flight at the gate was boarded and the plane had left the gate. She then asked a representative if flight #8044 to Richmond, VA had been moved to another gate. The representative very rudely responded confirming this gate change to be correct. There was never an announcement for the gate change of flight #8044. So we went to the correct gate which was thankfully really close to the gate we were already at. We sat and waited to see if they would call our names on the standby list.
The flight was then delayed further by increments of approximately 10-15 minutes. These 10-15 minute delays kept us in our seats as we did not dare risk losing our spot on the flight had they called our names even though we were extremely hungry. Flight # 8044 finally began to board at 10:41pm. We sat and watched as they boarded the plane, until we were the only two people left who had not been boarded. The pilot came out and talked to the representative at the gate, and then we were motioned to come over to the gate entrance. They then allowed us to board the plane, and they handed us small green tickets to attach to our bags, as they would have to store them for us because there was no more room in the overhead bins. So we attached our green tickets and handed them over to someone who was bringing them outside by crudely throwing them on a slide where I watched them bounce down to someone waiting at the bottom to pick them up. We asked this person if we had attached the tags in the right way and he nodded yes and took our bags. Then we boarded the plane, and our excitement began to rise again as we felt like our nightmare was finally over. Both of us had our seatbelts on, and we were being walked through the safety information when the United Airlines representative from the gate came on the plane and informed me that the plane was 100 pounds over the weight limit and one of us would have to get off the plane.
This was my wifes second trip by plane, and we were not comfortable splitting up and one of us flying out, and then having to wait for the other person who would have to spend the night at the airport and fly out in the morning. So we both got off the plane, furious that we had been denied our flight by such a small margin. We had a small backpack with our laptop with us still and we also had our winter coats and an Amazon Kindle. The United Airlines representative at the gate escorted us out of the jet way and asked us if we had everything. Of course we did not have everything because we had given them our two carryon bags. We asked to get our bags back, and they initially refused and said that they would fly our bags out there and we would be given our bags when we arrived. These were our carryon bags, and everything we had was in them. We needed them and we explained that to the representative. He finally did agree to get our bag, telling us to leave the stuff we had with us on the ground and hurry back to the end of the jet way with him to explain what our bags look like to the man on the ground that was going to retrieve them for us. They then asked us for the other half of the green tag that we put on our bags. Unfortunately they had never explained to us that we needed to rip half the green tag off and keep it with us. They again tried to refuse to get our bags saying that it was our fault that we did not rip half the tag off. As I stated earlier we specifically asked this person if we put the tags on right, and he looked at them and said that we did. We became extremely upset upon hearing this as you can imagine; he saw how frustrated we were and after some heated words he finally did agree to retrieve our bags for us. We explained to him what they looked like; he did not take his ear protection off, and we had to repeat things to him multiple times before he understood us. We then stood on the jet way waiting, and the United Airlines representative stood there with us. The representative then turned to us and told us that we should probably go watch the stuff that he had told us to leave by the entrance to the jet way. He said people might steal our stuff, as though he had not told us to leave it there in the first place. My wife then went back to look after our stuff, I stayed on the jet way to make sure we received our correct bags back.
I stood at the end of the cold jet way for several minutes with the United Representative standing with me. It was taking a long time, and the plane was being delayed because they could not find our bags. The United Representative asked me detailed questions about the appearance of the bags, and then he entered the code into a door on the jet way right in front of me exposing the code to me which in my opinion should be against regulation. He left me standing in the jet way by myself for what seemed like 10 minutes with the door leading to the tarmac partially open. He finally did bring our bags up and we were now free to go nowhere as we were stuck once again at the OHare airport. We then waited for the United Representative to come out of the jet way so we could get some direction on what to do next. He came out and we were now leaning towards just going home, our vouchers which were supposed to compensate us for our previous nightmare becoming the thing that led to our current nightmare. We felt like a cruel joke had been played on us. Adding insult to injury the United Airlines representative was extremely rude to us, interrupting my wife multiple times. My wife could not take any more and left the immediate area. The representative booked us on a flight home the next morning, and we were also booked onto a flight to Virginia that morning so that we could choose in the morning if we would still go or not. We had to ask him if we were entitled to a hotel voucher because we were stuck due to United Airlines and not as a result of weather. He looked up our flight information and confirmed that the reason for our landing delay was not weather related. It was in fact marked as a, flight crew error. This entitled us to a hotel room on United for the night, but we had to ask for it. After I was done dealing with the representative I found my wife surrounded by all our bags sitting down crying.
I sincerely hope that anyone else who was delayed that whole night because of this was given a hotel room just as we were. Our frustration was boiling over and our empty stomachs only added to our misery. I decided to voice my frustration to someone at the customer service counter. It was difficult for me to explain our predicament without shouting, but I managed to do it. The man who listened to me sympathized with me and could hardly believe our bad fortune. He provided us with two $15 meal vouchers and strongly suggested that I write a letter to United Airlines customer relations. He felt that United Airlines would recognize that our situation was extreme, and take measures to prevent this from happening in the future. Unfortunately, it was now after midnight, and all the restaurants that we came across were closed. We did not eat anything that night.
Our legs were sore and our stomachs were hurting as we walked to catch a shuttle to the Double Tree hotel. The shuttle arrived at the hotel just before 12:30AM, and we walked to our room and attempted to sleep. Because of our empty stomachs and our super-high level of stress we were unable to sleep. We stayed up all night discussing our options. Early in the morning around 5:10AM we heard mice in our ceiling scratching around and squeaking. We were at our ends, and we resolved that we would rather go home, pay for our future tickets from an airline other than United, and actually have a chance at enjoying our trip and getting there on time. We felt that United Airlines did nothing to resolve our predicament, and the hotel room they gave us was rather insulting. We know that United Airlines has nothing to do with the hotel, but we feel that you should know about every aspect of our experience. After hearing the mice we decided to leave the room right then and just go back to the airport and wait for our flight home, hoping that nothing else would go horribly wrong. I felt a sting in my upper right back upon moving out of bed, and discovered that I had been bitten by something; possibly a spider. The number of things that happened to amplify our frustration is nothing short of unbelievable, and sitting here writing this all down I am myself absolutely shocked.
Our flight home to Minneapolis was alright. We were scrutinized extra thoroughly by security probably because of our messy appearances and dark circles under our eyes from lack of sleep. United Airlines prides itself on how they treat their customers, but we do not feel that United treated us with the respect that we deserved. Our experiences with United have left an extremely negative impression on us, and as things stand now we will never be customers of United Airlines in the future. Our friends and families are just as upset as we are, especially my sister, who had prepared activities for our visit and was really looking forward to spending time with us. We were looking forward to visiting the Smithsonian museum while we were there; now we will have to wait. We are both college students, and I work full time. Because we are in college we have limited funds available to take trips, and it will be extremely difficult for us to find the means to fly out to Virginia anytime in the near future. We were bringing their Christmas gifts out to them, but now they want us to put that money towards coming to see them, and not give them a gift. Our hearts are broken that we were denied spending time with them. I had to take the few paid time off days that I had available and use them for this trip that now is wasted. My paid time off is gone, and I will never get that time back. Words due little justice to describe how we feel about United Airlines at this time, and we hope that United Airlines will take steps to prevent this from happening to anyone else again. We will be sharing our story with anyone who will listen, and we hope that United Airlines will step up to the plate and show that they truly do care about their customers.
We have some suggestions for United Airlines that we would like to share with you:
1. Develop a way to inform passengers in greater detail about the status of their flights. I suggest creating a system whereby passengers receive text messages informing them instantly of problems and suggestions on what the passengers can do.
2. There seems to be a lack of understanding of delay times, United Airlines could do much better when estimating their arrival and departure times. It seems as though United Airlines current policy is to delay in small increments, so as to avoid the shock of being delayed a long time at once. United Airlines instead delays 15 minutes or so at a time at four separate instances. I do not know if this is an airport specific issue or if it is United Airlines that calls the shots here, but you should be aware of this. We saw this happening many times.
3. United Airlines representatives are often rude, and seem to lack an understanding of what is going on. They seem to do the bare minimum to get upset customers to go away and leave them alone.
4. United Airlines should do more to please upset customers when it is United Airlines fault that they are stranded. Weather issues are one thing, and people understand that the weather is outside of the airlines control, but when the airline is at fault the airline should compensate justly. If it is the airlines fault for a delay, the airline should inform all the passengers of this. If we had not specifically asked for a hotel voucher or meal vouchers, we would not have received them. We did not know that it was a crew problem and not a weather problem until we asked. Good customers who are less likely to complain would not receive their just compensation with the current system. This is an outrage, and is morally wrong.
5. United Airlines should have a representative available in the vicinity of the gate for a long enough time so as to meet any persons who may have missed that flight by minutes, so they can help those persons to book a new flight and tell them what to do next. Also, United Airlines could do a much better job informing these representatives if there is a flight that is carrying people that are connecting onto the flight at that representatives gate could be late. So that the representative knows to stay at the gate and possibly help those passengers to re-book their flights.
6. The vouchers that you issue to people as compensation when things go wrong are difficult to use, especially for couples or groups of people trying to book the same flight. United Airlines should allow customers to use more than one of these vouchers at a time when booking flights.
7. Passengers should at no time be allowed to be in the jet way by themselves. They should especially never be allowed to see the codes used to open doors. This is a major security flaw, and we are extremely shocked that this was allowed to happen. Because of this we have lost a lot of faith in the security of our countrys air transportation system.
United Airlines compensated us for almost ruining our wedding and honeymoon. This compensation was used to book a flight to Virginia to visit my sister, and see the Smithsonian for our anniversary. Our flight out there was ruined because of United Airlines, and we feel that United Airlines has not compensated us for ruining this trip. I used paid time off on days that were wasted at the airport and I will never get that time back. United Airlines thoroughly disappointed us, and we have lost our respect that we once had for United Airlines. We will keep sending this letter to United Airlines using every channel available. We will also be posting it online for the public to read until we receive a satisfactory apology and just compensation from United Airlines for the emotional and physical distress that we experienced.
Harvey J. Lunsman