Go Back   > > >
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Feb 10, 12, 8:33 am   #1
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Jul 2011
Programs: M&M Senator
Posts: 10
A United customer care Horror story

Hello everybody,
I thought I'd share the following story which just pitted a good friend of mine musician, United MP faithful customer, vs United's absolutely despicable customer service.
My friend, a NY resident, was trying to get back as quickly as possible to Australia in order to attend his mother's funeral but was repeatedly denied boarding or alternate carriers at LAX following a series of mishaps thanks to United. In the end, he had to fly back to NY after being stranded in a hotel in LA for over 48hrs. What is absolutely despicable is the overall level of incompetence and unfriendliness of United customer service.
This is what happens when corporate logic takes over human common sense and decency.

http://www.barneymcall.com/bm/UnitedGreed.html
neckdigit is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 8:39 am   #2
Suspended
  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Programs: UA 1k
Posts: 1,208
I did not read everything, because it was too long, but sorry to hear your friend's story. It sounds like they were misdirected - really - send an email to smisek at night and expect him to magically make a plane appear by the next morning?
travel.flier is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 8:58 am   #3
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Jul 2011
Programs: M&M Senator
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by travel.flier View Post
I did not read everything, because it was too long, but sorry to hear your friend's story. It sounds like they were misdirected - really - send an email to smisek at night and expect him to magically make a plane appear by the next morning?
True, emailing the CEO of United at night is somewhat of a stupid advice-thanks to United CD, but that said, the expectation was not to get a plane appear out of nowhere, but simply, as it happens thousands of times all over the world, to make sure this person with a clear family emergency could get to his mom's funeral one way or another; a change of carrier would have made absolute sense and pose no issue for United to arrange...we all went through it at one time or another.
The problem is the absolute blindness and "narrow mindness" of CR working at United, feeding back corporate standard lingo to a paying customer instead of taking the time to take each account individually and looking for a human solution.
neckdigit is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 9:08 am   #4
  
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Denver
Posts: 474
You need to tell your friend to redact his personal details ASAP, especially his mileage plus number.

He's also posting other customer's names and email addresses? If it we're mine, I'd be mighty pissed.
Cohall is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 9:09 am   #5
  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: NYC
Programs: ex-UA 1K, ex-AA EXP... : (
Posts: 6,155
I read the web posting. It's really a perfect storm situation: OP's friend ("OPF") has two planes to OZ go mx and gets UA's usual non-elite CS run-around...which would have been bad enough except that the tight time-frame of his mother's funeral gets thrown into the mix. Oy. That's about as bad as it gets.

Putting aside for the moment the lack of sympathay from UA I believe the OPF experienced, it's hard to know from the web posting what UA was supposed to have done. Looking at the schedules, there is only one flight that could have gotten OPF into SYD earlier than the UA flight (VA), but only by an hour, though it is true that there were a numer of non-UA flight options that could have gotten him into MEL a coulpe of hours early. The problem is that at the time OPF wanted these changes, the second flight hadn't yet gone mx. So basically OP was looking for UA to endorse his ticket to VA in order to buy him in a couple of hours over the rebooked UA flight, not to make the viewing, which he had already missed, and not to make the funeral, which he had not yet missed, but to get there a bit earlier. Tough call. I see why he would want this, and I see why in a perfect world UA (or any carrier for that matter) would accommodate, but in the context of rebooking a 747's worth of disgruntled pax, I can see how this might fall through the cracks. Obviously everything then went FUBAR when the second flight went mx.

I'm not trying to apologize for UA's at times terrible customer service for MPs, but let's see this for what it is: a double mx and UA's usual bad CS that just happened to happen for the OPF at the absolute worst possible time for him personally. I'm not sure how that makes this episode "A Case Study" in UA's "Greed", but then again if I were in the OPF's shoes, I'd have lost my marbles as well.
as219 is online now  
Old Feb 10, 12, 9:12 am   #6
  
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Houston
Programs: UA Premier 1K, SPG Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 9,616
Talk about taking unrealistic expectations to a new level.
mduell is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 9:22 am   #7
  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Francisco/Sydney
Programs: UA 1K/MM, TK Gold, DL Silver, Hilton Diamond, Marriott/SPG Gold, Hertz PC, Avis First
Posts: 5,307
With all due respect to your friend, what does he expect that United could have done otherwise?

An unfortunate fact of the US-AUS flights is that if there's a problem with them, by the time they realize it's almost always too late to move anyone to another flight on another airline. With curfew restrictions in SYD, it's also almost impossible to delay the flights until the next day without delaying them for a full 24 hours. By 1am the very simple fact is that the quickest way to get there is most likely going to be the rescheduled flight ~24 hours later. United "customer care" did all that they could here.

As far as the SYD-MEL flights, this is clearly UA saving him from even more problems. He suggests that he could have been moved to an 8am Virgin flights, despite the fact that Virgin leaves from a completely different terminal, and the time to clear customs/immigration, collect luggage (if any) and get between terminals is at least 1 hour, often more. As a regular on these flights I'd say that staying on the UA flight SYD-MEL is almost certainly the best option. United Customer Care did the right thing here.

Various other points simply don't make sense "When I got on the plane I asked attendant , Jay Williams how many first class seats there were. His answer : 12". Well, yes, there are 12 first class seats - but how many were free? (Anyone ever seen a p.s. flight completely empty in F?)

Could United have done better? Probably. Is "United Airlines is to blame. 100%."? I'd say no... This is simply an unfortunate combination of a terrible point in the passengers life, along with unplanned issues with 2 UA flights. From a customer service point of view, United ended up stuck between a rock and a hard place - they obviously didn't want the passenger to miss his mothers funeral, but at the points that they had a chance to do anything there was almost certainly little or nothing they could do.
docbert is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 9:35 am   #8
  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: NYC
Programs: ex-UA 1K, ex-AA EXP... : (
Posts: 6,155
Quote:
Originally Posted by docbert View Post
As far as the SYD-MEL flights, this is clearly UA saving him from even more problems. He suggests that he could have been moved to an 8am Virgin flights, despite the fact that Virgin leaves from a completely different terminal, and the time to clear customs/immigration, collect luggage (if any) and get between terminals is at least 1 hour, often more. As a regular on these flights I'd say that staying on the UA flight SYD-MEL is almost certainly the best option. United Customer Care did the right thing here.
Interesting. Having never traveled to OZ I didn't realize this would have been an issue. That said, do you really think the UA personnel at LAX knew this? Because if they did, surely they could have said so.
as219 is online now  
Old Feb 10, 12, 9:36 am   #9
  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 93
to what point has it gotten that this just seems typical UA, not surprised at all. I probably have had more UA phone zombies lie to me than actually followed rules and told the truth.
pmlflyer is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 9:40 am   #10
  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Francisco/Sydney
Programs: UA 1K/MM, TK Gold, DL Silver, Hilton Diamond, Marriott/SPG Gold, Hertz PC, Avis First
Posts: 5,307
Quote:
Originally Posted by as219 View Post
Interesting. Having never traveled to OZ I didn't realize this would have been an issue. That said, do you really think the UA personnel at LAX knew this? Because if they did, surely they could have said so.
UA could have easily seen that both the 8:00am and 8:30am flights he was talking about were below the MCT for SYD International-Domestic (90 mins, and even that's tight in many cases), so they could have know. Whether they did actually know, and whether they said so to the passenger, is obviously a questions only they could answer...
docbert is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 11:20 am   #11
Suspended
  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Programs: UA 1k
Posts: 1,208
I read various other parts - asking for business class seats to me seems silly. What's the issue? Compensation or getting there. If it was my family member, I'd buy a ticket on any airline and get there. I woudln't worry about putting me in C or whatever. I don't know what they expected UA to do. DO they even have ticketing agreements with VX? If not, I would not expect them to endorse the ticket. I think the OPF has unrealistic expectations. It's unfortunate and I feel bad but really, what did they expect to happen.
travel.flier is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 11:43 am   #12
  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Programs: UA, AA, LH, Hyatt, Hilton, SPG, Hertz
Posts: 1,756
The problem I see here is the fact that 2 consecutive LAX-SYD flights went mx. I know that there are no (maybe 1) 747s laying around and waiting to be put in service in case of mx but they had 24 hours to find the airworthy replacement and they failed. It didn't have to come to the point where everyone is on board for them to figure out something is wrong on the second day. They could have proactively transferred at least this one pax to SFO-SYD or any other carrier (SQ, NZ, Delta, anyone) if they cared at least a bit for his situation.
todorovic is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 11:47 am   #13
  
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: SFO
Posts: 2,721
Let us cut the OPF some slack and maybe hold off on being UA apologists for a while?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Talk about taking unrealistic expectations to a new level.
malgudi is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 12:05 pm   #14
  
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: MEL
Programs: VAG
Posts: 1,865
Quote:
Originally Posted by todorovic View Post
The problem I see here is the fact that 2 consecutive LAX-SYD flights went mx. I know that there are no (maybe 1) 747s laying around and waiting to be put in service in case of mx but they had 24 hours to find the airworthy replacement and they failed. It didn't have to come to the point where everyone is on board for them to figure out something is wrong on the second day. They could have proactively transferred at least this one pax to SFO-SYD or any other carrier (SQ, NZ, Delta, anyone) if they cared at least a bit for his situation.
I agree with the first part, it's a serious snafu to have two consecutive broken 747s. On the other hand, I doubt they just pulled a random 744 out of storage in a hangar somewhere at LAX and didn't bother to do any airworthiness checks until it was already parked at the gate, so I gotta assume it was an error that showed up at the last minute.

On the later point, though... firstly, while I have the greatest sympathy for this dude's situation we gotta assume that out of the 400 people attempting to fly across the Pacific on that day, this guy wasn't the only one who had some pressing need to be in Australia. Secondly, there's something like eight flights a day on four different airlines from the West Coast of the US to Australia, and they *all* leave within a window of a few hours. So by the time they figure out the original flight ain't leaving, there are no more flights for nearly 24 hours anyway. It wouldn't have made any sense to rebook him (even if seats had been available) either on the first day or on the second.

(Incidentally, I personally wish there was a flight that instead of leaving at 10pm and arriving at 7am would leave at 10am and arrive at 7pm. But apparently eight flights a day disagree with me. I realise that it's an issue of connecting flights, but that doesn't affect me...)
Jorgen is offline  
Old Feb 10, 12, 12:31 pm   #15
FlyerTalk Evangelist
  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Los Angeles / Basel
Posts: 24,300
Quote:
Originally Posted by United Senior Supervisor
I can offer you no upgrade, if I offered everyone with their tragedies upgrades there would be no room in business class for people who can afford it.
Ouch.

So sorry to read about the OP's plight and I trust he will be well compensated from UA (congrats on the business class upgrade to JFK...). MX delays are tough--but there were Delta, Qantas, and Virgin Australia flights going to SYD as well--did he look into those?
MatthewLAX is offline  
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 
Forum Jump
Contact Us - FlyerTalk - Archive - Top