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United Airlines Kicks Elderly Professor Couple Off Late-Night Flight

United Airlines Kicks Elderly Professor Couple Off Late-Night Flight

Old Sep 17, 19, 9:35 am
  #181  
 
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Originally Posted by cerealmarketer View Post
Independent of that the whole passenger council process is eye opening - maybe overly employee friendly as a function of union demands.
THAT information was worth the price of admission to this thread! ^
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Old Sep 17, 19, 9:48 am
  #182  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I agree; it's more common for GAs to handle this. However, the FAs have the ability to do it, and I've seen them do so.

And, no, "whoever got here first" doesn't make the most sense if one set of boarding passes is out-of-date.
To me, a boarding pass isn't out of date until it's been replaced by the GA. This is doubly true if I'm traveling with someone and a FA suddenly tells one of us to move without any explanation.

I have asked, several times, what seat the FA told the couple to sit in. The question has been ducked repeatedly. I am forced to assume that there is a missing step: the FA looked at the manifest, resolved the differences, told the couple to move, ...
But why would the FA tell the couple to move if there was only a problem with 21C? Even if the wife's seat had somehow been changed without her knowing about it, the smart play by the FA would have been to try to keep them together by asking the "real" 21C if he wouldn't mind sitting in 22D or wherever. It keeps the couple together and saves time and hassle for all involved. (Maybe I missed it above, but was 21B occupied?)
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:02 am
  #183  
 
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Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
(Maybe I missed it above, but was 21B occupied?)
I was wondering that too, although, apparently, I was more concerned about 24B :


Originally Posted by narvik View Post
Was there anyone in 24B?
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:18 am
  #184  
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Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
To me, a boarding pass isn't out of date until it's been replaced by the GA
If you reload the app, and it tells you that your seat is 38F, then your seat is 38F until / unless you get it corrected. Getting a piece of paper from the GA is a formality.

You can certainly try to get it corrected before moving, but I don't understand the point of insisting that it's not real unless the GA hand-delivers it.
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:23 am
  #185  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
If you reload the app, and it tells you that your seat is 38F, then your seat is 38F until / unless you get it corrected. Getting a piece of paper from the GA is a formality.

You can certainly try to get it corrected before moving, but I don't understand the point of insisting that it's not real unless the GA hand-delivers it.
I'm not talking about being belligerent for the sake of being belligerent. Not everyone uses the app, and even for most people who do, it's counterintuitive that a person's seat would change after boarding. This is doubly true now that airlines charge, and people pay, for specific seats in economy.

In this particular case, we have two people around 70 years of age traveling together. Any decent FA would try to keep them together, if at all possible.
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Last edited by joe_miami; Sep 17, 19 at 10:32 am
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:25 am
  #186  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Getting a piece of paper from the GA is a formality.
On my latest flight where the upgrade cleared very late which happened a few weeks ago, I had boarded with an E+ boarding pass. I checked the UA app every few minutes, and saw the GPU upgrade cleared maybe 15 minutes after having taken the E+ seat. Once I saw the upgrade cleared, I simply got up, walked to the newly assigned J seat, and asked the FA for a new boarding pass.
She just said (paraphrasing): "I can get you a new BP, but it may take a while, as I have to go and ask the GA for a new one."
Happy with my new seat, and not wanting to delay the flight, I simply said "Nah, don't bother, but thank you though", made myself comfortable and enjoyed the 13 hour flight in comfort. ^

A new boarding pass isn't ALWAYS issued!
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:33 am
  #187  
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Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
I'm not talking about being belligerent for the sake of being belligerent. Not everyone uses the app, and even for most people who do, it's counterintuitive that a person's seat would change after boarding. This is doubly true now that airlines charge, and people pay, for specific seats in economy.

In this particular case, we have two people around 70 years of age traveling together. Any decent FA would try to keep them together, if at all possible.
Moreover the couple boarded earlier, apparently with their elite boarding group, and were settled into their seats. They had boarding passes for those seats, which also indicated their (minor) elite status with UA. The normal solution would be telling the person with the duplicate seat assignment to take another seat as it could cause a delay if one of the couple needed to move carry on items to the new seat, etc.

I don't see why the FA even needed to take the boarding passes, nor how there could have been the confusion with the FA believing that one of the couple did not give a boarding pass to the FA. It's not terribly hard to collect three pieces of paper from three passengers and to know instantly whether each such person has given you a boarding pass or not. It also shouldn't be hard to walk the length of an aircraft aisle from the exit row to the boarding door while holding three pieces of paper without dropping one and not noticing that one boarding pass had been dropped. [It's good that the couple weren't forced to give their phones to the FA to show the boarding passes.]
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:34 am
  #188  
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Originally Posted by narvik View Post
On my latest flight where the upgrade cleared very late which happened a few weeks ago, I had boarded with an E+ boarding pass. I checked the UA app every few minutes, and saw the GPU upgrade cleared maybe 15 minutes after having taken the E+ seat. Once I saw the upgrade cleared, I simply got up, walked to the newly assigned J seat, and asked the FA for a new boarding pass.
She just said (paraphrasing): "I can get you a new BP, but it may take a while, as I have to go and ask the GA for a new one."
Happy with my new seat, and not wanting to delay the flight, I simply said "Nah, don't bother, but thank you though", made myself comfortable and enjoyed the 13 hour flight in comfort. ^

A new boarding pass isn't ALWAYS issued!
The GA never showed up? Good thing your phone wasn't in Airplane mode or your battery wasn't dead. That would have been a hell of a miss.
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:36 am
  #189  
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Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
In this particular case, we have two people around 70 years of age traveling together. Any decent FA would try to keep them together, if at all possible.
Regardless of age, I agree that the passengers shouldn't be split without a good reason. However, that's orthogonal to the question of whether or not to insist that the GA bring a new boarding pass.

Originally Posted by narvik View Post
Happy with my new seat, and not wanting to delay the flight, I simply said "Nah, don't bother, but thank you though", made myself comfortable and enjoyed the 13 hour flight in comfort. ^

A new boarding pass isn't ALWAYS issued!
Right. For the purposes of guarding against a future downgrade, a screenshot should suffice.
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:37 am
  #190  
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Originally Posted by narvik View Post
On my latest flight where the upgrade cleared very late which happened a few weeks ago, I had boarded with an E+ boarding pass. I checked the UA app every few minutes, and saw the GPU upgrade cleared maybe 15 minutes after having taken the E+ seat. Once I saw the upgrade cleared, I simply got up, walked to the newly assigned J seat, and asked the FA for a new boarding pass.
She just said (paraphrasing): "I can get you a new BP, but it may take a while, as I have to go and ask the GA for a new one."
Happy with my new seat, and not wanting to delay the flight, I simply said "Nah, don't bother, but thank you though", made myself comfortable and enjoyed the 13 hour flight in comfort. ^

A new boarding pass isn't ALWAYS issued!
Is there any evidence that either one of the couple or the person with the duplicate seat assignment was given a last minute upgrade? I would guess that a Gold and a Silver wouldn't have much of a chance on this route and hopefully UA wouldn't try to move one of them from an exit row seat to an ordinary Y+ seat.
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:38 am
  #191  
 
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Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
The GA never showed up? Good thing your phone wasn't in Airplane mode or your battery wasn't dead.

True, very true! It's possible that the GA turned up after I already moved, although that is unlikely as I'm sure they would have checked the newly assigned seat and handed me the new BP there.
(It was at PEK, if that means anything! )

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
For the purposes of guarding against a future downgrade, a screenshot should suffice.
I did indeed do exactly that.

-----


On the subject of this whole thread:
I still maintain that there is SOME crucial piece of this puzzle missing. Information that would likely only ever be provided by some other party, not the pax themselves.
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Old Sep 17, 19, 10:57 am
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Originally Posted by cerealmarketer View Post
Forbes article sequence of events was...

FA takes boarding pass
Later boarding passenger reseated
BP recovered, FA tapped
Threatened to kick off plane

Was that incorrect, and instead should be:

FA takes boarding pass
Threatened to kick off plane
Later boarding passenger reseated
BP recovered, FA tapped
Threatened to kick off plane again

What I'm trying to understand - was there a threat to kick you off the plane before the pax was reseated?

Independent of that the whole passenger council process is eye opening - maybe overly employee friendly as a function of union demands.
Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
To me, a boarding pass isn't out of date until it's been replaced by the GA. This is doubly true if I'm traveling with someone and a FA suddenly tells one of us to move without any explanation.

But why would the FA tell the couple to move if there was only a problem with 21C? Even if the wife's seat had somehow been changed without her knowing about it, the smart play by the FA would have been to try to keep them together by asking the "real" 21C if he wouldn't mind sitting in 22D or wherever. It keeps the couple together and saves time and hassle for all involved. (Maybe I missed it above, but was 21B occupied?)
The paragraphs below are excerpted from our response to PIRC.

xxx
June 24 was, until the end, a very pleasant day. After having several productive meetings at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, we arrived at IAD for our flight to LAX on UA1448. We checked in at the ticketing counter around 7 pm, or more than 3 hours before the scheduled departure time. We obtained boarding passes in both paper and electronic formats, and our assigned seats were 21A (Wientjes) and 21C (Au) in the exit row.

During boarding, I was in Boarding Group 1 and I asked Gate Agent A, who was manning the boarding process, if my husband, who was in Boarding Group 2, could board together with me. She gracefully approved and asked us individually if we were willing and able to perform the exit row functions. This short exchange confirms that the UA database recognized that we each had an exit row seat.

We were greeted by Flight Attendant A when we entered the aircraft. I was impressed by her warm and pleasant demeanor and complimented her on her cheerfulness. Flight Attendant A told us that she was pleased to xxx. We then proceeded to our seats, settled in and continued to be pleased with how well the day had gone.

After 10-15 minutes, a passenger who was an off-duty UA crew member took the 21B seat. After chatting for a few minutes about her upcoming assignment xxx, my husband asked if it would be acceptable to switch seat with her. She concurred. After the switch, my husband sat in 21B.

A few minutes later, another passenger (xxx, BG5 and BE) showed up with a boarding pass for my husband’s original seat (21A). I explained there must have been a mistake as my husband had the 21A seat assignment for several days. xxx then asked Flight Attendant B (FAB) for help. I showed FAB my husband’s paper boarding pass and pointed out he had the 21A seat. FAB looked at my husband’s and xxx’s boarding passes and then took both passes to the back of the plane. A few minutes later, she returned together with Gate Agent B (GAB) and again asked for my husband’s boarding pass. I answered that we already gave it to FAB. FAB forcefully said we never gave it to her. I replied that was simply not true. FAB then said to me “get out of that seat now” in a tone one should not even use to talk to a dog. FAB also said something like do you want to be out of here. I was shocked by her statements and asked what she meant by that. FAB then lowered her face close to mine (she was standing and I was seated) and threatened to take us off the plane. The situation became tense and chaotic.

xxx

To be clear, the other passenger was re-seated after the initial FAB threat. We have this person's boarding pass as FAB "threw" a bunch of boarding passes at us at some point.

Regarding de-escalation, as shown in previous postings, we tried twice to de-escalate the situation without success. Apparently some contributors feel our efforts were inadequate. From reading their other postings on this and other threads, we have the impression that many are highly successful. If indeed you feel that being called liars and being screamed at is acceptable and one should give the other cheek, we submit you are a better person.

We thank you for your interests in the story and for providing the forum to clarify the confusions.
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Old Sep 17, 19, 11:07 am
  #193  
 
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Originally Posted by Jessie and Guill View Post
FAB forcefully said we never gave it to her. I replied that was simply not true. FAB then said to me “get out of that seat now” in a tone one should not even use to talk to a dog. FAB also said something like do you want to be out of here. I was shocked by her statements and asked what she meant by that. FAB then lowered her face close to mine (she was standing and I was seated) and threatened to take us off the plane.
THIS is EXACTLY the part that many contributors to this thread can sympathize with, especially as many have witnessed similar, UNACCEPTABLE behavior of United Airlines' flight attendants.


The other side of the coin is that it seems a bit murky as to what happened (and what potentially could have happened) after this occurred. It appears to me that if you had left it at that, remained calm and in your seat, with your [eventually] recovered boarding pass in hand, the escalation would have died down, and you could have continued on your journey. It may have involved a re-visit with other UA staff at your seats, but since you had your correct BP back in hand, the seating issue should have been cleared up successfully and in your favor, AS LONG AS you remained levelheaded and calm.

By INSISTING that you prove you were in the right by DEMANDING the FA look at your boarding pass IMMEDIATELY, you added to the escalation and deterioration of the situation. Or do you see that differently?
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Old Sep 17, 19, 11:09 am
  #194  
 
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A paper BP is only correct as of the time that it was issued. Having one only proves that (absent computer failure) a particular seat was assigned to you at that time. Given that seat assignments are not guaranteed, it is possible that once-accurate paper BPs may later become inaccurate.

I do not know which of the pax in this situation had the latest (i.e., most correct) BP. Giving the BP to the FA can only be for the purpose of demonstrating that your claim to the seat is not ridiculous. It is not a demonstration that your claim to the seat is correct.

For these reasons, I don't understand the bellyaching about the BPs. As noted, the current manifest is available to the FA; and each pax's current seat assignment is available on the app to each pax. Clearly one of the instigating factors in this dispute was the OP's mistaken belief that his/her paper BP was legal tender -- and not just a receipt indicating a situation as of one previous point in time.
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Old Sep 17, 19, 11:15 am
  #195  
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Originally Posted by narvik View Post
THIS is EXACTLY the part that many contributors to this thread can sympathize with, especially as many have witnessed similar, UNACCEPTABLE behavior of United Airlines' flight attendants.


The other side of the coin is that it seems a bit murky as to what happened (and what potentially could have happened) after this occurred. It appears to me that if you had left it at that, remained calm and in your seat, with your [eventually] recovered boarding pass in hand, the escalation would have died down, ...
If the OP or her husband had just been ordered "out of that seat now," it seems unreasonable to expect the OP to continue sitting in the seat in the hope deescalation would occur. At that point, the OP couldn't have known that the b.p. would be found and returned.
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