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Please advice on how to seek compensation - Too many problems on my recent UA flight

Please advice on how to seek compensation - Too many problems on my recent UA flight

Old Jan 6, 20, 11:56 am
  #1  
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Please advice on how to seek compensation - Too many problems on my recent UA flight

Hi,

Pretty much every thing which can go wrong went with my recent United flight and wanted to share my experience, as well as seek advice on remediation/ compensation. The biggest being downgraded on a paid (revenue) ticket from business to basic economy (middle seats), loss of 3 days due to mechanical, 5 day baggage delay and no pre-booked special meals on the return.

Please give my post a patient read - and let me know HOW best to reach United regarding compensation (email ? website?) Also, if you have an indication of how much compensation I deserve. Also, since I was downgraded from United Polaris to Economy on my outward journey - how do I seek refund of the fare difference, even though United booked me in "Y" class (I was still stuck in middle seats)

Background/ Itinerary:

For family of 4 : Purchased Revenue Business Class (Polaris) tickets (i.e not award tickets) to spend the holidays with friends/ family
Newark - Hong Kong connecting to Cathay Pacific business class onward to India (2 hour layover in HKG)
Return, India - Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific business class, connecting to United Polaris Hong Kong - SFO - Newark.


Onward Journey:

Dec 20: Onward journey Travel date: 5 bags checked in. Initially flight UA 179 Newark - Hong Kong delayed by a few minutes due to mechanical with incremental delays every 40 minutes and eventually CANCELLATION of flight for that day due to Mechanical. Provided with hotel at Newark and meal vouchers. Flight re-scheduled for 9AM the next day
Problem #1 : Flight cancelled due to mechanical. Lost 1 day in travel. But mechanical happens. Received UA cares email with $400 in UA e-cert (have not yet claimed)

Dec 21: The previous day's cancelled flight operated as special flight #2 805 to Hong Kong. Took off around 10:00 AM. Plane has to turn back and return to Newark, after flying to the Northern tip of Canada (approx 6 hours of flying) because the Mechanical re-surfaced. Landed back in Origin airport Newark around 4:00 PM. Have lost even the next days' onward connection.
Problem #2 Previous day's cancelled flight flown with special (separate) flight number only to return back to Newark after 6 hours because the mechanical defect was not fixed. LOST 3 days in travel (since I would miss my onward connection). Received UA cares email with $500 in UA e-cert (have not yet claimed)

Dec 21: After landing back in origin airport Newark, RE-booked on UA 48 non-stop to Mumbai. However, no Business seats were available, and DOWNGRADED to Economy . Also, since the only seats were 4 middle seats and they were all over the economy section (including my 2 kids sitting next to random strangers). United Agent, recalled our bags from the Hong Kong flight and confirmed that they will be re-routed to UA 48 flight to Mumbai. Since it is not necessary to pre-book vegetarian meals on flights to India no problems with meals (more on this no the return segments)

Problem #3 : DOWNGRADED from United Polaris Business to Economy middle seats (and all 4 family members separated). Again, mine were paid (revenue) tickets.

Dec 22: Landed safely in Mumbai. Did not receive the 5 checked in Bags. Mumbai ground staff confirmed that they were not loaded on the flight, despite assurances received from the Newark based Polaris lounge agent that my bags, were re-routed from the HKG flight which had to return back to Newark. Baggage irregularity report filed

Problem #4 : All 5 Checked in Bags not loaded on my flight despite receiving assurances that they were re-routed to this flight.

Problem #5 : DEC 22 to DEC 26. All 5 Checked in bags missing for 5 days. Daily calls to Mumbai Airport staff and HQ Baggage # with limited information . Baggages finally delivered to me with a 5 day delay. Of course, Christmas was ruined with all the gifts still stuck with the missing bags. Many family members for whom the gifts were intended already left by the time the bags were delivered.

RETURN Journey:

Cathay Pacific segment India - Hong Kong - uneventful. Business class. Special meals received.

United Hong Kong - San Francisco: Special Meals (Vegetarian) NOT loaded despite booking them 2 weeks prior. NO Vegetarian choices for breakfast or Appetizer of Dinner
Problem #6 : Special (Vegetarian) meals not loaded despite booking them ahead of time. Limited options to eat during the flight.

United: San Francisco - Newark: Again the Vegetarian meals were not loaded. NO Vegetarian choices on the menu, FA offered the Mezze box for 1 of us (only 1 was available), and 3 cheese platters since nothing else appropriate was available for us to eat

Problem #7 : Special meals (vegetarian) not loaded and No other meals suitable meals offered.


Not the end of the world -- but as you can see our special Christmas travel was greatly impacted. The presents we bought for many family members could not be delivered because of the 5 day delay in delivery of the bags.
Please advice::
1) How to seek compensation - who do I write to? Email? Website? How much compensation to seek?
2) How to I seek refund of the downgrade in my onward journey from business to coach.

Thank you

Last edited by zoonil; Jan 6, 20 at 12:47 pm Reason: font
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:18 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by zoonil View Post
1) How to seek compensation - who do I write to? Email? Website? How much compensation to seek?

Whatever you do, give a lot less detail. In general, I would write separately for each event: one for the delay and one for the meals. Don't mention that you paid for the ticket; it doesn't matter. For the delay, I'd actually start with www.united.com/unitedcares , because I'd be shocked if this hadn't been entered into their system automatically.

For the baggage, UA has a policy of giving a $1500 check, per passenger with checked luggage, without requiring receipts, for a baggage delay of more than 3 days at the destination. If you can show more than $1500 per passenger in direct damages (e.g., you had to replace items from your luggage), you're covered up to about $1550 -- so, in most cases, it's not worth bothering. Call or write the baggage resolution center and ask for this.

Originally Posted by zoonil View Post
2) How to I seek refund of the downgrade in my onward journey from business to coach.

united.com/refunds . Note that their calculation of what the fare difference is may differ from yours. If you can show what the economy fare was on the day that you purchased your ticket, that will be helpful.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:26 pm
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If your outbound flight to India was so delayed, why did you not look for alternative options to reach India. You were in paid business and could have essentially FORCED United to book you in a similar class on any other airline. Leaving from EWR, you had so many options, LH/AI/LX. Looks like you insisted to stick to your original itinerary. Secondly, if UA put you on UA48, they would have told you about it and explicitly shared that you had Economy seats. And Y class is NOT BASIC ECONOMY!. When offered the UA 48, why didn't you ask for the DEL flight instead? Also, since you were choosing to go via HKG, why didn't you ask them to reroute you through JFK or IAD where you could have potentially gotten on CX's superior business class service.

At this point, you can file for downgrade compensation, though you have to be careful as they might claim the Y ticket you were booked in was probably more expensive than your original J ticket. If you have booked your ticket with a suitable card that offers delay compensation and baggage delay compensation, you can claim damages from there as well.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:34 pm
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Originally Posted by IADFlyer123 View Post
If your outbound flight to India was so delayed, why did you not look for alternative options to reach India. You were in paid business and could have essentially FORCED United to book you in a similar class on any other airline. Leaving from EWR, you had so many options, LH/AI/LX. Looks like you insisted to stick to your original itinerary. Secondly, if UA put you on UA48, they would have told you about it and explicitly shared that you had Economy seats. And Y class is NOT BASIC ECONOMY!. When offered the UA 48, why didn't you ask for the DEL flight instead? Also, since you were choosing to go via HKG, why didn't you ask them to reroute you through JFK or IAD where you could have potentially gotten on CX's superior business class service.

At this point, you can file for downgrade compensation, though you have to be careful as they might claim the Y ticket you were booked in was probably more expensive than your original J ticket. If you have booked your ticket with a suitable card that offers delay compensation and baggage delay compensation, you can claim damages from there as well.

Keep in my mind I was travelling peak travel dates (weekend before Christmas). The Polaris lounge agent at Newark, tried ALL other airlines including NON-Star Alliance (i.e. BA, KLM, DL, CX, etc.) and Star (AI, LH, SQ etc). All Business class seats were full. They also tried routings, via JFK and BOS and IAD. The Delhi flight was full as well. I did not insist on keeping my HKG routing, I just wanted to get to my destination, but unfortunately because of the peak holiday travel, all Airlines were going full and I didn't want to split our family of 4.

The only 4 biz seats available were on the middle east trio (EK, ET and QR), the agent said they can't ticket us on those.

I know Y is full fare economy which was what I was downgraded to, but I compare with Basic Economy since we were only provided Middle class seats (only ones available)

Last edited by zoonil; Jan 6, 20 at 12:38 pm Reason: .
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:35 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Whatever you do, give a lot less detail.
For what it's worth, I actually think the amount of detail given in the OP was close to appropriate. A lot of FT posts are way too long and rambling, with irrelevant details, but IMO zoonil's post was spot on. You gave relevant information, without emotional or ancillary content. This is approximately the same level of detail that I try to give when I'm writing to United to request compensation. I think the main issue is that you have so many distinct (and legit) complaints; I concur with jsloan's suggestion to separate the return flight from the outbound. Also, combine complaints 1-2, 4-5, and 5-6, so you have four succinct complaints:
1. Transpacific business class flight canceled for mechanical reasons. And then the replacement flight returned to EWR, also for mechanical reasons. Caused a 2-day avoidable delay.
2. On top of that delay, the only option offered to get to your destination even 2 days late was in economy (see below re: "downgrade" term).
3. 5 checked bags lost for 5 days. Major personal and emotional consequences.
4. The special vegetarian meals that you pre-ordered were not available on two consecutive business class flights.

With that said, jsloan is certainly more experienced and authoritative than I, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

Final note: IIRC, what happened to you isn't technically an [involuntary] downgrade. United promises to get you to your destination in your purchased class of service... but they do not promise to get you there in a timely fashion. If your flight is canceled, they will happily reaccomodate you in business on the next flight with open space, which is probably 17 days later! I assume that they gave you the option of flying sooner in economy, and you said you'd rather take that (you may not have been aware that you had other options, but I'm presuming you would not have chosen to wait several more days for business). Anyway, you're still due a refund, but you may be better off avoiding the term "downgrade", or at least keeping in mind that unless I'm guessing the facts wrong, this counts as a voluntary downgrade because you wanted to get to India in a timely fashion. You were reaccomodated in a lower class of service, for which you are entitled to a refund. Whereas if you'd flown in Y on your original flight, that would have been a downgrade, for which you'd be entitled to both a refund and compensation.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by QBK View Post
This is approximately the same level of detail that I try to give when I'm writing to United to request compensation. I think the main issue is that you have so many distinct (and legit) complaints; I concur with jsloan's suggestion to separate the return flight from the outbound.
That's fair; it may not look like too much detail when split into separate messages.

Originally Posted by QBK View Post
Final note: IIRC, what happened to you isn't technically an [involuntary] downgrade. United promises to get you to your destination in your purchased class of service... but they do not promise to get you there in a timely fashion.
This is 100% correct. From UA's point of view, OP volunteered to be downgraded in order to get to India faster.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:42 pm
  #7  
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Have you received an e-mails offering compensation or referring you to a website for the delays?

The bag delay -- as mentioned there is a standard $1,500 offered for more than 3-day delay plus reasonable expenses in the meantime. See details in Consolidated UA Lost/Delayed Baggage Issues especially the wiki/summary

The voluntary (but realistically "involuntary") downgrade -- write http://www.united.com/refunds for the fare difference. And a separate email for the inconvenience. Don't call it basic economy as that term has a specific meaning, regular economy is a good term to use.

The lack of special order meals should be a separate request to www.united.com/unitedcares

Sorry to hear of your troubles, I think you had more issues in this trips than I have had in a lifetime of flying. Hopefully, that will mean a better future for you.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Jan 6, 20 at 12:50 pm Reason: repaired link
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:45 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Have you received an e-mails offering compensation or referring you to a website for the delays?

The bag delay -- as mentioned there is a standard $1,500 offered for more than 3-day delay plus reasonable expenses in the meantime. See details inConsolidated UA Lost/Delayed Baggage Issues especially the wiki/summary

The voluntary (but actually involuntary) downgrade -- write http://www.united/com/refunds for the fare difference. And a separate email for the inconvenience. Don't call it basic economy as that term has a specific meaning, regular economy is a good term to use.

The lack of special order meals should be a separate request to

Sorry to hear of your troubles, I think you had more issues in this trips than I have had in a lifetime of flying. Hopefully that will mean a better future for you.

Thank you for the links. Yes, I did receive $400 for the first days cancelled flight in a UA cares email and $500 for the 2nd days cancelled (returned) flight. I will update my original post. Didn't mean to leave that fact out!
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:46 pm
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First, anything you send needs to be much, much, much shorter. I would frame this as two separate claims.

1. Bags did not arrive as scheduled. All that matters is that you checked them in and they did not arrive. All of the back-and-forth over 2 days is irrelevant. You are covered for your interim purchases up to approx. $1,660 per passenger (as noted above, UA by policy will not require receipts up to $1,500). Thus, simply submit a list of your purchases which would include replacing the presents, and you should be well taken care of unless there were items of extraordinary value.

2. The downgrade entitles you to a refund of the fare difference. UA can calculate the difference when provided with the PNR(s) and the four e-ticket numbers. The location of the seats is not relevant nor should you refer to it as Basic Economy as that is not the case and will only slow down the process. As you later note, you have already received customer service gestures totalling $900 per passenger.

3. I would forget about the meals. It simply is not worth it and detracts from the rest. For the benefit of others, if you have special meals on order, always check with a FA at the time of boarding. If, for some reason, your meal did not make it ,there should be time to remedy the situation. Once in the air, all you can do is make do.

For four of you this will work out to $9,600 in compensation + gestures, $6,000 of which is cash. That is not a bad result and could come close to a nice trip somewhere for you.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:49 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
The bag delay -- as mentioned there is a standard $1,500 offered for more than 3-day delay plus reasonable expenses in the meantime. See details inConsolidated UA Lost/Delayed Baggage Issues especially the wiki/summary
I believe the $1500 is actually in lieu of "reasonable expenses in the meantime" -- basically, they're saying, don't bother sending the receipts, we'll just mark it as $1500 and move on. However, I haven't been lucky enough to suffer a 3-day baggage delay, so I can't say for sure.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 12:49 pm
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While you are considering what to do, at a minimum, request the $1500 compensation right away. I think there may be a certain time period. As mentioned previously you can do this by phone. You don't have to provide any information except for the luggage claim tag numbers.
Good luck
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Old Jan 6, 20, 1:24 pm
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Definitely agree you should leave out the part about the meals. Hearing there were no vegetarian appetizers is going to cause a lot of eye rolling.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 1:25 pm
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Another question: did you purchase your tickets with a credit card that offered travel protection or trip delay insurance? This may be another avenue to get some additional compensation beyond what UA may try to offer you.
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Old Jan 6, 20, 1:32 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I believe the $1500 is actually in lieu of "reasonable expenses in the meantime" -- basically, they're saying, don't bother sending the receipts, we'll just mark it as $1500 and move on. However, I haven't been lucky enough to suffer a 3-day baggage delay, so I can't say for sure.
Originally Posted by Nikongirl View Post
While you are considering what to do, at a minimum, request the $1500 compensation right away. I think there may be a certain time period. As mentioned previously you can do this by phone. You don't have to provide any information except for the luggage claim tag numbers.
Good luck
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
First, anything you send needs to be much, much, much shorter. I would frame this as two separate claims.

1. Bags did not arrive as scheduled. All that matters is that you checked them in and they did not arrive. All of the back-and-forth over 2 days is irrelevant. You are covered for your interim purchases up to approx. $1,660 per passenger (as noted above, UA by policy will not require receipts up to $1,500). Thus, simply submit a list of your purchases which would include replacing the presents, and you should be well taken care of unless there were items of extraordinary value.

For four of you this will work out to $9,600 in compensation + gestures, $6,000 of which is cash. That is not a bad result and could come close to a nice trip somewhere for you.

I contacted the baggage resolution desk - and they said that the max comp they can offer is $300 per person in United E-certs. They said the $1,500 does not apply they could track my bags all through the delay, and could eventually deliver my bags. So am I stuck with a $300 e-cert instead of $1,500 sweet cash?

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
First, anything you send needs to be much, much, much shorter. I would frame this as two separate claims.

For four of you this will work out to $9,600 in compensation + gestures, $6,000 of which is cash. That is not a bad result and could come close to a nice trip somewhere for you.
How are you calculating the $9,600 in compensation? Unfortunately re: the $6K the baggage resolution desk shot down that saying that applies only to cases, where the bags could not be traced, and they were able to trace my bags during the 5 day period of delay. Was only offered $300 in e-certs instead

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Jan 6, 20 at 1:54 pm Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Jan 6, 20, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by zoonil View Post
I contacted the baggage resolution desk - and they said that the max comp they can offer is $300 per person in United E-certs. They said the $1,500 does not apply they could track my bags all through the delay, and could eventually deliver my bags. So am I stuck with a $300 e-cert instead of $1,500 sweet cash?
That is actually a true statement - if they knew where the bag was, you don't get the $1,500. On the UA website, it is spelled out if they can't find your bag after 3 days you get the $1,500
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