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Incompetence Unite(d)!
Posted by on
I would like to tell you about the experience my family and I recently received from our United flight. We were on Flight UA903 from Munich, Germany to Denver, Colorado on June 3rd to return from a trip to Poland. We flew Lufthansa on the way to Poland, so this was to be my first United overseas flight. The second we started dealing with United was the second the trip became one nightmare after another.

The very first issue that we had to confront was that United offers no pre-reservation of the bassinet seats. You must do this at the gate when you get your boarding pass. Once we got to the gate and reserved the bassinet seat (we were around the 3rd people in line to get boarding passes because our layover got us there many hours early), they gave me the boarding passes and said we were set with our bassinet seat, but after boarding it ended up being regular seats. When I asked a stewardess, she told me that I'd have to talk to the person that issued the tickets and she didn't have time for it. So I fought my way back out of the plane and the person greeting people told me I wasn't allowed to go back up the ramp. I explained the problem and she called the ticket issuers. After a few seconds she told me that I was out of luck because those seats weren't available anymore.

So I went back through all the people and found another stewardess and asked if she could have two of the people seated in the bulkhead (infant) area to move. She asked and the passenger told her that he didn't want to switch seats because he wanted to "be able to stretch his legs." At that moment, it should become rather obvious that they should be told to move. We had a 9 month old infant with requested bassinet seats and one of the employees screwed up and didn't do what they were supposed to. It should have been fixed. Instead, she told me she'd done all she could and it was too bad.

A lady on the far side of that row must have heard what was going on, so she volunteered to have her two teenage children moved to where we were sitting so we could take two of the five seats in the infant area. Rather than help expedite that seat change, the flight attendant simply yelled at us to hurry up because we needed to get in the air. She even went as far as to tell us to leave our items under the seat where we were because she didn't want to help find overhead space. Obviously, we're on an international flight, so where would someone put important papers such as passports? In our carry-on baggage under the seat. So I grabbed the bag that had the important items anyway and we left the baby bag because the stewardess kept yelling at us that we didn't have time. Once we were seated, we waited for around 15 minutes while the rest of the passengers finished boarding.

The next problem to show up was the baby seat belt. Every different airline we've flown on has given us a baby seat belt. It is looped onto the adult seat belt and then goes around the baby (kind of like a seat belt connected to a seat belt). United apparently doesn't offer these. I understand that they are a useless gesture in the event of a crash, but what about depressurization? What about in sudden, rough turbulence? They will serve quite well to make sure the baby doesn't fall off your lap if those things happen. Once we were airborne, the stewardess brought the bassinet. I'm not really sure what it was supposed to be when it was made, but it was essentially a baby body bag that just gets placed on the floor. Very unusual since our previous flight with Lufthansa (who is partnered with United, but seems MUCH better) actually had a bassinet that mounted to the bulkhead so that the child wasn't simply lying on the floor. It was still better than trying to hold her for the 8 1/2 hour flight though, so we just piled a couple of blankets on it and used it anyway.

Throughout the flight the service was the worst we had ever been subjected to. My wife actually received the brunt of it. When the initial drink cart came around, the flight attendant (I never was able to get his name) was completely rude to everyone. Rather than ask if she wanted a drink, or what she would like to drink, he simply said, "What do you want?" This was not done in a friendly manner. If we weren't in the middle of a long flight, I would have sat him down and explained that you do not treat people, especially my wife, like that without causing problems. The rest of the flight was the same for all situations, drink refills, the main meal, etc.

It also seems that requesting the baby meal a couple of months in advance is still not enough time. They never bothered at any point to bring it, or even ask if we wanted it. We were elated when we were around an hour away from landing in D. C. so we could get off that plane. My wife was starving, I was hungry, the baby was tired of being cooped up, and we would be able to get away from the rude flight attendants. While my wife was in the restroom, they served the snack. The same man was on her side of the isle again. He didn't bother to ask people if they wanted it. He didn't bother to hand it to the person getting it. The right side of his isle had to seats; he'd set down 2 snacks, expecting that not only does everyone want it, but they'd see to it that it was distributed for him. The left side of his isle had 3 seats; he'd do the same. With my wife in the restroom, he simply set down 2 instead of 3. He didn't ask, didn't care. I tried to ask him for hers, but he was already gone in his race to be a jerk in record time. When my wife came back, he was at the rear of the plane finishing up so she went to ask for hers. He told her, "I don't have any." Nothing about being able to help or that he'd get her one...strange that he'd have run out without even serving everyone. She started to tell him that he needs to go find one and he interrupted her and said he'd get one. Then the other attendant said that she'd bring one by in just a second since she was heading that way again. She asked my wife to go have a seat and she'd be right there. That moment never came. We finally landed and deplaned and it's probably very lucky that the flight attendant didn't come off the plane while we were waiting for our stroller because by this point I was boiling mad that he could treat anyone that poorly and not have consequences. If he were anywhere other than in the middle of a flight, I think he would probably have needed police protection from half the plane.

Anyway, much to our elation, we had to change planes in D. C. for our technical stop which meant a new crew. Thank God. We were able to board our next flight with no issues and it went smoothly. We landed in Denver and were so happy to be so close to the end of our return. We were practically finished with one horrible return trip, courtesy of United Airlines. We headed to baggage claim and called our ride and told them we'd be right out. Wrong again! Seemingly just to spite us one last time, United lost one of our bags. Wait, "It's not lost; we know right where it is. It just isn't here and won't be for another few hours." Wow...I'm glad they were optimistic about not giving us our luggage until the next day. So now, after 25 hours of travel time, we're finally home with a good dose of jet lag...and I get to go to the store since the bag they lost had all the additional diapers beyond what was in the travel bag. We did finally get the bag yesterday and are hoping that there is no way for United to reach across town and find a way to ruin another day.

It remains beyond my comprehension how an airline can be allowed to operate at that level. I can understand mechanical problems, but no one should be paying good money to be treated like a prisoner of war.

I have filed a complaint with United, but given this kind of track record, I'm not sure that they'll even read it.
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User Replies:
Ben There on 06/07/2009:
Frequent flyers tend to have first dibs on bulkhead seats, and I think more and more airlines are less willing to make their best customers take a middle seat at the last minute so parents who did not feel the need to buy a seat for an in fact get the best seats in coach. I suggest you continue to stick with certain international carriers that allow you to book bassinet seats or purchase a seat for your child - that way you can use your car seat and not have to worry about what seat belt the airline may or may not have.
done-with-united on 06/07/2009:
This was not a preferential treatment for frequent flyers. And I did pay the extra for the infant. Thanks for your reply.
Ben There on 06/08/2009:
done-with-united: If you paid "extra" for the infant you would have had a seat to put the baby in. I bet you just paid the regular price for a lap child. All this entitles you to is to hold your baby for the whole flight. Bassinets are not a given.
citress on 10/18/2011:
Ben There, I'm not sure which airlines you are referring to, but United is one of the few airlines (won't be surprised if they are the ONLY airline) that choose to sell bulkhead seats to people who "want to stretch their legs" instead of giving them to families traveling with infants. Most other international carriers offer bigger better bassinets and will automatically pre-assign bulkhead seats to parents with infants. ANA, SIA, Lufthansa, Korean Air, just to name a few.
trmn8r on 10/18/2011:
I was shocked to hear you refer to bulkhead seating as the "infant area". Last time I flew, it was simply the bulkhead area and I don't remember seeing any infants or signage that it was an infant area.

I am 6'4", and you can be sure that *I* also ask for bulkhead seats so my legs aren't shoved into my breast bone. I don't think infants should have any more priority than anyone else who requests a bulkhead seat - just my opinon.
Anonymous on 10/18/2011:
trm8r the OP and one of the responders is wrong - Ben There is correct. One responder mentioned foreign airlines - different models/service levels. US based carriers are inclined to sell esp. international tickets as premium seats - Economy comfort for United or Delta, Comfort Plus. For American and US Airways there is an upcharge or these seats are given to status passengers who's upgrades did not clear. Having a kid does not give you rights on any premium seat unless you pay for it or the agent is especially nice.
Churro on 10/18/2011:
"If you paid "extra" for the infant you would have had a seat to put the baby in. I bet you just paid the regular price for a lap child. All this entitles you to is to hold your baby for the whole flight"

"International (For travel to or from a location outside the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

A ticket must be purchased for each child, regardless of age."

Ben There on 10/18/2011:
An infant ticket just gets the baby on the plane... it does not provide a seat for him or her.

Since 2009, even more airlines charge extra for bulkheads.
Churro on 10/18/2011:
Ben, you said previously if the OP paid "extra" for the infant (they did) the infant would have a seat. Now you're saying it doesn't. So, which is it?
Anonymous on 10/19/2011:
Bulkhead is not "infant seating." It's actually meant for people with disabilities. If there are still seats available, then the airline has the right to give them to frequent fliers over any other passengers. They do not have to make any passenger move so that a family can sit there.
Ben There on 10/19/2011:
Churro - you must to buy an infant a ticket on an international flight - there is no way around paying this amount and this is what the OP did.

Travelers with infants can also purchase a seat for an infant at a higher price. Those that pay this "extra" amount don't need a bassinet because the baby has his or her own seat.
Churro on 10/19/2011:
Like most people I'm not an expert on Airline procedures and protocol. I have flown quite a bit in my lifetime and in the last decade flying has gone beyond suck. Like in this instance. The OP bought a ticket for an infant ERGO United knew well in advance about this infant traveler yet made no reasonable accommodations for this infant embarking on a lengthy international flight. A bulkhead may not be the 'infant' area but it certainly is set up to accommodate infants. What kind of A-HOLES refuse to make life a bit easier for a mother traveling with an infant by merely swapping seats. Pathetic.
Anonymous on 10/19/2011:
Churro, the airlines can't reserve bulkhead seats. They have to, by law, keep the seats open for people with disabilities. If the seats are still available, then they are released 4 hours before departure. If someone else grabbed those seats first, the airline does not have to make anyone give up their seats.
Churro on 10/19/2011:
And the airlines don't have to ensure you have a seat on a flight they sold you a ticket for, they don't have to get you to your destination on time or perhaps even at all. Airlines/TSA is not responsible for stolen items from your luggage even though they assume custodianship of your luggage. Yeah, I get it. When you fly its pretty one sided. Still doesn't make it right.
Ben There on 10/19/2011:
The free market spoke and said "we will pay extra for those best seats in the front of economy. Give them to your best frequent fliers, or anybody willing to pay extra $$$". United, like many airlines listened. It is a beautiful thing if you are a frequent flyer or someone willing to shell out extra $$$ for the space... not so much to people who were used to getting those seats for free.

United provided the OP with the exact accommodations she purchased - two seats and the ability to hold a baby in her lap. Should United turn its back on frequent fliers and people willing to pay more to accommodate people traveling with baby's? That is for the free market to decide.
Churro on 10/19/2011:
Ben, I'm not being flippant but do you by chance work for one of the airlines?
Ben There on 10/19/2011:
Nope. Nor do I work for Priceline, Expedia, etc... I just travel a lot and have a passion for it.
MRM on 10/19/2011:
Ben, I'm sure that you have been to a lot of places but what places you haven't visited?
Old Timer on 10/19/2011:
Savvy consumers stay away from 3rd party re-sellers unless they are 100% sure they can use the travel and/or lose their money. Book direct, save money, save yourself some grief. The travel pundits probably travel once a year at Thanksgiving. I do trust Bete Noir, Bete knows travel and the workings of the airlines etc...
Ben There on 10/19/2011:
MRM - there are lots of places I have not been, but I guess China, Brazil and India are on my list... Honestly, I have avoided simply because I have not bothered to get the visas. I also want to go to Antarctica. I used to live in Europe, so I have been there most of the continents.
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Worst Airlines
Posted by on
The complaints department
United Airlines

Dear Sir,

This is a complaint regarding our holiday travel this year which turned into a nightmare for us due to the following actions taken by your airline throughout our journey. Hope you will take appropriate actions after verifying the details I am providing here.

Our family i.e. the following passengers

1. Sunil Hiremath
2. Barnali Hiremath
3. Neel Gupta a seven year old child

was booked on United Airlines flight UA 573 from Reno to San Francisco on 19th December 2008 with departure time 6:20 AM with a connecting flight by Cathay Pacific from San Francisco to Hong Kong flight # CX 879 departure at 12:05 PM the same day with another connecting flight from Hong Kong to Bangalore ON CX 6710 leaving Hong Kong on the 20th December.

Your flight UA 573 got cancelled on the 19th of December 2008 morning. Other airline flights were departing around that time. We called your airlines at 3:00 AM when we got the news of the cancellation on the internet and requested that we be accommodated in the 9AM flight from Reno to San Francisco on the 19th because of the connecting international flight we had to catch.

We were informed that there was no way we could be accommodated in that flight because it was full. When we asked what we could do because obviously we were going to miss the CX 879 flight out of San Francisco and be no showed on that flight, a Manager from United who appeared to be very helpful on the phone said she was offering us an alternate routing through Chicago via American Airlines flight AA 1750 from Reno to Chicago leaving Reno at 1:15 PM United Airlines flight 938 leaving Chicago at 9:05 PM to London and subsequently British Airways flight 119 from London to Bangalore which would let us arrive in Bangalore on the same day i.e. early 21st December morning. We did have onward reservations out of Bangalore on 21st December evening.

We accepted the alternate routing and she gave us confirmation numbers on
1. American Airlines out of Reno # CTXPKA
2. British Airways flight 4YZ0TI

She asked us to get FIM from the United Airlines counter in Reno to travel on the AA1750 flight.
We were OK with the alternate routing and presented ourselves at the UA counter in Reno on the 19th of December at 11:15 AM. We were at that time informed that your agent might have made a mistake by rerouting us through Chicago.

We presented our confirmation numbers and said that we had accepted that rerouting.

Finally a FIM was given by United Airlines and our bags (three in number) were checked in all the way to Bangalore at the Reno American Airlines counter.
We boarded AA1750 from Reno and reached Chicago. We presented our so called pass PNR: LZ1H06 to the UA counter in Chicago.

At that time the worse nightmare started. We were informed by the agent in the UA counter at Chicago that we were absolutely not allowed to board UA 938 from Chicago to London because our original ticket was from San Francisco and the agent who had rerouted us with all those confirmation numbers had made a mistake, and we HAD to travel via the west coast because our original ticket was via San Francisco and it was “ILLEGAL ROUTE” to travel via the European route.

When we informed the UA agent that our bags were already on their way to Bangalore on the BA flight he said he could not help that.

So, we were not allowed to go to London because of the so called “callous mistake” of your Manager who rerouted us and we were put up in a hotel in Chicago that night. Incidentally your staff in Chicago was extremely rude and did not care that we were traveling with a seven year old child. All they kept repeating was it was absolutely illegal of that Manager to have rerouted us through that route. So in your airline the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. We got no apologies from anybody.

Next day morning we were sent back to San Francisco from Chicago on UA flight 885 (on the 20th of December). So we came all the way back to San Francisco and a day had been lost on which we could be working instead of going through the whims and fancies of your agents.

We boarded Cathay Pacific flight CX 879 on the 20th of December, reached Hong Kong and boarded KA 152 ( Cathay Pacific) from Hong Kong to Bangalore on the 21st of December and finally reached Bangalore on the 22nd of December 4:00 AM after an extra 24 hours of fruitless traveling as mentioned above .

When we reached Bangalore we only had handbags and none of our luggage checked in by the original UA/British Airways rerouting had reached. We had no clothes, no basic necessities traveling with a seven year old child. We had to cancel our outgoing reservations out of Bangalore that day and checked into a hotel while we had to buy everything from scratch including clothes and all basic necessities.

We were told our bags should be retrieved in 24 to 48 hours. After 48 hours we had to leave Bangalore on our onward journey in India with no luggage. The first bag was located in London and delivered after 96 hours. The other two bags were not located for a while and subsequently found in Chicago.

Those were delivered in Bangalore on the 30th December after 9 days. My husband had to come back to Bangalore to collect those bags, disrupting every aspect of our travel schedule.

Now, for the crowning glory of this trip. We had our return reservation by Cathay Pacific flight CX 752 on the 10th January 2009 from New Delhi to Hong Kong, CX 870 from Hong Kong to San Francisco and UA 6588 on the 11th of January 2009 from San Francisco to Reno.

When we called Cathay Pacific agents to reconfirm our return we were told our return reservation no longer existed because of no show on our starting flight on CX879 on the 19th of December 2008.

When we told the runaround we were given by United Airlines and the whole story we were informed that UA should have informed Cathay about the cancellation of flight UA 573 on the 19th which you did not and hence the Cathay system promptly no showed us on the 19th and automatically cancelled our return reservation

It sounds like a story of nightmarish proportions but after umpteen phone calls we were reinstated on our return flight on the 10th of January out of New Delhi.

So the outcome of all the mismanagement by your agent was:

1. Loss of wages on the 19th of December and unnecessarily being shunted to Chicago with promise of rerouting only to be refused embarkation in the UA flight from Chicago to London
2. The three checked in pieces of luggage going in different directions with one being tracked in London and the two others 10 days later being tracked in Chicago.
3. Hotel expenses, clothes, travel and every other expense while waiting for the bags to be tracked and sent to us which was done 10 days later in Bangalore even though our return flight was out of New Delhi.
4. Automatic cancellation of the return on Cathay because of the initial no shows on Cathay because of the UA 573 cancellation on the 19th of December.
5. Extreme physical and mental anguish on a vacation with a seven year old child because of multiple mistakes by YOUR AGENTS.

I hope you will check the details and get back to me with appropriate compensation.

Our whole family vacation has been ruined and I am still suffering nightmares about rerouting flights and not being allowed to board.

I also hope you will take action against the Manager who “WRONGFULLY” offered us the initial rerouting with the confirmation numbers AA CTXPKA and on BA 4YZ0TI
I will be awaiting a prompt response from you.

Barnali Hiremath MD

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User Replies:
dan gordon on 01/18/2009:
since the complaints dept is in India at least you will be able to understand them. You won't get an answer sorry to say.
Soaring Consumer on 01/18/2009:
I'd sue United Airlines in small claims.

It is incredibly horrific what you have been put through and based on your review you deserve compensation. Good luck.
Anonymous on 01/19/2009:
Soaring Consumer, suing is something I'd never advise.
Even small claims is a hassle. Suing an airline in small claims requires you to file in the state the airline is incorporated in and the city and or state the infraction occurred. Airlines as a rule never lose! Even the average payout for death via crash is surprisingly low (and slow).

I think the OP went through a lot of hassle but he/she has to be specific and REALISTIC about compensation. Suing is almost never an option.
Soaring Consumer on 01/19/2009:
In that case I think that may be the FAA can give some pointers about what to do in this situation.
jimworcs on 04/14/2009:
A ex VP of an airline discourages you from suing.. mmmm.. go to the DOT and complain. What do you think is realistic VF?
Jorge Guevara on 07/24/2011:
No one have any idea on how awful two days is being with this airlines. They lost my luggage 3 times and 2 days after still no idea where they are!!!...Is Sunday and they have no way to tell me anything and do not answer the phone...I will write articles in different papers documenting my experience and I hope this United Airlines learn from this for diminishing business...They have no respect for other people situations...Now I have to go to the doctor in other country to replace what it was in lost luggage..Thanks to United Airlines!!!!,,,Do not fly with them!!!
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Lost Baggage & Refusal To Reimburse For Expenses
Posted by on
RE: Customer Service?

This was supposed to be a lovely trip to Europe, my Granddaughters graduation present that she was very excited about. The trip started out in Pittsburgh United Flight #7824 that was to leave at 4:05 p.m., I had to check my carry on at the gangway because it was a small plane and had a full load, we left about 1/2 hour late, upon arrival at Dulles at about 5:05 p.m., we de-planned on the tarmac and were told to wait near the front of the plane for our hand luggage that was checked during boarding, I told the United rep that I only had a few minutes to make my connection, thinking he would be decent enough to hand me my bag as it was right there, nope! He did however give a mother her stroller so she could walk around the airport for the next hour till she had to catch her flight, nice guy that he was.

Well we missed our flight #918 to London, and were not allowed to go on the next one going out which was boarding at that time, just two gates down, because they could not get our luggage loaded on that plane in that short of a time, but then we all know the luggage was still on flight #918 and on it's way to London. Get this (and please keep this in the back of your mind) YOUR LUGGAGE IS NOT ALLOWED TO FLY WITHOUT YOU! We were sent to the customer service line to get re-booked. They had 3 people on the counter and no less than 200 people in line, needless to say we were going to be there awhile. Would have been but after an hour in line a lady with a medical condition raised cane with someone at United, and they sent two more representatives that took the international passengers to another counter, since there were only about 12 that helped move it along.

Finally it was our turn. We had a very nice agent, she would put us on Virgin Airline flight #56 that was leaving at 11:10, she called Virgin, set it up, asked their people if they saw the reservation on their screen, they did, she gave us tickets and we ran and walked as fast as we could all the way to the other side of the airport to their terminal, I am guessing it took at least a good 20-30 minutes even with moving walkways. When we arrived there, handed our tickets to the agent, he said they had no reservations for us, and would not call United to confirm it, he said our tickets were not valid! I asked him to call his supervisor, he said he could not do that, that I needed to go back to United, they could not take tickets issued by United for Virgin Airlines. What is this? Is this another new way to anger customers? Well it was back to United...across the airport...found the same agent and told her what they said. She called Virgin, got a "supervisor" told them the problem, this person said we did have reservations and gave us this MAGIC reference number FZK2PP that would apparently get us on the flight, well the clock is ticking, its going on 10:00 p.m.. So it's back to Virgin....across the airport...agent at the desk said they closed boarding 20 minutes prior to our arrival! I lost it! Told the "supervisor" there, I wanted to talk to her supervisor she said she did not have one to which I replied bull, said I know you have a supervisor and I want to talk to them.

Well I got no where, did get her name and the other agent and will be sending letters. Anyway it is now going on 11:00 p.m., back to United...want to know how tired and angry I am? Back to the customer service counter, where there was a new agent, I did not get in line which I was told about, and I let her know this was my third trip back and I was not getting in line again. She booked us on a flight out the next day at 6:10. Since it is now past 1 1:30, trying to find a room for the night is another nightmare. We finally found one that was a $65.00 cab ride away. Thank you United! Since our luggage is off to London and we have no personal items because of all the restrictions we will have to find toothpaste, etc small enough to travel with or else we will have to toss it. Thanks again United! Now we have lost a whole day we had planned in London. We did get the flight but sit on the runway for 2 1/2 hours due to storms in the Atlantic. We finally got to London and guess what, our luggage did not fly with us. We had to take an hour out to file a lost luggage claim. We called the number for lost luggage as we would be leaving London early the next morning for Paris. They had not located it yet. We made several calls to United's Lost Luggage and to our AAA agent trying to find someone who could give us some definite information as to where our luggage was and when we might get it.

We did not allot time for shopping for clothes and necessities into our schedule and resent very much the amount of time that was taking. We gave United the address where we would be in Paris and the phone number they could reach us at. United had called to tell us they had found our luggage and it would be delivered to hotel in Paris. We were ready to leave Paris and still no luggage. We called United the 15th to be sure they had our address in Barcelona and when we would be there. We need to find a charger for the rental phone as the battery is almost dead and the charger is in our "lost luggage". It is now seven days and still no luggage! We had to shop for some clothes, still a time consuming and not an easy task. We have been calling United several times a day looking for the luggage, personally I think they are lying when they say they found it and will deliver it to our hotel. We have heard that several times now, but still no luggage! We had a flight to Rome, so there went the shampoo etc. We keep United updated as to where we will be and when we will be there just in case they find the luggage.

We called the travel agent and had her get us a day later departure from London since we lost a whole on the front. We got back to London on the 21st, still no luggage, I haven't been able to use my movie camera, which is one of the most disappointing parts of this trip, since Paris, my charger is in my missing luggage and no one carries them. Left London on the 23rd, got to Dulles, had only about 1 hour to make connection to Pittsburgh, but had to get through customs first. What a zoo that was, a very poorly run operation, you could not put one foot in front of the other, let alone claim your luggage. Because this airline is not able to schedule connecting flights with enough time between them to get through the customs mess, missed that flight just as many others do. We were put on standby for the 11:00 flight. We did make that. I am never flying United again. By the way I got my luggage during the night of the 25th. The delivery service left it in the garage sometime in the middle of the night. Probably because someone twisted the handle off of it, a brand new suitcase too. My granddaughter did not get hers until August 14. 2007, 36 days!!. Half of her things were soaking wet, including the two new books she had in there. Guess you lied to us when you said our luggage was not allowed to fly without us.

Needless to say , I am less than happy with the way we were treated, not only about the “lost luggage” but the way the delay and booking through Virgin Airlines was handled. That was so unprofessional. I cannot believe that you can accept that kind of business practice much less subject your customers to it. If the airlines continue to think they can abuse the pubic and their customers like they are now, you are in for a rude awakening. Speaking for myself and my granddaughter we are not flying United or Virgin Airlines for any reason. There are other carriers out there. I incurred expenses totaling $3858.62 all backed up with receipts.
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Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
sad story, in many ways a comedy of errors. What is it you seek with the $3852.62...compensation? A zero chance of that. United and Virgin's ticketing software don't 'speak' to one another. There is a move to get all Star Alliance members on the same platform.
You were ranting some.... The stroller - company policy to unload those first - everyday they hear of passengers with tight connections. strollers, car seats and first class passengers first.
The customs and overcrowding complaint...not United fault.
Getting a travel agent to intervene... take care of the problem first hand at the airport - third party never works as well.
Getting angry, or as you said "lost it" demanding supervisors... never works. Airlines see thousands of passengers everyday, your case might be important to you but this occurs all the time... demanding never works... try being nice.
Delivery in the garage was by an employee after work, probably about 1 AM, would you prefer someone bang on your door then?
Don't nit pick because your mad. Advice? Be calm and cooperative you'll probably get a free ticket out of it - sometimes you get the bull, sometimes you get the horns... sad, mistakes happen but these things happen.
seriously? on 09/16/2008:
Did you book the flight reservation with a travel agency?

VF-213, many good points.
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United Airlines Travel Nightmare
Posted by on
At approximately 7:15 am on April 20th, my traveling companion and I arrived in Washington DC after a night flight from Phoenix Arizona, expecting to get on a plane to Syracuse NY at 8:20 am. We arrived at the gate well in advance with a boarding pass AND a previously assigned seat. Before that plane started boarding, an announcement was made that the plane was overbooked and those people with seat assignments would be let on first. The man taking the boarding passes told everyone without assigned seats to step aside. When we handed him the passes he looked up our names on a print out and said, “This is one of the lowest price fares. I am not going to let you use this ticket.” He rudely told us to step aside and proceeded to take the tickets from other customers who were behind us in line.

In spite of my continued protests that I had an assigned seat, the United agent continued to ignore me. At this point, I became aware of the fact that we were part of a group of 14 people headed to Syracuse that were involuntarily bumped and were stranded in Washington. The overbooking was even more outrageous in light of the fact that the plane only held 50 people and this occurred at one of the busiest times of the year – spring break.

After wasting over a half hour standing to the side of the boarding area, we were told to go to customer service. At this point there were about 50 people waiting in a line that did not appear to be moving at all with one “customer service” representative at the desk. As the crowd of people became more and more agitated another customer service rep from United arrived on the scene, directing people to a bank of phones and promising to get a supervisor on the scene. As far as I could see, the supervisor never arrived. I walked over to the phone and followed the directions on the screen. My call was sent to someone in India who proceeded to tell me that I could call the toll free reservation number but that I would have to “go to a phone booth” to do so. This proved to be another act of futility that simply wasted more time.

After another hour and a half of waiting in line, I finally got to see a customer service representative. I was never given a written statement describing my rights and the airlines policy on involuntary bumping, as required by federal DOT regulations. I was informed that the next flight to “anywhere’ in New York state’ with open seats was on Wednesday. I explained that I work as a teacher in a school with an item in our contract that specifies that no personal time can be used before or after a vacation and that I would lose my pay for those days. It was clear that the United airline personnel couldn’t care less even if such a delay led to my death. Throughout this process I was in communication with the other bumped passengers going to Syracuse. They were all told the same thing and when a request was made for bus transportation to Syracuse for the group it was repeatedly denied.

We also told the agents that we would be willing to share a rental car or van and requested a voucher to do so. This request was also denied although one of the agents said that we could send in the receipt for compensation. In short, the response by United Airlines to our plight can best be described by the attitude – “It is not our problem. Don’t expect us to do anything about it.” When I requested a full refund for the ticket I was informed that they would only refund the part of the trip from Washington to Syracuse (a” small amount” to quote the agent) At this point I decide to save the ticket for a future attempt to receive just compensation, hopefully from someone who was more reasonable and customer friendly than the crew working at Washington/ Dulles. The airline did give us what will most likely prove to be useless vouchers for a future roundtrip flight.

All of the Syracuse passengers, having been given the same lack of service and most being desperate to get back home, decided to rent cars to drive out of Washington. My friend and I shared a car with 3 other people. We rented a Hertz full sized vehicle, one way for a cost of $320 with taxes and a tank of gas. Our share of the car was $128 plus and additional $10 each in gas. We also had to stop for lunch and dinner where we incurred another additional expense of approximately $60 for the two of us. The trip home was emotionally and physically draining. During the first two hundred miles of the trip we drove thorough blinding rain storms in extremely heavy traffic. We also got stuck in two one hour long traffic jams on Route 81.All of this was undertaken by drivers who had little to no sleep on the plane the previous evening. In light of the evidence that driving while tired is as bad as driving while intoxicated, this was a potentially dangerous situation. I did not arrive home to Boonville, NY until well after midnight. I went into work the next day after having had only 4 hours sleep in a 48 hour period.

On April 20th after about an hour of “wild goose chases” on the phone, (being kept on hold and repeatedly transferred among a multitude of recordings and people) I finally spoke to a woman in headquarters about yesterday's nightmare. She confirmed that there were indeed no flights out until Wednesday and that it is the policy of United NOT to provide any ground transportation regardless of the circumstances. These agents at the Washington/ Dulles were merely following company policy I asked for a refund for the full price of the ticket, compensation for the portion of the rental car and the expenses of meals on the way back. She called me at home later and stated that United would give me $87 for the last leg of the trip, and payment for my portion of the rental car - $74. If I chose to return the voucher, I would get another $87.
This in no way compensated me for the situation described above.

Upon further reflection of this situation I asked myself several questions:
1. What if I were very elderly, disabled or incapable of driving over 400 miles in horrendous traffic to get home? Would I still be sitting in Washington DC?
2. Why are the airlines allowed to engage in the deliberately fraudulent practice of selling more tickets
than there are seats, leaving passengers stranded for days? If any other business regularly engaged in such practices they would be sued and/or fined.
3. Why is the federal government continuing with the laissez-faire policy towards airlines in spite of the overwhelming evidence that such an approach is detrimental to the well-being of the American people?

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Anonymous on 04/22/2008:
Great post! If an airline overbooks (sells all available seats...and then some) where is the incentive for them to help stranded passengers? There is NONE because (for the airline) demand outstripped supply. So long as the public is willing to shuck out dollars for the 'privilege' of being herded about like cattle, there is no incentive to change the badly flawed system.
wgaguy1984 on 04/22/2008:
Most airlines will tell you that they have to overbook flights to remain profitable; in order to cram as much revenue as possible onto each flight, every seat possible needs to be filled. There are always going to be people who don't show up, cancel at the last minute, misconnect, go standby on another flight etc . . . in order to account for those people, airlines overbook. But, of course, sometimes, every one shows up. Not justifying what United did; not sure why they would overbook a flight by 30%, especially the last flight of the day, during busy travel time.

I would look at their contract of carriage, it should spell out exactly what their obligations are. (I bet you'll find their obligation is to accommodate you to the next available flight on their airline or someone they have a ticket agreement with even if everything is full for 3 days. Beyond that, if you chose, or rather, hadto, drive, you occurred additional expenses of about $200, which is about what they comped you.
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Lost Baggage
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WASHINGTON DULLES/ TORONTO PEARSON -- I am writing to you in regards to an issue I have with United Airlines. I’m hoping you can help me with my story because I think that consumers should have some sort of voice as well as valuable information before they chose to fly with various airlines. My matter started on Wednesday July 25, 2007. I flew from Aruba to Washington (UA974) and than Washington to Toronto (UA7794). I was in Aruba for 2 weeks on a vacation as well as visiting a friend. When I arrived in Toronto both of my bags were not there, this is where my nightmare started. Not only did they misplace one bag but both of my bags did not arrive. After all of the baggage was picked up from our flight I went to speak to a United representative. He assured me that one of my bags was on the next flight, landing an hour or so after mine. I waited 3 hours after my flight arrived to see if my bag was there and it wasn’t. The United representative made me fill out a lost luggage report and again reassured me that they were both still in Washington waiting to be placed on the next flight to Toronto. This unfortunately was not the case at all. Since it was 2:30 am by the time I left the airport I left everything for the next day since I was exhausted.


The very next morning I called the lost baggage customer support number and again was told that both of my bags were last scanned in Washington and still waiting to be placed on the next flight to Toronto. He told me that because of weight issues they May not have been put on the plane, therefore once again left behind. He told me to call back in 3 hours and check for any updates. Following their instructions I called back again. With every phone call I placed I had to give every possible piece of information (my name, my address, phone number, airport I filled out my lost baggage report, my baggage claim number, the flight which I flew on etc… taking at least 5-10 minutes before I could even voice my issue). After giving the representative all my information I would be placed on hold for another 5 minutes, with the explanation that they are inputting my information and checking for any updates. The representative would than come back on the line and tell me to please continue waiting. The music they play while on hold is perhaps the most unappealing music I’ve ever heard; it has the potential to drive a person crazy.

From the very first day I was patient and understanding with the representatives and aware that humans make mistakes (mistakes meaning misplacing my suitcases). Once the representative came back on the line for the second time he told me that he would call me in an hour because he was positive that they would both be on the next flight. From the very beginning I was told that they were sending priority messages to the Dulles airport and would have some response within the next few hours. I waited and waited at my house because I did not want to miss any phone call regarding the whereabouts of my suitcases. Two hours later I still did not receive a phone call so I called back again to see why I didn’t and check for any updates. After going through the initial information stage I was told now that it ‘seems’ that my bags are in the Washington airport because they were last scanned there. So I went from being assured that my bags are there awaiting a flight to it ‘seems’ that they are there. With that being said I began to feel as though each representative had lied to me so they would not have to deal with the problem themselves and get me off the phone in order to place my problem on someone else’s shoulder. I was told again that the rep. was sending another priority message to the Dulles airport because they still did not respond to the previous ones. I was told to call back the following morning at 9 am to check for any updates which I agreed with.

DAY 3 – DAY 6

Threw out the following days I had placed the same phone calls. I spoke to various representatives that told me the same thing; it seems they are in the Washington Dulles airport and because of weight issues on the plane they are still being held at the Washington airport. I spoke with representatives at least 3 times a day, each time I spoke with a different representative. It is torture for a person to go through the agonizing process of providing information, staying at or close to home in case of a phone call as well as hearing the same speech over and over again in regards to sending priority messages and saying that they understand. In one phone conversation I was told again that a rep. would call me back in 3 hours with any information good or bad therefore I stayed home waiting for yet another phone call which again never came. So once again I called back asking why I did not receive and phone call and this time I was told that someone tried to get a hold of me but I was not available. This was a blatant lie because I was sitting at home the entire time. Even if I was on the phone, which I was not, we have call waiting as well as voicemail therefore I could be reached at all times. The rep. asked me if there was another number to reach me at which I’m not sure why because I’m fully aware that they did not try to get a hold of me. I told her that there was not because my cell phone charger was in my baggage therefore I don’t have it on me but there is a voicemail that would pick up if called. In the end I did not give her my cell phone number because I knew it was useless and overall a lie that they told me. This time I asked to speak to a manager or someone with more authority and I was told that it could not be done because it was a call centre. The fact that there was no supervisor frustrated me and made me feel like the size of an ant in a big world.

This caused me to take matters into my own hands, well try to anyway. I went online and tried searching for any possible information I could. I got the Dulles airport number and contacted them. I left two messages saying that I’m looking for two bags that were misplaced in the airport. I gave detailed information and said that United representatives have continuously tried contacting reps. at the airport and have not had any response. After the second message I left a nice lady returned my call and left me a message saying that she had one bag in the lost and found that matched my description but she had already located the owner of the bag. She also provided me with the number of the United lost and found at the Dulles airport (703-572-7799). I began calling and calling that number but to this day (August 7th) no one has answered this number and there is not answering machine to leave a message. Once again I left overwhelmed with despair, hopelessness, and frustration.

In the mean time I continued calling the lost baggage centre and was repeatedly told the same thing over and over again. This call centre must be outsourced somewhere because each person had accents as well as ethnic/cultural names, which I have no problem with, and also had no further information to give me. I believe all they have is email and some sort of switch board to relate messages. I’ve asked them numerous times to personally call the Dulles airport reps, some reps. told me that could not be done, while some put me on hold saying they will do so and come back on line saying no one is answering their call. Therefore I don’t even know if they in fact tried making the call or if they just put me on hold and waited a while, came back on the line with me and said no one is answering. With each phone call I felt smaller and smaller and more helpless in the matter but I continued to be patient and kind with every individual I spoke with.

In this time I also wrote various emails to any email address I could locate on the United website as well as consumer story web pages. All I got in return, with the ones that actually emailed me back, was that they would forward my information to the lost baggage department. I basically completed one big circle and did not gain one ounce of progress.

Basically after a week of phone calls and emails I was still at a dead end. All I managed to get was lengthy conversations with unhelpful representatives, busy signals, useless emails, zero information regarding the whereabouts of my luggage, frustration, loss of employment, stress, frustration, and anger that simply no one with United cares about these issues. My life has been turned upside down because I have no casual clothes, no work clothes, no shoes, no dresses for upcoming weddings I must attend, no personal hygiene products, no electronics, no memorable items I bought in Poland while visiting my grandparents early this year. This situation is so very overwhelming and in order to understand it one must personally go through it themselves.


One week had gone by so I decided that Maybe there is more information out there that could help me with my situation. I decided to go to a travel agency and see if they could give me any advice or contact numbers that would be useful with this matter, First, I went to CAA, I figured that since they are a travel agency as well as insurance providers they would definitely have some sort of information. This was very untrue. All they told me was to call the lost baggage telephone number and that is the only I can do. I was discouraged to hear that but I tried one more place. I went to a local travel agency and a lady helped me as best she could. I was, and continue to be, very appreciative of her kindness. She took all of my information and did the best she could to contact the United customer service as well as find me any other numbers that could be useful for my case. She provided me with another number for the United customer service at the Dulles airport. I called this number but all I got was a recording that stated that they no longer take voicemails regarding bag descriptions because of the volume of messages left, instead they said to email the description to an address. I did as they said. I provided every ounce of information regarding my flight, times, bags etc… All they respond back to be is that they are sorry about my missing backs, provide me with a form I need to fax or mail in and that is all. It once again gets me absolutely no where.


Out of the couple of hundreds of phone calls I made to the customer service department I was told a few times that one of my bags was forwarded to the Toronto airport but it was not scanned there after arrival. With that being said I thought that perhaps my one bag was sitting in the lost and found at the Pearson airport and possibly had its name tag ripped off.

I phoned the Toronto Pearson Airport to see if I could speak to a United rep. from the airport but I was told they do not deal with phone calls and the best way to contact them is to personally come speak with them face to face and even then they May not be useful. It wasn’t a surprise that the gentleman at the help desk told me they are uncaring.

With that information I called a friend of mine up and we drove an hour and a half to the airport. First we went into the lost and found in Terminal 1. When I saw the complete mess and lack of security in the airport my heart sunk. There were rooms of lost luggage that did not have any doors, luggage thrown and left sitting by the walls, and people every where waiting for their own luggage by the carousels. The lost and found was in the same giant room where travelers on Canadian flights where picking up their luggage. Basically if anyone wanted to take an extra suitcase or two it could have been done in a heart beat with no questions asked. I walked around to each pile and room with suitcases. I saw damaged suitcases, where the entire contents of a people’s bags were lying on the ground, empty suitcases piled up at the corners of the walls in the room. Actually when I was in one room there was a man loading all the empty suitcases on a cart, most likely destined for the garbage. I was so angry to see this sort of chaos and lack of security and professionalism.

There is an incredible amount of security before boarding a plane (you cannot bring water bottles on some flights or lighters or nail files, you have to take your shoes off and your belt off while going through customs, you must place all your items through various security measures before boarding a plane but afterwards it is all out of your hands. I understand why we have such security in customs but why is it that then is comes to an individuals personal property they provide no security at all. My one and only thought was that if Toronto Pearson is so unorganized, lacks security, and is much smaller than the Washington Dulles airport, I cannot imagine what goes on there. I’m sure it is a 100% worse with all the concourses, shuttle buses, and volumes of people.
When I finally reached the front of the line at the lost and found desk (at least a half hour later) the gentleman I spoke to was very unfriendly. I questioned the security of the lost luggage and he cold heartedly told me that if I want to steal a camera than I should go ahead if I want to be placed in jail. I was shocked by his response. I had no words to say to him because I knew if I did I would lose my cool. I simply said that I myself would never do such a thing but there are people in this world that would and because people like that exist there should be more security protecting peoples’ property, especially after I saw the condition of some lost suitcases and the lack of care for them. He than said there is security at the doors but surely enough when we walked out there was not one person standing there to even look as though they have any sort of security. I honestly could not even fathom his response and the disorder of that airport. The lost and found rep. provided me with a sheet and told me to wait in the main section of the airport and someone will escort into the international section of the airport, where I initially waited for my luggage on July 25th. My friend had to wait outside for me because only one individual can go through customs at a time. The man eventually came and took me to that section of the airport. There I found some more lost luggage, not nearly as much as in the other section, but here at least you needed to be escorted and pass customs. I looked for my luggage and nothing. I went up to the United information desk where I found an unpleasant man. I asked him to help me or provide some assistance in locating my bags. All he did was type in my claim number and told me that they have not been located.

With all the new technology within airports it stuns me how 2 bags can be traced, misplaced, and then not located. The incredible tracing systems they have are nothing more than a joke. He told me to call the customer service number which I told him I’ve been doing for the past week, 3-4 times a day. And this is how he left things with me, he turned his attention to something else. I was so upset with the lack of competence any of the United employees have. The nice man that escorted me into the that section told me to go upstairs and try speaking with the manager there, so that is exactly what I did.

I went to the section of the airport where passengers were checking their baggage with United. After waiting in line with the current passengers it was obvious that it would take way too long to get to the front of the line. I told the others that I was simply asking the reps. to radio a manager and it would only take a minute to do. Most were understanding but the lady working pretty much shrugged me off until I repeated that all I would like is to speak with a manager and not her. She finally did and then told me he would be there in less than 5 minutes. A gentleman came and all he did was radio another manager. After roughly 15-20 minutes a man by the name of Philip, a United manager, came. He was extremely pleasant and told me he would personally follow up with my case. He took me to a room where after 72 hour lost baggage sits. In this room there was a man opening up baggage and checking the contents, I’m assuming to help identify the owner of the bag. Here again I did not find any of my bags. Philip reassured me once again that they would be found. He said that Dulles is located in the capital of USA and that it would be found. I felt confident after speaking to him that my bags would be located and safely returned. My friend as well thought the same. He also says bags are often misplaced but 99% of the time they are always located. He said himself that he had lost a bag and it had been 6 weeks and he still hasn’t found it. Again he stated that they would find the bag and I would get it back soon. He provided me with a direct number to reach him at and told me to call him the next day around 3 pm, he even told me that I might hear form him before than but if I don’t and he doesn’t hear from me he will call me anyway. I was overjoyed to hear his words and left the airport that day feeling sure that I would see my bags again.

Philip also told me at some point in our conversation, that I was responsible for my baggage in the Dulles airport. He said that I was supposed to pick up my bags and go through customs there which I know for a fact is not true. My friend that I visited never once has had to do that because you go through the US customs in the Aruba airport. I told him I did not have to do such a thing while flying down to Aruba and he responded by saying I did not have to do that because I went through US customs in Canada. That is true I did do that in the Toronto airport. But I also had to in Aruba. It was humorous that he was trying to place the responsibility of my lost baggage on me and my failure to be an informed traveler.

The way he spoke about it made me question if I in fact I did have to pick up my luggage in Dulles and go though customs there. Once I got home I spoke to my friend who lives in Aruba and I was reassured that not once have they ever had to do such a thing because there is a US customs in Aruba.


That morning I once again called the lost baggage customer service number, I never stopped checking for any updates with them, but all I was told was that they were still not located. It did not affect me as much because I was under the impression that Philip was personally looking into it himself and he would have more information for me. I waited for 3 o’clock to roll around and I made my call. There was no answer all it did was ring and ring and ring. I was understanding because I knew that they are constantly busy around the airport, dealing with customers and searching for bags. I called numerous times that day and still no answer and I did not hear from Philip either. So once again I became discouraged. Once again I hit a dead end, back to square one.

DAY 10 - 12

I continued calling the lost baggage service line, once again speaking to a variety of reps. that asked the same questions and told me the exact same things; no updated information has been provided to them. Not even one bit of information has changed since July 25th . I’ve been wearing the same clothes repeatedly and the same shoes. I do not have money to purchase new items because I am a university student that has tuition to pay for, books, rent, bills etc… The ticket itself cost me $800, therefore leaving me with a decrease in my finances.

Day 13 (August 7,2007)

Today I finally reached Philip and he had nothing to say. I honestly do not think he even remembered who I was. This time he was very unpleasant. It seems as though the only reason he was kind to me at the airport was to get me out of the airport as fast as he could. I asked him if it seems they are permanently lost now and he said yes. I now have to fill out a claims form which takes 6 weeks to be processed again leaving me with no money or progress. He got me off the phone as quick as he could by just saying fill it out send it in and that’s all I can do. I even offered to fly down to Dulles many times to look myself for my bags and speak to representatives down there but he said , as well as the reps., that is just a waste of time. I now feel hopeless and angry.
After getting off the phone with him I went online to check for the telephone number for the United headquarters in Chicago. I found it and called. First they say to punch in the extension or punch in the name of the individual you are trying to contact or wait on the line. I waited on the line and an answering machine picked up and said to leave a message but after the voice stopped talking the machine hung up, thus making sure no one who does not know anybody within the building can leave a message. I tried back once again and a lady picked up, I told her I would like to speak with someone with authority regarding an issue I’ve had with United, she did not say anything and a couple seconds later another lady came on the phone, she asked which department I would like to speak with and I told her I’ve already spoken with the lost baggage department but as soon as I said lost baggage she put me through to the headquarter number again. The same menu came up but instead of picking up the phone again no one answered and the line went dead. I called back again and still no answer. Basically they do not want to deal with any complaints about lost baggage. They could not care less about their customers’ issues and why would they when they are getting paid an incredible amount of money while everyone suffers. United simply does not care about its passengers.

What I don’t understand is how my baggage could have been lost, not one but both bags. First of all it was last scanned in the Washington Dulles airport and did not make it to the Toronto Pearson airport. Therefore it was left behind. There is no way BOTH of my bags grew legs and walked out of the airport, so all I can say at this point either it was stolen by a traveler or employee of United or the Dulles airport or it was thrown on another flight somewhere in the world and United is not doing anything to locate it within the world by systematically tracing it.
The way in which the customer service representatives handled my problem sickens me, the fact that no one, I mean no one, cares about it is discouraging and should not be allow to happen within today’s time. No explanation was ever provided to me. People every where should be informed of the lack professionalism and competence United has to offer. It disgusts me how big conglomerates can walk all over the ‘small’ people of the world and their property.

By writing my story I am hoping that all travelers will be informed of United’s true intentions and professional identity. I am aware of the fact that I will most likely never see my luggage again but if this story prevents someone else experiencing the nightmare that I have had to deal with than it is all worth it.

I am forwarding this story to all possible news outlets and customer report agencies and defenders in hope that someone will help me share my story, along with many others’, and to eventually modify the responsibilities of airlines and in this specific case United airlines.

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dogsisland on 10/04/2007:
Thank you for all the time you spent writing your story. UAL lost my luggage in August '07 & I too filed a report & went nearly through all the same experiences in trying to locate my luggae that you did. I've let go of the possibility that I'll ever get my luggage back, so now I'm just waiting to see if UAL takes care of me in 6 wks. Did you get an acceptable compensation?
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Frequent Flier Fraud
Posted by on
INFURIATING BAIT AND SWITCH AWARDS PROGRAM: I am a frequent flier (Silver Medallion level) on United and have several times used my miles for international r/t business and first class tickets. When I book, the agent tells me they only can confirm my desired class on the outbound because Singapore Air does not release their partner award seats until two days before travel, so they issue the return ticket as economy class, but still deduct up to 120,000 miles from my account as if I am receiving first or business both ways. I have been told that it is possible that Singapore would release the return award seat within a few days of departure, and I should call them to request my upgrade to the proper class. In each of the cases, I have been denied the return flight in the class that I "paid" for with miles, even though once I boarded the flights both classes nearly were empty.

I was even denied entry to the first and business lounge, even though I spent 120k miles to receive the service, which was especially infuriating since my layovers were typically more than 8 hours, and I had to sit in the airport through the night (one time while very ill). I pleaded with both airlines to accommodate me, and showed them that I paid with miles, according to their own awards program rules, but they each passed the buck to the other. Singapore told me they could not upgrade me unless United requested it, and United told me the same about Singapore-- a classic catch 22. It was recently revealed to me by a Singapore agent that they couldn't possibly authorize an upgrade or let me use the lounge because United only paid them for the upgraded class one way WHEN THEY INITIALLY BOOKED THE TICKET, which means United never intended for me to get the full value of my miles.

I then requested United reimburse my miles for the unused portion (since I was forced to return via economy) and was refused and referred to customer relations, who also stonewalled me. I know this has happened with every other awards program traveler to Asia, and probably other international destinations because it is INSTITUTIONALIZED POLICY, and I have witnessed other fellow travelers having much the same heated exchanges with airline agents. In my view constitutes CONSUMER FRAUD and should be exposed by the media. Perhaps the airlines feel that award travelers are "getting something for nothing" and they deserve to be shortchanged, but miles are earned with loyalty and FREQUENT TRAVEL,, (and I suspect higher airfares to cover the award flights), so is in effect a "volume discount" and not a "gift". It seems that there is a possible class action lawsuit that could be filed that would at least compel airlines with such hidden "bait-and-switch policies to, at the very least, reveal them to frequent fliers before they sign up for programs or book award flights. Additionally, they should only deduct miles to reflect what the award traveler actually uses. I would like to be compensated for all of the flights where United deducted my miles, but did not give me what I paid for.

I would like to see posts from other travelers and encourage them to report similar complaints to all consumer fraud blogs, websites, and write to the airlines with your complaints.
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dan gordon on 02/10/2009:
you might wish to ask or post this on flyertalk.com. They have people very familiar with ff programs.
Soaring Consumer on 02/10/2009:
I suggest that you consult Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter, at celliott@ngs.org.

You can see what he has done for others here:
jimworcs on 04/14/2009:
You are right, and this is a systematic attempt to con the passenger. Frequent flyer miles are most certainly not a gift, they are an incentive to buy. Have you considered going to small claims court?
flyhi152 on 06/05/2009:
The same happened to me: I had a First Class Lufthansa ticket and United did not give me access to their First Class Lounge, despite the information on Lufthansas website that a First Class traveller can use any (!) Star Alliance lounge. I submitted letters to Lufthansa as well as to United. Both Airlines refused to comment this.
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Scam on Refunding Money
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- United in Uniform is a SCAM. BEWARE!!!

I signed up for this unethical service 2/22/2012. The salesman, Earl promised me that if I did NOT get any rentals, WHICH I DID NOT over the course of 10 months, that I could get a refund at any time. I asked him this question again before we got off the phone, and he again promised me that "If I don't get a rental, I can get a refund at any time of the year". No mention of needing to follow some instructions on their web site or some fine print.

It was a lie and when I called to try to get a refund at the end of 10 months, they informed me that I had to stay with the company a full year to give them a chance to get a rental, before I could get a refund. Again, NO mention of needing to follow some instructions on their web site.

So I agreed to wait a year, and when I DID NOT get even a SINGLE RENTAL, I asked for a refund.
I was then told by their refund department that I didn't follow the proper documented refund policy that was on their web site. I informed the United In Uniform customer service team, Jason, that I was never notified by the sales man, or the first lady I talked to, Angelica on 11/2812 about a refund policy, or that I needed to read anything on the web page. Jason was very mean and unsympathetic that no one had informed me about reading a refund policy on the web page.

To me, this is nothing more that an advertising scam that needs to be shut down. They Lied to me, mis lead me, never told me after countless phone calls ( at least 5 calls!!) about this mysterious 'refund policy' on their web site.

Please let other potential consumers know not to fall for their untruthful, un professional service. They are truly a very uncustomer friendly company, especially the way Jason disregarded all the other phone calls and flatly said " You should have read our web site".

Wrong, all you liars had to do was to tell me the truth up front about the policy when I asked. If you would have told me, I would have told you that it was un realistic to do all of those things, and I would have never taken your pathetic service.
The bottom line is I received no rentals, and received maybe 4 requests for rentals which is a terrible advertising investment.

Please, PLEASE, HANG UP ON THESE JERKS and don't listen to them. They are nothing but a BIG SCAM....
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United Airlines Lives Up to It's Rude, Uncaring Reputation. Awful
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- After my return flight to Dayton, OH via Chicago I went to unpack my checked bag. I noticed that my pair of dress shoes were missing from the bag. I remember packing these shoes in my checked bag as I am very fond of them and they were a rare splurge. I went online to find out how to remedy the problem. I was directed to the Baggage Resolution Service Center. When I called the number the woman who answered asked me to tell her what happened.

I began with the story of the return trip and went on to explain what happened when I went on to put things away at home. She was immediately combative and actually told me I hadn't contacted them in time before she even knew what date I'd returned home. I didn't catch this at first but as she became more and more rude and began to explain to me that United Airlines had no intention of helping me in any way I paid closer and closer attention to what she was saying. She was far more concerned with United Airlines liability risk and in informing me that this was my fault than anything else.

Now, all I wanted were my shoes back but she basically accused me of trying to defraud the airline. It's not important here to disclose what I paid for the shoes but they were something I don't go buy every weekend. She kept telling me I needed to be quiet and allow her to speak and didn't seem interested in my lost item at all. I asked her if they had cameras in the baggage handling area and she said that no, they have limited camera coverage of that area. She ended by giving me a website and a form # that I could up on my own to fill out.

I asked her who I could call about this and she told me there was no one I could call. I confirmed there is no one I can talk to about items stolen out of my luggage while I'm traveling....she said that was correct. I just hung up. I WILL NEVER FLY ON UNITED AIRLINES AGAIN. I would rather spend more money on a competent airline that cares about their customers than deal with the likes of this rude and arrogant woman.
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trmn8r on 06/26/2013:
I understand you were looking for a sympathetic ear and someone to say "I'm sorry that as our customer this happened to you," but the bottom line is assignment of liability quickly comes into play, and this woman would be familiar with those rules.

Basically accusing you of attempting to defraud and literally accusing you are far different. Did she say "it sounds like you are trying to defraud United Airlines"? Put yourself in the airlines' position - they need to be suspicious of claims because otherwise they would indeed become targets for fraud in the form of "I had ___ in my bag an now it is gone."

This woman deals with claims all the time, so she was probably more interested in telling you the rules and procedure than listening - not a good trait for a customer service person, but not surprising for this kind of matter. It doesn't make it easier for the victim who lost their items.
Old Timer on 06/26/2013:
It was more likely one of the many thieving TSA agents than UA that bagged your shoes. See what the TSA has to say about it. Probably nothing, but another complaint about TSA theft can't hurt.
info352 on 07/05/2013:
TSA opens a lot of bags, airline employees, especially as understaffed as they are right now, can barely afford to take a break let alone go around opening bags that come one after the other.
I wasn't there so I can't say what happened and if your version of the story is exactly as things went. I wonder though, since the phone call didn't work why not go to the airport and speak to a Baggage Office attendant in person, if the shoes are so important to you?
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Worst Travel Experience Ever
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA -- I've been flying on a semi-regular basis for the past 16 years, and I've never had an experience like the one I had yesterday on United Airlines. I flew Continental for a long time, because it was one of only two airlines in my hometown, where my parents still live. But after yesterday, I doubt if I will ever use United again.

I originally had a 'red-eye' flight from Monterey, CA to New York City for Sunday night, with a connection at SFO. That flight was first delayed, then eventually cancelled due to fog. That, I can understand.

I was automatically re-booked onto the 5.30am flight. I slept for four hours, woke up at 4am, and was a the airport with plenty of time. We all got onto the airplane. Then, the gate agent came onto the plane to announce the plane was overweight. She offered any volunteers to leave the play a $250 voucher. Since $250 won't get you very far these days, no one took the offer. Then she came back and read the last names of two passengers would would have to get off the plane. I was one of those unlucky passengers.

I loudly refused to leave the plane. I explained I had a very important work event that I was already going to be three hours late to, and that I could not miss entirely without serious repercussions. Another passenger then tried to negotiate for a larger voucher amount, saying she would get off the plane for more than $250 so that I could stay on, but the gate agent said should could not offer more than $250. She said I had to leave as I was the last to check in for the flight - surely because I was automatically rebooked and wasn't supposed to even be on that flight in the first place.

I refused to leave. The gate agent left, then came back with security. I was forced to get off the plane like some kind of criminal when I done nothing wrong. They escorted me out of the airport and put me in a cab (which they paid for) to SFO. So I had to endure a two hour cab ride, and of course I missed the connection (only by a matter of minutes due to fog delays). They also gave me a $250 voucher which is worthless because I will never fly their lousy airline again or give them ANY money.

After I missed my connection, they tried to put me on a 1pm flight, but I demanded they get me back to NYC sooner. The put me on hold for HALF AN HOUR and finally came back telling me they could get me on an 11am Delta flight.

I finally got home, bedraggled, at around 10pm. I missed my work event entirely.

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cruisecat on 11/27/2012:
they forced you to get off the plane like some kind of criminal because you did something wrong you didn't leave it when they said you needed to
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Flight From Hell
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
DENVER, COLORADO -- 27 July we went to the airport to catch our flight home, found that our flight had been changed to a different time and changing planes at a different airport. The airlines changed our seats and put us in row 12. We started boarding the plane to find there WAS NO ROW 12, so had to go back through all the people trying to get on to the agent. They said on well then you will all get middle seats, which we hate.

We then flew to Denv er, to find we land in gate 13 and have to run to gate 86 with no ride carts around to help, with 40 minutes to get there. At this point they did not give us a seat assignment for Denver so rushed to make sure we got a seat, which we did get assigned one by an agent there. Then our flight got delayed as the incoming was late. When the incoming arrived and unloaded they said there was problems they had to fix, after a while they said they were taking it away to fix it.

Later they brought the plane back and let us board. We sat there for about 15 minutes on the plane and they said we all had to get off again as still problems. When we went to sit in the waiting room the agent called us and two other couples up and asked to see our boarding passes. After she looked at the passes she said she was keeping them, I asked why and she just looked at me. I said “are you bumping us? She said Maybe”

Much later when the plane was OK to go she announded over the speaker for all to hear the names of us 6 and we were NOT ALLOWED TO BOARD THE FLIGHT. Made us sound like criminals!! I ran up and said why and she said the plane had weight restrictions and where we got to the gate later then the others we are picked to be bumped. I asked her how we could get there and sooner as we were on the plane the put us on getting there and still had ½ hour to spare when we got to the agent for our seats by running, or in my case with my bad foot walking as fast as I could. She said it didn’t matter.

I asked for our luggage so we could stay the night if we did not get another flight and she said NO, it had to go on to Tucson with the plane. Later they got us on a flight to LA where we sat for 5 hours for the plane to have that delayed too, got into Tucson at 1 Am on Saturday Morning, had been at airports since 6 Am East coast time and got up to get there at 4 AM.
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