United Airlines Complaint - Incompetence Unite(d)!
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.