Now + Beyond

Welcome to my United Airlines horror story

Amidst all the bad publicity, you would think that United Airlines would put their focus on customers. WRONG.

I recently flew United Airlines to get to a family event in a short amount of time, because it was the cheapest option. (Anything that isn’t Frontier Airlines, right?)

I know…what was I thinking?

I immediately regretted my decision once I found myself sitting in an airport, waiting for my delayed flight. When they originally delayed the flight for “weather” reasons, I saw a woman in front of me that was crying, because the agent refused to accommodate her. I had a bad feeling the entire time I was waiting, but I wanted to give United the benefit of the doubt.

Three hours later, my delayed flight turned into a canceled flight.

I was so mad at myself for not trusting my gut. I immediately ran to the packed customer service line once I heard the announcement. Watching the hoards of people, who just had their lives disrupted, pile on behind me was upsetting. My phone was on five percent and all the customer service agents were busy, I knew that this was a recipe for disaster. I knew I’d miss work the next day because of this cancellation, but my problems didn’t seem as severe as the woman behind me who would miss her daughter’s wedding.

I was still upset, mostly at myself, for cutting corners.

Long story short, I had to pay a ridiculous amount of money to fly out the next day with a different airline, because the United agents refused to accommodate me.

I ended up paying more money in my attempt to save money on my flight.

When I approached the customer service agent to explain my situation, I overheard someone else’s conversation. The agent told them that the crew refused to fly to Milwaukee and decided to cancel the flight because of that.

How that had anything to do with “weather” goes over my head. I knew it was just an excuse to avoid accommodating people.

That day, I discovered a news article about another United Airlines plane that was grounded the night before. A young couple that was set to go on their honeymoon in Italy discovered their plane leaking profusely just before takeoff. This couple recorded the incident and told flight attendants. Their notification possibly saved everyone’s life in that plane, and how did United thank them?

By leaving them stranded at the airport in the middle of the night with no hotel vouchers, travel vouchers, or food.

The young couple found themselves sleeping on an empty airport floor that night. The worst part about it was, every other passenger received a hotel voucher, except the young couple. They were eventually helped when another passenger recognized them and offered them their hotel voucher. Another couple offered them a ride to a different airport, where they were eventually able to book another flight into Italy.

In my situation, I was lucky to have family in the area, so I wasn’t completely stranded for the night. But the financial hit that I took hurt just as much.

I missed half a day of work, had to pay three times as much for a new ticket, and wait for seven to ten business days to even begin processing a refund. I thought, to hell with this, I want to be accommodated for the expenses that their “weather” cancellation caused me.

Unfortunately, the only way to do that was leaving a voicemail on their customer care line.

Fast-forward four days later: I get a call from a customer service agent about my refund request. I’m told that I will be receiving less than half of what I paid. I tried to talk my way out of it, but these agents are so used to inconveniencing customers that they didn’t care. I was tired of explaining my situation to empty ears, so I  defeatedly took the refund.

Seven days later, I received a call from someone in customer care looking to accommodate me for the situation. In my mind, I thought yes, they are finally doing something right. Until I heard that pesky word, “travel voucher.” Mind you, I asked for monetary compensation because the expenses were very real. The woman I spoke to was convinced she was doing me a favor by giving me a 100 dollar travel voucher when I spent 400 dollars on a new ticket AND missed out on half a day of work. This was not customer service. Now, at this point, I never wanted to fly United Airlines again. So this voucher was highly disappointing, I knew if I didn’t use it, it would be more of a waste of my money.

I decided to use the voucher for a one-way trip, in order to avoid paying more money than necessary. After that, I vowed to never use United Airlines again.

My advice to those traveling? Always travel with a reputable airline, even if it costs a little more. You might end up paying more than you saved if you choose United.