I plan on writing more about my trip to see David soon, but I thought I would share my flight experience so we never have to talk about it again.
It’s long. It’s fun. Enjoy.
To Whom in May Concern:
I am writing to share my experience flying from Baltimore, MD to San Francisco, CA. I apologize I was not able to register my complaint sooner. I wanted to enjoy my traveling and I am only now able to sit and process that which was my first negative and extremely frustrating travel experience.
I was traveling from Baltimore, MD with a final destination of Monterey, CA.
Just before boarding, a United employee addressed everyone and told us that the flight was over-booked. She was looking for 14 volunteers to take the next flight to San Francisco, CA. She was offering $400 travel vouchers. It was a tempting offer, but I had a connecting flight. Had I been able to predict the future, I would have realized that I should have taken the offer…
As I boarded the plane, I received a voicemail from United stating that my flight would be making an unscheduled stop in Denver. This was very confusing because no one had told us yet. I asked a flight attendant to confirm, but she said all details would be told to us later. Once everyone had boarded, we were told that because the aircraft was too heavy (being overbooked and carrying everyone’s luggage), we would have to remove fuel from our plane and make a stop in Denver in order to get the remaining fuel needed to get to San Francsico. I would like to say at NO POINT were we EVER told that this delay was because of weather or because it was specifically advised by ATC. I repeat, AT NO POINT WERE WE EVER TOLD THAT THE DELAY WAS BECAUSE OF WEATHER. We were never informed that were any storms, we were never told to be prepared for turbulence. The crew informed us that if we had a connecting flight, there would be a customer service representative coming aboard to talk to us about further arrangements. After several minutes, people with connecting flights were then asked to de-board the plane in order to speak to a representative. Upon arriving at the desk, there were several people waiting, and the representative seemed concerned that we were de-boarding without another agent at the kiosk to check our boarding passes. It was great that she was being mindful of security, but this was evidence of miscommunication amongst your staff because she did not expect passengers to be de-boarding the plane. Once it was my turn, I told the representative that I would most likely be missing my connecting flight in San Francisco. She acknowledged this and said that if that happens, A HOTEL WOULD BE PROVIDED FOR ME, since my flight was the last one out of San Fran to Monterey. She booked me for the first flight out of San Francisco the next morning which would depart at 8am. I WATCHED THE REPRESENTATIVE TYPE A NOTE INTO MY FILE THAT SAID SHE WAS RECOMMENDING THAT I STAY IN A HOTEL BECAUSE OF THE UNSCHEDULED DELAY. I am praying that you all are able to see that in my customer record. I should have asked for the representative’s name and I should have asked for a print out of the request, but alas, I did not.
Finally (after being delayed for over an hour because we were waiting for the pilots to receive a new itinerary and because we were making sure that all individuals with connecting flights were able to make future plans), we were Denver bound. Overall, the flight was very pleasant especially as we approached San Francisco. Finding help after we landed was slightly difficult. At this point, I would like to say that I respect the fact that for your company and your employees, and even for many other passengers, flying is just a routine thing. However, you also need to realize that many of your customers do not fly very often. I felt that in order to receive help and in order to figure out what was going on and what to do next, I really had to go out of my way. I almost had that sense that I was bothering your employees. I feel like no one was going above and beyond their duty, which I think is necessary in your line of business. But I digress…
I arrived at the customer service desk at midnight (3am for me) and when it was my turn to speak to a customer service representative I found myself speaking to a basically pleasant young lady. She said she would help me out, but was very quiet for quite some time. After a long period of silence, I asked what she was doing. She told me that I had already been booked for an 8am flight out of Monterey, CA and that she was ensuring that my luggage would arrive at the right place at the right time. Great. Meanwhile, I was overhearing the conversations representatives were having with other passengers on my flight. Things were not looking good. Tensions were high and morale was low. I realized that they were telling passengers that the flight was delayed because of ATC and that no accommodations were being made. I did not know what ATC meant at the time. When I asked my representative if she was overhearing this, she said that she was not. I asked her what ATC was and she said Air Traffic Control, meaning that the flight was delayed because of weather.
My heart dropped. That is not what they told us on the plane, and it did not matter how many times I said that, because, it’s not what the computer said.
I hate complaining. I am not a complainer. This is the first type of this type of letter I have ever written in my life. I work in customer service. I have a very similar job to your counter employees. I know first hand what it is like to speak with disgruntled individuals. However, there was no humanity here. Your ticket agents and even your supervisors were not listening to what I said. They were constantly referring to what the computer was telling them which was contrary to my experience. It was intensely frustrating; and more so, discouraging. I acknowledge the fact that they can only do so much, which is why they referred me to this website and which is why I am writing my letter.
After realizing that I was going to have to spend the night in the airport, I asked if there was anything else she could do. She said she thought she had a blanket. I stared at her blankly. I took the blanket.
I found a spot by an outlet and made a call home. I was explaining all that had happened to my family when a passenger from my flight (who had actually been standing next to me when I was talking to my representative) got my attention and told me that HE RECEIVED A TRAVEL VOUCHER. He said you just have to push and talk to the right people. When the gentlemen told me this, I finally became enraged. I got my things together, went back to the desk, waited in line and asked to speak to a supervisor. Remembering that this job is challenging (see above), I thanked everyone in advance for their help but told him I came back because someone from my flight told me a voucher had been given because of the situation. HE DENIED THAT THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED BECAUSE THE COMPUTER SAID THE DELAY WAS BECAUSE OF WEATHER. I tried to get him to acknowledge the fact that we were never told about a weather delay, but he said nothing to confirm nor empathize. He referred to that computer again and again. You have your employees trained well.
I left the counter again. At least I wasn’t empty handed – I was handed a toiletry kit and there was a cart of beverages available. Nice touch, thank you. But still… I realize I wasn’t the first person to stay overnight in an airport overnight unexpectedly, nor will I be the last. However, the point is that the experience is frustrating and uncomfortable and those feeling needs to be acknowledged. Employees should realize that an, “I’m sorry” and a mini tube of toothpaste is not going to be enough to pacify the moans of the jet-lagged. Bottom line, another passenger was treated differently than I was and was compensated for the inconvenience. I would like to be extended the same courtesy.
To add insult to injury, my morning flight was delayed by almost an hour and a half and my flights back to Baltimore were cancelled. Twice. Those were definitely weather related delays, but let me just say – when someone has bad luck flying they really shouldn’t count on anything else going well for them. I shall now state this as Fact.
In the grand scheme of things, I may not be important. I am just one passenger who took one flight; one of hundreds that day and thousands each year. My fiancée is in the military. We are currently separated and we plan on making trips to see each other often. Our future holds many opportunities for travel and I was looking forward to the possibility of United being a part of that. After this experience, and after talking to friends and colleagues who have not had positive experiences with your airline, I am hesitant to do so, especially if no compensation comes from this correspondence.
I expect that you will do what is necessary to assure my future business.
Disgruntled and Discouraged,