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pinchvalve MegaDork
9/13/17 8:58 a.m.

We've all seen the horror stories about this "airline"; price gouging during hurricanes, beating people up and throwing them off flights, and basically screwing over their customers in every way they can conceive of.  I figured that they couldn't THAT bad, every big corporation is going to have some bad press occasionally.  I should have known.  I flew them and had an issue, and experienced first-hand just how bad their customer service and policies are. I won't bore you with the details, other than to say I would fly "Guaranteed to Crash Airlines" before I would fly United Airlines.  

docwyte SuperDork
9/13/17 9:08 a.m.

Can't make a post like that without details!  Come on man....

Robbie PowerDork
9/13/17 9:10 a.m.

But but but fly the friendly skies

RevRico UltraDork
9/13/17 9:15 a.m.

I feel like I'm the only person in the world that actually likes United and never had a problem with them over 2 dozen flights. 

Delta can go berk a duck though. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
9/13/17 9:18 a.m.

I'd say this week they have good competition for that title from Equifax.

jmabarone New Reader
9/13/17 9:26 a.m.

The only time I ever got to fly 1st class (free upgrade) was on United.  Nearly unfortunately, I was told at check in that the flight was overbooked and I would need to get another flight.  Earliest they could get me out was 12 hours later (my departure was 630AM)...so I was not super stoked about that.  The agent even told me that it was "a waste of time" to go to the gate and hope there was an open seat.  Needless to say, I went down there anyways and asked at the gate about any open seats.  They said "well, we are waiting on one person, you aren't him, are you?"  Turns out they had one seat left for me in 1st class.  Seats up there are much better for sleeping in.  

HonestSpeedShop Reader
9/13/17 9:27 a.m.

why i dont fly... 

Strizzo UberDork
9/13/17 9:28 a.m.

on the whole spectrum, united is neither worst nor best.  I will say they are much more helpful if you have some amount of status and/or have been flying with them a long time.  Continental was way better before they were taken over by united though. 

Appleseed MegaDork
9/13/17 9:32 a.m.

When I fly, I fly myself. Cessna never disappoints.

EastCoastMojo Mod Squad
9/13/17 9:55 a.m.

Pinchy, we need the boring details please

tuna55 MegaDork
9/13/17 10:05 a.m.

I find when dealing that troublesome flights and troublesome airlines, that the Hertz rental car counter is my best friend.

APEowner HalfDork
9/13/17 10:54 a.m.

I haven't found them to be any worse, or better, than any other airline.  They've all occasionally gotten me where they said they would when they would and they've all left me stuck somewhere at one point or another.  Delta is the only one that provided an equipment defect induced, moment of excitement.

Coming into Albany, NY one night the aircraft hooked a hard left when the nose wheel touched down and came very close to the left side of the runway while slowing at a dramatic rate.  Apparently the nose wheel steering was inoperative.  Fortunately, the pilots were well trained and alert and the differential braking is stronger than the nose wheel steering.  We did have to wait for a tug operator to come back in to work and tow us off the runway before we could deplane.


conesare2seconds Dork
9/13/17 12:50 p.m.

My personal vote for worst airline would be Delta but I'm not you this week. I'm much less a fan of flying any more, it's a miserable experience.  

pinchvalve MegaDork
9/13/17 1:36 p.m.

Well, the issue was fairly straightforward, I got to the check-in counter and learned that the flight had been cancelled.  The United App and all the other travel tools I use (text, e-mail, FlightTrack, etc) gave no advance warning.  The gate agent didn't think it was weather, and no other flights were cancelled, so who knows.  Of course, United claimed weather because that gets them out of just about everything.  

The agent could not get me on any other flight of any kind within 24 hours of my departure.  Flying NYC to Pittsburgh, I was willing to go through Chicago, Detroit, DC, Atlanta, Charlotte, or into Cleveland or Akron or Erie or something closer than 6 hours away.  No dice.  So he tells me to rent a car, drive home, then submit my receipts, even gives me the website address to do it.  OK, I'll do that.  

This is where the fun starts.  The website is not mobile friendly, so I can't do anything immediately.  Frustrating.  I get to a computer and low and behold, there is no way to submit for my kind of expense.  I try to call, but there is no one to call or email for support.  The 800 number just directs you back to the online form, which doesn't work.  I submit my request by e-mail daily, fax daily, Twitter daily and put a copy in the mail.  (I was a little pissed at the lack of support options offered) Over the course of three weeks, I get exactly one automated reply to all of this telling me that it could take 5 days to get a reply.  Mind you, I am still just trying to get a straight answer or talk to a human.  I finally get an automated response denying my claim.  Wait, I can't even talk to someone and explain that the gate agent told me to do this?  I reply with a threat to sue, (again, I am just pissed) which finally causes them to call me.  They basically say, we don't care that you were lied to and mislead, we can't control the weather, piss off. 

Yeah, that's frustrating.  First, it shouldn't be so hard to get hold of someone or get an answer to a question.  I don't even care that your people are rude and mean, just reply to my inquiry.  Second, I was asking for $200 to cover a rental car cost, incurred because they chose to cancel a flight and blamed it on weather.  This is for a regular business traveller who manages several other business travelers. The airline has vouchers and could easily make me happy and willing to fly United again, but chose not to.  I even asked about a credit for a future flight, nope.  How about allowing me to cancel the one other United flight I have planned without penalty?  Nope.  $200 to prevent me from banning all my employees from flying United?  ANY manager with half a brain would make some sort of deal, free WiFi, free meal, hotel voucher...something!  

Their whole system is set up specifically to ignore and frustrate you and make a bad experience much, much worse.  I have dealt with all of the other airlines out there and never have I found it so hard to get hold of someone who could help.  United can fix their problems, but they are choosing to be jerks and piss people off instead, and THAT makes them the worst.  

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
9/13/17 3:56 p.m.

Sounds like they share a cafeteria with Hennessy Honda of Woodstock GA.

Furious_E SuperDork
9/13/17 4:51 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

That sounds awful. I can deal with berkeley ups, E36 M3 happens, but at least TRY to make it right. Why is it so hard to talk to a human being Anymore?

Delta has been the worst, in my experience. I would guesstimate 75% of the issues I have had flying have been through Delta, and I have probably flown with them <10% of the time.

mad_machine MegaDork
9/13/17 4:59 p.m.

Marriot is up there now too. They spent 100,000 to rescue JUST their guests, leaving people standing on the dock. So maybe they only owe something to those who spent money to use their resorts, but you don't leave people at the dock who are in desperate need of rescue. Especially when you have ample room.

jj HalfDork
9/13/17 6:11 p.m.

If they wouldn't offer you ANYTHING, and just told you to pound sand, that sounds like breach of contract to me. 

pinchvalve MegaDork
9/13/17 7:34 p.m.

To be fair, they refunded the flight itself.  And, had the gate agent told me that my only option was to wait 48 hours (and miss moving my daughter into college) or that it was weather and there was nothing he could do, I would have known that the rental was on me.  Or I would have talked to other airlines.  BUT he recommended that I rent a car and told me exactly where to submit my receipts, and that was a guarantee that I got home in time.

And sure, that's hard for me to prove, but I wasn't asking for anything outlandish - not tolls, not gas, not lost time or pain and suffering - only the actual cost of the car rental which was under $200 and I had a receipt.  United is weathering terrible press lately, why not offer $200 on a future flight? or $100, split the difference? Or, failing all of that, at least allow me to speak to someone quickly, without three weeks of effort, to get a no.  Print on the homepage of your website "UNITED IS A BUNCH OF A-HOLES AND WE DON'T CARE ABOUT OUR CUSTOMERS, SO DON'T EVEN ASK".   That I can respect, that saves me time and aggravation.  Pretending to care and offering useless support options is just rubbing salt in a wound. 

Scott_H Reader
9/13/17 7:46 p.m.

Have you tries social media?  Go to their Twitter account and, without profanity, bash them in your best professional way.  Then, repeat it.  It was the only way I got Sony to honor their warranty.  It was actually pretty easy.

Gary SuperDork
9/13/17 7:48 p.m.

Lotta long diatribes here, and I'm sure there'll be more for various trivial reasons, but in short, UAL is getting Annie and me from PVD to Palm Springs, CA in November relatively quickly. We've done it before. Good connection through ORD. From our home in RI, we'll be in Palm Springs, CA, by noon same day and we check into our B&B that afternoon. (And I should say from many years of experience, the Palm Springs airport is the best in the USA, intimate and well-run, even better than Key West. You need to experience it to appreciate it). Other than weather related issues, which is beyond their control, we've never had a problem with UAL. Follow the rules and don't be a so-called "shiny happy person," and you'll probably end up OK. But understand that E36 M3 happens, so you need to be prepared. Millions of people fly every day and E36 M3 happens. Expect it and you'll feel better about it when it does. We're better off for mass transportation as it is even with it's flaws, than we'd be without it. For travel neophites, you probably expect everything to go flawlessly. Well, it doesn't. After forty-five years of airline travel, I know better. 

But having said that, from experience, we think Southwest is the absolute best airline to fly.

pinchvalve MegaDork
9/13/17 7:51 p.m.

I have another flight on United that my company booked, and I'd really love to cancel it, but it was non-refundable.  United rescheduled the flight by an hour, so I thought that might be my opportunity to get out of it.  Check out their policy: 

When a schedule change happens, we try our best to provide you with options that minimize the disruption to your travel plans. In cases where the new flight options don't work for you and one of the following scenarios applies, we may be able to offer you a refund:

  • The scheduled departure or arrival time changes by two hours or more.
  • The change causes issues with the overall length of the trip, such as making the connection time too short or significantly longer than it originally was.

If you're not satisfied with your new itinerary and one of the above scenarios applies, please don't accept the itinerary in Manage Reservations. Instead, you can request a refund online.

Notice that they MAY be able to offer you a refund?  They can reschedule a flight for 10 hours later than you purchased, make you miss whatever you needed to get to completely, and the MAY offer you a refund.  Completely at their discretion.  They can screw you, and they hold all the cards.  And note that you have to go through their nonexistent online refund system.  The link they provided DOES NOT offer the ability to get a refund for a schedule change, I checked.  And as I learned, you cannot talk to anyone.  Imagine if you were at the airport departing for a cruise and found out your flight had been moved 24 hours...they can do that and not reimburse you a penny.  

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
9/13/17 8:49 p.m.

I just got back from a work trip. I flew United 4 times in the last 4 days. New York to Denver, Denver to Las Vegas, Las Vegas to Chicago, and Chicago to New York.  On 2 of the 4 flights, after boarding major maintenance issues ("down gripes") were identified.

-Denver to LasVegas, after they had closed the door the fueler discovered a fuel leak on the starboard wing.  Plane pulled from service, we deplane, they get another plane.  We arrive 2.5 hours late, and I miss the dinner I flew there for.

-Chicago to New York:  After boarding, main flight computer E36 M3s the bed, per pilot they "re rack" ie replace it, and we leave.  Arrive 2 hours late.

Mechanical things fail, but this seems to be much more common with United as of late.  I fly 50k+ miles a year, mostly on American, and I cant ever think of a trip where 2 of 4 trips had maintenance issues of this type. Is it the airframe, is it the company? Don't know...

wlkelley3 UltraDork
9/13/17 9:19 p.m.

Just to get me straight. They refunded the flight they canceled and you are asking them to reimburse the one-way rental car. Which was more, canceled flight or rental car? Either way the trip home was paid for once. If this was for work then work should pick it up. Have had similar things happen to me and work paid the rental.

I travel quite a bit for work (gov't). We have to use contracted airlines which often means different airlines in different regions. But lately American has been preferred airline which has been fine with me. No issues and their reward miles are easier to use than other airlines (Delta, I'm talking to you). Before it was Delta that was preferred and their biggest perk was collect enough miles and you get preferred treatment and upgrades for free. Others would make you use miles for upgrade and other perks don't happen. Will say that Delta is a bit better for overseas travel than the others. Don't fly United very often but when I have I haven't had any real issues.

pinchvalve MegaDork
9/14/17 9:10 a.m.

I had the option of flying with another carrier...no one else cancelled flights due to "weather".  But I didn't even investigate the option because a United employee told me to rent a car and they would cover the cost.  That was a sure thing, so I took a 6-hour drive instead of a 1 hour flight because United promised to pay for the car.  They welched on their deal, that is the issue.  They also did nothing to make up for their deceitful practices.  

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