Even for evil airline stories, this one may shock you. How about:
- Holding $5,000 in tickets from a family for six months, then telling them the day before that the flight has been canceled;
- When confronted with the fact that the flight hasn’t been canceled, telling the family that the reservation has been lost;
- Finally admitting that they’ve bumped the family from the flight and were lying about the cancelation and the lost reservation;
- Offering replacement seats on multiple planes and days, splitting the family up on different flights and depositing them at different islands;
- Offering to get them there 5 days into a 7 day vacation, part of which was scheduled to spend time with a family member who was dying in a hospice in Hawaii;
- Refusing to write a letter on the family’s behalf so that they can collect their insurance payment on the house they rented but never used.
With one act of disregard, United destroyed the vacation, cost the family over $10,000 in house rental fees that they can’t get back, and forced them to cancel the trip. The dying family member they didn’t get to see passed away in early June.
How could United mess up a trip so badly? The mother who arranged all of it, Anita Cabral, suspects it has to do with the bottom line:
Cabral has a theory for this shabby treatment: fuel prices.
Between January and June, as the oil industry mounted its historic shakedown of consumers, the price of those tickets tripled. The folks who paid the most got to fly.
The columnist who wrote about the Cabrals’ problems said he called United directly for a response, and was never called back.