United Airlines Calls Up Delayed Traveler, Offers Compensation

We’ve brought you plenty of airline horror stories recently, but Marine officer Christopher’s experience is positively heartwarming in comparison. After the East coast snowpocalypse canceled his original flight and he was forced to wait on the tarmac for three hours due to a baggage handler shortage, United Airlines contacted him to offer a $250 travel voucher. No EECB needed.

Just wanted to let you guys know that United actually did not follow the typical MO for an airline of screwing over the little guy this holiday season. I am a Marine Corps Officer who was going home to Denver for the first time in a year to see my family for the holidays. I was supposed to fly out of DCA Reagan to DIA Denver on Dec 19 at 0600. As everyone knows the Heavens opened up and poured the worst snow storm to be seen in the last decade on the east coast. I knew my flight would probably get canceled and it was.

I was pretty angry at first since United did not contact me and it took around two hours to get through to them on the phone, but it really was quite a shock to the system, so understandable. United Customer Care is all outsourced to another country, I assume India from the accent but never asked, and it was not easy dealing with them. Regardless, after much stress I was able to finally get home just one day late. I was not really satisfied with their service but figured that everyone was in the same boat.

Yesterday a nice lady from one of their main offices called and not only apologized for all the problems with travel but also gave me $250 off of my next ticket. I was very happy and felt they really did not have to do that since they cannot control the weather. This certainly did make up for the pain of rescheduling and then having to sit on the tarmac for three hours since they did not have enough baggage handlers to move bags. I feel like there is hope for all the much maligned airlines and maybe we can return to the “Golden Age” of travel if they keep treating people like they treated me.

As far as I’m concerned, there will be no golden age of travel until there is onboard wi-fi, espresso, and cookies, but this is certainly a good start.

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  1. Esquire99 says:

    The niceness of the gesture aside, the United Travel Vouchers are about the most useless forms of compensation I have ever come across. United goes to exceptional lengths to ensure that the vouchers are painfully inconvenient to use, essentially forcing you to take the voucher to the airport ticket counter to make the reservation. I’ve been given them a couple of times and I usually end up more frustrated trying to use the voucher than I was during the even that “earned” me the voucher.

    • ZeGoggles says:

      Oh yes, the United vouchers…

      I’ve received travel vouchers, upgrade vouchers, and discount vouchers in the past. The terms and conditions were so long I decided to let them sit and collect dust. You can only use them for certain fare buckets, on certain days, on certain flights, when the sun is out, the moon will be full, and the day of travel ends in a “2”.

      United still breaks guitars.

      • ZeGoggles says:

        Oh, and out of the DC area, it seems United is always the most expensive option, so don’t expect that voucher to go far. I’ve never found a cheap United flight. which is why my loyalty sits with American Airlines.

    • TheSkaAssassin - College Man says:

      Well they at least offered you something. You could just be standing there holding a certain appendage. They tried to be nice, isn’t it the thought that counts?

  2. fantomesq says:

    Careful – that voucher is only good for a year – seeing as he is headed hoem to Denver for the first time in a year… better plan to use it within that timeframe!

  3. hills says:

    A Christmas miracle!

    and pretty soon it’ll be against the law to be sitting on the tarmac for over 3 hours…

  4. vesuvian says:

    I wonder if it’s the same nice lady from Executive Services who called me? My issue had to do with the costs of having a ticket changed because of the illness of my domestic partner. She had everything resolved to my satisfaction – I agreed to pay the fare I found which was in effect at the time I needed to travel (my ability to fly was delayed by several months) – and they agreed not to charge me a change fee. I had to tweet the situation to resolve it, which seemed to be as effective as an EECB that day.

    I wonder if the traveler’s status as an active duty member of the US armed services (Semper Fi!) had something to do with United’s attentiveness? The root of the problem – outsourcing customer service to other countries which do not understand American customs, laws, or moral obligations – isn’t going to change. How much more per ticket would it cost to move United’s customer service staff back to the US? Would it be worth it to me? I believe it would.

  5. Whome says:

    Glad UAL came through, What is the number to call, I was stuck on DullasTarmac for 5 hours last Friday.

  6. ElizabethD says:

    Meanwhile, this morning I received an automated call from US Airways informing me that the flight from Prov. to Phila. this Sunday morning (Leg 1 of his return trip to Columbus, OH) had been cancelled “due to lack of sufficient crew members.” The tickets were booked through Priceline, which I’ve had nothing but excellent luck with for years. This time, no help. No refunds. Can’t get through to US Airways. There are no flights with other airlines available from PVD to connect in time for his US Airways Leg 2 flight to Columbus.

    So I booked a return flight for our son on Southeast for $300 (twice what our Priceline tickets for the return trip had cost), which is fine; but I want my money back for the unusable US Airways flight and the one they canceled. American Express, don’t fail me now!

    I’ll think twice before using Priceline again during peak travel periods. It’s a great system (I don’t use the “bid on a trip” feature, just search for flights and find their prices to be the lowest around), but in difficult circumstances — in this case, holiday travel and big storm systems — it’s too risky.

  7. newsbunny says:

    United treated my husband and me fairly well this month. Because of a traffic incident, we had a horrible time getting to the airport in San Diego for a 630 AM flight. The two of us, and plenty of others.

    United got us on a flight four hours later, which, with connections, actually got us back to LaGuardia only about an hour later than scheduled. I was impressed. That’s not easy to do in the Xmas season.

    They were also very patient with the bunch of freaked of flyers who had also missed their flights. AND smart enough to sort us by whose-plane-was-leaving-first.

    A great job.