Because of a United employee misrepresenting cat carrier policies, this man endured a big hassle and is no longer flying United. [United Really Sucks]


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  1. XTC46 says:

    I would have asked for a manager and saved my self the hassle.

  2. crnk says:

    Sounds like a typical consumerist rant, but this guy hasn’t made any effort to contact UA for resolution on it. In addition, it sounds like the creator of the website just argued with one person and at no point tried to escalate the issue to a supervisor who would have known better.
    Sure it sucks that you got screwed, but it seems that could have been prevented in a few places. Also, I just can’t give credit to many of the “…and I’ll never use this company again!” type people. Sure, I’ve had bad experiences at a few places, and a bad enough experience at one restaurant where we didn’t eat for a good 2 years (missed dishes, cool plates of hot food, and a totally wrong bill)—giving them a chance after time, and they actually did it right every time since then.
    The only company I won’t even try to have a business relationship ever again with? Hertz/Ford…not from a bad experience with the cars, but from various problems I encountered as an employee that would lead me to never have anything to do with them again (unless it involved a lawsuit).

  3. hewn says:


    I called United Customer Service 5 times. Once, when I asked for a manager after the woman told me she couldn’t help me, I was transferred to a phone sex line.

    Did you even read my “rant”? Of the several managers and people my call was “escalated” to, one told me that the employee at SMF was wrong and that this was not the policy. The response of the employee to that information? He didn’t care. He said that what some manager in customer service said didn’t apply to him, and that they didn’t know what the policy was (a policy that isn’t on their website anywhere, and which he couldn’t show me printed in their SOP manual).

    Should I not get pissed off? Should this not bother me? SHould I be happy to be treated this way? I’m wondering why YOU think it’s OK for companies to treat you – and the rest of us – this way. I wonder why YOU don’t complain when these things happen to you. Do you enjoy it?

    United never even responded to my emails, so I’m at a loss as to what else you’d have me do.

  4. rbcat says:

    @hewn: Don’t worry hewn, Consumerist has turned into Blamethevictimist, so the response you’ve received is simply par for the course. No one believes a problem is important until they’ve experienced it themselves, so at least you got what can be considered an “average” reply.

    For what it’s worth, I would be hacked off as well, if only because I despise inconsistencies between departments.

  5. jburland says:

    You’ll always get inconsistencies between individual staff members at counter-staff level.
    You should have done the following:
    1. Spoken with a supervisor at United Cargo
    2. Asked (demanded?) to see (and get a copy of) the United specifications for cat transportation.
    (It’s not easy to find, but there is information on shipping animals on United on their website.
    3. Escalate the issue to Scott Dolan, President of United Cargo – to get adequate compensation.
    His details are on the website.

    A similar thing happened to an acquaintance recently – a check-in agent (not an employee of the airline he was flying on) recommended checking in his notebook together with a bottle of wine.
    Bottle of wine broke, notebook dead.
    I told him to write to the airline with whom he had a contract and the EVP of the airline which provided ground handling.
    He’s getting a new notebook…..

  6. aka Cat says:

    @hewn: Did you ask to speak to the counter-creep’s supervisor? I’m sort of assuming you did and were refused, but you didn’t say in your complaint.

  7. Buran says:

    @hewn: Around here people blame the victim first, as has already been said. You did the right thing. Except, I suggest you send them an executive email carpet bomb. Don’t mention that you’ve already sworn off using them as they then won’t care to help you, but do tell your story.

    If nothing else maybe that idiot can get fired.

  8. BugMeNot2 says:

    The kennels the airlines sell actually come with plastic nuts to hold the metal bolts on.

    As a former cargo worker who over 10 years handled US, CO, DL, J7, UA and many others, I can say this with 100% certainty.

    The BIGGEST reason a kennel gets refused? It is too small for the animal. The animal has to be able to STAND, SIT and turn around normally. There is actually a chart that many airlines have that show how to exactly measure your animal to ensure proper kennel size.

  9. kellyd says:

    Anyone know how tough it is to take a puppy on the plane, in cabin. The websites of the airlines say you can do it, but have a list of requirements. I have a really nice, plenty-big-enough carrier for my chihuahua (and it fits the dimensions for the seat in front of me), and I know I need to let them know before I fly that I plan to bring my puppy to Texas for Christmas, but I’d really love it if anyone could use this thread to share other possible horrors of traveling with pets. (United is one of two airlines I’m considering for my trip; the other is Continental.)

    thanks, and sorry for your grief cat-shipper-guy.

  10. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:


    At the end of 2003, I flew with my cat (in the cabin) from New Orleans to LaGuardia on AirTran. Cost $50 extra, which IIRC was one of the better pet rates. Didn’t have any problems. Turned out that one passenger in my row was allergic to cats, but we didn’t have any problem getting someone to switch seats with that passenger. It helped that the cat was tranquilized – not a peep out of her all day. Of course you’d want to consult a vet before tranquilizing a puppy.

    If you’re taking any ground transportation, make sure you check their policies, too. Fortunately, I found out in advance that none of the airport shuttles or Amtrak allowed pets. I ended up renting a car for the last leg of the trip.

  11. kellyd says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: Thanks Moderator Acambras! Didn’t even think about the ground transport angle!

  12. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:


    Glad I could help. Of course everyone’s situation is different and this was 4 years ago, so just be sure to check. It’s good that you’re looking into all of that now.

    Oh, and be aware that some airlines have their own caps on how many animals can fly in the cabin on one flight (I think each airline has its own policy). So if someone else on your flight is already traveling with pets in the cabin, the airline might not allow any more pets (i.e., yours). What I did with AirTran was call them first to make sure the cat would be allowed. THEN I booked my ticket online. THEN I called them back immediately to make her reservation. That was when I had dialup — now it’s conceivable that all that could be done with just one phone call.

    Good luck!

  13. hewn says:

    Bugmenot: please note that the carrier I had was big enough for an animal 3x the size. The small carrier, which would have been fine for this 7 lb cat, was sold out at the pet store, so I bought one large enough for a 25 lb dog or cat. Also note that no carriers or bolts were available from United; I asked and was rebuffed. The fellow told me I might be able to find a Petsmart in Sacramento (22 miles away) which would have what I needed, even though that’s where I had purchased the carrier initially recommended, and then rejected, by United Customer Service.