Why One Traveler Says He’ll Never Fly United Airlines Again

After many years as a satisfied Continental customer, Consumerist reader Billy says he’s been less than pleased with his experiences since that airline merged with United. But it wasn’t until his family’s most recent ordeal on United that he reached the “never again” point.

Last week, Billy and his 2-year-old daughter, who travels in a car seat that is then strapped into the airplane seat, were set to fly from Denver to Houston on United. When he booked the flight, he paid extra for legroom and to ensure that they would be sitting together in the same row.

But, as Billy writes in his letter to United, things definitely didn’t go as he’d expected:

When we went to check in before our return flight, your company had split us up so that she was in row 9 (a 2 year old on a row by herself) and I was back in row 32 or so. So, on my last day of vacation, after already PAYING United for the seats, my wife and I spent hours on the phone, MULTIPLE times, to correct the situation. We were first told to do it at the gate as I guess the representative on the phone did not care to take the time to figure out how your system could place a 2-year-old away from the only parent flying with her. Gross misconduct in my book.

They spent more than an hour on the phone, as the airline tried to explain that it had overbooked the flight and that, in spite of all the information required for a reservation, the United system can’t figure out how old a passenger is, so it had no idea it was placing a 2-year-old 23 rows behind her father.

Eventually, the seating situation was ironed out, but not before ruining Billy’s day with his daughter.

“I spent the last day of a vacation I had paid for dealing with United to fix a problem that you caused,” he tells the airline. “I lost a day with my daughter in the mountains and that is something I will never get back. Your company is responsible for that and I do hold a grudge.”

With Southwest Airlines expanding its service to Houston, Billy says, “My family and I will likely not be flying with United ever again… While it will be harder to travel, trust me when I say I would rather drive across country and enjoy the family time, than fly United and lose a whole day with my family because I am on the phone trying to rectify a problem that your company caused after I had already paid you money.”