Why I no longer fly “United”

This is a letter that I sent them earlier this year:

Dear Sir / Madam:

I am writing in regard to the level of service provided by United Airlines on the 14th and 15th of January 2007. I was attempting to get home from St.Louis to London Heathrow on Sunday 14th. When I rang United, I was told that there were no flights on the Sunday due to the Ice storm that happened (I appreciate that this was not your fault), and so had been placed on a flight on Monday.

My new itinerary was to board flight 5667 from St.Louis to Chicago leaving at 1.39pm and arriving at 3.00pm. I was then to change planes and leave on flight 958 from Chicago to London Heathrow at 4.15pm arriving at 5.55am on the Tuesday.

Upon arriving at the airport in St.Louis, I attempted to check-in using the self service points. This was unable to be processed even with the confirmation number, (VBXXX0), so I had to talk to a representative on the telephone. I was informed at this point that flight 5667 was not due to leave until 2.15pm. I asked the man on the telephone if this meant that I would still get my connecting flight, to which he replied that I “would be fine”. Slightly concerned at this, and the lack of time that I would have in Chicago to make my connection, I asked him if he could tell me the times, and possibly place me on standby, for the next available flights to the UK, to which he said that he “wasn’t sure”.  After not feeling satisfied with this, I then saw a representative at the United desk who helpfully placed me on standby for flight 5595 leaving at 1.30pm.

I proceeded through security and went to gate A. Upon viewing the departures board, I noticed that there was no mention of flight 5595 or 5667 on it! I proceeded down to the end of the gate where United are located and decided to ask the representative. I spoke to Barbara Greenly, who was extremely unhelpful, rude and unprofessional, and said that she was “only dealing with flights to Denver at this time!” I tried to just ask her a question and she refused to talk to me in any form even though she was now the only United representative in the entire terminal.  (And, yes, I walked up and down searching for anyone, finally giving up and asking a USAirways rep if they could help me find someone.  They apologized that they could not).  As you can imagine I was confused and worried as to what happened to flights 5595 and 5667. After looking around to see if I could find another United representative, I found there to be no one else in the whole terminal. I ended up having to call United from a pay telephone in order to find out the progress of my flight! I do not expect to have to call your offices when I am actually standing at 1 of your 4 gates in the airport!

Finally after about an hour we were told that the two flights (5595 and 5667), that I had tickets and standby for, had not yet left Chicago.  This became a bit silly as the ticket agent had assured me that flight 5595 was here and leaving at 1.30.  How odd since it hadn’t left Chicago for St. Louis yet.

When these flights finally came in, flight 5595 had come in first. Another representative, Marlene Srous, who had come along shortly before these flights landed said that priority for standby was being given to those with international connections. Naturally I went to the front and managed to secure a seat on flight 5595. I must add that Marlene was most helpful in all that happened that day.

I boarded flight 5595 and was happy that I would be finally on my way after about 2 hours of delay, although I was still unsure as to whether I was actually going to have time to catch, or be on standby for the 6.02pm flight from Chicago to London Heathrow until I got there. After taking another half an hour to finish the boarding process we proceeded to push back from the gate, after which the pilot stopped the plane and said that there was a problem and that mechanics were on their way. After a while the captain came back on and said that they had to change a tire and we all had to de-plane. I came off and saw that they were boarding the other flight 5667. I proceeded over to Barbara and told her that I had swapped my original ticket for my standby seat on the 5595, to which she said sarcastically “that’s nice!” – I then had to go back over to Marlene who kindly changed my ticket back. I boarded flight 5667 and again waited a ridiculously long time for the plane to board.  The plane left the gate and proceeded to the runway where it again stopped. The captain told us after another 20 minutes that he had called mechanics out as there was again a fault in the plane. The mechanics could not fix it where we were so we again went back to the gate and again I had to de-plane!  To sum it up, I boarded 2 planes, and 2 planes both had problems and had me de-plane. 

By this time I was wondering if I was going to make it to Chicago at all. We were finally told to board a third plane (flight 5668) which again sat at the gate for a good hour waiting for clearance from Chicago. Eventually this plane made it to Chicago and I had 30 minutes to make my connection, which I barely made.

I arrived in the UK at 11.00am on 16th and then proceeded onto work as I had planned to do on Monday morning. My work has made me take an extra day and a half vacation to make up for the time I was not there.

I would like compensation for the ridiculous “service” that I have received and for the fact that I am now being forced to take my vacation time because of it.  There were NO United representatives in the entire terminal for over an hour.  Then there was Barbara who REFUSED to assist even though I tried to explain that my flights were not on the status board anymore and was afraid of missing them.  Then two planes had problems causing me to leave almost 8 hours after I was supposed to and barely make the last flight of the night out to London.

I would like to receive a voucher for a complementary international flight and would like the miles that were used to purchase this trip refunded. 

Thank you for your time.

Yours faithfully,


Update – I did receive a $200 voucher to use on their airline – well unless I want to change in Chicago .. I don’t think so! hehe



Filed under General Rants, Travel Nightmares!

3 responses to “Why I no longer fly “United”

  1. supportunitonline

    After reading this I feel exhausted, its like I was actually there living through it all with you – LOL

    What a madness to go through – I’m surprised that you never went ‘Chuffy Mental’ at any of those ‘incompetant’ women, God only knows how much pain I may have inflicted on them if it was me – especially Barbara!

    I must admit though I have flown with United to Vegas and Hawaii, which also included internal flights, and never had any problems – but at least we all now know that there are no ‘perfect’ airlines out there.


  2. supportunitonline

    Its true You never find out the true competence of an airline until there is a delay. The best airlines are the ones that are still pleasent when there are problems.

  3. JWS

    United, how lovely…I finally arrived at my destination 26 hours after I was originally supposed to arrive yesterday. In attempting to get help from customer service, I felt more like a felon trying to find a job than a paying client who shelled out good money for a plane ticket. They cancelled a direct flight that I had and put me on a flight the next day with an impossible connection, which I missed due to the flight leaving late. I was stranded in a strange city, and given an attitude much along the lines of “It sucks to be you!” I will never fly United again, even if it costs me a stupid amount of money to fly a competitor…

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