Posted by: Kristen Hicks | March 17, 2010

Letter to United, pt. 2

In response to the letter posted here, I received the below response from a representative of United Airlines:

Dear Ms. Hicks:

Thank you for contacting us about the problems you and Mr. Veron
encountered on your trip from Houston to Buenos Aires.

I apologize for your disappointment with our schedule change prior to
your departure, and I understand your frustration.  We do our best to
minimize schedule changes but when they do occur, we arrange for your
alternate flights as close as possible to your original itinerary.  I am
sorry your itinerary was not satisfactory for you on this occasion, and
we hope we will be able to serve you better next time.

I regret the inconvenience caused to you when our flight from Houston
was delayed and you missed your connecting flight in Washington.  Please
accept my apologies for your frustrating and unpleasant travel
experience.  We realize that at times we are not doing as well as we
should be in assisting you when there are circumstances that disrupt
your travel.  We have no excuse for the poor treatment you had to
endure.  Your comments have been shared with management responsible for
our operations so they understand how this experience felt from your
point of view, and so they can follow up with their teams to ensure more
empathy and support in the future.  We appreciate your candid feedback
very much as this allows us to share your experiences and to learn from
them.

Your request for compensation is understandable.  However, our records
indicate that the flight delay was due to FAA restrictions, and
passengers do not receive compensation from United for costs resulting
from weather, air traffic conditions or other circumstances beyond our
control.  Yet considering your circumstances I do want to help out, and
as a gesture of good will I am attaching travel certificates for both of
you.  Please use them on your next United flight and let us show that we
can serve you better.

Ms. Hicks, thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Regards,

Gisela Sofia
United Airlines Customer Relations

For reasons that are likely obvious to anyone who read my original letter, I find this response entirely unsatisfying and thoroughly missing the point of my initial complaints.  Here’s my response:

Dear Ms. Sofia,

I do appreciate your replying to my complaints, but I’m afraid I find your responses unacceptable.

To begin with, you say “you missed your connecting flight in Washington”, as my account makes clear, we did not miss this flight.  We got to the gate within plenty of time to get on the plane had our seats not been given away prior to our getting there.  United Airlines gave those seats away.

You say “the flight delay was due to FAA restrictions, and passengers do not receive compensation from United for costs resulting from weather, air traffic conditions or other circumstances beyond our control” and this is a fair point.  I’ll concede that our initial delay leaving Houston was caused by weather and United Airlines can’t be blamed for weather.  The issue with it is, the delay in Houston is not what caused our problems, our seats being given away before we got to the gate was.

Even worse, your response doesn’t even speak to the upgrade we had to pay for in order for John to be allowed on the flight two days later.  How do you justify making someone pay extra for service we had already paid to receive two days earlier?  How can our initial reservations (for which we paid over $1,100 apeice) have been worth so little to you?

I’m afraid now that we’ve seen how little United Airlines values its customers’ time and money, we have no intention of allowing your company the opportunity to cost us any more of either in the future.  While I appreciate the gesture, your travel vouchers are thus worthless to us and I must repeat my request for an actual reimbursement of the charges unreasonably imposed upon us due to our treatment at the hands of United Airlines.

Just to reiterate, those charges are:

a) The $66 we had to pay for a hotel in DC the night you gave our seats away

b) The $120 extra John had to pay to secure a seat on the flight 2 days later than the one we had already paid to reserve

Sincerely,

Kristen Hicks and John Veron

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