• Report: #1062933

Complaint Review: United Airlines

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  • Submitted: Fri, June 28, 2013
  • Updated: Fri, June 28, 2013

  • Reported By: Eric — Austin Texas
United Airlines
900 Grand Plaza Drive NHCCR Houston, Texas USA

United Airlines Ripoff, abuse, incompetence Houston Texas

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I am writing to make you aware of a horrible experience I had recently while attempting to travel on United.  My experience from start to finish was miserable, and it frankly ruined mine and my wife’s 10 year wedding anniversary vacation.  I’ll start at the beginning:

We arrived at Newark airport at 6:15 PM to check in for flight 205 departing at 8:50 PM to Austin on 6/27/13.  Our problems began at the ticket counter.  There were three employees behind the counter. We checked in at the computer touch screen. I indicated that our 1 bag was over weight on the computer. The computer did not prompt me to pay an over weight fee. I set the bag on the scale and was promptly told “your bag is over weight, why didn’t you tell us before you checked in?” I responded that I did in fact indicate this on the computer but it didn’t ask for a fee. I was happy to pay the fee. The problem was, the employee behind the counter had no idea how to accept my payment. He had to ask the person next to him. We then got the same hostile response: why didn’t you tell us? I can’t go back and redo it! (Of course you can “redo it”) I pointed out that there was nowhere for me to redistribute the weight, since I only had one bag. So the second employee, who also had no idea what to do, had to call in a manager to figure out how to accept a fee from me.  Finally, the manager was able to start over and charge me the ridiculous rate of $200 for my overweight bag. I paid the fee and started to walk away when the first employee barked at me- “You have to load the bag yourself! We can’t touch overweight bags!” So, in summary, I paid $200 for the privilege of getting yelled at to load my own bag onto the cart.  That is just part 1.

Next we get to the gate and begin our wait. The plane is delayed due to weather. I understand, you can’t control that. Finally, the plane arrives close to 11 PM and we are told by the gate agent that we are waiting “about 5 minutes” for the pilots to arrive from an inbound New Orleans flight. In the mean time, we board the aircraft. Then we sit as the “5 minutes” turns into an hour. Finally, the pilots announce they are too tired to fly so the flight is cancelled. We are told we will have to talk to someone at a service counter, but are warned that they are on a “skeleton crew” so it may take a while. We get back to the counter. The “skeleton crew” is nobody. Literally 50 or more stranded passengers standing at the counter waiting for someone to arrive. Nobody arrives. The gate agent from earlier comes walking by. We ask him if he can help. He says he can’t and recommends that we call United and deal with it over the phone. He seems disinterested, and dismissive of everyone’s frustrations. His shift is apparently over and he leaves. By this time it is approximately 1 AM on 6/28. After finally getting through to a representative on the phone (45 minutes on hold), we find out that the earliest flight we can be rebooked on is at 3 PM, which is 14 hours away. By this time my wife and I have felt that we have taken enough abuse from United and we decide to call JetBlue and see if they can help us. We get through to them quickly (5 minutes max) and are promptly booked on their first flight out from JFK, which is 9:30 AM.  We then proceed down to baggage claim to retrieve our bag since we won’t have to deal with this United nightmare any longer.

No such luck.  We walk up to an already ongoing discussion with our fellow stranded passengers and a United representative from baggage claim. According to the rep, as soon as our flight was canceled our bags were offloaded from the plane and locked away in storage somewhere. Our bags were going to Austin at 6 AM even though we weren’t. We were rudely informed that was the way it was and nobody was getting their bags. I tried to explain that we weren’t flying United since United wasn’t able to do anything to help us, and we needed to check our bag with JetBlue. I got the same wall of rude indifference- “there’s nothing I can do, take it up with customer service.” It was at this point that my wife finally broke down and started sobbing. I remember what happened next clear as day, because I was so shocked by it. The representative stopped talking, shot her a stare, and rudely said to her “are you done yet?”  We were both so taken back that we didn’t know what to say. So we left.

At this point it is 1:30 AM. We took a $130 cab ride over to JFK and at 2:30 in the morning, began the 7 hour wait for our JetBlue flight. This was the turning point in this saga.

I cannot adequately express how great our experience was with JetBlue. We were treated well, we got smiles and professionalism from start to finish. We were told by a JetBlue check-in representative that our story wasn’t atypical of what they know of United and American, the “dying dinosaurs” of air travel (his words).   Our JetBlue flight was 20 minutes delayed. To make up for it, they showed 3 free movies, normally $5.99, on the flight.  Did you get that? For a measly 20 MINUTE delay, we were given something small that showed us that JetBlue cared at least a little.

Then there was United. We got incompetence, harassment, indifference, hostility. Our luggage was held hostage. Our flight was canceled, and nobody cared or tried to make it better. And as an added slap in the face we were required to pay an extra $200 for the indignity.

When we arrived in Austin, we made one more attempt with a United ticketing agent to get anything back. We were told that for stealing our luggage for 12 hours and canceling our flight, we weren’t entitled to a refund of the baggage fee, or a refund of the flight miles we used to book the nightmare voyage.

But one good thing came of this. I had been a lifelong customer of American, and more recently, United. I had no idea how much better it could be. JetBlue opened my eyes. I will be paying off the balance of my United Visa. I will then use my remaining United miles for hotels and cars (NEVER to fly). When my balance is zero, I will close my credit card account and mileage plus account.

I will also make sure to share my experience with friends, family and clients who have the need to fly in the future.

I have already applied for a JetBlue AMEX and I look forward to actually enjoying air travel in the future.


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/28/2013 03:39 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/United-Airlines/Houston-Texas-77067/United-Airlines-Ripoff-abuse-incompetence-Houston-Texas-1062933. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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