Saturday, March 12, 2011

My United Airlines Blues

On Tuesday March 8th I was supposed to fly from GSO, with United Airlines via Washington, Dulles and JFK airport in NY to Abu Dhabi in the United Emirates (well the flight from NYC to Abu Dhabi would have been with Etihad Airlines.) On Tuesday my flight from GSO to IAD was delayed so much that I could not have made my connections, and I ended up not going, but wasted a lot of time in the airport. We rebooked and tried the same route again on Wednesday March 9th. After pushing flight UA7679 away from the gate in Greensboro at 2:45pm we sat for 2 hours on the tarmac seemingly because of thunderstorms in DC. I managed to get to Washington Dulles around 5:20pm, but despite on board promises that we all would make our connections I ended up missing flight UA5693 to JFK.

The typical finger pointing game started when I went to customer service. After waiting in line for more than an hour I was told that I should not have booked my flight on 2 different airlines, that thus United could only help me get to NYC, but not to Abu Dhabi. I would have to call Etihad Airlines myself to get assistance to go to Abu Dhabi. When I called Etihad, they told me that their flight is not late and that they can't see the problem, plus it should be United's job to get me there

Once it became clear that I would not make any of my connections to Abu Dhabi, I knew I now would arrive too late for the Abu Dhabi Triathlon there, and decided to return to GSO before I would end up getting stuck overnight in Washington. Around 7pm the Customer Service desk at Washington-Dulles (C terminal) assisted me with the matter and got me on a flight back to GSO and promised to work on getting my checked bag (at that time in Washington,DC seemingly) back with me to Greensboro. I checked again with customer service in the A terminal before my flight UA5761 was departing at 10:12pm and I was told that my checked bag is indeed going with me.

When I arrived at GSO just after 11pm, my bag did not get there and I filed a delayed baggage claim UA816781 with a very unprofessional baggage handler there and listed my home address 1311 Clover Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 as the final destination.

As advised I called the 1800-221-6903 number the next morning around 9am (March 10th) and was told that my bag is in Buffalo, NY and would be back with me within 24 hours and I would get a call later. When I had not heard a thing by 7pm I called again and was told that my bag is at JFK airport in NYC and soon would be coming coming back via Greensboro.

When I still had not received any update on March 11th by 10am I called again and asked for a supervisor. The supervisor then advised me that my bag first needed to go to Abu Dhabi, UAE my original final destination before it could get routed elsewhere. This certainly made no sense to me, as that could not happen if I planned to do something along those lines. After some back and forth the supervisor told me he would put in a note to make sure the bag comes back to GSO instead and would not go to Abu Dhabi. And he promised to expect a call.

Today is March 12th and at 1pm I made another call and was first "helped" by one person who gave me no information other than asking me for my information that is clearly in my file complaint. Most annoying thing at that baggage center is that the service folks seem to be otherwise occupied as they are talking to me. While they asked me questions like "So is your backup phone number 336-776 ....?" and "So you noted you want your bag shipped to Winston-Salem?" I could hear feverish typing at that desk. Are they sending emails to friends or handling customer service for other brands while they appease the annoying customer with non info? Eventually I was connected to a different supervisor who at first had no info other than telling that they are waiting to hear back from JFK and to expect a call soon, before noting "I just go a message that bag left JFK on March 11th with Etihad flight 100 to Abu Dhabi.

Are you kidding me?

I missed a major event because of the messed up flights and now this baggage nightmare? I am sure the FAA will find this story quite interesting.

I need my bag back here in North Carolina asap and I am owed a major apology at the very least.


Rich Cruse said...

Sorry to hear about this Herbert! I had things stolen from my luggage on a flight to Maui. Deaf ears were in plentiful supply at the Customer Service counter!

RobLindqu said...

United baggage customer service is a joke. Almost exactly a year ago my wife and I flew to New Jersey (where our wedding was) to Chicago for the weekend for some wedding related activities, one of which was having our engagement pictures taken. Since it was a weekend trip, we only had carry-on luggage. Because of these checked baggage prices, EVERYONE carries bags on and we had to gate-check our carry-ons. Well, United somehow managed to lose her bag (that was GATE CHECKED!). Long story short, it took over 24 hours for them to locate the bag (which somehow got mutilated) and get it delivered to us. We missed our engagement shoot because she was wearing something not so fit for engagement pictures (her words, not mine as I always thing she's beautiful) and continually received the run-around from United's India-based call center who had no clue what was going on. We haven't flown United since. My conclusion through our ordeal (and yours): United customer service call centers will only make you feel like they are taking care of you, they actually have no ability to change the way your situation is handled.

Anonymous said...

That is crazy.

Jane Fier said...

They really need to get boycotted

Karen said...

Don't even get me started with United. They are the worst.