United Express Airlines / Bumped off the Flight due to oversales
On March 9 of this year I booked through Orbitz a flight from Fairbanks, Alaska to Knoxville, Tennessee on Frontier and United Express through Denver. Our Orbitz confirmation clearly stated on the itinerary that the seats for the last leg (Denver to Knoxville on United) "will be assigned at check-in." On August 8, the night we were to leave Fairbanks, we checked in with Frontier Air and were told we would not be able to secure boarding passes for the United Express portion of the flight until we reached Denver. At 6 am (four hours before the flight was to leave to Knoxville) we approached a United Express representative in Denver and were given 5 boarding passes, two with seat assignments and three without. We were assured by this individual that those seats would be assigned but that we could not find out what the seats were until 9:30, one half hour before the flight left.
We arrived at the desk at 9am, concerned about getting seats, and were put off, and told that “if we hadn’t booked through Orbitz and had gone directly through the airline” we wouldn’t be having a problem with seats on the plane. The ticket agent refused to assign the seats at that time. At 9:30 we were informed that the flight had been overbooked and that we did not, in fact, have seats for everyone in our party.
The attendant handed us a pamphlet on the reasons for overbooking and told us we could take it up with customer service.
Our party consisted of three adults and two children, and initially they tried to give us four of the five seats, leaving one of the children back in Denver! As it happened, the children's grandmother did not receive a seat and stayed the entire day in Denver waiting for the next flight, while we carried aboard our two distraught and crying children who did not understand why Grandma had to be left behind on her birthday.
United Airlines caused our family a great deal of stress and inconvenience, through NO FAULT OF OUR OWN, simply because they knowingly overbooked our flight and refused to assign us seats or to allow me to secure seats online months before. We paid for a service which they failed to deliver, and they are not even apologetic about it. The attendant even had the audacity to imply that we were in error for not checking in earlier, despite the fact that we were unable to do so online from our hotel the day before, nor were we permitted to do so by Frontier Air before the first leg of our trip. We made every attempt to secure our boarding passes as early as possible and were stymied by their insolent and unhelpful staff at every turn.
The bottom line is this: United Airlines will allow you to pay exorbitant amounts for seats on a flight, but does not guarantee you a seat on said flight. They will bump you with no thought whatsoever to who is in your party (in our case two small children) and will treat you as if it is your fault.
Apparently, the Denver branch of United Airlines has a reputation for this kind of dishonesty and for poor service. I would recommend choosing another airline for your travel needs. This was despicable treatment.
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