To whom it may concern,
I am a Premier Mileage Plus member with United, and I recently booked a trip from Dulles to Atlanta with my wife and two small chldren (3 year old and 7 month old). I normally travel for business, and specifically choose United for my personal travel when other airlines were a bit cheaper.
We were supposed to depart Dulles at 4:40p on a United Express flight, but the original plane had a maintenance issue (something about the pilot shoulder restraint). Our flight ended up being delayed while they first attempted to fix the problem, then attempted to find a spare plane to use. The spare plane finally arrived and we boarded, but after we had boarded the pilot reported a maintenance issue with the attitude system. He powered the plane down completely for a few minutes, and we finally taxied away from the gate. After almost reaching the runway, the pilot reported yet another maintenance issue, this time due to a hot brake warning (apparently one of the brakes was engaged the entire time we taxied to the runway). This issue could not be fixed and we were forced to deplane and wait for yet another spare.
This process took longer than our entire flight was supposed to take, and by this point we had spent over 8 hours at the airport with no results. Both of my children were exhausted, so I went over to the United Customer Service desk to see what could be done about getting a flight for the next day. I spoke with representatives named Billy and Princess W., and after about 20 minutes or so they finally put us on a Delta flight for the next morning.
I asked what would happen to our checked baggage, and was told that it would be taken to ATL overnight and would be waiting in the baggage area the next morning. I mentioned that the United Express pilot told us he would get our bags off that night (he didn't), and was told by the United CS representative that United Express pilots are "stupid" and don't know what they are talking about. As we left the airport that night to go back home, I stopped by the United Baggage Desk and asked where our bags were. I was told they were on a plane to ATL and could be picked up the next day.
When we arrived at ATL the next day, I went to the United Baggage Desk our bags were not there, even though we were assured multiple times the night before that they were already on a plane bound for ATL. After 30 minutes of going back and forth between Delta and United, I discovered that they were put on a United flight that left AFTER our Delta flight that morning, about 18 hours after we were told they were on a plane. The bags finally arrived and both wheels on one suitcase were severely cracked and damaged. When I pointed this out to United, they claimed that it was Delta's responsibility since we flew on their airline, even though the bags were never touched by Delta.
Later, when I called United to cancel our return flight, I was told by the Mileage Plus supervisor I spoke with that this was incorrect, and it was in fact United's responsibility. He transferred me to the baggage department, which then told me the exact opposite - that it was Delta's responsibility. I told the representative that I did not think it was fair for Delta to be charged with fixing or replacing the suitcase since they never touched the suitcase, and were able to transport my family and I safely to ATL - on time.
After all of this, the only compensation I was offered by United was a 10% off voucher, which I will not use because I will not be choosing United for personal travel in the future. This isn't the first time I've dealt with maintenance issues and delays with United (prior to this trip my boss had commented that he won't fly with me anymore due to my bad luck, and I'm not sure if he was joking or not), but this experience was awful. I do not believe United or United Express know how to properly maintain aircraft.
I will certainly be avoiding United as much as possible in the future for business travel, and will be avoiding it completely for personal travel.
Both Delta flights were some of the best experiences I've had traveling. There were no maintenance issues or baggage issues, and customer service was actually helpful and polite when I called to get our seats arranged (and when attempting to find our United bags at ATL). I'm certain Delta isn't perfect, but the level of service they provided when compared to United was worlds apart. I will be making every effort to avoid United flights in the future, even though I am close to attaining elite status again this year.