As you may have guessed, I have had a major issue with United Airlines as of late. In fact, United Airlines has made an awful family tragedy even worse for me.
My name is Matt Kent and I currently live in Chicago, IL. I graduated college in 2008 and just over 1 year later, cofounded a small education and brokerage business. I have been working incredibly hard to build ever since, taking home very little pay as I try to make this venture successful. This summer I was on a mission trip in Buffalo, NY where we where we repaired over 50 houses for an economically depressed community. On the final day of that trip I received the terrible news that my grandfather had passed away. The funeral would be held on Long Island, NY in a couple days, so instead of taking my group's bus back to Chicago, I decided to spend the 12+ hours of travel heading straight there. Of course this was a nerve-racking situation, but I eventually made it out there to be with my family.
As it turns out, the funeral arrangements were made for the following Wednesday, which happened to be the same day I was supposed to fly United Airlines to Tampa, FL for a summer 4th of July vacation. I immediately realized that I was not going to make this flight out of respect for my grandfather and our family so I called United Airlines to see if they could help me out. This is where things got really bad...
The United Airlines representative calculated the cost of transferring the ticket to fly out of Kennedy, LaGuardia or Newark airports. They informed me that this would cost anywhere from $460 - $700. Of course this was out of the question so I asked if I could give up my ticket from Chicago to Tampa, allowing them to keep the money I paid for it and resell it (major win for them). This way I would still take the return flight home with my significant other who was going to take her flight from Chicago to Tampa on the allotted day. They were quick to inform me that if I did not check into the Chicago flight, I would automatically lose the return trip. I felt like I had been kicked in the chest. I was already facing a tough situation, and all United Airlines could tell me was that if I could not make a flight out of Chicago on the very same day that we were to bury my grandfather in New York, I was out of luck.
This situation told me that United Airlines would rather have me take my business elsewhere than work with me to their benefit. In other words, they turned their back on a person in need and instead of helping, United Airlines, chose to lose me as a customer forever.
Thus, after 4 hours on the phone and every angle tested, I had no choice but to book additional tickets from New York to Tampa and then from Tampa to Chicago. I paid $380 for this trip (obviously not with United Airlines).
I have had a very pleasant stay in Tampa and as I sit in the airport now reflecting on this situation, my girlfriend sends me a text message stating that at least 1/3 of the seats on her flight were empty. She will arrive in Chicago at around 5PM, but instead of being with her, I will sit in this airport, then in Charlotte and arrive home around 11:15. United Airlines incompetence as it pertains to this situation has not only cost me almost $400 extra, but will force me to travel 9 hours (instead of 3) on the final day of my vacation.
At this moment, I advise family, friends and acquaintances against flying United Airlines for any reason. This situation was unpredictable. Things happen, but if my situation is any indication, United Airlines cannot and will not work with you.
As a business owner, I understand situations like these. I understand my responsibility to take care of my customers especially in situations like this. This was handled irresponsibly, but I do believe that businesses can right their wrongs and will be sure to update this post if any measures are taken, but in the mean time, please consider this situation when booking your next vacation.