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United Airlines Sucks!


So back on May 23’rd of this year I was flying home out of Schiphol Airport after two long weeks working two separate trade shows in Europe.  I arrived at the airport almost three hours early and was one of the first in line to check in.

The check in crew showed up all smiles laughing and joking with each other and seemed to really enjoy themselves for about 30 minutes while about 50 people in line watched and wondered why they weren’t taking their stations and helping us.

Finally they open. I get to the counter and asked the United agent if I could change my seat from a window to an aisle. She was very polite but told me the only aisle seats were premium seats and it would cost me 100 + euros to upgrade.  I had a long flight ahead and didn’t want to get stuck in the window like I had on the way over so I agreed and paid the fee to upgrade.

A couple of hours later I get on the plane and notice the plane is more than half empty and there are tons of aisle seats available all over the aircraft.

When we land in Chicago I tell the agent at the gate what had happened. She tells me there is nothing she can do and sends me to another counter.  I talk to the agent there, she says nothing she can do and I will have to call their main number when I get back home. I ask for a supervisor. She comes over, I tell the story for a third time and she tells me there is nothing she can do and turns he back and walks away from me while I am still talking.

I was stunned.  United Airlines just straight up ripped me off! I was going to do this blog post when I got home and tell the story but noticed United was on Twitter. So I sent them a Tweet. Go a reply within a day or so. Told the person the story via DM and never heard back.

Now today I come across this fantastic United Breaks Guitars video.  Dave Carroll who wrote the song and created the video definitely lost more than I did but was basically treated the exact same way.  Dave plans to eventually air three videos and get to one million page views. He is already over 200,000 page views (and nearly 2,500 comments) in two days so I think its a pretty safe bet he is going to make this goal. I for one will do everything I can to help him get there and hope Dave is able to come play this song live at BlogWorld in October. Maybe Dave could use several thousand of us all singing the “United Breaks Guitars” chorus together and use it in one of his videos?.

Do you have a story to tell about how United gave you the short end of the stick?

If so please leave a comment below or send us a link to your own post and we will link back to you here.

If any of you have ever heard my Social Media 101 talk you have heard me say “If you treat your customers badly then you deserved to be punished for it and social media allows your customers to do that”.
Well United you deserved to be punished for your actions but take heart. Social media also allows you to make up for your poor service and complete disregard for your customers like Dave and my welfare and do it in a very public way.

I for one am not to proud to forgive and Dave strikes as the forgiving kind of guy as well. Hell he gave you nine months to try and make it right!

btw, you can read the full story on Dave Carroll’s website here.

So what’s your United Airlines customer service nightmare story?

I know lots of you have them.


  • Katalin Baltimore

    Other than the fact that United could not get my baggage to arrive along with me to or from my destination, the following happened to me:

    I received a call on Sunday morning that a close relative had just passed away. I was in Hamilton MT at the time. The funeral was in New Jersey. I spent over an hour trying to arrange for a flight back home to get to it, one day earlier than my reserved departure. I was told that there were seats available on the flight I wanted, but there was no way that they could hold the seat for me, because there was no one anywhere on Sunday afternoon who could do it. I should call the next morning and book the flight then.

    After spending another hour on the phone on Monday, I was told that the seats were all sold out, except for first class, which would cost $1400. plus $400+ for making the change. I told them that it was my father who passed away–it did not make a difference. They refused to consider a bereavement price. Needless to say, I did not have $2000 to get to the funeral and so had to miss it.

    I do have to say that United was willing to reimburse me for the change in itinerary ($400+) after I proved the death of the person. NO such offer was made for the first class ticket.

    Add to this the delays in going and coming from my destination, without ever letting us know as we sat at the gate. And with all the delays, they only had a few types of drinks and not even peanuts for free. And when I told the flight attendant that I was cold, and if I could have a blanket, I was told that the blankets were removed due to the Swine Flu epidemic and never returned to the planes.
    I was also told by other passengers. that if your flight is delayed and you miss your connection late at night, they will not pay for overnight accommodations.

    I really will think twice before booking with United again.

  • S.

    It seems, avoiding the responsibilities is a very feature of the United Airlines: M. Kerjman v United Airlines http://mkwrk2.livejournal.com/

  • Ashley K. Edwards

    I don’t have a story specific to United Airlines, but:

    1. I’ve recently been hearing tons of situations about poor customer services experiences. It’s shocking to me in this day-and-age, particularly in this economy. Companies need to get-it-together and realize their business may fall because of a lack of customer service. Besides, it costs NOTHING to provide excellent customer service. What would it’ve really cost United to give you an aisle seat for free?
    2. This is the perfect example of a business/company being on Twitter, and not using it properly. It someone is “@” or DMd, they’d better respond.

  • MargeK

    United flight from Dulles to Denver on July 8, 2009.
    Arrived in Denver –smooth landing — and then we waited 20 yards from the gate, waiting for the jetway crew! Did they NOT know we were coming?

    Finally got off the plane and waited 50 yes — FIFTY minutes for our bags to arrive on the carousal. Other flights were coming and going. We waited and waited. United SUCKS big time!

  • Pyeware

    Yes, I have a storybto tell. I am still trying to work with UAL let’s see if they can help me. yes, UAL agents are highly incompetent. The agents here at my airport cannot even tell if the piece of paper I am showing them is a VISA or a passport. Now give me a break. Agents like these are going to keep our borders safe. I have gone above and beyond to do do everything that I am suppose to do as a passenger. If they still don’t come through I will be back here to tell the complete story.

  • Dooglip

    I had a complicated itinerary with multiple cities and ended up not using the first leg of a round trip. When I arrived to check in for the return flight, I was told they cancelled the entire trip (with no refund) because I did not “report in” on the first leg, and I would have to purchase another ticket. Never flying United again.

  • Netsirkfri

    Smizeck Sucks. He sold out all of the continental employees and passengers.   Lets start a new site, throw shit at smizek. 

  • Geoff

    On June 10th I booked a flight for July 29th to fly to visit my wife’s family in Panama. In early July my wife’s grandfather suddenly passed away, and I called United to push the flight so we can make the funeral. I explain the the representative that I am doing this trip on a very limited budget, and given that it is an emergency in the family, I asked for United to work with me of the fee’s to change.

    United agreed to charge me “only 400$” to change the flight. After making the change, I find the United charged me 900$ in addition to the 400$, for a total of 1300$. I paid 2600 for two tickets to Panama, economy. They double charged me for the flight.

    I called the airline after my trip and they refused to refund me my money. While the record all phone conversations, they do not have a CRM and did not have access to my recorded call earlier.

    1) lied to me – charged me way more than what I agreed to change my flight.
    2) exploited me and my family by charging us 2X the normal cost for a ticket at a time when we were dealing with a death in the family.

    I truly hate United Airlines. In my mind the company full out defrauded me, and in addition, offended me in my family by behaving in the way that it did in a time of crises. I will never fly on the airline again, and will bash the company and discourage anyone from flying with them for the rest of my life. They have likely lost 10’s of thousands of dollars of business directly from me, and I will make efforts to diminish their brand. Companies that behave like United deserve to be overcome by competition and fail.

  • Joe

    This person claims that to was “ripped off” but does not explain in any detail of how United Airlines violated the blogger’s ticket contract or did not give the passenger something that he was entitled to as opposed to feeling a sense of entitlement. Premium seats do cost extra and just because there are a number of empty premium seats does not mean a passenger has the right to sit in one for free. Dies thus person also believe that if there is an empty First Class seat that he should entitled to sit in first class seat when he has bought a coach ticket? The only “tipoff” that I see as i the damage to United Airline’s reputation by this foolish and irresponsible story.

  • Rick Calvert

    I am sorry if I didn’t explain this fully Joe. The plane was empty. The gate agent told me “only premium seats were available”. She lied.

    I did not pay for a first class seat, or for a “premium seat”. I paid to move from a window seat to an aisle seat. When boarded the plane I noticed I would have been the only person sitting in my aisle even if I had stayed in my original seat.

    The gate agent could have easily changed my ticket at no charge which is common practice. Maybe you don’t fly very often. I do.

    Or she could have told me the truth and told me the plane was 80% empty and there were plenty of aisle seats available and that the entire row I was already booked to sit in was completely empty.

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