Dicked over by airline

Posted on March 8, 2016 | in Travellers Questions | by

———- TL;DR ———-

Made a flight change ($500) before leaving to try to make it earlier in my final destination and miss some damning weather, my booking ended up getting screwed up. Ended up missing three flights because of a faulty booking system.   Required to buy additional ticket with alternate carrier ($200) in order to make my commitment that I had paid more to arrive earlier. Contacted United Customer Service and was offered a less than paltry compensation package ($150) and are denying me trying to escalate the claim. Now they’re dodging my emails.

  Any advice on what to do next?   Am I just being an ungrateful dick? If you answered yes, please read below, then proceed to call me an ungrateful dick.

  ———- The main story ———-

I’ll try to make this vaguely interesting.   Had a booking through United that was from Canada to the US (leaving at 5:00, 4-Feb) to make a flight to go to Carnaval in Brazil (around 19:00 4-Feb). I was due to arrive about eight hours before (11:30, 4-Feb) so had plenty of time for any basic delays for missed connections, plane repairs, etc.   No worries; it was poutine week in Quebec… eat poutine, drink beer. Nothing to worry about. Easy.

  I wake up 3-Feb and it’s pissing down snow. Shit. Some epic weather was coming. Not being in Australia anymore (I live in Australia), my casual “no worries mate”, began to devolve into a “holy shit this white stuff is going to ruin my epic plans for non-stop drinking and steak in Brazil”. So, I made a flight change (paid nearly $500) so I could make sure that I arrived in time for my other flight on a separate ticket. I was now departing at 17:00 (3-Feb), due to arrive at 23:50 (3-Feb).

  No dramas; got my last bit of gourmet poutine for lunch before heading to the airport, well before I needed to be there for a domestic connection. Life was great.

  When I arrived at the airport the people at the Air Canada (AC) desk did not have my new ticket. They only had my original booking which had me leaving at 5:00, 4-Feb. I showed them my confirmation from United (UA), but they told me they couldn’t help me as it wasn’t in their system, so I called up UA and was put on hold.   I was on hold for aaaaages and the UA call centre was hopeless, and blamed AC , so he ended up calling their help desk. It got to the point where it was 10 minutes away from the airline to close the check-in counter. So I go up, chill af, and work my best French with a different customer service agent (CSA) who, through some computer magic was able to issue a boarding pass with literally half a minute of time to spare.

  Sweet as; I made it! Now off to the airport bar to watch some kids beat each other up in ice hockey on the telly.   Flight’s delayed because of the weather, as it required some repairs. “Ahhhh mate, you legend, what a great choice making this flight change. If this had happened tomorrow, you would have missed your connection, and you’d be as dry as a dingo. Now you’ll be dancing in the streets skolling a can of Skol in no time!” I post myself up in the bar and keep drinking, I grab some poutine as we wait.   It becomes apparent that I’m going to miss my connection out of Toronto. Worse things can happen. Free accommodation and food from AC, they’ll rebook me anyway. This is why I paid the extra money, right? All aces.   Get into T.dot, and waited in line at the ticketing area for AC to get rebooked on a flight for the next day. Got up to the desk :   “Heya mate, howyegowan? Gotta shoot down to Houston and be there tomorra arvo, ya-reckon you can help this poor bugger out?”   CSA couldn’t help this poor bugger out. Rewind the tape back to Quebec airport. Press play CHUNK whirrrr.   She informed me that UA had me in their system as boarded on my flight to Houston. I brought up the fact that, no I was not in fact on a plane heading to Houston, I was in Toronto. She called UA/AC helpdesk, blamed UA for being incompetent pieces of shit. She couldn’t issue me a replacement ticket to get to Houston because technically I was on the flight they wanted to replace. She called two of her other colleagues over to look at my situation. Neither of them knew what the fuck was going on.   CSA makes a plan. When that plane lands in Houston, they’ll be able to disembark me from the plan and then reissue to ticket. But they’ll have to wait until it lands in Houston (not for another three hours). They give me an itinerary. Direct to Houston as opposed to my original Dallas connection. Well at least I’ll get there with plenty of time. She can’t check me in but assures me I’ll be fine when I get back tomorrow morning.

  Good onya, CSA, I’ll show up early and get it all sorted out and she’ll be apples. I get to the hotel bar. Couple of coldies, and I’m out on the bed.

  Get well before the sun’s up, and start queuing. Line was massive, but I got there 2.5 hrs in advance. She’ll be right… Time shrunk even more, and soon they moved us to a priority lane to check us in before the one hour cut off. Pretty soon I was at the desk. Rewind the tape to the night before. Press play. CHUNK whirrrr.

  Discussed with the AC CSA the exact same issues that I had had the previous night. She invites a few more of her colleagues to have a laugh at my situation. They blame UA. UA blames them, and apparently I’m already in Houston, disembarked, but the greedy bastards didn’t return the ticket to AC. I assure them I’m not. I wait in line long enough where I miss my check in period.   Shit.

  Ol’ mate walks me over to the ticketing agent, where I wait in line. My adopted Aussie chill was running a bit low so she cuts me in front and I get to the desk. Replay the tape! He offers me a few options, says he still can’t book me in, but we start discussing timing. I tell him I need to be in as early as possible. I briefly mention that I had made a flight change the day before and he asks me what flight I was on.   “T’Dallas mate. At 8:20”.   “Why didn’t you say so before?!” clickity clack clack clack beep beep boop, waves a wand at the computer

  Hands me a boarding pass. I’m on the exact same flight that I was originally booked on. “You’ve got twenty minutes to make your flight, eh. Better start making your way there. You’ll need to get your Houston flight when —”.

  And I’m off. I’ve never been a fan of the running man in the airports. I’m usually sitting down at the bar laughing that some guy didn’t give himself enough time to make his connection. “Haha bloody wonderful timing the poor ol bugger has, wot wot”, as I sip my G&T, replace my time piece in my waist coat and fix my top hat.

  Running at (special) Olympian speed (not Oscar Pistorus, pre-murder). I get to immigration. Thank god I’m a US citizen and am part of Global Entry. I’m in and out of immigration and security in 7 minutes flat. World fucking record. I run just outside the gate, take a breath and then saunter into the boarding line. I give the CSA a wink as I hand her my ticket.


  “Uh sir, there’s no ticket assigned to the boarding pass”.

  Rewind the ta—

  “Oh, don’t worry I’ve got the authority to get you through”.

  Cue success baby meme.

  I fly on my way to Dallas. Super chilled. Like SUPER chilled. I was going to make it, with time for some pre-flight beers in the bar!

  I get into Dallas. Just to be sure I check with the Dallas AC staff, and get them to print out an itinerary of my plans. Shit’s fucking sorted, I fist bump the AC CSA as I leave. Flight in two hours at 12:30. I get to the UA desk and throw down my passport and itinerary.

  “One ticket please”.

  “Uh sir, you’re not supposed to be here. You’re supposed to be in Houston”

  I assure the lady I am not in fact a figment of her imagination, and not in Houston but indeed in front of her in Dallas. I start to melt like an icy pole right then and there, fair dinkum; my knees start to wobble and I’m getting the sniffles.

  They send me to the ticketing agent. Rewind the tape. Press play. CHUNK whirrrrrr

  I start getting more and more sarcastic. They blame AC. AC blames UA. They assure me I’m in Houston. I assure them I’m not. Some other CSAs come over, have a quick giggle. Nothing she can do to help. Clock’s ticking. It’s past 12:00. I miss my check in window.

  “Oh that’s alright, it’s only one more missed flight”.

  Poor woman’s trying her hardest and I’m being a sarcastic cunt. I apologize profusely, of course, my naturally Texan upbringing shining through the dingo shit that’s covering me.

  The supervisor saunters over to the desk and looks down at me with a look of disgust.   clickity clack clack clack clickity clack click
erhnnnnnnnnnn crrrrrrrhhhhhhhh chunk

  Out comes a boarding pass. “Here you go, sir”. Departure 18:00, arrives 19:05. Plenty of time for my 19:30 flight.

  “This is the best you can do? I pay $500 to arrive earlier, and now I’m arriving 8 hours later, due to the complete incompetence of your booking system?”


  “Screw this, I’m flying American”

  Go over by a ticket with American for $200, and I explain my issue. They give me lounge access. Ismash a few brews in the lounge, and get to Houston with 2.5 hrs to spare before my flight, which ironically is through Dallas… On United.

  ———- United “Cares” ———- Brazil was great. Cold beer, friendly people, great food, beautiful women, an excessive amount of machine gun miming (dra dra dra-ing) – all in all a wonderful time.

  I get back to Houston and begin to try to write this down in a much more professional manner than the above novel. I succeed in writing it up on Word. Three pages long filled with every detail you can imagine from timings, ticket numbers, and even the names of the CSA’s (though I made sure to say this was not at all the fault of the CSA’s they worked their goddamn hearts out).

  I go to the United Cares page, and start filling in the paperwork to get some sort of explanation of what happened. I get to the comments section, where I have a total of 2000, characters to file my complaint.

  Shit 2000, characters? I’ve got 2000, words! Solution? Print as PDF and attach. I wait for a few days for a response.

  To summarise the response : "we provide flawless service with our airline partners (false), your tickets were exchanged (true but fuck you), sucks to suck (true), here’s a flight voucher for $150”.

  I complain with a lack of explanation on why United had me boarded on a flight I was not on, how this was not due to a mechanical failure, and just specific to my ticket. I also explain I live in Australia and a United voucher is close to useless, and the amount clearly insufficient for the amount of pain and suffering that I was put through, not to mention the additional money I had to spend to get to my destination in a reasonable amount of time (am I being an ungrateful dick?).

  I’m a very frequent flyer, so is my father who I was discussing about this. He just got $500 for an overbooked flight. I was in it for blood (am I being an ungrateful dick?), though of course in a professional manner… like Hitman as opposed to Conan the Barbarian.

  So with my choice words, I get a response… this time for 7500, bonus miles instead of the $150. Arguably, a worse option. I made aware of my qualms, you know, professionally.

  She replies : The $150 certificate / or 7500, bonus miles offered as compensation was above the guidelines provided for the type of interruption that you experienced

  I see a chink in the armour, I thrust the dagger.   Can you please clarify what type of interruption I experienced?

  She replies, deftly dodging my query, disregarding it completely : Your United ticket was a contract between us to transport you safely and as comfortable as possible between your point of origin and destination.

We have re-examined your concerns. We believe that the compensation we offer is fair and reasonable and in line with the service you experienced

  Another opening… I go in for the kill, the jugular vulnerable

Can you please clarify what type of interruption my "delay" was classified under, as requested below? This was not mentioned in your reply.

Can you also please clarify what metrics are used when deciding whether or not a contract was fulfilled in transporting a passenger as comfortably as possible between point of origin and destination?

  I sit in my arm chair, grinning and twirling my glorious moustache. I have them by the balls now.

  ping “You’ve got mail!”

  Dear BolshevikPower

We, would like to hear from you about how our Customer Care team did in responding to the feedback you recently provided to United. Your thoughts are important to us as we are always looking for ways to improve how we serve our customers.


  And this is where I stand now. I’ve sent a follow up reply a week after I sent the last email and have yet to receive a reply.

  I haven’t had worse customer service since not getting a post-nookie snuggle from that ladyboy… er I mean lady in Bangkok.

  ———- Plea for advice ———- What do you guys think I should do? Anybody have any advice? Am I being an ungrateful dick? Any resources that I should use?

  For the few of you banditos that have hung around long enough. You guys are fucking legends. I hope you enjoyed it at least 2% as much as I did writing this. Thanks for letting me bitch.


Edit : Lots of formatting.

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