United Airlines – Bad Customer Service

UNBELIEVABLY bad customer service!

In the beginning of June I went to Burlington, Vermont. My trip back, on June 8th was probably the absolutely WORST travel experience I’ve ever had. It wasn’t because my flights were delayed by weather, or because I ended up having to spend the night in the Chicago airport, or even because my luggage was slightly misplaced in Portland. It was my trip from hell because of really, really, REALLY lousy customer service.

I understand weather is sometimes unpredictable and planes can be late because the weather is terrible somewhere else and that screws up the whole system. When that happens, I expect the airlines to be understanding, informative and, if necessary, provide at least blankets and pillows for those who end up stranded in the airport.

However, on this June day, the United Airlines staff were uninformative, unhelpful and apparently didn’t give a damn about the passengers. We were ignored, blatently lied to and treated like cattle. I spent about 4 hours in line, routed from one place to the next, without EVER talking to a customer service person. And when I finally did, I ended up with someone who didn’t know anything at 1:30 in the morning and unable to get back through security … so I slept in baggage claim!

After I got home (very, very pissed off), I submitted a customer service complaint online and wrote a detailed letter (read the full letter ). Tried faxing that to the Customer Service fax number, but it was disconnected. When I called, I spoke to someone in India who gave me a different fax number – also disconnected. So I mailed the letter United’s President and CEO, Vice-President and COO, Senior Vice President, and Customer Service Manager.

In response to my on-line complaint, I received a form letter saying “we are currently experiencing a high volume of emails, so please accept my apology for not being able to respond with a more personalized reply.”

On June 21st I received a letter from “Customer Relations” with a $150 coupon towards a United Flight. I still haven’t decided if I will ever fly on United again … even with the coupon.


  1. Marie, your story makes me relive some of my awful flying experiences! I fly a lot and I’ve had bad service from most of the airlines. The statistics show that only 64% of flights (or some awfully low number!) take off on time now – so flying is even more fraught with tension and difficulty than ever before.

    It’s been about 3 months, have you softened in your position towards United at all? =)

  2. I haven’t heard anything else from United and am still undecided about using their airlines again. That coupon is tempting, though!

  3. I am currently dealing with a horrendous lost bag situation. I am advising everyone to never fly them again. So upsetting. I will be posting a blog and bulletin with details on the issue. 🙁

  4. Anne-Marie, I read your blogs – what a lot of terrific research! As I posted to your blog, I got $150 from United as an attempt to placate me. I really wasn’t going to use it, but it was too tempting – so I used to it offset part of my guy’s fare to Burlington for the Soap Guild 2008 Conference.

    I’m crossing my fingers – and packing a pillow and blanket in my carry-on just in case!

  5. United did the same thing to me, so nothing has changed. But what is sad is they bumped my son last week put him through the mean crappy service and 34 hours with no sleep no apology. Well geuss what, today my fiance booked his mom on United through chicago Ohare, same thing, they bumped her, made a 66 year old woman sleep on the park benches in the terminals. Do they care NO. There are no excuses for this, it is their fault things are messed up and the customers should not be punished for this. Oil prices went up so what, that doesn’t mean punish all the consumers. United Airlines should be ashamed of themselves.

  6. Pingback: Marie Gale.com » Traveling by United - Again

  7. For those of you that want to complain, call the United CEO directly Glenn F. Tilton at their Chicago Hdqtrs. Everyone should be calling this number and inundating whoever answers until someone who can really helps talks to you. 312 997-8000!!!

  8. Hello, we have bad experience with United, baggage had arrived in the middle of our trip in Tunisia, I claimed the losses, and in correspondence, those Indian employees, seemed like they don’t read my letters or do not know English, just have generic one fits all answer, and the major answer is not to pay any claims for 5 days delay of luggage in country like Tunisia, without toothpaste, clothes only what you fly with, some receipts were provided, by they just ignored. Teresa

  9. Worst flight ever, UA 5182 LA to Aspen. Supposedly for Hollywood types, typical wait is 1 hr for luggage. Lost my luggage, very lackadaisical about locating it

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