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I appreciate your insight into the fundamental problems resulting in such poor service from United. I used to fly United a lot but after an experience with them last month, I will be avoiding them if at all possible. I will happily pay more to avoid them. My experience pales in comparison to a parent not being able track down their child, but my experience was horrid enough. I was flying east on short notice to help a friend with a medical emergency get to the hospital each day for a week. my flight was through Chicago. when i landed in Chicago and got to the gate for my next flight, i discovered the flight out had been canceled due to 'weather on the east coast'. my destination was fine but United's schedules were apparently affected by weather in other cities. I got on standby for the 9pm flight, which wound up flying out around midnight. Unfortunately I was 8th in the standby list and only one standby passenger made it on. I got myself set up for standby for the next morning's flight. by the time I left the airport it was after 1am. I managed to get to a hotel and get 3 hrs of sleep before getting back to the airport to get in line for my standby. i was third in line for standby and only two were taken but whoever was second didn't come when called so I got lucky. I got on the flight. I arrived a day late which put a big burden on my friend's family but I got there and I helped out for a week. A week later, I went to the airport to head home. I arrived at the airport with 2 hrs to spare. I presented my confirmation code and was told "you're not on this flight". Huh? After a while they figured it out. "For some reason" when my flight out through Chicago got disrupted, the rest of my itinerary was canceled. I had NOT been notified. I double checked my emails. Nope. Nothing from United. I was told that all of United flights that day were oversold and that I shouldn't even bother going on standby, there was absolutely no way they could get me home that day. I was going to have to get myself to a hotel, stay a night and go home the next day (my friends live in a rural area quite far from the airport so I couldn't just go back to their home). I very nearly had a meltdown but didn't think the person giving me this news deserved to be yelled at. It did bother me that this person had absolutely NO SYMPATHY for my situation. She offered NOTHING. No help, no assistance finding lodging etc, she just said "You can get on a flight tomorrow afternoon, that's all I can offer you" and basically asked me to go away at that point. So I walked to the next counter, which was Jet Blue, and bought a flight home and came home that day with no additional issues. Once home, we then contacted United to attempt to arrange a refund. Since THEY CANCELED my flights, for no reason, without informing me, and put me in the position of having to purchase another flight to get home on time, I expected they would refund the cost of the flights THEY CANCELED. But their response? Those are "non-refundable tickets", so they have refused my refund request. I will not be flying United again any time soon if I can at all help it. I do not expect that they will be able to undertake the cultural changes needed to actually become a "good" company. I can't imagine that people in leadership positions at the company "care" about their customers. This is likely a problem all the way to the core of the business, and it's a big company.
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Aug 14, 2012