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24 April 2012

United Delays Ruin Family Holiday

Letter Sent to United Airlines

Dear Senior Management,

It saddens me greatly to have to write in this manner, however it is absolutely necessary to express our families horrific firsthand experience of using United Airlines Services, converse from the United Airlines ‘Customer Commitment’ boasted online. Normally all our long haul flights are through British Airways and the experience has always been close to perfect as possible. Under the reviews we read on the website we decided this year to try United Airlines, how wrong we were.

Namely our complaint is pertaining to the failed departure of flight UA935Y, which was scheduled to depart on 31st March 2012 from London Heathrow Terminal 1 at 10.25am GMT, and to say an inconvenience was suffered is a mass understatement.

After much careful financial budgeting and planning over the course of 2011, we finally booked our holiday in September 2011, to fly us out in March 2012 to Hawaii from England. The United Airlines role was absolutely simple yet fundamental to the fulfilment of our holiday, to get us to Los Angeles where we would get our transfer to Honolulu, Hawaii to commence our much anticipated holiday.

The holiday was to celebrate a much eagerly awaited 30th birthday along with a work promotion. Both of us had to overcome difficulties at work in order to synchronise the Easter Holiday 2012 period off, with multiple employers, including schools.

To give you a bit of background and how the events unfolded on 31st March 2012:

We all put our pets into care, in readiness for the holidays the day before, (cost of £350). We set off at 5.25am, arrived promptly at Heathrow Airport via Taxi’s at 7.25am at a cost of £160 single journey, (£320 return taxi fare). We all checked in our luggage and had breakfast in the departures lounge (at a cost of £40).

At 10.25am an announcement was made that our flight had been cancelled due to blade damage and to report to the boarding gate. The attendant gave us a sheet with a telephone number to ring for further information, we did and were put on hold for 45 minutes. The earliest we could fly out now was 3rd April 2012.

Following this phone call, we were told we would now be taken to a hotel to stay overnight, and flown out at 2.30pm on 1st April 2012. However as a result of United Airlines failure to depart, we would miss our transfer from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Hawaii.

The next transfer offered to us was on 3rd April from Los Angeles.
If we even considered this extenuated option, we would effectively lose a third of our holiday time not to mention the further stress and stay in hotel at Los Angeles for a night. We had paid £2349 for our holiday. After ringing our hotel in Hawaii we where told if we did not check in on the 31st March 2012 as initially booked, we would lose our money we paid for our accommodation and have to re-pay $129 per night, due to us booking at the non flexible rate.

This was far too late and simply not practical and we didn’t have consent from work for any extension of holidays, which we had booked nearly 6 months in advance in order to synchronise.

We asked for routing to Washington or San Francisco however this was declined by United Airlines. What was even more frustrating was there was so many aircraft idle at the airport from Star Alliance we were not seen as priority for these.

Subsequently, we were forced to cancel our holiday, going on holiday is meant to be a time of enjoyment and throughout our many years of travelling we have never experienced such a stressful time. We are incredulous and still in a state of shock of what happened to our planned celebrations and can only find United Airlines at fault.

I am unable to regain the lost holiday allowance from work, I have no more allowance as a result left available for 2012 and any time off would have to be unpaid by my employer.

The cost of re-booking a similar holiday, would be effectively £800 more expensive in the summer of 2012, even if my work granted unpaid leave.

As a group we purchased 1,250 USD, this to sell back to currency bureau would now be at a much lower rate, so effectively we would now lose further money transferring it back to pounds.

This wasn’t just a normal holiday, this was much more meaning to us and now that has been ruined. Due to this horrific ordeal, we will not be using any Star Alliance member company for any of our future holidays.

I eagerly await your response to this complaint and how satisfactorily you can bring this dispute to an end.

1 comment:

  1. Todd,

    I was on the same flight and recognize your frustration, though I was a bit more fortunate and was on my way home.

    I received a letter today from United claiming Force Majeure and denying any claim any form of compensation, though based on EC 261 they are required to provide.

    I am curious if you received any compensation for the hardship? Or what their response has been?