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16 May 2012

United can't find confirmed tickets

Date: November 28, 2011
Airline: United fight 1605
Location: San Francisco, CA

I have been a United customer since I took my first flight 41 years ago. United has been instrumental in helping to create many memorable experiences over the years, but my recent trip was the worst traveling experience ever in my many years and miles of traveling.

I arrived at San Francisco airport with my girlfriend to begin our romantic vacation in Costa Rica at 6:45am on November 18, 2011 for my 9 am flight (UA 1605). The agent looked confused and disappeared for 15 minutes. When she returned she stated that she could not find the second leg of our reservation to Costa Rica.

I asked how she knew we were going to Costa Rica if it did not show up, as I had just given her my passport and not my itinerary. I stated I would like to speak with a supervisor if there was a problem. No supervisor showed up. I then showed her my conformation from my travel agent which showed that I had purchased 2 first class tickets for myself and my girlfriend on October 7, 2011 and that we had seat assignments for all 4 legs of the journey.

The agent left again and did not return for 30 minutes. When she returned, she handed us boarding passes. I asked if there were any problems and she stated that everything was in order. I thought it was unusual that it had taken us over 45 minutes to get a boarding pass, but trusted her that everything was in order.

When we arrived in Houston we made our way to the gate. Upon having our passports checked against our boarding passes Christy's boarding pass was taken and we were told she did not have a seat on the flight, UA 1565. The agent in San Francisco had given her a boarding pass with no seat assignment and told us everything was "in order." I asked to
speak with a supervisor and was told one was "on the way."

The agents at the gate, AnnMarie T., Sophia V. and Terri J. were very unhelpful and unfriendly. We were told that the flight was oversold and there was no seat for Christy and that "their" computer had no reservation. I immediately called my travel agent and he made some calls and called me back. (I have a very good travel agent as I work for a very high-end wine estate in Napa valley and the business flies millions of miles a year as we make wine on four different continents). He assured me he spoke with someone at United and United central booking had us in seats 3A and 3B (UA 1565).

I asked again for a supervisor and was told they were on their way. We were not the only passengers this had happen to. There were at least four other groups that had the same situation.

The plane was over 45 minutes late at this point. There were six women crying loudly at the counter and still no supervisor had shown up. I have never seen anything this bad in all of my years of travel. My girlfriend was finally offered a seat in economy and we unhappily boarded the plane. No supervisor ever showed up in the hour and a half we waited at the counter.

We were not even on our way yet and we had already spent two and a half hours at the United counter for tickets we had purchased and were confirmed six weeks prior. Christy cried the whole way to Costa Rica…. So much for our romantic vacation.

The next day my travel agent spent over an hour on the phone with Continental and United to insure this did not happen on our return flight. He was assured by the agents and then assured me that everything was confirmed for our return flight.

We arrived at SJO at 1:30pm on November 28th for our 3:55pm flight (UA1447). We were quickly informed that we did not have seats 3A and 3B as we had reservations for, but that we had economy seats and were on the wait list for First Class. After another hour at the ticket counter we were finally given seats in First Class, but not together.

We went to the gate and waited at that counter for another 45 minutes and they were finally able to switch someone and seat us together. Upon boarding the plane we were greeted by a female flight attendant whose first words to us were, "Is there a problem?" in a very snotty tone. I explained that, No, there was not a problem, but we were having a trying day of travel and would love a drink at her first opportunity.

I was surprised by here level of rudeness. The next surprise was there was no audio/video on the plane! Nothing. We were told this was a "new" plane and this was the way they come. I have never heard of such a thing. When I was departing the airplane I asked for the attendants name that had been rude to us. The other attendants told me that they did not know it and that I needed to get out of the way.

When I politely asked how they did not know their co-workers name, they told me to get off the plane or they would call the police. We were so worn out from the experience we exited the plane in shock. We made the last leg of the journey (UA 1712) with only minor delays.

This was by far my worst traveling experience in my 49 years and I have been all over the world on many different airlines. In my job I participate in many food, wine and travel blogs. While this experience is without a doubt the worst travel experience I have encountered, I have not posted about my experiences yet, and as a life long United customer I am hoping that this story will have a happy ending with United taking responsibility for their mistakes and making this right. That would be a story worth posting about.

I am prepaired to give United a "do over." Correct your mistakes with two First Class tickets to Costa Rica from San Francisco and I can try
to "do over" my romantic vacation.


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