Thursday, January 11, 2007

Friendly Sky In Doubt

I know I have better things to do at the moment, say, to finish grading my students' papers or what not. However, I know that if I don't sit down and pursue this matter further I'd never get around to!

"Thank you for flying the friendly sky!" Well, the sky just can't be that friendly when my baggage always goes missing! G told me that she wrote these complaint letters all the time and more than half of the time she'd get some kind of response if not compensation back. We shall see how wise United may be this time.

Just for your amusement ~

*****

Dear United Airline Central Baggage Services:

I am writing to report two delayed baggage incidents that occurred to me over the past few months.

1) Situation One

The first incident occurred during my travel from Taipei to Boston in early September. One piece of my luggage was not properly transported at Chicago O’Hare Airport when I was making my connection, and it took 2 days for the bag to finally arrive.

During those 2 days I made more than 10 phone calls to the 1-800 number for United Baggage Claim Service. None of calls gave me any updated information on my missing luggage, and all that the representatives could tell me was either my bag was still somewhere in Chicago or that system was not quick enough to update the latest status of my bag.

Upon my arrival in Boston that night, the ground baggage claim office at Logan Airport told me that because Boston was my residency location, I was not entitled for any compensation unless the delay goes past 72 hours. At the time I explained that even though Boston is my residency location, I was moving into a brand new apartment with nothing set up and that my situation was not any different from an out-of-town traveler coming into a new city with nothing to change into. At that time, however, the United representative said it mattered not and that I could only pursue the matter further if my bag does not arrive after 72 hours.

The representative did mention if I keep my receipts and fax them back to United, I might be able to get up to 50% of refund. However, given no clear instructions as to how to go about doing so and due to my new arrival in an empty apartment with so much to set up for, I decided to let the matter go and not pursue it further.

Just for your reference information, the following is the flight itinerary of that particular incident:

- Sept 10th, 2006
- Itinerary: Taipei → Narita (UA 882); Narita → Chicago (UA 882); Chicago → Boston (UA 182)

2) Situation Two

Over Christmas I took United again from Boston to Cancun, Mexico. Upon my arrival in Cancun, I realized that my bag was delayed in Washington Dulles Airport and was not going to arrive until the next day. At that time, the ground baggage claim representative told me that as United compensation policy, each passenger is entitled for $50 for each day of delay. However, at that time he was not able to assist me with filing a compensation request. He told me to show the delayed baggage report when I return to Boston a week later and go from there.

A week later upon my arrival in Boston, I went to the baggage claim office in Boston Logan Airport and was hoping to file a report. The representative there, however, told me to call the 1-800 number for baggage claim service and said they don’t handle any compensation issues there.

Today I finally called up the 1-800 number and was told by the representative that I could only claim for compensation if I had kept my receipts from Cancun that showed purchases of basic clothes or toiletry items. I expressed that that is not the same information that I was given at Cancun airport, so I likewise did not keep those receipts. After some unpleasant exchange of words, the representative finally gave me your address and ask me to write directly to you if I want to pursue the matter further.

Just for your reference, the following is the itinerary for this part of travel:

- Dec. 19th, 2006
- Itinerary: Boston → Washington Dulles (UA 325); Washington Dulles → Cancun (UA 1697)

Now, having explained both of the delayed baggage incidents to you, there are a few things that I hope to address.

First of all, it is very apparent to me that the baggage service of United is unable to cope with the large amount of travel traffic these days. Secondly, it is also apparent that the representatives of United baggage services – whether being the ground crew or the customer support line – are extremely ill-trained and highly unprofessional in their ways of handling customers’ questions and complaints.

Out of my numerous contacts with the baggage services either on the phone or in person, almost every time I was given different pieces of information that later on required more personal time and energy for clarifications or follow-up actions. In my first situation, given that I had traveled across the globe for close to 24 hours, the unfriendly and unhelpful service at Logan baggage claim office was very upsetting. Their inability to tell me more about how I could possibly pursue the matter further also revealed ill professionalism. In my second situation, more stress and annoyance came afterwards when I returned to Boston and wanted to seek compensation. Your 1-800-221-6903 phone line is extremely hard to maneuver even for someone who’s only in her late 20’s; out of my 3 calls to that number, one of them even transferred me to an international reservation desk after a long wait of 10 minutes. Had the ground baggage claim office been able to provide clear instructions or explanations of compensation policy in the first place and upon the first hour when the incident occurred, United could have saved the passenger a lot more stress, frustration, and time wasted on making more follow-up phone calls.

I have been a long-term United flyer as well as your Mileage Plus member since more than 10 years ago. Throughout the years, I’ve seen United services grow progressively worse, and out of my utter frustration with the past two incidents, I am hereby composing this letter to you in hope of not only bringing to your attention the grave degree of the matter but also requesting for some form of compensation from your company.

If I do not hear from you or cannot be given any legitimate explanations or reasonable compensation, I would have to change my mind and choose to fly friendlier sky of other competitor airlines from now on. Please take my letter into serious consideration, and I look forward to hearing back from you.


Sincerely Yours,

MS

梅ちゃん at 6:16:00 AM

1comments

1 Comments

at 1/11/07, 1:52 PM Anonymous CW said...

Given the fact the air transportation industry is one of the most realistic, and you are not among the high-yield costumers, unfortunately, your situation is pretty common.
If you happen to encounter such bad situation again, try to email the Premier Executive-exclusive customer service address or give a call to the Premier Executive customer service hotline. I bet you'll get more faster and more satisfying answer.
In addition, you can ask your friend who has the Premier Executive status, to help you out.
You might also check out the United-related webpage at FlyerTalk, which has a very friendly community of frequent flyers.

http://flyertalk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=504

Good luck, and good night!

 

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