Dear United Airlines,

Hello there,

On Thursday, the 16th, I was anticipating flying out of Columbia, SC to Washington, DC, en route to Ankara, Turkey.

I was told at the time that there was a flight delay, and I would not be able to leave for another 48 hours. This was somewhat disappointing, as I have been excitedly looking forward to the one time of the year when I see my family.

Regardless, I decided to grant the airline the benefit of the doubt. Things like this do happen, after all.

Today, exactly 48 hours later, I once again attempted to fly to Dulles; I was once again told that the earliest I could possibly fly out would be following anther 48 delay, thereby bumping my flight date by a full four days.

I was not given any other options. I refrained from speaking my frustration to the ticket agent, as I knew it was not his fault.

I became incensed, however, when I discovered that a friend of mine, who had anticipated flying on the same flight to Washington, and who was headed toward the same ultimate destination, was given a new ticket a full 24 hours earlier than my own*.

She had checked in after me.

I am completely baffled as to how the airline managed to find her an earlier seat, yet somehow neglected to find one for me, despite the fact that I had already been waiting for 48 hours for my flight. Perhaps I ought to have evidenced a greater degree of frustration at the ticket counter? Maybe I just wasn’t cute enough to ‘deserve’ action on my behalf; perhaps I should have wept. I’m not sure what would have motivated this man to actually help me; all I know is that he appears to have blatantly misled me, instead.

This poor level of customer service is unacceptable. As a life-long traveler, I have had a long relationship with United, and aside from a few hiccups, I have always been relatively pleased with my service. In this case, however, I am beyond frustrated. While delays certainly happen, this problem appears to have been entirely the fault of the airline itself–not the weather, not mechanical delays, but the direct result of shoddy service. And now I’ve begun to wonder– if my friend was able to get on an earlier flight, perhaps I could have left at some point during the first 48 hour delay, and was simply not informed of the fact? I’ll never know.

I get to visit my family once a year—a trip to Turkey is both expensive and time-consuming. Those days with my family are precious, and now, due to either the unhelpfulness or the incompetence of this airline, I have lost 4 days to be with my family.

I am not sure what I am expecting you to do in order to compensate for my loss; after all, I can’t ever get back that time in Turkey.

So I guess I’m asking you to surprise me. I’d like to think that United will care enough about this unfortunate “mistake” to make some attempt to repair or at least apologize for this damage. If you do not, I shall never again be utilizing your services.

Thank you for your time.


Lauren Wiest

PS: I may look like a chubby-faced 12-year-old, but I have the rage capacity of a hormonal, sleep-deprived teenager. You will let me on that plane Monday, and I am fully prepared to cry, whine, swear, and foam at the mouth until you do. It’s game time, baby.

*I’m really glad my friend was able to find an earlier seat. I would never begrudge her that, and I would rather her go than myself. It’s just the principle of the thing.


2 thoughts on “Dear United Airlines,

  1. Grrr. That is really frustrating. Unfortunately, it looks like this travel waiver (due to a snowstorm we had here in Europe) may be the cause of your difficulty. Were you flying through any of these airports on your way to Turkey? Perhaps your friend was flying somewhere else from Washington.
    Amsterdam (AMS)
    Brussels (BRU)
    Frankfurt (FRA)
    London (LHR)
    Munich (MUC)
    Paris (CDG) December 18-24, 2010

    If you have any problems today DEMAND they re-route you through another city! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family.

    1. Thanks for your empathy!! 🙂 We were both flying through Europe, my friend through Brussels and myself through Munich. And I’m thankful to report that we’ve both finally arrived!

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