When will I get my United Airlines wet suit?
Passenger's letter to United
Sun, 20 Jul 1997 16:39:52 +0800
Dear United Airlines
I also got drenched twice and I'm no
slob either. On flight #1275, November 15, 1996, I was sitting in
the exit row on the wing in the window seat, waiting for the plane to
be deiced. When they began to sluice the de-icing chemical fluid in
huge quantities over the wing, it came right through the exit door
which apparently was not properly sealed, so that I was soaked and got
a good shot in the eye.
We had to go back to the gate so the door could be sealed before
take-off and to get medical attention to me, except no sterile eye wash
was available. And the pilot was really nice to put his arm around me
and say, "Honey," to make me feel better. (I'm being sarcastic.) I
suppose Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Edwardson were too busy being
employee-owners to answer my letters, and it was Christmas. I felt
really heartened when finally I received a letter in January from a
customer relations person saying "we regret the unpleasantness
caused..." And even though "it's not [the] policy to compensate
customers based on DISSATISFACTION with our service," (Tell me about
it!) there was a $100 discount travel certificate. How generous and
Maybe you remember that on April 9th flying to Auckland in
Connisseur Class, the attendant spilled an entire tray of orange juice
on me, onto my blazer and cashmere sweater on the seat next to me and
into my open flight bag. My feet got soaked. She never returned to
clean it up and I even cleaned up the tray, glasses and ice dropped by
her in the aisle. MY blazer finally was taken away, but not to be
sopped up and sponged, it lay up on the side of the galley to get
stained and yukky, hung up to dry as it was.
No help at Auckland, although promised: "Are you insured? Try your
insurance company. Oh, here's a form to fill out for a $25 travel
voucher." I expect repayment for my ruined, stained clothing which I
was unable to replace in Australia. BUT WHAT I REALLY SHOULD GET FROM
UNITED IS A WET SUIT WITH THEIR LOGO ON IT!
United's earlier reply
January 3, 1997
Thank you for writing us and for your patience while we awaited
internal feedback about the incident you've reported. We're very sorry
to learn about your experience aboard flight 1275, and we regret the
unleasnatness caused you in this instance. Generally we do not follow
up with customers unless requested to do so as a result of an inflight
injury report. We do apologize for any miscommunication about whether UA
would initiate contacting you or wait to hear from you as to the extent
of the incident. It is airline policy to take all situations seriously
and we can appreciate your comments about our handling of the matter.
Based on the components of the de-icing fluid, any potable water would
work for rinsing the fluid off of the body. Nevertheless, we will pass
on your suggestion to our inflight division, and we'll be pleased to
reveiew any medical expenses incurred if you'll send us copies of such
bills. Although it's not our policy to compensate customers based on
their dissatisfaction with our service, we want to offer the enclosed
($100 travel voucher) as a more tangible
expression of our apologies. We hope you will choose United again soon
and give us an opportunity to provide more enjoyable service.
The passenger comments that on her subsequent trip on United,
she was drenched again (see above). So much for enjoyable service.
United's second reply
August 7, 1997
I'm sorry to say your June 14 letter just recently turned up
in our mailroom and was temporarily misplaced. In response to that
letter and the most recent you sent including a replacement receipt for
the new trousers purchased, I would like to apologize again for your
dissatisfaction with us. With regard to my earlier letter, I can only
assure you that it wasn't a form letter. Moreover, it's troubling to
hear that you feel our company isn't customer focused...
The passenger comments:
Fancy my letter turning up in the mail room! In my response to the
writer today, I suggested they might want to change their computer
letter format to say, "I would like to apologize for the bad experience
you had on our airline," rather than assigning the apology to my
feelings and attitude (dissatisfaction). In all fairness, I must add
that I have now received a check for the trouser replacement -- instead
of a travel voucher, which I will no longer accept from them....We
should all send them in, convince them to contribute the amounts to
charity, since none of us appear able to use them for various reasons
You are doing a great service to United by offering angry consumers the
opportunity to ventilate and to provide the management with the kind of
feedback that other corporations pay huge amounts to obtain through
marketing firms. So kudos to you.
United's third reply
(International Customer Relations)
Mon, 08 Sep 1997 16:07:37 +0800
closure to this matter [of spillage] and eleviate [sic] any further
inconvenience to you, we are sending you a check for $250 as
settlement... as well as something extra for you as a gesture of good
The passenger comments:
The cost of cleaning and clothing replacement not yet paid for comes to
$300.94. Therefore, the United "good will" is minus $50.94!
Passenger's final note
Wed, 5 Nov 1997 02:56:21 -0500
Six months after my Orange Juice Spill, I have finally been
reimbursed for damage to my clothing. But the way hasn't been easy!
Too many letters, too many problems. They seem to have an attitude but
it's not a friendly one---It's an ATTITUDE. It seems as though the
Customer Relations folks are intent on building bad relations instead
of good relations. Maybe they need to read their own new ads? P.S.:
No, I did not receive a wet suit. A Former Frequent Flyer
Better bumped than boarded
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 23:12:00 -0400 (EDT)
In Spring 1995, my United flight from London to New York was
grounded for mechanical problems apparently caused by inadequate
maintenance. While I do appreciate UA not wanting to fly an unsafe
plane, their handling of the situation was terrible:
UA kept all passengers in the plane for several hours -- just long
enough to assure that every other flight from London to NY had departed
once they decided to let us off. Those of us expected back home for
business the next day (or otherwise needing to get in touch), were
refused permission to leave the plane to make a call.
The whole time we were kept hostage on the plane, the flight crew
refused to provide even minimal service: no food, nothing to drink.
While the passengers had to make their way to the back for tap water,
the flight crew spent their time relaxing and drinking lemonade (which
was not shared with the passengers).
When UA finally announced they were cancelling the flight, they
also warned us that they would not guarantee us a room for the night,
or space on any other flight to NY. UA did apologize, but emphasized
that the flight crew was inconvenienced as much as the passengers.
(Really? At least the flight crew got paid for their time.) They
deplaned us, and sent the first class passengers to the nicer airport
restaurant, and the rest of us to the airport cafeteria, where we were
told to await further direction.
For several hours after being deplaned, UA did not send a single
rep to tell us what was going on. UA employees we located at the
airport declined to give us any information.
By about 10 p.m. (after being deplaned around 6 p.m.), UA finally
paged us (it still wouldn't send anyone to face us) to leave the
airport for buses to hotels (no help with baggage was offered, and UA
refused to arrange storage for baggage at the airport).
When we finally reached the hotel (a decent enough one), none of
our rooms were ready. UA shuttled us in through a back door, and made
us wait another hour while one hotel clerk worked his way through about
fifty passengers. (The UA rep got her room right away and promptly
disappeared). We were told around 10 p.m. to call the UA desk at the
airport to get information on flight arrangements. However, UA did not
keep its desk open late, so its phones of course went unanswered by 11
p.m., when we finally got into our rooms. This left us unable to get
any information at all on whether UA had made alternative arrangements,
or such useful information as the time of the flight.
Any other airline I can think of would at least have offered a
flight coupon as compensation. UA didn't offer anything at all.
Coincidentally, UA also managed to destroy my checked bag, and
refused compensation. But hey, it's UA!
Wrap up: After I wrote to UA with these complaints, they did send
me a $200 flight coupon. The irony is that UA bumped several people
from the cancelled flight prior to boarding. They got $500, and a
flight home the same day!
I'm not a slob, they drenched me twice