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Old 01-28-2014, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Henderson, NV
5,314 posts, read 6,342,657 times
Reputation: 3525

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This post is half rant / half advice seeking. Here's what happened, let me know what, if anything, you would do:

Our friend was getting married in Rhode Island on Saturday night. We moved from RI to Las Vegas about 7 months ago, so decided to plan a party Friday night to see about 60 or so of our friends the day before the wedding.

Original itinerary - Friday - Fly from Las Vegas (6:40a) to Chicago (arrive 12:15p). Fly from Chicago (1:20p) to Providence (arrive 4:20). Party Friday night, see family Saturday, and wedding Saturday night. See more friends Sunday. Fly home from Providence (leave 1:20) through Newark, arriving home at 6:10p.

Flight to Chicago is fine. The flight was full, so they had me check my garment bag (had my suit, wife's dress, and winter coat) that was my carry on. Wife's bag was also checked. We arrived on time, and the connecting flight was 1 gate over. PERFECT! They board about half the plane, then tell the rest of us to wait, as there is a sensor problem in the front wheel. It should be about a 20 minute delay.

40 minutes later, they deboard the people on the plane. They can't fix the sensor, so are going to go get a new one (this is Chicago, United's hub, so they will have all the parts needed). At 2:00p, they tell us they can't find a replacement part and the flight is canceled. There were about 65 of us on the flight, so we all go to Customer Service (line is about 1 1/2 hours, as the wind has started canceling all of the other regional flights). About 20 minutes in line and there's an announcement over the loud speaker that the flight is NOT canceled, and we should all return to the gate. Evidently they are going to take one of the planes that is due in, gas it, and send us to Providence.

An hour or so later, they tell us that the plane they were going to get for us never took off due to the weather (55mph winds in Chicago, and about -20 wind chill). So our flight is re-cancelled. Back to Customer Service we go. I call United while I'm in line, and the next flight out is Saturday at 11:55a, getting us to Providence at 2:20. Fine. The wedding isn't until 5:30p. The Customer Service agent was very nice, paying for us to stay at the Crowne Plaza, giving us food vouchers, etc. Thankfully, of the 150+ flights cancelled, ours was due to mechanical failure, and United paid for a hotel, as opposed to weather-related where you're S.O.L.

We told the agent that we would stay, not a huge deal, just an inconvenience as we have about 60 people attending a party for us that we will now miss. We did tell here that all of our clothing was in the bag that I was forced to check. She said she would submit a "meter" to baggage. "It will take an hour or two, but we'll get your bag for you" were her words. So now it is 4:30p-5:00p and we make our way over to baggage.

The woman at baggage says it will take 2-3 hours to retrieve the bag. We wait. 2 hours go by. I check in with her for an update. Bags are still planeside. Another hour passes. I check in again, and she said the bags haven't been scanned to our final destination, so they should be on the plane still or on a cart, she'll locate them and they'll be up shortly. The 4th hour passes. I check in again. She said she's sending the "lead" to do a "direct hit" on our bags and he will personally bring them to the carousel at which we're waiting. The 5th hour passes. At this point we've been in the airport for 10 hours for a 1 hour layover. I check back with baggage. They tell me "We're sorry, we can't locate you're bags. There is less than a 50% chance of ever getting a bag off a canceled flight, and that is why we discourage people from asking". WHAT?!?! That is the first I've been told that. We waited for 5 hours in baggage claim only to be told that we couldn't retrieve our bags, so are in Chicago in -20 degree weather with no coats.

We ended up taking the shuttle to the hotel, getting a cab to Walgreens so we could get toiletries (they gave a "freshen up bag" to us at the airport, but it wasn't sufficient), returned the next day in the same clothes, and made it to our destination with a couple hours to spare before the wedding.

My wife's checked bag ended up going to Newark and then to Providence the next morning and was in the baggage office in PVD when we landed. Mine was on the plane and came out with the rest of the bags.

Wedding was good, got to see family for a few hours. Monday we check in for our flight back, get on the turboprop for Newark on time. After 10 minutes onboard, they deplane all of us due to "multiple circumstances". Something about air traffic control. At this point, all we could do was laugh...

We ended up boarding and taking off at 2:00 (about an hour late), missed our connection in Newark, took a later flight, and finally got home at 9:00p.

SO... What would you do. Our problem is NOT with the fact that the plane broke, it happens. Our situation was not weather-related, but we wouldn't have blamed the weather, obviously, if it was. It was the delay/cancellation/un-cancellation/delay/re-cancellation 4-hour fiasco, then the 5 hour runaround at baggage.

Have you had experiences like this before? Is there any type of compensation that I should seek (and how would I go about it)? Or was it just a comedy of errors and poor customer service?
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:19 AM
 
894 posts, read 735,575 times
Reputation: 1582
Ive had some serious travel delays and issues before. In your situation i don't see any recourse. IMO its basically the risk you take with travel.

It actually sounds like you were much more fortunate than most.

I guess i don't really see why you would expect anything compensation wise. I see no entitlement here
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:29 AM
 
Location: IL
2,992 posts, read 4,432,637 times
Reputation: 3085
I assume it is a nightmare when all plans are cancelled due to weather. It seems they were trying to be accomodating, but it wasn't working really well. The big issue was the bags, which I have had an issue with a number of times on all different airlines. My approach now is to leave my bags at the airport if there is an issue and tell them to deliver them to me when they figure everything out (usually next day). I have had bags delivered at my house or where I am staying about 4-5 times. Annoying, but better than hanging at the airport I guess.

One time we were arriving in Brazil and we had tons of bags for our family of 5. I was actually glad they lost our bags so we didn't need to carry them to our desitnation. We got them next day...that would be a good service.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:33 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
22,819 posts, read 28,966,672 times
Reputation: 44228
I wonder if you would have preferred to take off in a plane with a malfunctioning front wheel? Personally, I'd be glad that they caught the problem and grounded the plane.

The airlines have no control over the weather. There is nothing to do but to make the best of it. As soon as fkights start getting cancelled the whole system gets gummerd up, not just one airline.

I would have headed straight to the hotel and not waited for the bags. As soon as they told me that the bag was still on the airplane I would have decided to survive without it and told them to just handle it with all the rest of the bags on that plane.

It's the risk you take when you fly during winter. Winter storms snarl up the system, and it happens every winter.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Henderson, NV
5,314 posts, read 6,342,657 times
Reputation: 3525
Regarding the bags, if I had known that there was a chance of not retrieving them, I would have absolutely gone to the hotel. But issue I have (as stated), was not with the mechanical problem, or the weather (which didn't impact our flight), but how it was handled.

It was the cancellation/uncancellation/recancellation cycle for 4 hours, and then the 5 hours of being told to wait for our bags, only to be told they couldn't be located.

If they had cancelled the flight at 1:00, we would have chalked it up to flying through miserable-weather places in the winter. But to string us along for 10 hours? That is my issue.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Henderson, NV
5,314 posts, read 6,342,657 times
Reputation: 3525
Quote:
Originally Posted by iowa4430 View Post
Ive had some serious travel delays and issues before. In your situation i don't see any recourse. IMO its basically the risk you take with travel.

It actually sounds like you were much more fortunate than most.

I guess i don't really see why you would expect anything compensation wise. I see no entitlement here
I am not expecting anything, I'm just curious if anyone has sought compensation for poor customer service. As mentioned, I have no problem with a canceled flight. It happens. It's how United handled the situation that I take issue.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Henderson, NV
5,314 posts, read 6,342,657 times
Reputation: 3525
We also just unpacked one of our checked bags and the laptop is completely destroyed. The screen is separated and the hinge smashed. They left a "we rifled your bag" note in there. The laptop was wrapped in 2 sweaters and a puffer coat for safety.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:19 AM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
13,343 posts, read 17,477,359 times
Reputation: 19655
I would've been miffed at the baggage situation but the cancellation/uncancellation/recancellation just shows that they are actively trying to find alternate solutions.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:19 AM
 
Location: SoCal
6,081 posts, read 9,567,254 times
Reputation: 5859
It sounds to me like you got pretty darn good customer service. The airline can't change the weather, but they accommodated you as best they could.

The laptop? Who checks a laptop, ever? That was a careless thing to do. But it was your carelessness and no one else's.

Sorry your weekend wasn't better, and glad you made it to the wedding at least. But sometimes, life just happens.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:32 AM
 
6,387 posts, read 5,452,171 times
Reputation: 11020
In my experience with any sort of customer service issue, the longer you wait the less likely you will "get" anything. If you're a United frequen flier member, it's worth a shot to write a non-emotional email describing your frustrations and ask for compensation. Airlines are usually much more likely to give FF miles as opposed to vouchers or actual monetery compensation.

By "non-emotional", I mean leave out words like "forced to check bags" (no one likes doing it, but there's only so much room on the plane) and the part about your laptop which, frankly, is your own fault for checking something that fragile.
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