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United Customer Service…

June 22, 2007

Business

I’ve been flying the friendly skies for over 30 years and have had my share of experiences from lost luggage to missed flights to near disasters but last week was a first for me. I was returning home after a long business trip in Chicago. My United flight was the last to leave for that evening and there was nothing that seemed to make me or anyone else think our flight would be delayed.

Unfortunately O’Hare has been know to have it’s share of problems. 9:17pm rolls around and nothing! Finally at 10:05pm we board our flight only to be ushered off 10 minutes later because a “security sweep” had not been conducted. Now in all my years of flying I had never heard that excuse. Five minutes after disembarking from the plane didn’t they announce that the crew had gone over their limit and could no longer fly! That’s when the fun really began. I will spare you all the details but suffice it to say the flight was canceled, no hotels were available in the immediate vicinity, United gate agents were not the most responsive, and yours truly along with 12 other people wound up sleeping the night inside the airport, something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

When I got back I decided to follow United protocol and filed a complaint with customer service on the United web site. That was Monday (June 18th). Today is Friday, June 22nd and I still haven’t heard back. Thank God I also emailed the CEO of United. That’s right, a small business owner wrote a polite and professional email to Glenn Tilton (CEO of United) and wouldn’t you know it yesterday I received a call from his office letting me know how sorry they were about my experience. While it was not my intention to complain to them in hopes of receiving some kind of compensation for my pain and suffering they offered me a United flight certificate for a future flight.

This is a tale of two stories regarding customer service. Had I only sent my complaint to United customer service I would still be waiting and my views of this airline would have gone from bad to worse. Thankfully senior management does take the customers voice serious and they acted. That said most people would not have contacted the CEO office either because they wouldn’t know how or because they would be too intimidated.

I think it’s unfortunate that United customer service has been so slow to react to my complaint. It will be interesting to see if I still hear from them after having spoken with the executive office of United.

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