Is United finally caring about delayed customers?

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There have been multiple articles in the recent past about how the ‘cattle-herding‘ approach airlines are taking with customers is here to stay. I at the same time actually had an experience with United airlines last week that was unexpected from a customer service perspective. My flight from Cleveland (CLE) to Washington Dulles (IAD) was delayed for 2 hours. The reason for the delay was given to be ATC (Air Traffic Control) restrictions – so no fault of the airline. So, I wandered off to get some food. When I came back to the gate, there was a gate agent walking around giving out $20 food vouchers – for a 1-hours flight! I had already eaten, so I quickly converted the voucher to Godiva chocolates for Mrs. UnRoadWarrior.Β Β 

Wait, it gets better. As we started boarding, we were handed a ‘Please Accept our Apologies’ pack. In it was a drink voucher and a 10% off coupon good on any United flight! I was already surprised with the food voucher. This was totally unexpected.

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Is this here to stay? Was I experiencing an experiment? Was this unique to United Express? Have other travelers experienced similar vouchers? Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

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Comments

  1. Looks like they are trying to boost their customer scores. Hopefully it will be a standard rather than an inconsistent thing. However, the inconsistent policies and procedures (i.e. the new award fees + award upgrades confusion) doesn’t give me much hope. πŸ™

  2. Ed, what issues have you seen with Award Upgrades?
    I hate the new award fess too…

  3. Well I was gladly surprised two times last week. They let me change the routing of the flights for my my wife and kids and then for my mother, without paying any fees. It was surreal.

  4. It would be nice if they would improve service quite a bit, but that was not my experience a couple of weeks ago. Booked an award ticket back in January for July and they have cancelled one of the United flights already and re-booked me on the worst possible connections you could come up with to my final destination (had two hour layovers, rebooked me for 9 and 10 hour layovers). They did not even bother to send me an email to let me know changes had been made (and my email is on file with them). I was just checking things out and found the changes. When I did the research on what now existing flights I wanted, I called them and they gave me the run around and tried to charge me for changing my booking.

  5. We had a 4 hour delay from PDX to ORD on June 25. They handed out $10 vouchers for the three of us there as well.

  6. That doesn’t match my experience. I had a 5 or so hour delay culminating in a cancellation (due to a mechanical problem) for a DCA-DEN flight a couple of weeks ago. They made few announcements to update us and there was massive chaos for people trying to get hotel and meal vouchers. (I live locally so went home.) The particularly egregious part of the handling of this is that the last of the updates I got (via email and cell phone) came AFTER the flight had been cacncelled.

    I wrote in to try to get compensation but have heard nothing back yet, but it has not been quite a week yet.

  7. Continental used to give these out during lengthy delays. Always thought it was a nice gesture. Older packs used to include a free 10-minute long distance call courtesy of MCI! πŸ˜‰

  8. Upgrades on award tickets (especially at the gate) is not applied consistently. A lot of the times, you don’t get transferred onto the “battlefield list” when you check-in. When you inquire about it to the GA (or to the res agents on the phone), you spend hours arguing and/or teaching people about the policy (this after bringing it on the site, etc). Once I spent 8 hours on the phone teaching 2 supervisors and 5 agents about this policy (thank goodness for speakerphone). Most believe that it simply isn’t possible. Unfortunately, this stems from the CO days. πŸ™

    It’s not only GAs / phone agents though. It seems FAs don’t get memos either as they inconsistently apply meal priorities (or have several variations of it) and some still mention OnePass as their FF program. COUA needs to have a better way to relay information to it’s employees cause whatever they are using now isn’t working.

    Rant Over. πŸ™‚

  9. Miriam, keep at them for the compensation. They should give you some if it was a mech issue

  10. Dee, the lady at the counter where I redeemed the voucher was surprised to see that I had a $20 voucher. She said she had only seen $10 ones. Do elites get $20 over $10 for GMs?

  11. We were flying out of IAD on United on Halloween, and the flight was greatly delayed. The gate agents served free drinks and snacks to the waiting passengers. Once on board, United provided
    complimentary on board television and movies to all passengers.

    I have also received a surprise $75 voucher from United for a fight delay.

  12. I believe elites [not sure what level and higher as I am a 1K] get $20 vouchers. My bud who flew with me got $10. It all depends on the agent too, but I believe $20 is the norm for certain elites and $10 for everyone else.

    I, along with my companion, got a significant compensation from United [a lot more than anything quoted here], but 4 out of 5 of our flights were massively delayed [in excess of 1 hour including one cancellation] and all of them were either mechanical or crew issues.

  13. I was flying with a family member on a SkyWest/Eagle flight delayed a few hours out of LAX. Gate agent gave out $10 meal vouchers, $100 airline vouchers, and a few thousand miles*. I was surprised!

    * I received more miles than my non-FF family member did, though.

  14. Unfortunately they aren’t doing this consistently. For example I witnessed the passengers flying to IAD from BNA last week suffer a 2 hour delay (forcing many of them to miss connections) and get no more than a shrug from the gate agent.

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