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UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

Oshkosh, Wisconsin
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UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

On 7/23/2014 I arrived at the Little Rock, AR airport over an hour before my flight was set to depart at . When I arrived at the gate there was no plane or ticket agent at the gate. As the time came and went that my plane was to depart several of the passengers on the flight attempted to get answers from United Airlines we were told that they had no idea where the plane was that was supposed to pick us up at Little Rock, AR and fly us to Chicago.

As all the passengers were trying to get answers from United on where are plane was and how long we would be delayed we continued to monitor the flight status boards in the airport. These flight status boards indicated that our flight (UA5836) had left on time and arrived in Chicago on time, yet there were 15 passengers all sitting at the gate that can attest to the fact that flight UA5836 never took off.

Finally an hour after flight UA5836 was to depart a United ticket agent finally showed up at the gate and continued to tell us that they had no idea where the plane was that was supposed to fly us to Chicago. At the insistence of the passengers we asked that the ticket agent check with the airport that our plane was coming from. The ticket agent finally called Huston, TX and was told conflicting stories, one was that the plane had departed on time and the other one was that it was still sitting at the gate in Huston, TX, but they were not sure.

By this time all the restaurants in the airport were now closed and TSA was just about to shut down for the night. We were informed that if we left the terminal that we would be unable to re-enter the terminal because of TSA being closed. So all the stranded passenger were unable to even get something to drink. When we asked the United Airlines ticket agent about any accommodations for food, drinks and or hotels for the night. We were told that as long as their flight boards indicated that the flight was not delayed and or cancelled that they could not do anything for us! Needless to say all of us were not very happy (to put it politely).

If there would have been a ticket agent at the gate and if we, the passengers, would have been provided correct and timely information on the status of our flights we could have made arrangements to take one of the other flights departing Little Rock, AR to Chicago, Il at 7:10PM and 7:20PM. But instead we were stranded and essentially held hostage in the little Rock, AR airport being told that we just had to wait. finally 2 ½ hours after we were supposed to depart we were informed that a flight was coming in, due to arrive at 9:16PM, from Huston, TX that would fly us to Chicago, but that they needed to get a new crew for the flight as the current crew timed out.

We were finally able to board the flight with a replacement crew and departed over 3 ½ hours after we were originally supposed to depart, yet the United Airlines flight status boards were still indicating that flight UA5836 departed and arrived on time! It is extremely alarming that United had "No idea" (this was their exact words) where the plane was! How can you not know where one of your planes is in the US? Not to mention that the whole time that myself and all the other passengers on the flight were dealing with this United's flight status boards was indicating that the flight was on time! This inept handing of flight UA5836 caused the second leg of our flight to be missed, which we found out was cancelled due to maintenance issues.

On Monday 7/28/2014 when I called United about a refund on the cancelled leg of my flight I was told by the customer service rep (Kea) that their records indicated that I used the ticket and that flight actually happened. When I pushed and demanded that they provide documentation to me that flight UA3731 actually flew and that I used the ticket. Kea finally admitted that she knew that flight UA3731 was cancelled and that I had not used my ticket. When I asked why she had lied to me she stated it was because she was not authorized to provide me with a refund. I was never provided a refund for the cancelled flight and was just directed to file a request for a refund on-line.

This experience was so bad and the customer service was nonexistent that I will never fly United again and will make sure that everyone that I know will choose another airline when they fly anywhere!!!

Seattle, Washington
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10,857 posts
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1. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

I am not sure why this was a safety concern, and it's unclear what happened to your second flight. UA should have rebooked you on another flight. You just need to file a request for a refund as instructed.

Edinburgh, United...
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14,274 posts
16 reviews
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2. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

"It is extremely alarming that United had "No idea" (this was their exact words) where the plane was! "

While a wrongly updated flight record shouldn't happen I don't know that it's "extremely alarming". I'm sure somebody knew where the plane was.

Fortaleza, CE
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375 reviews
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3. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

Sometimes it's just temporarily missing. …wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Odyssey_of_Flight_33

Singapore, Singapore
Destination Expert
for Food and Travel
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4,438 posts
409 reviews
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4. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

It seems to be a case of schedule changed or delayed but badly communicated by UA both internally as well as to customers, resulting in unnecessary anxiety and frustration that could have been avoided if probably handled.

Syracuse, New York
Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Syracuse, Cayman Islands
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5. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

Wow, what a mess-up! Looks like this flight is operated by ExpressJet, rather than the "core" United folks. I often find that the regional airlines have a lot worse tracking than the main airline.

I think that calmly documenting all of this, and sending a letter to United might be the best way - they need to know what went on. They need to make sure that staff are there to look after passengers. They certainly need to make sure that, since refreshments were closed, the passengers had something to eat and drink, since they couldn't leave the airport.

Phoenix, Arizona
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43,650 posts
1,303 reviews
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6. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

We use both the UA app and Flight Tracker Pro, and both have charted our flights with almost perfect details. We know where the flight is departing from (to connect to our departure airport), and the charted time of arrival. I cannot recall a flight in the last year, that was more than about 5 mins. late getting to the gate, and that could well have been an issue, once on the ground.

Too bad that the GA's manning the gate there, did not have either of those apps.

Good luck,

Hunt

London, United...
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27,178 posts
29 reviews
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7. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

To be honest, it simply seems like a lack of communication to the ground staff and subsequently to the pax, ultimately you encountered only a three hour delay.

However I agree poorly handled communication on the ground, particularly in the current climate. Ground staff should know better than to tell staff they have effectively lost a plane. However much is in the message and it could have been the staff on the ground did not know and that's what they were trying to communicate, but the message received was united as a whole did not know, which I suspect strongly was very far from the truth or what they were trying to say, which was they personally did not know.

Chicago, Illinois
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15,474 posts
117 reviews
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8. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

For whatever reason, I've often found the ground staff to be the least knowledgeable about what's going on in a delay. If it happens again, try calling United from your cell phone or use the United app.

Also, in my experience, Untied seems to do particularly bad at keeping their ground staff up to date compared to the other domestic airlines. I've had delays on all of them, but for whatever reason, American and Southwest seem to do a better job communicating to the passengers what's going on.

I had a delayed United flight once where the incoming plane was diverted from a thunderstorm. The ground staff had no idea when it would be there. It was late and the airport, BWI in this case, was shutting down. Our flight was the only one left to depart for the night. The gate agent said "OK, I'm going to go to the office and try to figure out what's going on." He never came back. It got kind of funny a half hour later when a passenger picked up the PA and started paging United staff to come back to the gate.

Eventually a totally different gate agent came by, the plane landed, and all was well. This was a while ago before cell phones so there really was no other way to know what was going on. I've had a couple others with United that were not quite as bad, but similar. Planes late. Ground staff making no announcements. You'd ask them what was going on and they seemed surprised that anyone was even asking. My experience with American is they do a much better job updating passengers when there's a delay.

Palmetto, Florida
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5,802 posts
17 reviews
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9. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

It's one of those incidents that make you lose a little faith in a company. Not a common occurrence maybe, but there are things that are not quite right about it.

-The wrong flight update is troubling as we the public depends on its accuracy. There are people who come from afar to pick up passengers, connections to make, record keeping to make claims, etc… If flight is shown on time then agents could not give vouchers, or make change in connecting itineraries as in this case.

-The conflicting infos from agents actually happens a lot with many airlines, and I can understand when things go wrong, it's hard to keep up on at-the-moment decisions elsewhere.

-Unfortunate about the snacks thing or not able to go out again, but minor problems. But could GAs have brought in something themselves? I was recently delayed, and after being told multiple false boarding times, GA finally said she did not know when it will be (3hr into delay). People were really upset at this time, and best thing GAs did was passing out 13 USD food vouchers to everyone. The mad crowd disappeared to fetch food and left them in peace. We also each get 3000 miles automatically deposited into our FF accounts.

The lying part or denial part by agent Kea is just inexcusable. She should just said please request refund online.

Ps.

OP probably decided to drive back home from ORD to Wisconsin instead of waiting for next available flight.

And my experience was not with UA.

10. Re: UNited Airlines Safety Concerns!

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