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No confidence in Smisek
March 2014

No confidence in Jeff Smisek? As United wins worst airline three years in a row, there's a Facebook group calling for United to fire Smisek as CEO and an on-line petition calls for a no confidence vote

Involuntarily Denied Boarding
October 2013

Read about Stephen Jennings' experience with the "friendly skies". We've advised Mr. Jennings to take United to small claims court as the only way to compel the airline to respect its legal obligations and pay up for involuntarily denied boarding, as this family's experience perfectly demonstrates.

Think United has changed its attitude toward the armed forces? Guess again!
April 19, 2013

Ed note: Untied.com challenges United to make amends or admit that this incident is merely a confirmation of its true colors, as demonstrated by its mistreatment last year of veteran Jim Stanek.

My name is PFC Spencer and I'm a marine currently in Pensacola Fl. I get to see my family and loved ones maybe twice a year if I'm lucky. I bought a round-tip ticket through MilitaryFares. On the day my fiancee was supposed to fly out (April 19, 2013) I was suddenly hit with a weekend op. I called the United hotline but was on hold for 45 min. I then called my fiancee who was arriving at the airport to let me talk to a United Rep. The rep refused to talk to me, stating that I was not there and she would only talk to my fiancee. So i had to explain through her. First she said that we could transfer the tickets for a 150 dollar fee to next week. She went to get an assistant who then said we could not do that. So she said we could either eat the cost of the flight or pay another 500 dollars for the next weekend.

I make very little to serve this country, and was showed no courtesy or anything. Then after deciding she would just go to Fl and stay in a hotel instead of wasting the flight, my fiancee was told that she would be charged an additional 150 dollars for a bag that was one pound over weight, by the same lady. After waiting for someone to come get a pound of her belongings she mad it through security. Once through she was told the flight was delayed which would make he miss the connecting flight to Fl. She finally got help and was switched to American Airlines to get her her later today. Regardless I wont get to see her, but we weren't going to waste the flight and the rudeness and the lack of compassion was outstanding.

I probably won't get to see her for another 6 months now. I don't have the money for a flight next week and these are the only weekend I may be remotely available. I understand the tickets are nonrefundable, but there is nothing you could do to help. I fight to make sure all of the country is safe, not just my loved ones. I am deeply hurt by the inability to understand or frankly just give a damn. It seems as though all the United crew cares about is money. Needless to say I will never buy your tickets again, and will definitely spread the word to fellow Marines of your lack of compassion and rudeness.

All I wanted to do was hold her for one night. I'm sorry the armed forces are forced to have flexible schedules. I try really hard to make light of things, but just feel so disrespected. It was a swift kick to my balls. I would love to speak to someone, anyone in your business that has a armed forces family member please. They might understand. Until then i will continue to wake up at 0445 every morning, put a smile on and continue to train, in case the day comes I may have to protect or even lay down my life for one of you. Have a heart and please contact me. I can verify my military status, as well as my tickets. OOORAH, Semper Fi, do or die. Have a nice day.

United costs passenger his job
December 26, 2012

I would like a customer service representative to call me. I am unbelievably unsatisfied with your airlines, and have been on hold for customer service a total of two hours. My husband had a flight last night, flight #5168, which was cancelled for maintenance issues. Your staff at DAL was uncooperative on getting my husband onto another flight, and offered him to be on standby for flights today. He is still at Dallas love airport, it is 10:35 am. Because my husband did not make it to Denver, he has lost his job. He is on the practice squad for the Denver Broncos. I am pregnant, and reliant upon that job. Thanks to your terrible support, he cannot get to Denver.

Today, he was told to be at the airport at 3 am. The security scanner broke, another inconvenience thanks to you. His flight (#6047) was finally scheduled for today at 8:45 am, which may have given him a slight shot at keeping his job, and your plane is nowhere in sight at 10:45 am. Will it be cancelled would be a great question?

How unreliable to have so many issues, and none of them relate to weather? I don't understand how you can run a business in such a manner. I will never pay to be on your airlines again. Not to mention, after calling customer service last night and today, I am only able to reach a recording. I'm sorry, but we have real issues here that your company has caused for our family on Christmas. I will tell everyone in my power to never use United.

Your staff was uncooperative in getting him a flight last night, even though a flight left DAL for Colorado Springs last night. They told him he was 5 minutes late for check in for that flight. Excuse me? Great customer service: He had been checked in for his CANCELLED flight since 5pm that day.

Please call me, I would love to help with any improvements you need to make for your company. I would also like a full refund on his flight, which mind you he still hasn't left! I would like an apology from United for their unbelievable services, from customer service, to the gate, all the way to plane coordinator and maintenance.

Untied.com urges the letter-writer not to hold her breath: We've been trying to offer our help to the airline to make improvements for the last 16 years, and all it got us were two lawsuits.

United-Continental merger experience, or just plain 'ol United?
March 17, 2012

Passenger Steve Cohen shares a story of utter United-Continental incompetence

Read the full story here.

Feeling safe?
August 31, 2011

Passenger John Falcetta shares this alarming news with us:

I flew on flight 3489 from Dallas to Chicago on Monday the 29th. While exiting the plane somebody dropped a large knife. Firts off how did they get it on board? Second your staff did NOTHING about it. they did not call for securtiy or keep everyone on the plane NOTHING. When I informed them of the odd behavior of a passenger who was recording the interior of the plane while we were taking off--after we were told no electronic devices--NOTHING.Your staff acted like they didnt even care that a major security breach happened so close to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. How does this kind of thing happen? and why didnt anyone take action? I am shocked and outraged by this breach of security and your staffs lack of response. They told us just to step over the knife. Why wasn't the terminal locked down?

UAL still can't read
July 4, 2011

Over 5 months ago I reported the loss of 4 passengers luggage. (Out of a group of 6) We boarded a cruise ship where we had to wear the same cloths for almost three days. (no dress shops) In addition to being lost, my luggage was VALDALIZED. NOT by TSA, as they leave a message or mark your luggage. Do you know how embarrassing it was to go into a NICE dining room and wear a pair of pants that could probably have stood up by themselves? Two of the ladies were able to BORROW some clothes. However, my niece is 4 ft. 7 and I am 5ft. 9. We had to make do. I have now flown United (for the last time) three times and my luggage was lost twice. I think UAL's luggage service needs HELP!

Ms. Wilson had dutifully filed a lost baggage report at the airport, ended up out of pocket for additional transportation expenses to her cruise ship as a result of the lost baggage, and was significantly inconvenienced as a result of United's inability to handle its baggage. She followed up with a formal complaint, to which she received the following reply from Anil Kumar Mahakur, Baggage Claim Representative.

"Our regulations states that we must receive written notification of a claim within 45 days from the date of occurrence... We are unable to assume any liability for your claim because such an inordinate amount of time has elapsed and an investigation is not possible at this point."

Whether Mr. Mahakur was aware of Ms. Wilson's baggage claim is irrelevant. The airline's initial response is, as always, one that goes out of its way to infuriate a passenger who has already been mistreated. Fortunately, the Montreal Convention stipulates that the passenger has recourse provided she has made a written complaint to the airline within 21 days for delayed baggage.

Sorry, Continental
July 4, 2011

Reader Chuck Daniels shares his Continental-United merger experiences with us:

For the past decade, I have traveled 25,000 -- 50,000 miles a year for business, with 100% of it out of Newark Airport and 80% on Continental. Since the announcement of the merger with United, I have seen a steady decline in the level of service and "on time performance" at Continental. However, my most recent business trip to Indianapolis has convinced me that the merger with United is going to destroy the Continental that has served Newark Airport customers so well over the years.

My business trip to Indianapolis required that I leave on Sunday, May 22nd and return on Thursday, May May 26th. Both flights were non-stop ERJ-145 50-seat jets operated by Continental Express and on both flights I had seat 1A, which is five feet from the cockpit and front door and allowed me to hear all of the conversations between the crew and the ground staff while in Indianapolis and Newark. At no time during the outbound or return flights did a drop of rain fall in either Indianapolis or Newark on Sunday or Thursday. Also, on both flights the Continental crews were very professional and might as well have been passengers since they were kept in the dark like the 50 other people on the flights.

My outbound flight on Sunday was scheduled to leave Newark at 1:10pm and arrive in Indianapolis at 3:13pm. It was a bright, sunny day and boarding started as planned at 12:45pm. By 1:05pm all 50 passengers were on board but there was a problem -- no pilot !!! The gate agent told the co-pilot that they were just notified by "Continental Operations" that the pilot was flying in from Ohio and would not land until 2:30pm and that the flight would probably not leave until 2:45 / 3:00pm. Unfortunately "operations" did not tell the crew what to do with the passengers for the next 90 minutes until the pilot arrived and none of the gate agents wanted to let anyone off since everyone had boarded and all bags were loaded. There was a 15 minute discussion on the consequences of letting passengers off only to have them not return on time for takeoff which would require their bags to be found and removed which would be a "nightmare." As you might expect, the 50 passengers responded ver y unhappily (and loudly) when they were told that the flight would not be leaving for another 90 minutes and no one could leave. After the uproar from the passengers, the decision was reversed by the ground crew that passengers could leave only if they "promised to stay in the immediate boarding area."

After a frustrating 60 minute unloading /reboarding process we were back on the plane and the pilot arrived around 2:30pm. We were in the air at 3pm and arrived at Indianapolis at 4:26pm. Our departure from Newark was almost 2 hours late and our arrival in Indy was 2 hours late as well. During the flight, I'm sure I wasn't the only passenger thinking the following questions:

While my trip to Indy got off to a unpleasant start, it pales in comparison to the return flight home on Thursday. Again, not a drop of rain fell in Indy or Newark on Thursday. Again, I was seated in seat 1A and I had a front row seat to the conversations between the pilots and the crew -- which did a great job despite being constantly lied to by "Continental Operations."

My flight home was scheduled to leave Indy at 5:30pm and arrive back in Newark at 7:29pm. The departure screens at baggage check-in and security showed that the flight to Newark was "On Time" however it was not until we arrived at the departure gate that the found out that the flight was now "on gate hold" and its departure was now delayed until 6:55pm because of weather delays "in route" to Newark. I was told by several airport workers that no rain fell at the airport in Indy that afternoon and when I called my wife to tell her about the delay into Newark, she was surprised because "it had been a beautiful day in NJ."

I retreated to a bar near the gate only to find out that it was "standing room only" because Continental had delayed several departing flights "at the last minute" like they did with my flight. After finally getting a seat at the bar I struck up a conversation with the bartender. She told me that today was no different than any other day because the bar is always full of passengers whose Continental flights were delayed for dubious reasons. She said that while some of the passenger stories she heard seemed "too horrible to be true" almost every one of them said the same thing at the end of their story, "the merger with United is destroying Continental." Little did I know that I was about to become one of those passenger stories that seems "too horrible to be true."

We all returned to the gate to start boarding at 6:30. After everyone was on board Continental announced that the "gate hold" was going to be extended for another hour and then they told everyone to get off the plane and come back at 7:30 for re-boarding. Many of us retreated back to the bar for some dinner and more discussions among the patrons about the obvious decline in the quality of Continental's service.

Back to the gate at 7:30 for re-boarding at 7:45. We left the gate at 8:00, taxied to the runway and then sat through another 15 minute "ground hold" and then finally took off at 8:25pm -- almost 3 hours late.

The flight to Newark was uneventful with no turbulence or delay and we landed at 10:07pm only to taxi to a "holding area" where we parked and sat. After 10 minutes of silence from the cockpit, the pilot told all of us at 10:21pm that "there was no gate for us to park at and it would be another 30-45 minutes before a gate became open." Many of the 50 passengers responded in disgust -- wasn't this the reason for the 3 hour hold in Indianapolis, so that there would be a gate for us when we landed in Newark? It wasn't until 10:51pm that we pulled into a gate -- 3 hours and 22 minutes late from our original 7:29pm arrival.

In looking back at my "round trip nightmare" to Indianapolis and having a front row seat (1A) on both flights, I believe that there is ample proof that the merger with United is destroying Continental. Just consider the following that occurred on this simple, direct, round trip flight:

From the conversations I overheard between the pilots and the crews on both flights, it seems that many of the changes United is making at Continental are having negative impacts across many areas of Continental's service, from the time it takes to serve food in flight because the passengers have to pay individually for their meals to how crews and pilots are scheduled for work. This later issue seems to be at the heart of the problems I suffered on both of my flights -- no pilot for my flight to Indianapolis and then the planes that were stuck at the gates in Newark were stuck because the pilots who were suppose to fly those planes were stuck in the planes that couldn't get to the gates.

It was my impression that Continental is no longer running Continental -- United is. United has a well earned reputation for poor customer service and it appears they are now dragging Continental down to the level of customer abuse that earned United the lowest rating in customer satisfaction for the past 2 years (http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Can_t_Get_No_Satisfaction_at_United_Airlines_8805.html). This can be nothing short of disastrous for those of us that use Newark as our primary airport.

After 20 years of enjoyable business and personal travel on Continental, my last six months of traveling on Continental has clearly shown a significant decline in just about every area of their customer service and operational efficiency. If the last six months are any indication of what awaits all of Continental's loyal Newark based customers, then all I can say is that if we do not put a stop to United's destruction of Continental, then we have no one but ourselves to blame for accepting the horrible service for which United is famous.

Many of us on the flight agreed that we were all going to write letters to the FAA, our elected officials, and anyone else who can help stop United from destroying Continental. This is my letter and I plan on posting it everywhere I can. I can only hope that is will inspire others to write about their "too horrible to be true" experiences on the "merged" Continental so that our voices will be heard by those who have the ability to stop United from turning Continental into another United.

Please join me in having your story of abuse by Continental/United heard by writing it and posting it everywhere you can. All of us can have an impact and I hope you will lend your voice on this very important issue.

Happy travels everyone (if that is still possible).

Frequent Flying 101 - Know Before You Go!
In-Flight Dining within the USA in 2009 - Economy (Coach) Class
August 16, 2009

Ed note: Welcome to Rob's 'Travel Advice' column. This represents the first in a hopeful new series of columns by a frequent flier guest contributor to the site.

As a fan and frequent reader of this website, I'm also a long-time frequent flyer. Frankly, I hardly ever fly United anymore, as I primarily use a competitor, and have lifetime elite status in its loyalty program. No matter which airlines you can fly, there are always complaints and unhappy passengers. Many such complaints I see here on Untied.com appear to be from infrequent flyers, many of which I suspect are accustomed to flying prior to 9/11, when free hot meals were served in economy on many flights, and on those flights, enough food was catered for the entire plane.

Nowadays, unless you are traveling in first or business class domestically, there is no free meal in economy. Most carriers now sell food on flights. The only major exceptions are Continental, which offers free food during certain mealtime hours, and Southwest, which does not sell or offer meals. I do believe they provide free snacks, and more substantial snack offerings on their mid-con and trans-con flights. Also, I understand a few airlines may offer complimentary food in coach on their flights to and from Hawaii from the U.S. mainland.

On the other major U.S. carriers flying domestically, snacks are usually sold on flights of two or three hours, and sandwiches and other cold entrees are available for purchase on longer flights. Nowadays, however, these "Buy on Board" food and snacks are not catered for each and every passenger, but only for a limited amount, based on usual and customary passenger demand.

This candidly means that these Buy on Board offerings sell out from time to time, and/or could be periodically short catered, leaving many passengers hoping to buy a snack box, sandwich or potato chips out of luck and starving. Don't let this happen to you!

I strongly suggest to anyone traveling in the economy section to always bring some food on board with them, to avoid such disappointment. Most airports have plentiful restaurants offering take out food for your trip, so plan to arrive early enough to buy something to eat on the plane, or bring something from home.

If you are going to connect in another city to continue your journey, my advice is to bring or buy enough food for both flight segments. Don't make the mistake of planning to shop for food in your connecting airport as your first flight could be delayed, and you won't have any time to do this, as the time to make your connection has shortened.

Caution - if you are connecting in another country, don't bring food with you as you might not be able to enter with it. Also, don't bring water or other liquids with you if you are connecting in another country, as you may have to go through security all over again, and such liquids are prohibited.

Speaking of liquids, I also urge everyone to buy a bottle of water once you clear security (or bring an empty bottle and fill it from a water faucet once you've passed security). Having your own bottle of water in flight is a necessity as drink runs by the flight attendants in flight are fewer than in years past. Also, supplies are limited. All too often I see complaints on Untied.com from thirsty passengers. Many times the flight attendants are stingy with the water (and other drinks) because their supplies are almost depleted and/or not enough was catered in the first place. Always, always bring your own water!

I have a few final notes on this topic of food in flight. If you do enhance your dining in the sky experience by purchasing a sandwich, snack item, or alcoholic beverage in flight, be aware that only one form of payment might be accepted, for example, by credit card only or cash only. Some airlines, like American, only accept credit cards as payment, but their regional carriers, American Eagle and American Connection, only accept cash at this time. Buyer beware, and be prepared!

Furthermore, be advised when traveling on late night "red-eye" flights, food concessions and restaurants in airports might be closed well before your flight departs, thus finding food to bring on board might be difficult. Also, if you do wish to buy on board, be advised that airlines flying these red-eye flights usually don't cater sandwiches for sale, only non-perishables such as potato chips, trail mix, cookies or pre-packaged snack boxes. Again, plan ahead and bring food with you (if needed) for overnight travel.

I hope these tips I've shared will make your next flight a good one, and won't necessitate a complaint to Untied.com or other similar website. Have a happy, safe, and enjoyable flight.

Bon voyage,

Rob

Penalty for doing the right thing

May 8, 2009

Despite informing United that I'd come down with the flu right before my flight, and UAL Reservations saying it was "OK" not to fly and cause concern given the huge sensitivity to the current AH1N1 virus (May 2009), when I tried to rebook my ticket for 3 days later I was told by Ms. Shannon in reservations that it was my "own dumb fault" for not flying when sick (and coughing on everyone -- my comment). I was also told that I should pay $1100 *more* (beyond my $400 ticket) in fees to fly to join up with my wife and daughter.

I guess my other choice was to go on (and suffer through) the flight from LA to Hawaii, cough on every United employee I'd see, and then alert the media in Hawaii so the whole planeload of vacationers could be quarantined. But I'm not a bad person or vindictive like that, and I think there's a lot to be said for "taking the high road" and "karma," and working with consumer reporters or legal channels instead of being a jerk.

This berating me for having make the good social choice for my fellow passengers was pure stupidity from UAL, however, so I contacted the local TV news media in San Diego and LA. NBC jumped on the story first, and did the piece you can see above. Five minutes before the news truck arrived at my house, UAL called to say it "was all a big misunderstanding" and "of course" they'd honor my ticket and appreciated my not flying when sick and not causing a panic.

Yeah, right. Honestly, though, the person at the Exec Relations Dept *was* very nice and professional, but it takes someone senior and with the right "pay grade" to make a common-sense decision, unfortunately.

See news coverage of this story here.

It takes a Senator

March 19, 2008

Ed note: In the letter below, Mr. Musselwhite describes his experience dealing with United's refusal to provide a refund for services not rendered. An eventual response, along with a cheque for $23, as a pro-rated portion of the refund owing, came from a Ms. Donita Mincey in Customer Service. In a follow-up, the passenger informed Ms. Mincey that the $23 did not address the overall misery of the flights, his lost luggage, its 3-day delayed return, a diverted flight, changed flight, overbooked flights, changed terms, broken promises, or the frustrating hours he spent trying to get a refund from a sleazy company determined to keep the money.

More amusingly, Mr. Musselwhite informed UAL that he endorsed his cheque and sent it to us at Untied.com. We're sure UAL management is happy to know that they're helping fund our site. (FU hat courtesy of anonymous UAL employee.)

Also, in response to our query about one of the names originally given in his letter, which was accidentally repeated, Mr. Musselwhite provided some elaboration: "All those I spoke to at United were from India, and they sounded like it. I was speaking to Haji, not Denis. The names they give are as dishonest as everything else at United."

October 31, 2007

Senator Ken Salazar
702 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

I need your help. I have been trying to get a refund from United Airlines, and they simply won't respond. It is really quite amazing. Perhaps they will respond to you.

I recently booked a trip to Europe on United Airlines on their website. When I purchased my ticket on United.com, United offered me an upgrade to Economy Plus seating for about $225, which I accepted... and paid.

The last leg of the flight was canceled and I was put on another plane which was oversold by 22 seats. I was forced into a regular Economy seat, because they said there were no more Economy Plus seats.

So my complaint is very simple: United Airlines collected money for Economy Plus seating that they did not provide me. Consequently, they clearly owe me a refund. Customer Service people at the airport said I would get a refund, but they said I had to request it on the website. They flatly refused to do anything, even though they were the ones who did this to me.

So I filed the request on the United website. I never got a reply.

So I called the Customer Service number and talked to "Todd", who eventually put me on hold to investigate my request. While on hold, the call was dropped. I had spent about 20 minutes on the line with him when the line was cut.

So I called the Customer Service number again and talked to "Shane", who eventually put me on hold to investigate my request. While on hold, the call was dropped. I had spent about 30 minutes on the line with him when the line was cut.

So I called the Customer Service number once again and talked to "Denis", who eventually put me on hold to investigate my request. While on hold, the call was dropped. I had spent about 20 minutes on the line with him when the line was cut.

So I called the Customer Service number again and talked to "Sid". I explained what was happening, and I requested a supervisor. I was put on hold to await an available supervisor. While on hold, the call was dropped.

So I called back and made the same request. This time, I eventually got "Jack", who said they would offer me either a coupon on my next full-fare ticket (which I never buy) or 15,000 miles added to my Mileage Plus account. But he said they would NOT refund any money!!!!!!! I explained that they cannot collect money for a seating upgrade and then not provide it. I asked him if that was indeed what he was saying. This made him nervous, and without saying a word to me, he transferred me to...

"Savio" in Customer Relations. I was trying to have a discussion with "Savio" when the line was dropped.

So I filed yet another online request on the United.com website. That was about 10 days ago, so that request was ignored too.

So... that is 8 formal requests to United Airlines... with no refund... no actual reply at all... and never any justification for keeping the money! Their strategy is clearly to stonewall me until I give up.

Stunning arrogance!!!!!! I am amazed that United would show such behavior. I am amazed that they are allowed to behave this way. I am amazed that politicians tolerate this kind of behavior.

Since you allow this, I request that YOU try to get United to respond. I also request a very tough Passenger Bill of Rights that stops the blatant abuse of customers by United Airlines.

I await your reply. You can reach me via the contact information shown below.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Steven D. Musselwhite

UAL loses another customer

February 19, 2008

My flight was supposed to depart Kalamazoo to Chicago on Sunday morning. But UAL cancelled it three times in a row, while flights on other airlines continued going out on the same route. When the flight was first cancelled, I asked UA if they could put me on any other flight, to which the nice man responded with a firm "no". Another possible flight was later cancelled. I hung around until the next day, as a third flight was cancelled, just two hours before I was to fly out. I finally talked to a Delta agent who really helped me out and I managed to get home on Tuesday morning. Otherwise, I might still be sitting in the airport.

I know that you could care less with all the people you fly, but why did it take so much insistence on my part before you agreed to switch me over to Delta? I lost a day of double-time as a result.

Furthermore, your employee who was checking me in lost my picture I.D. No one from United apparently bothered to look for it, as it was only located by a Delta employee who saw it on the United counter and returned it to me.

I have always flown with you before I got married and moved out here, but now, you've lost my business. I'm not writing for flyer miles or money off my next trip; I want you to know why your customers are leaving.

How to Reach UAL (in the UK)
(and why another customer is leaving)
January 26, 2008

I have been trying to organise a refund for exorbitant telephone costs of some 300GBP (approx. US $600) for calls to United to resolve a problem I had with a booking. It took me something like 8 hours to get through and get it organised.

It really annoyed me that United didn't appear to have any UK telephone numbers for me to call (as the 0870 number routes you to some far-off place).

Ed note: Calling an 0870 number can cost as much as ten times the rate of a regular, local number.

Fortunately, Heathrow reception staff (not United) gave me a local number to try, and I thought, hmm, these guys must have lots of phones so I experimented with several changes to the last two digits and here's what I found:

Ed note: Now that the cat's out of the bag, it wouldn't surprise us if these numbers are changed shortly. If so, as the poster suggests:

Try dialing other numbers, with variants of the last two digits. Hopefully you'll end up talking to the right person.

At the end of this ordeal, I managed to get my phone bill refunded, along with a credit of 25,000 airmiles to my account. You're more likely to obtain a satisfactory outcome to a complaint if you get in touch with your country's UAL office; the Heathrow team told me that they have the ability to be more flexible in managing complaints than their HQ in Chicago.

Ed note: Perhaps not for much longer after this information becomes public, but it never hurts to try.

Regardless, I am still quitting UAL as my preferred airline and switching to the the One World alliance. It's a shame but I just have no faith in UAL. You support an airline and they don't give you anything of recognition in return.

Another Small Claims success
January 26, 2008

I began my quest in March of 2007. I tried several times to contact United through the phone and letters. They went unanswered. No satisfaction. We asked Amex to intercede for me. They did so but apparently they didn't do a thorough job.

I wrote to United Airlines Refund Department on July 20, 2007. Excerpts from that letter:

"I respectfully request a refund of $729.60 for the two unused tickets referenced above and for which the travel itinerary is enclosed.... When I purchased the tickets through your 800 number on February 22, 2007, your reservations agent, a female, assured me the tickets would be fully refundable if I cancelled 'at least 24 hours before the flight.' Verbatim quote. I am positive. I wrote the words as she spoke...I am not suggesting she intentionally misrepresented your company's police. I rather believe she simply made a mistake. Human error."

I obtained a certificate of mailing from the Post Office. I never received a response from United.

I contacted the Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division to find out who is the corporate representative for United in Oregon. They gave me the name (Prentice Hall Corporation System) but the office was closed and the phone disconnected. The State asked me to serve papers through the Corporation Division. I did everything they suggested. They said when I served them it was the same as serving the agent. Because United did not respond, the small claims court ordered a deficiency judgement against United. This got United's attention and an attorney (Sarah Vaughn) from United called. She began the process to see that I received the refund.

I received the check for my out-of-pocket court expenses about two or three weeks ago. My Amex account was credited for the price of the tickets this week.

Lawsuit pending...
December 18, 2007

UAL bungles big time, but can't even admit their mistake. As the passenger write, "Let me get this straight, United cancels my flight, United causes me to miss my flight the next day, United gets an antagonistic attitude and won't fix the ticket when they can, because a DELTA Airline agent has to talk to the UNITED agent to get him to do his job, for a fee, and I did ask for a refund...."

UAL is never responsible... unless?
July 25, 2007

Ed note: This story caught our attention because it combines several illustrations of what United continues to do wrong, year after year:

It is further interesting that the sequence of events described by Ms. Waldeck is fairly similar to that which befell the passengers who were Abandoned in Cheyenne during the same storm system last December. Both situations include flight rerouting, a series of broken promises, and being stranded in an intermediate city for several days. In the case of the Cheyenne passengers, after sufficient negative publicity, UAL finally relented and agreed to offer compensation. But rather than extend the same courtesy to Ms. Waldeck and cover her hotel and other essential expenses incurred, UAL is choosing to play the "we do not refund hotel, meal, car rental and alternate flight expenses" card. Come on, United, sure you do... but apparently, only if USA Today is about to run another story!

Ms. Waldeck has now received a total of $650 in flight vouchers (that can only be used one at a time). UAL's customer relations indicated that this is the best they can do.

Untied.com is encouraging Ms. Waldeck to file her demand in Small Claims Court should UAL not offer the compensation she has requested.

See the original complaint letter and the following reply from UAL (click to enlarge) as background:

Ms. Waldeck's follow-up response appears below:

March 12, 2007

Ms. Faith A. Liedberg
Customer Relations
United Airlines
P.O. Box 66100
Chicago, IL 60666

RE: Ref. # 5707081B/Your letter dated March 5, 2007

Dear Ms. Liedberg:

I am in receipt of your letter dated March 5, 2007 which you wrote in response to my complaint dated January 2, 2007 about services rendered to me by United Airlines in conjunction with a December 19, 2006 flight. Although I do appreciate your response, it is unacceptable for a number of reasons. In your letter, you make several misstatements of the facts and appear to have based your decision regarding my compensation on incorrect information and factual inconsistencies.

First, your logic for denying my compensation seems to be based entirely on "inclement weather," when in fact, my travel was scheduled to be completed before the inclement weather even began. In paragraph one you refer to "the December blizzard" and in paragraph two begin your rationale with "Inclement weather presents challenges... severe snowstorms impacted United's service... on December 20..." Frankly, these "explanations" are irrelevant to me because my travel, according to the contract UAL made with me, was to have been completed on December 19. The only reason I was in Denver on December 20 (the day the weather hit) was due to a multi-hour delay leaving Los Angeles related to my aircraft's mechanical problem on December 19. This mechanical problem resulted in my missing my connection in Denver the afternoon of December 19.

You state in the third paragraph of your letter "...passengers do not receive compensation from United for costs resulting from weather, air traffic conditions or other circumstances beyond our control." Indeed my presence in Denver on December 20 was directly under your control and could have been obviated. I was to have been in and out of Denver the day before the storm started, and would have been had it not been for the mechanical delay in Los Angeles on December 19 -- something that was entirely under UAL's control.

The second misrepresentation of my situation is stated in paragraph four of your letter, where you wrote "If a flight irregularity prevents you from reaching your planned destination, we help to arrange the first alternate transportation available." Here, you ignore one of my chief complaints about my experience: I was informed by a UAL telephone representative on December 21, while trying to make arrangements to get out of Denver, that my entire itinerary had been canceled on December 20 at 8:49 PM. and that UAL had no further responsibility for helping me find travel arrangements. I did not authorize UAL to cancel my itinerary; therefore, with this action, UAL breached its contract with me and rendered any promise to "arrange the first alternate transportation available" completely null and void. You do not acknowledge this fact anywhere in you letter even though I brought it to your attention in my January 3 letter. Similarly, you seem to be ignoring the fact that I was told to cancel my reservations and make my own alternate arrangements early on during the storm. Although I refused to do this, UAL apparently did it for me. This approach to "customer service" hardly represents your pledge to "help arrange the first alternate transportation available."

Third, your agreement to reimburse the "unused portion" of my United ticket is inconsistent with what I was told on December 21 and December 24 by UAL telephone representatives -- that I had already been credited with the full amount of my ticket. The only acceptable resolution on the issue of my ticket is either a full cash refund or full credit ($432) toward future travel. However, the matter of my hotel and other expenses can only be rectified by direct cash reimbursement, as I requested in the January 3 letter.

In the final paragraph of your letter, you encourage me to "use the travel certificate... to help with... unexpected expenses." $250 toward future travel does not begin to compensate for what amounted to nearly $1000 in out of pocket cash expenses, compounded by the incredibly poor to nonexistent service I received from UAL during the period in question.

I am not going away. Your response was completely unacceptable and based on a total distortion of what really happened to me on the days of December 19, 20, 21, and 22. I am giving you one more chance to get it right before I take legal action against United Airlines. I expect to hear from you by March 23, 2007. I am once again requesting:

  1. confirmation of what I was told 12/20 and 12/24: That I had full credit ($432) toward future travel
  2. full cash reimbursement of my out of pocket expenses incurred while stranded in Denver due to UAL's December 19 aircraft delay due to mechanical problems (detailed in my January 3 letter).

If I do not hear from you in such a way that satisfies my requests, I will file an action against United Airlines in Orange County Superior Court for its breach of contract. I am well aware of my rights, and look forward to resolving the matter with less drastic measures. I hope that you and your colleagues choose to cooperate.

Sincerely,

Jennifer H. Waldeck

Helpless at Check-in
March 17, 2007

I had an agent check my bag in Las Vegas (Jeanine Forrester) who was rude, arrogant and sarcastic. I told her that I was late for my flight, but still outside the 45 minute check-in window. There was no crowd in the Premier Line I was the only one. After I asked her to help me she went on chatting with her co-worker for 5 minutes then slowly did some other paperwork for another 5 minutes. She then allowed me to check my bag as a late check, which it was after 10 minutes of waiting on her. I told her that my bag would not have been late if she had decided to help me in a timely manner. Jeanine replied that I should have gotten to the counter sooner and not tried to interrupt her. She slowly processed my bag and informed me that if it did not make the flight I would have to retrieve bag at ORD myself. Upon leaving the counter to catch my flight in the most sarcastic tone imaginable she said and I quote (because I took the time to write it down) "you should go straight to the gate, we will not delay the flight for you and good luck with your bag." I knew then my bag was not going to make it to Chicago any time soon.

When I arrived in Chicago, I waited for the bag, hoping I was wrong and it would be there. It was not, so I went to baggage claim and they looked up the bag claim check and said it would be on the next flight about 90 minutes later. I asked the very nice gate bag claim agent if they could deliver it to my house the next day and he said that he could not because Jeanine had carefully noted the "late check time" in the record and he could not override it, but at least he tried to help. I waited and still no bag even though I was told it was on the next flight and one more after that.

I went home and had my son go out to ORD the next evening and still no bag. I called United and filed a delayed baggage claim and was able to retrieve the bag two days after leaving LAS. Jeanine is most likely still laughing. Should she be customer facing to your top customers?

I work for Hewlett-Packard Company and do 60% of my flying on United. United is HP's preferred airline and I think that I have the right to be shielded from the type of behavior that Jeanine Forrester displayed on March 12, 2007.

I would like to Federal Express a formal complaint to the President's office at United. Would you please provide the contact information and address.

Ed note: Contact information for UAL personnel is available here, but letters sent to the "President" or CEO Tilton are funelled through the usual Customer Relations channels, which means it will be read by someone with (hopefully) a grade 10 education and if you're lucky, you'll eventually receive a form letter in reply.

The problem, of course, isn't necessarily Jeanine Forrester or other UAL employees of this nature, but rather, with the attitude of upper management that not only tolerates such behavior, and worse, treats the airline's employees in a similarly hostile manner. Given the workplace atmosphere at UAL, it's little wonder that such incidents occur on a daily basis.

Intimidation and Whistleblowers

Ed. note: The abuse of power this former employee experienced at UAL is all too typical, but the details of his experience are, we believe, of special interest, in particular as this relates to potential safety issues. Under these specific circumstances, we've suggested that the writer consider legal action under the Whistleblower Act, as have a number of other former UAL employees. An explanation of why early brake releases are both unacceptable and unsafe is provided below.

Other examples of retaliatory actions by UAL against whistleblowers, documented on our site, include the treatment of Tim Hafer, David Lawson, and George Gulliford

Update: February 20, 2007

Just wanted to let you know that a week after my "feature of the week" article came out last month, UAL contacted me about reinstating me to my position after being terminated 2 years ago. We had the 3rd step hearing and have been asked to come back.

The reason I was terminated was because I got into a verbal confrontation with a fellow employee. When the other employee reported the situation, he reported that it became physical. It was my word against his and they believed him. There were no witnesses or cameras for proof.

After my 1st hearing (2 years ago) the rmp mgr offered me to return to work the next day on a level 4 if I admitted to hitting the employee. Because I denied the physical contact - UAL held me out of service (terminated) for 2 years.

At the 3rd step hearing I was told UAL would not be paying me 2 years of backpay, but I'd keep my seniority and come back at a level 0. I feel I've been wronged and need to find out what I can do. I lost my job and lost pay for 2 years because I didn't admit to something I didn't do.

More passengers abandoned
February 21, 2007

United does it again! On February 8, they abandoned 100 passengers in Nebraska. This follows a similar incident in December, exposed by USA Today, in which UAL abandoned 100 passengers in Cheyenne and refused to cover their expenses. After several months of media pressure, the airline finally relented and is now prepared to reimburse passengers for their expenses.

January 13, 2007

I started as a ramper at LAX and thought I would always work there and eventually retire with the company. I loved my job and the benefits. I was sadly mistaken through the 7 1/2 years I was employed and saw how I was just a number and could be replaced anytime. After Sept. 11th, I was sent to ORD because I couldn't hold my seniority. Four months later I was called back to LAX. I noticed how the Supervisors they hired at LAX had no prior airline experience - people off the street - and couldn't tell me what kind of plane I was loading much less any airport codes. These people were "supervising" me!?!

United at the end of one year hit the charts and surveys as being the #1 On-Time Airline. We all know the pilots were asking for early brake-releases to show on paper the on-time departures. As long as we were getting the flights out on time ALL the time, managment decided we didn't need all the manpower and bumped a bunch of us back to part-time. The Safety Committee wanted all rampers who witnessed early brake releases to report the captain of the flight and supervisor who allowed it to them. I was on a push crew - pushing the aircraft into the alleyways and taxiways. Countless times I was asked to release brakes. I had a pilot on a 737 tell me he could re-program the flight computer in the cockpit to show that brakes were released even if they didn't physically release them. I told him I had problems with that and told him I'd report him and he told me that would be a mistake. I had reported a few of the captains and pilots. I've heard that they run the company since they make so much money and - of course they fly the planes. The following week a fellow worker antagonized me in starting an argument with me and I told him if he didn't shut up I'd kick his ass. He reported it to management and they walked me off the premises that night for saying a verbal threat.

It was my mistake for saying what I said and another mistake for telling the truth. I think it was a conspiracy to get rid of me. The safety committee and union told me they'd back me up if I reported the captains and supervisors. They haven't done too much for me seeings that I'm still out of work after 2 full years without pay or benefits. I'm ready to go after UAL for Wrongful Termination and the Union for False Representation. I know of fellow employees who have been drug tested positive with cocaine while operating equipment around aircraft who've made it back to work within 6 months.

Ed note. In response to our request, the former employee provided the following elaboration on the history and implications of early brake releases.

  1. We tell the customers that their plane leaves on time at let's say 2 p.m. The plane doesn't make up the time in the air so the plane arrives late and the passengers miss their connections and need to either re-route or wait for the next flight. The company blames it either on the weather or the busy-ness of the arriving airport and then doesn't have to do anything for the customer. So, in other words we lie to the customer and put the blame on natural causes like weather.
  2. Being on the push crew I know that there is tension in the brake lines of the aircraft and at times the plane will shift or move when the brakes are released. If the crew loading the aircraft is in the pit/belly or we have equipment near the plane, we're subject to either someone losing their balance and getting hurt or damage to the aircraft from the equipment.
  3. At one time, the supervisors would order the gate crew to move all equipment away from the plane and lock it up, get the brake release and then re-open and continue loading. They changed that rule to only apply if the gate crew had more than 10+ bags to put on because it delayed the flight that much more.
  4. At times we would load extra bags in the alleyways and sometimes on the active taxiway Charlie to put more bags on. The FAA frowned on that and told management they couldn't do it, but they continued. Sometimes they would bring the plane back to the gate, reset the brakes and continue loading. But, because they had already released the brakes the 1st time, they were considered "in-flight" and made a lame excuse when the passengers missed their connections.
  5. Being on the push crew to push the planes out from the gate on departure, the pilot is to ask for a brake release before doing so. This allows me to make sure the push tug's brakes are set so the weight of the plane is on my brakes. I had a couple occurrences where the pilots released their brakes without my knowledge and without me in the tug. The plane didn't roll, but it's the possibility that it could have that we need to consider.

Wow - UAL is screwed up!
September 2, 2006

I have had some severe customer service issues in the past and have consulted Untied for advice. I have read some of the topics posted by United employees and it is absolutely appaling and repugnant to see what the company does to its people.

Having a relationship with UAL seems to be like having a relationship with an abusive spouse or parent! Basically, one is tortured by subjective decision making, silence, smugness, cynicisim, and a total lack of communication. I hate the India call centers - they are absolutely worthless and actually end up causing more problems with you book a flight through them or call them for customer service. I have never, ever had to deal with more unhelpful, unintellignet staff ever in my life.

It is now proven to me that UAL is a giant house of cards - it is not a sustainable airline or business model, it's just a scheme to make a ton of money for the four or five guys on top before it goes bankrupt again, screws its employees, defaults on its loans and leases, and alienates its stockholders and customers. It won't and can't last. They just make due until the next uptick in travle trends.

What does Glenn Tilton know about running an airline? If he ran an oil company than why hasn't he done a better job of hedging fuel because that's why they are crying about losing so much money.

UAL's publicity stink with Mo'nique
August 2006

July 2006 was a record month for complaints against United Airlines. The reason? On July 23, the airline threw US comedienne Mo'Nique Imes-Hicks off a New York-bound flight from Chicago after a dispute regarding ownership of her hairdryer. In response, the comedienne went public with a call to boycott the airline and UAL realized they had a public relations disaster on their hands. Our site (Untied.com) alone received 80 letters out of a total of 412 on this topic... we doubt UAL will be disclosing how many they received! While these complaints against the airline are certainly warranted, it should be noted that experiences of passenger mistreatment, similar to Mo'Nique's, if not worse, occur many times every day on United. The only difference in this case is that the victim was able to draw public attention to the incident far more effectively than most of the thousands of others who have posted their stories in our database.

Stick to Southwest!
August 29, 2006

United is in trouble and they really do need to work on a business strategy rather than try to intimidate or flush out good employees. If they want to run a communist airline, maybe they should setup their headquarters somewhere in the Moscow area. Maybe they would get more passengers if they went to Russia. As for myself, I think I will stick to Southwest. I will feel safe knowing that I'm not on the same airline that treats their employees the same way they treat their pets.

The loss of my airline
June 18, 2005

United Airlines has been raped of its assets. United Airlines employees have been victimized. United Airlines customers have been silenced.

United Airlines was the best airline. We, the employees, and our customers, made it the best.

Management, from the CEO'S, the many, many VP's, the Board of Directors, stole the airline. You created many spin-offs, plus, you sold our computer system, our buildings, mortagaged our planes, gave what cash our pensions did have to a company, PBGC, who is already 23 billion dollars in the hole, you gave 50 million dollars to US Air, just to talk, and we sell US Air as if we own it. Where did the money go?

What is so sad to me about the loss of my airline, is the loss of my United family. United got ugly.

After Sep 11, on its first anniversary, The Fire Fighters Memorial Service, is held at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs. Hundreds of family members came from all over the world to attend the services. United would not waive services charges for changes, did not offer any type of discount, nor was any United offical at the service.

The name has not only been tarnished, but the company has been disfigured beyond recognition. I hope your continued advancement of our company will continue to line your pockets, as the above mention article clearly states.

Bullets on the plane? No problem!
June 18, 2005

Ed. note: We received this report from Judy Salmon back in February but were requested not to publish it at the time. Ms. Salmon was justifiably concerned about her job, given the long history of retaliatory actions by UAL against whistleblowers, some of which have been documented on our site. As Ms. Salmon has recently been offered a position outside of the airline industry, she is now prepared to post her story as she feels it important for the traveling public to be aware of UAL's disregard for safety.

Readers should note that Untied.com has been raising the safety issue since early 1998. UAL's response was exactly the same back then as it is now... cover their ears and deny that the problem exists, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

I have been with UAL for 16 years and am appalled at many of the things I have seen, primarily an incident that occurred in July 2004. It both saddens and frightens me to see first hand how disinterested UAL is in the safety of both its employees and passengers.

To briefly summarize, bullets (live 22 caliber shells) were found on my flight from Denver (DEN) to Tampa (TPA). The first one was found by a passenger. It was handed over to the purser who in turn gave it to the captain. He agreed to notify ground security in TPA and the appropriate people would meet the aircraft.

Upon arrival in TPA, the only individual present was the agent meeting the flight. When my flying partner and I demanded to know what was going to be done, we were told that the cleaners were going to give the plane a "security sweep". That's right, the cleaners! They were on the plane for less than 10 minutes.

We then left the plane to go to Operations. On the tarmac, we passed the pilots who were going to take us to Chicago and asked them what was being done. They were not even aware of the situation, but the new captain told us he would find out about it.

We then found out that they were planning to board us and continue on with no more discussion. My flying partner and I did not feel that the plane had been properly searched, nor were the passenger manifests checked. In other words, NOTHING had been done.

We took it upon ourselves to search the lavatories and galleys and then decided to check the floor on our hands and knees. This is when I saw a second bullet on the floor by the sidewall. I called out to my flying partner who was searching several rows ahead of me. The captain came back, yelling at us to calm down and be quiet. He claimed that the bullets were mere BB's. Wrong: I happen to be a shooter and know my bullets. He told us there were numerous reasons that bullets would be on the plane and that we had better shut up or would be accused of planting them. Needless to say, this comment disturbed me. He took the bullet and returned to the cockpit.

At this point we began discussing whether or not we felt safe to fly. Components for a zip gun or similar weapon can be brought onto an aircraft and assembled onboard. The bullets are supposed to be the most difficult item to get through security. The captain (Scott Gray) overheard us and told us that we were welcome to walk but would be fired. Obviously, he has no authority over us in that capacity.

We ultimately decided to take that plane back to Chicago as we had no support from either the captain or the purser. I spoke to several pilots after the incident and they told me that the plane should never have left TPA until a thorough search was conducted and passenger manifests (both inbound and outbound) scrutinized.

UAL attempted to bury or drop the entire incident until I went into a duty superviser's office prior to my next assignment. I was extremely upset and in tears and told her I wanted the situation and its handling investigated: if this was standard operating procedure, I was very concerned getting back on an airplane. I was instructed to write an internal report that was supposedly forwarded to numerous individuals for investigation. I also filed a report on SkyNet.

I recieved a copy of the captain's response (submitted on his behalf by another individual), containing numerous lies, and nothing further from anyone else in the airline.

Picking up the Pieces
June 8, 2005

Ed. note: Untied.com has received dozens of pleas for assistance from former UAL employees who were terminated under similar conditions to the following letter writer. We have reported on such cases in the past but as the airline's fortunes continue to tumble, it seems apparent that any hope of recovering one's job have gone the way of the pensions. Untied.com's only advice is to give up on the airline, seek whatever employment opportunities you can, and consult with legal representation as to the possibility of legal action against UAL.

It is heartening, at least, to see that for some former employees, life after UAL can be rewarding!

I was terminated during a FAML and my health records were petitioned by my in-flight supervisor - Elaine Higgins in JFK. It was disclosed that I had been recently diagnosed with HIV and I was going to MIA for specialized treatment in Miami at a research center at Jackson Memorial for my condition. I was then immediately terminated by her when this was found out. I became no longer cost effective and was promptly disposed of and left to die without my job, health insurance in this very undignified manner.

I still barely survived a few years after this date, lost my home, lived from indigent care facilities from the state and became nearly homeless if it werent for a dear friend taking me into her home. I have since managed to pick up the pieces in my broken life from United and have a good position now working as a Marketing Director and Consultant Foreign National as well as South Florida Investors.

My salary is now approx 5 times what I was making at United Airlines and they did not destroy and defeat me as they hoped. However, I have never forgotten how this company which I offerd years of loyalty simply discarded me and hoped I would simply die at a time when I really needed their compassion and support.

Good luck with your cause. If you need any of my documentation I will be glad to provide it for your very worthwhile efforts.

Glenn Tilton's new home
June 2, 2005

For all those feeling sorry for the state of UAL's finances, you might find some relief to learn that not all of the airline's personnel are suffering. We recently learned of CEO Glenn Tilton's 2004 purchase of a vacation home in sunny Florida at a cost of $2.2 Million. Well, at least we know where he'll be spending his pension funds.

From the Sarasota County Property Appraiser site:

2004 Detail Information for Parcel 0007-11-1108

Parcel Property Address: 2377 GULF OF MEXICO DR 2E4 BLD 2
Description: UNIT 2E4 BLDG 2 VIZCAYA AT LONGBOAT KEY PHASE 2
Phone: 941-383-5389
Incorporation: TOWN OF LONGBOAT KEY
Subdivision Code: 8139
Use Code: 0404
Sec/Twp/Rge: 08-36S-17E
Census Tract (2000) 08.02
Zoning:


Ownership TILTON GLENN F
TILTON JACQUELINE M
1500 N LAKE SHORE DR
CHICAGO, IL 60610
2004 Values Just (Market) Value: $1,875,934
Land Value: $0
Improvement Value: $1,875,934
Assessed Value: $1,875,934
Homestead: No
Total Exemptions: $0
Total Taxable: $1,875,934
Property Land Area: 0
Total Building Area: 4,943 (All Structures)
Total Living Area: 3,169 (Enclosed Only)
Living Units: 1
Bed / Bath: 3 Bed / 3 Bath
Pool: No
Year Built: 1997
Last Sale/Transfer Sale Price: $2,200,000
Date Sold: 4/6/2004
Deed Type: WD
Grantor: BOZZI,BRUCE E
Updated: 5/30/2005 12:31:00 AM Instrument #: 2004064424
The information appearing on this website was extracted from the records of the Sarasota County Property Appraiser's Office. Our goal is to provide the most accurate information available. However, no warranties, expressed or implied, are provided for the data, its use or interpretation. The property values relate to the last valuation date. The data is subject to change. Copyright @ 2001 - 2005 Sarasota County Property Appraiser. All rights reserved.

Sick about the Pension Pull
May 29, 2005

A former passenger writes...

It is so, so sad what is happening to United Airlines. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Dedicated UAL workers... who have spent their working careers to United... and are now told that 10, 15, 20, or more years of service does not matter. As far as United is concerned, the company's commitment to pay the pension promised that employee, can and should be DISREGARDED, by way of United running to the bankruptcy judge.

I USED to be a Premier Executive Frequent Flyer on United. ... Now, I wouldn't fly United even if it was free.

United corporate spokespeople now whine that a strike by United workers "would be illegal"... But screwing long-time employees out of their pensions is NOT illegal???!!! Are you kidding?! If that is the case, something is now seriously wrong with the laws in the United States, in terms of what is "legal" versus "illegal". Let alone, what is moral versus immoral.

Another threat from UAL?
May 12, 2005

Received from: "John"

Your continued operation of this site because of a personal vendetta is sickening. Do you not realize there are many thousands that depend on United for employment - just like you depend on your employer (if you even work) for your livelihood. As a United employee I have appeared on your site several times. I guess you dont bother to check facts - you just arbitrarily print whatever slander someone wants you to print about a United employee. I have solved literally thousands of problems for thousands of United passengers. But it is the one person that wants something unreasonable that you enjoy focusing on. Get a life. Get a real job and find out just how difficult the real world can be. Nobody takes your site seriously. Why dont you use all of this energy to do something good instead of trying to tear down an airline and put a lot of people out of work. Is United perfect? Of course not. No company is. No person is. Even you. God forbid someone gets a hold of your faults, launches a site and invites everyone that has ever had any contact with you to complain. You printed unsubstantiated claims against me personally. If I see my name on your childish site again I will take legal action against you for allowing slanderous postings about me to be printed. Don't think I can? Try me. Have a nice day.

Ed. note:

As per the disclaimer, "John", like all UAL employees, you are invited to provide information to refute any posts on the site, whether from passengers, employees, or the site maintainers. With regard to "trying to tear down an airline", if you check with some of your many colleagues who have written me in appreciation of my efforts, you may realize that it is your own management, and not Untied.com, that has been responsible for UAL's continual demise. As for your threat, a brief perusal of the site's history should inform you that I don't respond as a coward to intimidation.

Would I fly UAL? Absolutely not!
April 17, 2005

Gregory Kevakian has given us permission to post his reply to a passenger fearful of flying on a United aircraft:

Thank you for your e-mail. Before we get started, I want you to know that the information I will provide you is mostly my opinion. What you do with that information is entirely up to you.

To address your concerns regarding your fears about flying aboard United Airlines aircraft you must know that the airline is currently under bankruptcy protection.

When my story hit the Internet several years ago, I started to receive e-mail from individuals who allegedly where current United Airlines employees at the time. Most of the e-mail described maintenance violations which the alleged employee felt that "if allowed to continue people may start losing their lives". These alleged employees sent me e-mail stating that they did not know what to do because they feared of losing their jobs if they came forward.

At the time, I was only addressing workers' comp violations perpetrated by United Airlines and thus decided to act as a liaison between the United Airline employee who wanted anonymity and the federal government who would receive the anonymous complaints from me for further investigation.

At first, the appropriate government agencies would do nothing because I would not disclose the e-mail address or the name of the United Airlines employee who was making the complaint (known as whistle-blowing here in the United States) However, over time, the e-mail became so voluminous, I decided to forward them to members of Congress and the US Senate. It is my belief that because of our persistence, more investigations will follow concerning United Airlines.

I would imagine that current employees of United Airlines morale must be at an all time low. They had to endure several pay cuts, their pensions may have been depleted, and they may live in fear that if they report any infractions of any kind during this time they risk the chance of losing their jobs needed to support their families. I would imagine that their thoughts are consumed with fears like, "Will I have to endure further pay-cuts in order to keep my job with this airline?"; "How will I be able to retire if my pension is depleted?" and "Should I look for employment elsewhere before the bottom falls out?" If current United Airlines employees are going to work harboring such fears instead of concentrating on their jobs is, in my opinion, a formula for disaster. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time.

I have agreed to testify at the request of Tim Hafer who is just one such United Airlines employee whistle blower on record. I believe CBS will air a story concerning the United Airline's mismanagement of their maintenance sometime in June of this year.

Would I allow any of my family members to fly United Airlines under the current circumstances? Absolutely not! To show you how adamant I am about this issue; back in December of 2003, I had to fly from Phoenix, Arizona to San Francisco, California then back again in order to be present in front of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board for a settlement hearing between United Airlines lawyers and mine. At that time, United Airlines was obligated to pay for my air fare and sent me two tickets aboard United Airlines aircraft. I refused the tickets and demanded that United Airlines purchase my tickets aboard Southwest Airlines. United Airlines had no choice but to comply with my request. End result; I flew to San Francisco, CA then demanded to present all the evidence I had to the WCAB judge concerning unlawful termination of employment. Almost immediately, United Airlines lawyers offered $90,000 settlement on the workers' compensation matter only (which is usually no more than $5,000 in most cases) with the understanding that the unlawful termination matter will not be addressed at that time, but I would be allowed to address the claim in United States District Court which is now pending. In my opinion, United Airlines knew I had enough evidence to support my unlawful termination claim and opted to pay $90,000 instead of $5,000 in order to prevent such evidence from being presented at that time. I was at the court house less then 15 minutes and soon found myself flying home aboard Southwest airlines with a $90,000 settlement in hand. Now I move on with my unlawful termination claim against United Airlines in federal court.

What airline would I choose if I was to fly to Australia with my family? I would probably choose Quantus with their code shares such as American Airlines, etc. My next choice would be Air New Zealand.

I sincerely hope this e-mail adequately addresses your concerns and that you have a great time in Australia. Feel free to contact me at any time.

No reply from UAL
March 28, 2005

Ed. note: This is a recent follow-up we received from a passenger being treated to the usual UAL "customer satisfaction" routine. The initial complaint can be found here.

This is my third time contacting United and still not getting an iota of a response. I feel my concerns are being disregarded and tossed aside. The letter and e-mail I have written were polite and to the point. More reserved than most wold be. As this was a gigantic colossal mistake on your part, especially as I was traveling with my 75 year old mom, Marilyn Hall. Please check your records for this long horrendous ordeal we went through almost a year ago, traveling from Brussels to the USA. The time frame for a professional speedy response from you folks has come and gone, but to be totally ignored is downright rude and unprofessional regardless of your current situation, which is exactly why, while I was stuck in Washington DC you did not put me up in a hotel. No hotel was honoring United, as they felt they would be stuck with the bill.

Kevakian vs. UAL round 3
Jan. 3, 2005

Ed. note: The following letter was written by Greg Kevakian, in response to a fellow, former UAL employee, who congratulated him on his success against the airline.

It's really quite amazing, despite the years of revolving-doors corrupt mananagement at UAL, that the airline hasn't yet learned the lesson: you can't keep playing the bully -- trying to intimidate both former passengers (like the maintainers of Untied.com) or former employees (such as Mr. Kevakian and others featured on this site) -- without some of us fighting back.

Just wanted to thank you for your response. I have received so many e-mails like the one you sent me that it has been overwhelming. Thus far in the past three years I have received over 5,280 positive e-mails. During that same period of time, I have only received 4 negative e-mails from misguided UAL employees. It saddens me that a company like United Airlines mistreats its employees as well as their customers.

To give you an example of how petty and ignorant the current UAL management is, I submit the following. United Airlines management is fully aware that I have been assisting whistle blowers for the past three to four years. Said efforts resulted in UAL not obtaining government support of federal loan guarantees and fines imposed upon them by the DOT. In retaliation, UAL filed a civil complaint against my wife and me on or about October 15, 2004 in Arizona Justice Court (Case No. CV04-07563-RB) for failure to pay on pass travel charges in the amount of $1,700 back in 1998... only problem for UAL is that I had paid these charges.

Therefore, I counter-sued UAL in Arizona Superior Court (CV-2004-023911) in the amount of $850,000 for harassment and infliction of emotional distress. The Arizona Superior Court accepted my counter-claim and I immediately received two calls from a Tina with the law firm of Hammerman and Hultgren (tel. 602 264-2566) representing UAL, who said they would drop their complaint against me if I would drop mine. I said "no."

On December 20, 2004, there was a status hearing within the United States District Court of Arizona (Kevakian v. UAL, Inc: CIV-02-02404-PHX-SMM) concerning my unlawful termination civil action against the airline. Prior to the hearing, I was contacted twice by another lawyer, R. Shawn Oller with the law firm Littler Mendleson (tel. 602 474-3600) representing UAL, who indicated that UAL would drop their civil action against me if I dropped mine. Again, I said, "no."

The federal court refused to drop my civil complaint against UAL pending the final decision of the bankruptcy judge in Illinois. UAL's legal counsel then filed paperwork that attempted to intimidate me by saying they had more evidence to present. In response, I will shortly be presenting much more evidence against UAL in the federal court of Illinois and Arizona. For example, I have personal knowledge that UAL hired ex-felons prior to 9/11, willfully and knowingly, in breach of their own security protocol. UAL management did not care. All they cared about was hiring anyone that would work for low wages during ESOP.

The same information will be forwarded to representatives in Congress and the DOT. If you and others would like a voice, please forward me e-mail that I will present on your behalf. We can fight, we can make a difference and maybe one day United Airlines will be the great airline it used to be.

When I applied initially for the job at UAL, my references included an FAA Inspector, pilots and others involved in law enforcement. These are the same types of individuals that have agreed to stand by me as I move forward within the courts.

And like the folks at Untied.com, I don't bluff.

Best Regards,

Gregory S. Kevakian

How UAL treats the US Army
Sept. 1, 2004

I am an officer in the Army National Guard activated almost continuously since right before 9/11 including a recent 16 month stint in Iraq from which I have just returned.

During my first military leave (16 weeks from Sept 2000 to Jan 2001), my department (at United HQ in Chicago) was undergoing a "reorganization" from which it emerged almost double its previous size. During this reorganization, it was deemed necessary to grant international UAL employees work visas to come work at UAL HQ in Chicago.

Despite this, I was never returned to a permanent position upon my return because "all jobs had been filled." This is depite the fact that I had an unblemished record with a history of frequent merit promotions (almost annually between 1995 and 2000 ... before I was deemed a "military nuisance"). As a result of going from permanent full time (hired in 1995) to "temporary" employee as a result of my military leave, I was automatically put at the top of the list for furlough after 9/11.

The job was supposed to fall under the protection of USERRA (Uniformed Services Employee Remployment Act) but since USERRA is littered with loopholes, UAL "successfully" applied it as it saw fit and got rid of me for my "frequent absences."

Despite this, UAL continues to benefit from Department of Defense travel contracts. I find this baffling. Why would a non-supportive airline continue to receive these benefits?

I filed a complaint with the Department of Labor which United slowed down by taking its sweet time in answering basic questions. Questions required prior to my filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, I was activated again for 9 months right after 9/11, and then for 18 months for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hence, due to my time away from the US, my case has "festered" and United has basically won by default because I failed to "reply" in time.

Why am I being penalized simply because I had to go fight in a distant war and did not have the benfit of lawyers and subpoenas (very difficult to find these in the Iraqi desert)?

Does United have a conscience? It should stop calling itself a US flag carrier as, in this veteran's opinion, it does not deserve to fly the Stars and Stripes.

I am happy to say that I am now employed by a non-US flag carrier (Mexicana Airlines)) that is EXTREMELY supportive of my reserve service (going as far as discouraging me from resigning my commission after coming home from Iraq ... something I seriously considered).


Greg Kevakian
July 30, 2004 update:

Since my last post to you, I have received hundreds (not an exaggeration) of e-mails from United Airlines employees asking for help concerning their workers' compensation case against the airline. I am presently unable to answer all the e-mails so I thought I would make a post here.

For those of you who have a workers' compensation claim currently against United Airlines, it is imperative that you see legal counsel. There are NO up-front costs in retaining a workers' compensation lawyer. You will sign an agreement and the lawyer will receive just 12% of the settlement amount at the end of your case. It is my opinion that 12% is the best deal in town when retaining workers' compensation legal representation. These lawyers do a lot of work for the money they receive.

Next, prepare for United Airlines management via their self-insurer Gallagher Bassett to do everything possible to delay your benefits. United Airlines has a history of forcing a delay on claims so that the employee either quits or gives up entirely. DON'T GIVE UP. Prepare to fight back and prepare your spouse and/or family that things will be tight until you reach a settlement. Even if United Airlines delays for several years, if you persist, the company will eventually have to pay you. Look at it as forced savings for the benefit of you and your family. United Airlines management counts on frustrating you and if you ever had to deal with UAL legal counsel and Gallagher Bassett you will know what I am talking about.

For those of you that are concerned that by contacting me United Airlines management will eventually find out who you are, there are no worries. When you initially contact me using your legal name, I immediately code the file deleting your legal name. Your legal name is then sent off to another individual with offices in another country (no affiliation with the Untied website). If United Airlines ever attempts to obtain my records, all they will get is coded files.

Several e-mails has asked me to give them e-mail addresses of others who contact me so that they can form some type of support group. For the reasons previously stated herein, I can not comply with such a request.

For those who still desire to go through me for governmental agency contact, I forward your concerns to the proper individual(s) using the code name set up for your file. The intent of any investigation is not to get any employee fired from their job, but to expose a trend that poses a threat to public safety and security. I will gladly take the heat for you.

I have only received two negative e-mails from current United Airline employees. Both e-mails asked me why I was trashing the airline. I am not trashing the airline. I am trashing individuals currently within United Airlines management who, in my opinion, are trashing the airline by mismanagement and neglecting their employees and the fare-paying passenger. To those two individuals I explained that their loyalties should not be with the airline but rather to their fellow employees and the passengers who make a choice to fly United Airlines.

As it stands right now, in my opinion, a select few will profit from the tailspin that UAL is currently experiencing either in salaries and bonuses or what I call golden parachute agreements which will pay even if the airlines fails. If you think those select few care what happens to existing and/or retired UAL employees, I suggest you rethink your exposure.

Finally, for those of you that sent me e-mail expressing fears that UAL management will fire you for making any waves during the re-organization. All I have to say is that there will come a time in your life when you must decide not to let fear dictate what you do. Trust me, I know it is not easy especially if you have a family to care for. However, my experiences has shown me that if you put fear behind you and move on what you believe is to be true, the rewards are infinite in scope and will have a positive benefit to others.

If you are already singled out by UAL management for termination, start keeping a log. After all, they have already started documenting everything that, in their opinion, you did wrong. A court of law may interpret the facts differently.

If you have not figured it out by now, UAL management is not, in my opinion, selected by whom is best for the job. The individual is selected by whom the group decides will agree with their way of thinking. In school we used to call this a "clique". I truly believe that if the proper individuals who actually qualified for the position got the job as opposed to the individual that was liked the most by the group for whom that person would work for, United Airlines would be in much better shape then it is today.

In closing, it has been brought to my attention that certain individuals within United Airlines management is telling employees not to contact me because their information may help my federal civil case now pending against United Airlines in the United States District Court. Their assumption is correct. The paralegal's currently gathering all the data will direct information to my civil case if they believe said information will benefit the action in my favor. In return, I help those who ask.

This will probably be my last posting on Untied.com. With that said, I want to pay tribute to my wife Dawn, who stood by me and never complained once. My wife has shown me love, patience and acceptance to a level unsurpassed by anyone else in my life. It's that kind of unconditional love that made me realize that, together, we have it all. Dawn, I will always love you.

Take care everyone!

June 29, 2004 update

As you probably know, it became official on today's date, UAL will not receive federal aid. A lot of hard work from concerned individuals contacting the appropriate government officials in order to bring to light what has actually been going on at UAL has finally paid off. The effort was a coordinated one involving ex-employees of UAL and select employees currently employed with the airline. Based on information and belief, those employees who were involved with the effort and who are currently employed with the airline will be submitting their resignations forthwith.

The current management of UAL and hopefully soon to become the former management of UAL attempted, in my opinion, to not only fool the United States government, but their employee-owners as well. As it stands this very moment, UAL would have to fill every seat on every aircraft for over a period of 35 years in order to turn a profit. This of course factoring that fuel costs remain at current levels.

This is a new dawn for the airline, one in which I hope that I will have some part in even if it is from the sidelines.

Legal counsel has advised me that I can no longer express my opinions on your site because there will eventually be a conflict of interest. With that said, I want you to know that you have been a good friend and I commend your efforts trying to fix a problem that could not be fixed because of the attitudes of certain current management of UAL. Case in point, when I was working as a Gate Agent for UAL at San Francisco International Airport back in 1998, the airline installed boarding pass machines so that the passengers were responsible for inserting their ticket stub and collecting it on the other end. When I discovered that the boarding machines did not work as designed, I started to manually collect the boarding passes which was not only more efficient, but added to security as well because you had that immediate contact with the passenger. A member of management at SFO approached me and said, "What are you doing?" I responded by saying to him, "You cannot treat these people like cattle." He responded by stating, "Yes you can. They need to be trained and besides, where are they going to go. We have all the flights, we have all the routes. We are United Airlines!"

That attitude and arrogance permeated throughout most of UAL management. It was that attitude and arrogance that led to UAL's downfall.

Eventually, via private funding, a new management team will take over. We hope that this new management team will be concerned with Safety first, then its employees and then of course the fare-paying passenger.

I extend an offer to assist any UAL employee who receives retribution from UAL management for doing what is right. Remember, one person can make all the difference. That power is totally underestimated by current UAL management.

To current United Airlines management I just have one thing to say... Till we meet again!

June 20, 2004

This is Greg Kevakian former employee of United Airlines. To refresh your memory, I wrote you some time ago and you featured me on your website. Thought I would give you an update. I apologize for not writing sooner, but I received some threats from current United employees when I first contacted your site. I had to make sure my family was safe before contacting you again.

As you know, I sued United Airlines in Workers' Compensation Court. What you do not know is that I won. United Airlines agreed to pay me $90,000 of course under the condition that they admit no wrong doing. I guess they decided to give me $90,000 because I am just a very nice guy.

I received the $90,000 (less legal fees) in January 2004. I relocated my family to a new home in a secure area.

My attorney made sure that when United Airlines and I reached agreement on the $90,000, I was still able to pursue my legal action against United Airlines within the United States District Court.

With that said, I want each and every employee who currently works for United Airlines to know that you can challenge the company and win! If you fear company management I am offering an open invitation to contact me. I truly want to help you. My e-mail is flightpassions@yahoo.com. Please be advised that my e-mail is being monitored.

The current United Airlines management will NOT be able to bring the airline to profit. United Airlines's attempt to provide a "low cost i.e. Ted" service in competition with carriers such as Southwest Airlines is like hoping to win the lottery. Please remember that it is the current United Airlines management that flew UAL (an employee-owned company---another joke) into the ground. When I was fighting UAL, I warned then, on this site, to unload UAL stock. Those who did, saved thousands of dollars in losses.

Now let's discuss my motive in writing to this website now.

As I stated previously, my lawyers made sure, despite the workers' compensation settlement, I would be allowed to pursue my federal action against the airline (Kevakian vs. United Airlines, Case No. CIV 02-02404-PHX-SMM within the United States District Court for the District of Arizona). Currently, said action is STAYED due to the current UAL bankruptcy.

I extend my invitation to all current United Airlines employees to send me e-mail describing violations of federal and state laws perpetrated by United Airlines management. Those of you in maintenance that know that 'Squawk Sheets' have been ignored in order to improve on-time performance. I would like to hear from pilots and flight attendants that have been forced to fly by United Airlines management when they knew in their hearts that it would be unsafe to do so. I am looking for crews that have flown the Hawaii run to SFO then the CHI.

I assure you, you will be protected.

For those of you who have a wrongful death suit against United Airlines for 911, being an ex-employee of United Airlines, it is my opinion. UAL was never concerned about airline safety. Prior to 911, as a United Airlines employee stationed at San Francisco International Airport, one of my responsibilities was to provide security checks at each gate operated by United Airlines. To do this, UAL management would provide me with faux grenades, pistols and other weapon replicas and it was my job to try to get them through security. I was able to circumvent security each and every time. Albeit, that I submitted the appropriate report concerning the breach of security, to my knowledge nothing was ever done to correct the problem. Then of course, we had 911. I still have copies of the reports I filed with UAL at that time. If providing these reports will lead to more increased security and overall safety to the public, I will gladly provide them to persons who will have a legitimate need for the information (i.e. government authorities and legal counsel)

Prior to 911, I know that UAL has hired people currently on probation who were required to wear an ankle monitoring system. How do I know this? Because I worked side-by-side with said individuals at San Francisco International Airport from 1997 through 1998. I am all for giving a person a second chance in life because one was given to me, but I do not believe that it was prudent for UAL management to hire individuals who were currently on probation/parole for obvious potential in breach of security. Said individuals where hired solely to save money during ESOP and for no other reason. It is my opinion that only individuals who successfully complete their probation and or parole should be considered for employment and not before then.

To demonstrate the petty and vindictive mentality of current United Airlines management; shortly after receiving my settlement check from the airline, I received a bill for prior companion pass travel charges in the amount of $1,700. At that time, United Airlines still owed me over $700 in back wages so I offered to pay the difference of $1,000. UAL refused. I responded by filing a Wage Claim with the Department of Labor. UAL responded by declaring bankruptcy on the claim. I responded by filing a Proof of Claim with the United States Bankruptcy Court which is still pending. UAL hired a legal firm in Arizona who now calls me on a weekly basis to pay up. I like to refer the United's actions as those of a disgruntled employer. My legal counsel advises me to maintain contact so that the matter can be resolved within my wrongful termination claim filed with the United States District Court, District in Arizona; CIV 02-2404PHX SMM currently on Stayed status pending the outcome of the UAL bankruptcy.

I will continue my legal action against the airline in federal court. In my opinion, United Airlines will never be a great airline for one simple reason, management just doesn't care for its employees nor the fare-paying passengers. United Airline's management is focused on a select few that will profit from the labor of its employees and its customers until the airline is flown into the ground. Case in point, UAL has just authorized the expenditure for repainting all the aircraft in its fleet. Until the inside (current UAL management) is repaired, changing the outside will never make any difference in profitability accept to add more debt to a futile situation.

February 18, 2004

I just wanted to give you some follow-up information on my case, which you so kindly linked from the front page of your website. Just a few days after you posted that link in late January, I received from United World HQ a coupon for $275. This shows that they are indeed paying attention to your site, but unfortunately are not paying attention to what I asked for: a complete refund, not coupons. (you may recall that I specifically told them not to bother sending me any coupons for future service, as I wouldn't be flying their airline anymore)

This means that the ball is in my court, and it will shortly be bouncing through the doors of the Second District Court of Eastern Middlesex county in Massachusetts. I am looking forward to the showdown in the small claims arena, and will let you know the results.

In the meantime, I would like to share with the users of your site my own views and opinions gleaned from my own experiences dealing with United:

  1. United Airlines doesn't give a rat's ass about ordinary economy class customers, no matter how long they've been flying United. This is reflected in their lack of any response to repeated attempts to contact the United refunds department.
  2. Don't expect a straight answer from United if you have a dispute with the airline. Policies change depending on who you talk with. I have spoken with four different United employees and gotten a different answer each time! I thought I was going to get a refund when I talked with a sympathetic customer service phone rep "Harvey", who questioned why I would have to A) pay for a toddler ticket and B) have to come to the airport in person to pick up a paper ticket the night I made her reservation, nearly two months before the flight departed. Yet the next United staffer I heard from, "Rick Martin," said something completely different (i.e., "The charge for the ticket is 10% of the accompanying adult's fare."). His response not only contradicted what Harvey told me, it suggested that they double charged me in the first place (10% of the adult fare is around $60, but they quoted me $109).
  3. Judging by my experience, United will not willingingly give cash back to dissatisfied customers. United's tactic in dealing with legitimate requests for a refund is to ignore it, and hope the person will either forget or give up after a few months. When forced to respond, they will attempt to buy you off with a coupon. For this reason, if you are dead set on getting a refund, I wouldn't bother attempting to repeatedly contacting their customer service or refunds departments -- you will just get the runaround, if you get a response at all. Air your complaint on Untied and consider small claims court.
  4. Don't put any hope in the government helping you. The U.S. Department of Transportation is a typical federal bureaucracy -- years of pressure from special interests and concerted lobbying efforts have rendered it toothless and/or unwilling to help ordinary consumers in disputes with big corporations. They say as much in the form reply they send you if you submit a complaint about United: "We do not mediate individual complaints." Instead, all the DOT does with customer complaints about specific airlines is enter them in a database, for policy wonks to debate months or years later.
  5. Document everything: The dates you called or wrote United, copies of emails, faxes, their responses, etc. This info will be needed as evidence for your case in court, if it gets that far.