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    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Do Not Fly United Airlines. Ever!!!

    I hope everyone can see this: DO NOT FLY UNITED AIRLINES!!!!

    We all know that airlines are not the best companies in the world. Anyone who actually has stock in an airline besides Jetblue and Southwest is an utter moron. Who is the worst? UNITED AIRLINES, of course. Exactly one week ago today, my wife went to Vietnam, and had one of the singularly worst experiences of her entire life.

    I took my dear wife to the airport last Tuesday, arriving an hour early for her 7:15pm flight. We chose this flight because she had to catch a Korean Airlines flight in LAX at 12:30am, and we wanted 4 hours between landing in LAX and taking off.

    When we get to Salt Lake City's airport, the lady at the counter says the flight has been delayed out of Denver two hours. I asked immediately to be put on another flight--Delta--so that we can be sure my wife reaches LAX on time.

    The lady at the counter assured me that she and her bags could be checked all the way through to Vietnam, and she would have more than 2 hours at LAX. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE.

    We went and grabbed a bite to eat, returning at 8:00pm, finding nobody at the counter, and seeing her flight delayed until 10:06. By the time she left, it was 10:38pm. She arrived in LAX at 11:45pm

    I kept in constant contact with my wife until she boarded the plane. Little did I know I was in for a long night.

    She arrived at terminal 8 in LAX at 11:45 and sprinted to the international terminal. Made it to her gate by 12:00am, but they wouldn't let her on. She hadn't got her boarding pass 2 hours in advance, so she lost her seat. However, she couldnt get it because her UNITED AIRLINES flight was delayed 4 HOURS.

    She argued that she couldn't call ahead because she was in the plane, but Korean airlines didn't help. She was put on standby for the next flight at 1:10am. After waiting for that, she didn't get on--only one person did--and she was sent back to United's counter.

    By the time she reached United, everyone was gone. Only the janitors were left. She called me, and I called United. After spending 30 minutes on the phone with domestic and international flights, UNITED REFUSED TO GIVE HER A HOTEL ROOM.

    I called my father, and we began tag-teaming the airlines. We called Vietnam Airlines and Korean Airlines. After talking for hours, all we got was nothing. Vietnam Air could move her leg from Korea to Vietnam, but not until they knew when she was going to be in Korea. Korean Air could only give her standby until the 4th of July (6 days away).

    Meanwhile, my wife is stuck at the baggage clain of LAX, without anywhere to sleep, crying, stressed, and nobody around. She's afraid for her safety, because the security guard only comes around every once in awhile, and she doesnt even know where to go to get a hotel by herself.

    I called my friend Phuong in Westminster, and he agreed to pick her up after his classes, about 1pm. My friend Vinh was flying in to LAX wit his wife that evening and said my wife could stay with them until the 4th if necessary.

    At 5am my wife went to the newly opened United counter, having not slept all night, and asked for a help. All they gave her was vouchers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at LAX, and a $150 voucher for united. That does us no good! We're not flying united ever again. They wouldn't even give her a hotel room!

    I called United's customer service and the girl who answered treated me like I was sub-human. She sneered at my father and I's assertion that my wife should get a refund of her round trip ticket (only $30 more than the voucher) and a free flight back to Salt Lake City, where we would deal with getting her to LAX by the fourth of July. The girl on the other end basically told us we were dumb, and would not give out a manager's phone number, or address where we might complain or take up legal action.

    Finally, in a last ditch hope, we called our travel agent--USA TRAVEL--which opened at 10am (fully 12 hours after my wife took off from Salt Lake City). Tina, the agent at work, was very helpful and tagged my wife as "high priority standby." She also moved the Vietnam air leg one day forward. Because of this, my wife made standby on the flight leaving LAX at 11:45am. She made it to Korea at 10:00pm, and spent $110 on a hotel room because the flight to Vietnam didn't leave until 11:00am the next morning.

    Now, my wife is in Vietnam, and recouperating. But it was not worth what she went through. We were given a verbal guaratee, in my opinion a verbal contract, that she would make her connection, after I specifically asked to be moved to Delta.

    THEN, UNITED gave us TWO reasons for the delay--mechanical failure and weather.

    Worst of all was the fact that they wouldn't give her a place to stay. They other people who missed the flight to korea all got hotels. My wife had NO HOTEL. UNITED treated her, myself, and my father LIKE SCUM.

    And we lost an extra $110 on a hotel in Seoul we wouldn't have had to rent.


    P.S. Here's a link to the Better Business Bureau's page on United. United gets extremely poor marks.


    toilanguoi said...

    hey Triet, came upon your blog from a comment you left elsewhere. just wanted to say how refreshing it is to have an educated and articulate vietnamese-american blogging. i particularly liked your post on the vietnam war a few months back.. despite your seemingly conservative leanings your perspective is quite objective and pragmatic. hope to see more posts on vietnam and all things vietnamese...

    VietPundit said...

    Hi Triet,

    Regarding tolainguoi's comment, I have a question that I hope you don't mind answering (and it's perfectly fine if you don't want to answer): are you Vietnamese-American? As I recall from reading your blog, you seem to have worked with Viet-Americans in Orange County, are married to a Vietnamese girl, and have been involved in Vietnamese issues. But somehow I can't quite definitively say that you're a Vietnamese-American (some of your blog entries tell me so). Not that it matters in any way regarding your stand on Vietnam-related issues. Just curious.

    About Vietnamese-American blogs, check this this entry on my blog for two more blogs by Vietnamese-Americans.