Advice on how to pursue refund/reimbursement

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Jul 19, 2018
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#1
Hello,

Monday I missed my original flight to Ft Lauderdale from O'Hare, due to United's lack of customer service. I was placed on the next flight, but sat on the runway for an additional 45 minutes (weather ?) Got to Ft Lauderdale 30 minutes late and ultimately missed my cruise. During that day, I was calling NCL to let them know what was happening and to seek advice. However, I could not get through, due to them "experiencing high call volume." It took a travel agent to get me through to a live person hours later. I would like advice on how to recoup my losses. Should I seek a cruise refund from United or NCL for not answering their phones? A supervisor revealed she had worked 15 hours straight and didn't understand why I couldn't get through. I told her that if she worked 15 hrs straight than she proved they were severely understaffed and could not respond to the needs of their customers. Everything was paid for in advance and no insurance. There's much more to the story, but I am just posting a succinct version.
 
Likes: Mike Tipton

Neil Maley

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#2
Why did you miss your original flight? Did you arrive the airport two hours before your flight was scheduled to leave? (I’m assuming no but hope I am wrong)

Second- never fly in the day of a cruise- this is exactly why.

You say a travel agent had to get involved. Did a travel agent book your cruise? If so didn’t they tell you to fly in a day or two before?

You haven’t given us the details we need - the most important thing is why you missed the flight.
 
Jul 19, 2018
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#3
I got to United's luggage kiosk a little over an hour before flight departure. Stuck my credit card into the slot, but my name wasn't recognized. Immediately I asked a CSR for help, who was standing in the nearest counter ( only a few feet away). I told her my flight was scheduled to depart at 8:40 and I needed help getting my luggage checked in. She was chatting with a coworker and told me she'd be right with me. It wasn't busy and most of the CSRs were just standing around talking to each other at their terminals. After 5 minutes or so, when I realized she was not on her way over, I yelled excuse me to get her attention. She nods, gets to a stopping point in her discussion with her coworker, then comes over. At this point I'm livid with the service I'm receiving. She asks me how she can help and I explain the issue. She asks for the ticket number, which was readily present on my phone. When she puts in the number an alert pops up 7:47 expired or something like that. I was seeing red at this point and just focused on the 7:47. The CSR turns to me and says "Oh! You're late!" I looked her straight in the eye and said "Yes, waiting for you!" She then directs me to the "Additional Services" line which was where most of the United customers were. That line had a CSR asking people what they needed . I told her I needed to check my luggage as my flight would depart 40 minutes later. The line was slow and I left it to seek out a CSR Mgr. No one would help. I was ultimately sent back to the "AS" line. The CSR working the line told me she wanted to tell me to stay put, but saw I was determined. She tells me (seriously), "They won't help you. That's why it's best to come an hour early." I tell her I did. So she tries to usher me through the line, as there's still time to make my flight. She calls to what looked like a supervisor, who looks right through us and never comes over after talking with a customer. The CSR says, "See? I told you. They won't help you." While standing in line everyone is trading their United horror stories. I was booked on the next plane out, which was late arriving.

This was my very first cruise. I now understand you should go the day before.

The travel agent was the relative of a United emloyee at Ft Lauderdale who was trying to help! I explained that I had been calling NCL since 8:30 but was on hold for an extended length of time and couldn't get through. The travel agent had a different number and was able to get through. I was instructed that if I could meet the ship in the Bahamas, the ship would be notified. No flights were going out that day and I had to stay in a hotel. The next day, the only flight I could get would arrive at 1:50. The NCL supervisor I spoke to suggested that with the Bahamian customs, I wouldn't make the 3:00 departure. So that was that. United gave me a return voucher to reimburse my flight home. These CSRs were all pretty much superb! They were on the floor at the kiosks helping customers, not standing behind a counter! The CSR Mgr instructed me to seek reimbursement. She didn't understand how I could not have made my original flight. Sorry this post is lengthy, but the events unfolded like something out of the Twilight Zone. I though I was literally going to collapse at the Ft Lauderdale airport. I felt so helpless! I'm a frequent traveler and never had this experience before.
 
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Jul 27, 2016
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#4
Monday I missed my original flight to Ft Lauderdale from O'Hare, due to United's lack of customer service. I was placed on the next flight, but sat on the runway for an additional 45 minutes (weather ?) Got to Ft Lauderdale 30 minutes late and ultimately missed my cruise. During that day, I was calling NCL to let them know what was happening and to seek advice. However, I could not get through, due to them "experiencing high call volume." It took a travel agent to get me through to a live person hours later. I would like advice on how to recoup my losses. Should I seek a cruise refund from United or NCL for not answering their phones? A supervisor revealed she had worked 15 hours straight and didn't understand why I couldn't get through. I told her that if she worked 15 hrs straight than she proved they were severely understaffed and could not respond to the needs of their customers. Everything was paid for in advance and no insurance. There's much more to the story, but I am just posting a succinct version.
1. NCL certainly hasn't done anything wrong here, so you don't have any grounds to expect a refund from them. I certainly understand that it was annoying not being able to get through to them, but if you had, what could they have done? They couldn't make you arrive in FLL in time to catch the cruise departure.
2. Why couldn't you catch a flight to the Bahamas that got in before 1:50PM? I see at least five morning flights FLL-NAS. Were they all booked up?
3. United's baggage cutoff is 45 minutes before departure (https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/airport/process/default.aspx#minimum-reqd-times). Looking at past flight info, it looks like that ORD-FLL flight departs at 8:30, not 8:40 (I can see back to Tuesday, but not Monday). In that case, the baggage cutoff was 7:45. That's typically a hard cutoff, with the computers simply not allowing baggage to be checked after that.
3. If you arrived at the United counter before 7:45, they should have helped you sooner. That said, arriving at the counter with only 2-3 minutes to spare before the cutoff meant that there was absolutely no margin for error.

I would use our customer contacts and write to United to request a refund of your ticket, or at least a credit. Make it clear that you did arrive at the kiosk before the baggage cutoff, but it wouldn't read your card, and by the time the staff were able to help you, the cutoff had already passed. If there's some good reason why you arrived so close tot he cutoff (unusual traffic, Blue Line broke down, etc.), cite that as well. United's not going to reimburse you for the cruise you missed, though.
 

Neil Maley

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#5
You got to the airport too late. You should have been there at least 2 hours before and this is exactly why- you would have had ample time to get all of this settled and checked in.

This isn’t the airlines fault- it’s yours so no compensation is due. You also might have been marked as a no show and may not be eligible for even a credit.

You can use our company contacts and see if the airline will give you a credit less cancellation fees as a courtesy.

But neither the airline nor the cruise line owe you a refund I’m afraid to say.

I am guessing you booked this on your own?
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#6
You got to the airport too late. You should have been there at least 2 hours before and this is exactly why- you would have had ample time to get all of this settled and checked in.

This isn’t the airlines fault- it’s yours so no compensation is due.
I wouldn't take this hard a line - she did arrive in time, barely. Would it have been better if she arrived earlier? Yes, certainly, but my view is that, if you're at the airline's counter by the cutoff time, you've met your obligation. After that, it's on the airline. Think of it this way - if she had arrived at the airport two hours in advance, but there had been a 76 minute wait in line at the United desk, so she didn't reach the front until 44 minutes before, would that still have been her fault?
 
Jul 18, 2018
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#7
I wouldn't take this hard a line - she did arrive in time, barely. Would it have been better if she arrived earlier? Yes, certainly, but my view is that, if you're at the airline's counter by the cutoff time, you've met your obligation. After that, it's on the airline. Think of it this way - if she had arrived at the airport two hours in advance, but there had been a 76 minute wait in line at the United desk, so she didn't reach the front until 44 minutes before, would that still have been her fault?

This is a tough one because technically they met their obligation to be at the counter by x time, but if the said person was to be waiting in a massive airline line and the flight was closing, the staff usually make a announcement over the PA to jump the que to another desk. So I guess its a case by case example and they might have missed it unfortunately.
 

Neil Maley

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#8
I would encourage her to write to the airline and the cruise line but to change the letter tone and include facts only.

- on xx/XX I arrived at xx airport at (time you arrived) for my flight leaving at XX/xx

- at the check in kiosk, my credit card wasn’t accepted. I tried xx times to get the attention of an agent when was nearby chatting while the another agent. I finally had to shout at her that my flight was leaving at 8:40 and I needed immediate assistance.

- it took her xx minutes to get to me ftom when I first called her.

And on. Facts only.

I would also tell you to try the cruise line too.
The ship would not have waited for you even if you were able to get through if you weren’t there by the time on your paperwork.

Explain what happened with the airline but don’t tell them you arrived as late as you did. Ask if they can give you a credit towards another cruise.

It never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is no and the best is you find someone sympatheticthzt breaks the rules.

We’ve seen well written letters get a no turned into a yes. You lose nothing by writing.
 
Likes: TonyaB.
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
I do not see UA reimbursing for a missed cruise.

And I have to say from personal experience being in line in time is often not just good enough.

I was in line at Delta in Seattle about 30 minutes before check in with luggage closed — yes cutting it close. An Alaska airlines flight had been cancelled and several from that flight were rebooked onto Delta. There was one set of passengers who were arguing about the checked baggage fee because they were Gold status on Alaska and should not have to pay it and they should have front of plane seat assignments because of their Alaska status . The line was held up as they would not budge. Some of us were ready to pay the 25 luggage fee for them (seriously) but then realized that we could do nothing about the seating issue. We alerted the check in people who basically said wait your turn and that we did not allow enough time and too bad.

My luggage got checked in 46 minutes before departure. I waited 28 minutes in their premium line and the regular line was even worse.

Some of the check in staff at various airports can be proactive others lethargic.

I am sorry the traveler had to learn the hard way. But it is very risky to have a serious deadline like a cruise departing and fly the same day out of Chicago or New York. We have very congested airspace and summer thunderstorms which cause a mess and delays
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#10
One of the big issues with arriving so close to the cut off clock, is how does the traveler know what time the computer clock says? 2-3 minutes, or even 5 minutes on your watch, may already be too late on the airline computer clock.

I once worked in a sales office and on Saturdays we opened at noon to the public. I came in the back at 1155am and powered everything up and at noon walked to the front door to open up. An irate gentleman was fuming at the door, shaking his watch in my face, shouting that I was late opening. I calmly said that I had no way of knowing what time his watch had, and I went by our (correct) office timepieces. I'd hate to try to have that conversation at an airport check in counter!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#11
This must have been just awful. I wish you had booked this cruise with a travel agent so you'd have known the ins & outs of catching a cruise ship. You can telephone the cruise line all you want, but it's useless. The ship sails on time; you're expected to be on board before the deadline. A travel agent would have advised you to fly in the day before. Your flight/cruise timing was almost impossible. If your travelling experience has been mostly for business, you may not have known how congested and slow these airport experiences are. Christina gave a perfect example of the Alaska big dogs trying to get preferential treatment from United ... and not caring that they held up everyone else.

Your cabin sailed empty, so you will need to compose a concise, polite letter to customer service and ask for a credit towards a future cruise. It's a long shot, but we see miracles here all the time. Keep in mind that your letter will be read by someone who reads pathetic excuses and requests all day long. Your job is to make that person want to help you. Do your research and ask to be rebooked on a specific cruise. Allow CS two weeks to respond. If no answer, use our Company Contacts and work your way up the executive ladder one at a time, waiting a week between each submission. "Technically" you deserve nothing, but a well-crafted letter may earn you a discount towards a future cruise. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
 
Jul 19, 2018
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#12
Thank you all for your response! I would like to correct that my flight departure was indeed 8:30, not 8:40. I was there an hour early and check in deadline was 7:45. I had 9 minutes to complete check-in when I approached the CSR for help, according to my iPhone time.

What I failed to mention in the original post, as to comply with the category, was that I was travelling with a friend. She made the flight ( I was talking to her during my ordeal, as she was panicked). I told her I would be on the next flight and to alert the ship what was happening. We weren't too worried, as I still had time to make the cruise. Once I realized I wouldn't make the cruise, she pleaded with me to try anyway. One of the crew told her they sail at 4:45 and if I could get there they'd let me on. A taxi and $90 later, I made it to the port. The boat was still there, but the port doors were locked. An agent came to the door and shook her head "no." I yelled that the boat was waiting for me. She goes away and comes back still shaking her head "no." I moved a few doors down to see who else was there with the agent. There were five other people with her. A few minutes later I get a text from my friend, saying "We sailed" and I hear the horn sound. the crew came out and just handed me a Norwegian card with the Customer Service numbers. They were the numbers I had been calling throughout the day that no one was answering.

My friend called yesterday, after landing at O'Hare, to let me know she survived cruising alone. LOL

I'll report back, once I receive a response from the companies.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
Tonya when one arrives only an hour before departure with luggage to check that basically means there is only 15 minutes to get it done. That may be ok when things go right but as soon as there is a problem—- potential disaster. And the problem may not even be with the waiting traveler but with others.

Part of the problem is that many of the airlines have outsourced those check in people — they do not actually work for the airline and there is not a proactive element to the work culture. And there is a tendency towards minimal staffing.

And now some airlines make the passenger tag the luggage themselves, so even less airline personnel.

Write the polite letter to the cruise line and one to UA. — polite but factual and hopefully you will get some credit for the future.
 
Jan 22, 2015
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#15
I would never arrive at the airport with just 1 hour to spare. Especially if I have to check a bag. The reasons?

1) You have no idea how long the line to check in will be
2) Clearing security. The wait times can vary greatly and you have no idea how long that line will be