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Racism Remarks and Poor Customer Service

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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@Patina that's good you know the meaning of amiga and it's okay because it's from your co-workers. I am not okay with it because I didn't know what it meant when I was at PDX checking in my uncle for his flight. I do know it's a Spanish word, but then I am not Hispanic. Even though it is friendly and kind, it was new to my ears and not something I was expecting to hear from someone who has gone through Customer Service Trainings.
I agree that using the word lacked professionalism. It seems that the level of professional behavior is slipping in recent years. Flying these days is, unfortunately, not what it used to be. Basics like please and thank you even seem foreign to many employees.
 
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Mel65

Mar 23, 2015
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@California thank you. I honestly think that when you're working with all kinds of people, it is essential to ensure that you don't use any words that can offend them. Just because we look like Hispanics, it does not mean he can call us amigos. We're not friends, we're customers!
My husband is Hawaiian. He is assumed to be Asian, Arabic, or Hispanic all the time. We would be exhausted if we CHOSE to take offense every time someone said something thoughtless. Had the agent said “friends” instead of amigos would you have been as offended? It wasn’t racist— maybe irritating if you try hard. I get called honey, sweetie whatever constantly. It is annoying patronizing at times, but not actionable. He got there. His bag got there. Thank god for small favors.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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@Christina H are you saying that using friendly foreign remarks on anyone that is a person of color because you think that's where they're from is okay? We are customers of UA not friends of the staff of UA, so don't treat us like buddies, treat us like customers! We're not Hispanic, so the UA PDX staff profiled us and thought it was okay for him to use amigo. You're saying that's acceptable?

No issues with paying the luggage in PDX, but I still thought that it could have been carried on. And the traveler did spend 14 hours (overnight) in SFO but when he went to check in the baggage, they asked him to pay another $30. Somehow they managed to get his luggage onto the SFO-KOA flight.

I was connected with the traveler when he was in SFO and I witnessed what he went through when he was at SFO. We communicated on FB Messenger and he ran into some of the rudest UA employees who just didn't want to help.
There is a Mexican restaurant in the suburbs of a west coast city where they call everyone amigo -- even the dark complexioned South East Asians, Middle Easterners, and others that have moved there for the tech jobs.

Do I consider it overly friendly -- yes, but is it racism? Racism is a serious accusations. I have been called many overly friendly names, ciao bella amica, and while it is very casual I do not consider it anything other than being overly friendly. There is less formalism nowadays, and I would not consider it to be racist if someone used a Spanish term on me -- which does happen fairly frequently as I live in New York City -- unless it was a swear word, but that is not the situation here.

Because there was a forced overnight the check in staff at first did not realize that this was a continuation of a trip that started someplace else.

The claim was "He made a racist comment and purposely messed up my uncle’s travel because he didn’t want to do his job for different people."
and further "The PDX UA employee that treated us like an animal".

If you do not like being called amigo, state your preference, as in I prefer to be called X.

The baggage situation was eventually figured out and there was only one charge. The agent needed to figure out the change to the ticket and see the receipt. That was not an agent "purposely" messing up the travel.

A person is allowed to feel offended at any and everything that they encounter in life but all such offenses do not rise to an actionable offense.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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United owes you an apology and $30 for the baggage fee between SFO and KOA. That's about it. Apparently, the bag got on the SFO-KOA segment without a fee as per you.

Provided that your original itinerary was PDX-SFO-KOA on one ticket, and the SFO-KOA segment was an involuntary reroute, you should not have been charged $30. Because the involuntary reroute extended the layover to over 4 hours, United treated the SFO-KOA segment as an new segment. If there was a language barrier, this may have been the reason why he couldn't initially convince the agent.

As to the allegation of racism, you seem to think that the United agent discriminated against you, or the agent did something intentional to make your father's life difficult. How the heck did he PURPOSEFULLY mess up your uncle's itinerary? He rebooked the SFO-KOA segment. If there was over a 4 hour delay in SFO, he CANNOT check the bag on the 2nd flight. The system doesn't allow it, because the SFO is considered a stopover not a layover.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
21,047
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
United owes you an apology and $30 for the baggage fee between SFO and KOA. That's about it. Apparently, the bag got on the SFO-KOA segment without a fee as per you.

Provided that your original itinerary was PDX-SFO-KOA on one ticket, and the SFO-KOA segment was an involuntary reroute, you should not have been charged $30. Because the involuntary reroute extended the layover to over 4 hours, United treated the SFO-KOA segment as an new segment. If there was a language barrier, this may have been the reason why he couldn't initially convince the agent.

As to the allegation of racism, you seem to think that the United agent discriminated against you, or the agent did something intentional to make your father's life difficult. How the heck did he PURPOSEFULLY mess up your uncle's itinerary? He rebooked the SFO-KOA segment. If there was over a 4 hour delay in SFO, he CANNOT check the bag on the 2nd flight. The system doesn't allow it, because the SFO is considered a stopover not a layover.
If the uncle had a basic economy ticket, if they carry on doesn’t fit under the seat, it has to be checked and paId for. OP hasn’t answered our question on the type of ticket he had.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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Perhaps the employee was Hispanic. I'm originally from Spain and I use that word among others quite often even when speaking English to others. It is better to be mindful that the world is rather large and there can be vast cultural differences. Amigo term is not derogatory term, especially if spoken by someone whose native language is Spanish, so I would recommend letting it go and accept that the employee was probably just being friendly. Some might even consider calling out someone who uses Spanish words as being insensitive to their culture.

In any case, you can always write the airline and let them know your opinion, though I wouldn't expect much more than a courtesy reply.

On the luggage, your booking confirmation should have had a link as to your luggage allowance. If they didn't follow that, then you should address that separately.
@FALTraveler yes we should probably start learning all the friendly remarks in all foreign languages. Not all people welcome foreign remarks. Anyhow, my uncle has made it to his final destination so has his luggage.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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Like I said, they are definitely guilty of trying to be too buddy-buddy. Schotzie means sweetie in German. Just like amigo means friend. You need to prove not only INTENT to cry racism, but come up with something better than being called 'friend.' If a term of endearment is bothersome, which it is for some folks, then that's different. But being called 'friend' has nothing to do with racial intent.

And I might add that I'm a German Jew....and my people are not historically popular. If someone says sweetie instead to me instead of some other choice terms, I'll call it a day.

But please feel free to continue to argue with the volunteers on this site who are here to help you......
@Pixie Pie thanks for the information. You know traveling is stressful, especially if you drove 2 hours to the airport because of traffic and it was raining. Yes, these friendly foreign remarks are great if we understood what they meant. Thank you all for your feedbacks.
 
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By looking at the topic of your comments, I have the feeling you are much more offended that someone was thinking you were hispanic than your uncle was resceduled to a flight with overnight connection without lodging (which is not convenient at all I agree, and exhausting, etc..). Good luck to ask UA compensation for racism...
@alexucimartinez knowing UA, they will not do much for any of the issues encountered by one of their travelers.
 
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United owes you an apology and $30 for the baggage fee between SFO and KOA. That's about it. Apparently, the bag got on the SFO-KOA segment without a fee as per you.

Provided that your original itinerary was PDX-SFO-KOA on one ticket, and the SFO-KOA segment was an involuntary reroute, you should not have been charged $30. Because the involuntary reroute extended the layover to over 4 hours, United treated the SFO-KOA segment as an new segment. If there was a language barrier, this may have been the reason why he couldn't initially convince the agent.

As to the allegation of racism, you seem to think that the United agent discriminated against you, or the agent did something intentional to make your father's life difficult. How the heck did he PURPOSEFULLY mess up your uncle's itinerary? He rebooked the SFO-KOA segment. If there was over a 4 hour delay in SFO, he CANNOT check the bag on the 2nd flight. The system doesn't allow it, because the SFO is considered a stopover not a layover.
@Chris in NC language barrier was an issue. But I was connected with the traveler when he was in SFO. The staff demanded he paid an extra $30 because the baggage ticket was just for SFO. He did show the receipt from PDX but they did not honor the receipt. They knew he was going to KOA but still, they wanted him to pay the $30 when he was checking in for his KOA flight.

They gave him a hard time at SFO because the PDX UA staff did not do his job right! When he told the people to throw his luggage away, they managed to find some way to get the luggage checked in. Thanks to whoever saved the day.

Discrimination exists today in the United States and I know you know it too. It is probably at its worst honestly. With what recently took place and the kind foreign remarks from the PDX UA staff, I honestly do not know if he messed up the baggage ticket on purpose so the traveler can deal with it at SFO.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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@Neil Maley when I purchased the ticket online through Expedia it did not say basic, we just found out when we had to make the payment at the counter with the ticket agent at PDX.
@Neil Maley I've already indicated that it was a basic ticket. It did not say basic when I purchased it on Expedia. Anyhow, the good thing is the traveler has made it to his destination.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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I agree that using the word lacked professionalism. It seems that the level of professional behavior is slipping in recent years. Flying these days is, unfortunately, not what it used to be. Basics like please and thank you even seem foreign to many employees.
@Patina in a place where sometimes when we speak our native language in public places and people look at us in a weird way, I didn't expect to hear a foreign remark from an airline personnel. Flying these days has become very stressful honestly. Sometimes, when I have to fly to nearby places for work, I drive there instead.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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@Chris in NC language barrier was an issue. But I was connected with the traveler when he was in SFO. The staff demanded he paid an extra $30 because the baggage ticket was just for SFO. He did show the receipt from PDX but they did not honor the receipt. They knew he was going to KOA but still, they wanted him to pay the $30 when he was checking in for his KOA flight.

They gave him a hard time at SFO because the PDX UA staff did not do his job right! When he told the people to throw his luggage away, they managed to find some way to get the luggage checked in. Thanks to whoever saved the day.

Discrimination exists today in the United States and I know you know it too. It is probably at its worst honestly. With what recently took place and the kind foreign remarks from the PDX UA staff, I honestly do not know if he messed up the baggage ticket on purpose so the traveler can deal with it at SFO.
You have not convinced me that United discriminated against your uncle.

Your original itinerary was PDX - SFO - KOA.
The $30 baggage fee would be assessed and your luggage will be transported from PDX to KOA

When the PDX to SFO flight was delayed resulting in a missed connection on the SFO to KOA flight, United rebooked the SFO to KOA flight on the next available flight. Unfortunately the next flight required an overnight layover in SFO. United defines a connection as under 4 hours. Anything over 4 hours is considered a stopover.

Since this was an involuntary change, the agent at PDX advised your uncle to show the receipt and documents at SFO so they would understand the situation and not assess another $30 fee. If you had booked the itinerary voluntarily, United is correct that you would have to pay $30 for the PDX-SFO and then another $30 for the SFO-KOA segment. The agent at PDX CANNOT check your bag from PDX-SFO-KOA if the SFO layover is over 4 hours, which becomes a STOPOVER.

So the PDX agent did not err, and frankly followed protocol. He booked your uncle on the next available flight. Again, he CANNOT check the luggage through to KOA if the stop in SFO was over 4 hours.

Hence, based on what you said, the staff at PDX actually followed proper United protocol. You have not convinced me United at PDX did anything nefarious or improper.

At SFO, they should not have charged an additional $30 based on the situation. However, they may not have known about the involuntary change in schedule due to flight delay. If your uncle had difficulty communicating, then that is unfortunate, but that does not mean that United was doing anything out of spite.

Yes, discrimination occurs.... but you are acting as if United truly "discriminated" against your uncle. That is, because of your uncle's race, creed, religion, etc, they purposefully screwed him over. That didn't happen. He got rerouted per protocol. So, again, why do you think your uncle got singled out for bad treatment?
 
Jan 18, 2020
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My husband is Hawaiian. He is assumed to be Asian, Arabic, or Hispanic all the time. We would be exhausted if we CHOSE to take offense every time someone said something thoughtless. Had the agent said “friends” instead of amigos would you have been as offended? It wasn’t racist— maybe irritating if you try hard. I get called honey, sweetie whatever constantly. It is annoying patronizing at times, but not actionable. He got there. His bag got there. Thank god for small favors.
Thanks, @Mel65 and it is something to look into for us who are all ethnically mixed. Yes he got to his destination. And his luggage also made it along with him but it required some tough negotiations I guess if you don't want to call it arguments with the UA SFO personnel. Cheers and thanks for your comments.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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Oh, I see... it is because the agent used the term "amigo." While that may not be a professional term, and United policy may prohibit it from being used, all United owes you is an apology. The agent or the staff will likely receive an in-service on cultural sensitivity and life goes on.

What else do you want? Your uncle got to his destination. He was not assessed the additional $30 fee. Your uncle got rerouted to the next available flight.

Sadly, your uncle's experience is more typical than the exception. I don't think they treated him any worse than they treat anyone else.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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Oh, I see... it is because the agent used the term "amigo." While that may not be a professional term, and United policy may prohibit it from being used, all United owes you is an apology. The agent or the staff will likely receive an in-service on cultural sensitivity and life goes on.

What else do you want? Your uncle got to his destination. He was not assessed the additional $30 fee. Your uncle got rerouted to the next available flight.

Sadly, your uncle's experience is more typical than the exception. I don't think they treated him any worse than they treat anyone else.
@Chris in NC issue here is someone could have dropped their luggage in SFO if someone in SFO didn't help him get it checked in. The baggage ticket from PDX was only to SFO and as I said in my original post, I informed the PDX UA personnel but he said it would be fine. It was not fine, the traveler had issues checking his bag even in the morning when he was checking in at SFO got his KOA flight.

So I don't know who did wrong here, the UA PDX personnel or the people at SFO. If the baggage has been paid already, why give the traveler a hard time during check-in and not check the system to see that the luggage was paid from PDX? Or did the UA PDX personnel just check the luggage only to SFO?

Maybe the person was new and should have asked for assistance if he didn't know what to do.
 

justlisa

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@FALTraveler yes we should probably start learning all the friendly remarks in all foreign languages. Not all people welcome foreign remarks. Anyhow, my uncle has made it to his final destination so has his luggage.
To be blunt, if you're one to be offended by words that are in a foreign language but are not derogatory - you should refrain from travel. Yes, even within the US. There are millions of people in the US that speak a language other than English.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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@Chris in NC issue here is someone could have dropped their luggage in SFO if someone in SFO didn't help him get it checked in. The baggage ticket from PDX was only to SFO and as I said in my original post, I informed the PDX UA personnel but he said it would be fine. It was not fine, the traveler had issues checking his bag even in the morning when he was checking in at SFO got his KOA flight.

So I don't know who did wrong here, the UA PDX personnel or the people at SFO. If the baggage has been paid already, why give the traveler a hard time during check-in and not check the system to see that the luggage was paid from PDX? Or did the UA PDX personnel just check the luggage only to SFO?

Maybe the person was new and should have asked for assistance if he didn't know what to do.
Your uncle had to pick up the bag at SFO right? That means the bag was not checked through to KOA.

If the SFO connection was over 4 hours apart, then United does not consider it a connecting flight. It is considered a stopover. Thus, the bag CANNOT be checked from PDX to KOA on the new itinerary. He would have to pick up the bag in SFO and recheck it the next morning.

Now, since it was an involuntary reroute, United should have waived the second $30 fee. This is what the PDX agent was trying to say. But you would need to EXPLAIN it to the SFO agent, that this was an involuntary reroute. The SFO agent may also have been following the script and did not take the time to look at the notes or try and understand the situation. But that's neither here nor there. At this point, we are just speculating.

So, again, there is no discrimination here... and the error appears to be more at SFO. Again I still fail to see where the PDX agent purposely tried to screw your uncle over.
 
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To be blunt, if you're one to be offended by words that are in a foreign language but are not derogatory - you should refrain from travel. Yes, even within the US. There are millions of people in the US that speak a language other than English.
@justlisa I happen to be a frequent traveler and I have enough to know what is acceptable and not acceptable. Yes many of us in the US are bilingual. Thanks for your input.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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Your uncle had to pick up the bag at SFO right? That means the bag was not checked through to KOA.

If the SFO connection was over 4 hours apart, then United does not consider it a connecting flight. It is considered a stopover. Thus, the bag CANNOT be checked from PDX to KOA on the new itinerary. He would have to pick up the bag in SFO and recheck it the next morning.

Now, since it was an involuntary reroute, United should have waived the second $30 fee. This is what the PDX agent was trying to say. But you would need to EXPLAIN it to the SFO agent, that this was an involuntary reroute. The SFO agent may also have been following the script and did not take the time to look at the notes or try and understand the situation. But that's neither here nor there. At this point, we are just speculating.

So, again, there is no discrimination here... and the error appears to be more at SFO. Again I still fail to see where the PDX agent purposely tried to screw your uncle over.
@Chris in NC as an employee of any commercial jet you must ensure that your colleagues on the other end are able to understand every movement of the checked-in baggage. It would usually pop up on the screen when a person traveling checks in, but with this passenger, he was informed he had to pay another $30 from SFO to KOA. I wonder who else from the PDX flight had to deal with this kind of issue when checking in the next day for their connecting flights if they had to spend the night in SFO? Why was it that only this one passenger had an issue?

It is not a screw over for you because it was not you and not a family member of yours. If someone close to you was in this situation, all sorts of things would be going through your mind. You would be upset and would want to track it down to the root cause of why this whole trip became a mess if it was just a reroute and things were supposed to be okay.

You work with UA or what? So a simple look over and mistake is okay? You're saying it's okay?

As a person of color and witnessing what my uncle went through, yes I can say that discrimination could have played a role in the miscommunication. The UA PDX personnel didn't want to bother looking at the checked baggage receipt when I told him it was only to SFO. His unwillingness to ensure that the baggage was KOA bound for me is the root cause of this miscommunication with the UA SFO staff when the passenger tried checking in the next day.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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@Chris in NC as an employee of any commercial jet you must ensure that your colleagues on the other end are able to understand every movement of the checked-in baggage. It would usually pop up on the screen when a person traveling checks in, but with this passenger, he was informed he had to pay another $30 from SFO to KOA. I wonder who else from the PDX flight had to deal with this kind of issue when checking in the next day for their connecting flights if they had to spend the night in SFO? Why was it that only this one passenger had an issue?

It is not a screw over for you because it was not you and not a family member of yours. If someone close to you was in this situation, all sorts of things would be going through your mind. You would be upset and would want to track it down to the root cause of why this whole trip became a mess if it was just a reroute and things were supposed to be okay.

You work with UA or what? So a simple look over and mistake is okay? You're saying it's okay?

As a person of color and witnessing what my uncle went through, yes I can say that discrimination could have played a role in the miscommunication. The UA PDX personnel didn't want to bother looking at the checked baggage receipt when I told him it was only to SFO. His unwillingness to ensure that the baggage was KOA bound for me is the root cause of this miscommunication with the UA SFO staff when the passenger tried checking in the next day.
No, I don't work for United.

I'm sorry to hear that you feel the way you do. You have been given the reason as to the root cause. The new itinerary is not considered a connection, but a stopover, and the PDX agent is UNABLE to check the bag through to KOA because of that. The best he could do was to check the bag to SFO and have your uncle recheck the bag on the morning of the SFO-KOA flight. This is the 4th time I have posted this in this thread and sadly, I don't think you get it.

But, as a neutral 3rd party observer (I write on this site and have a job outside of this forum), your allegations are baseless. No one on this forum works for United or it's affiliates, and I think it is pretty clear that the majority of the advocates do not agree with your perceptions of the situation.

Good luck with your pursuit of this case.