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This email was sent to United Airlines but so far has been ignored...spread the word

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Feb 5, 2017
Reference cancellation of United 192 Manila- Koror Jan 24 2017

This is to register my strongest disapproval of the performance of your Manila Station crew,the failure of your airline to provide a crew to fly the aircraft and the continued lackadaisical and arrogant attitude today Jan 25 2017.

We were told first that the flight was rescheduled for 10am, then 1pm and we are still sitting on the runway as the time approaches 2pm. Some 16 hours delayed.

No one has truly and publicly admitted to the error nor genuinely apologized except in passing. Even the pilot made only cursory mention and quickly moved on to other matters in his announcement. I know why.

I am seeking compensation for the time lost from vacation,the expenses incurred for non refundable hotel and tour costs because cancellation has to be at least 24 hours in advance to qualify for a refund. This does not account for the aggravation incurred nor the lies and rudeness perpetrated from your Manila crew.

Firstly it is quite apparent that someone dropped the ball....possibly in Chicago?
I am aware of your software program that informs you some hours in advance if
there will be crew scheduling problems.
Apparently no one acted on this information, if this conjecture is true.
Or you were not informed.
Either is an unacceptable way to run an airline.
But I know why this happened as you will read later in this email.

Secondly we,as passengers, were consistently lied to with the words that the delay was a 'servicing issue' both over the announcement system and in person when approaching the desk.
It was intended for us to believe it was a momentary problem easily resolved by loading more food or whatever on board.
In fact until confronted in a polite but forceful manner and questioned as to specifics,no one acknowledged the real problem was that there was apparently no crew available.

The truth is always best...tell us the problem,possibly you will garner some understanding and patience from your fellow humans.

I am a seasoned traveler and an adult and the meagerest politeness would be to treat me as such. If you lie to people then it becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly. Your staff don't like delivering lies, and those for whom this misdirection is intended only become more frustrated at the implicit insult to their intelligence,never mind the delays.
Anger and rage can follow quickly from overtired and overwrought and hungry passengers.

What underlines this debacle even more is that one of your most senior pilots,who was a fellow passenger, despite his calm and polite demeanor,and gift for understatement, was ashamed and angry at the incompetence displayed and poor treatment by your staff.
He,and we, subsequently discovered the real reason the flight was canceled: that the captain of the crew to take the aircraft made the call to cancel because a seat would not recline properly and thus he deemed it unsuitable for good crew rest.
This arrogance and disdain for the needs of your customers and the delay that ensued should make you and this captain ashamed for his behavior.
Do you really believe it is reasonable to cancel a two hour flight for this reason which resulted in a 16 hour delay?
Who is this airline run for? The benefit of your staff or your passengers? This arrogant, uncaring and selfish behavior is disgusting.
Further that I should receive an 'apologetic' email with a thinly disguised and mean offer meant to assuage my ire and tie me further to your airline is pathetic and an insult to my intelligence.All you did was admit culpability and further irritate me.
I have lost prepaid hotel costs ,a day of prepaid diving not to mention been inconvenienced and lied to.
This behavior is a disgrace.

I travel extensively ( about 50 k miles annually ) and have just booked a RTW ticket; but since this farce has occurred I have had my travel agent remove all United and code share with United legs from the itinerary and will avoid using United Airlines from now on until and unless I receive compensation and satisfaction for my poor experience.

I will use my accrued airline miles and close the door on your airline and any affiliates.

I await your response with a meaningful offer of compensation for my lost time and lost funds.

Christopher Morson

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Your letter is way too long and reading it I still don't understand exactly what happened. Ate you saying you sat in a plane on the runway for 16 hours? Did you have travel insurance with coverage for flight delays?

An effective complaint letter states what happened and what you would like. Your diatribe is pages of complaining about the incompetence and the person reading this will be turned off after the second paragraph.

This just happened - how long ago did you send the letter?

I suggest you totally rewrite this using bullet points stating facts only. We have company contacts on the top of the page. Find the contacts for your airline and write to Customer Service and give them a week to reply. If you don't hear from them
in a week or they won't do anything, write to the first executive shown. Repeat weekly if nevessary going up the list.

Let us know how you make out.

John Galbraith

Staff Member
Jan 22, 2017
Hi Christopher

As Neil says make the letter short (try always for one page if possible) with bullet points.
Keep to the facts such as the flight was 2/3 hours long but delayed by 16 hours. You need to remove all emotion and accusations about lies, as difficult as it is. A polite but firm letter just stating the facts and what you want is much more likely to get results.
Also it is a matter for you but I would remove the request for compensation for the time lost for your vacation. Airlines don't normally compensate for that and removing it will make you seem more reasonable.

I note you seem to have been offered some compensation by way of voucher. You can ask for cash but they may give more compensation by way of a voucher. It costs them less and easier for them to authorise. Finally be careful to avoid language suggesting you will never fly again with them. From their point of view if you say that they have less reason to make you happy by compensating you.

As Neil says write to the first of the contacts; wait a week and go up the list and repeat.

Good luck
Last edited:
Jan 25, 2016
Oh, how I love a good mystery. Per FlightStats, the scheduled departure time was 10:20 PM (Manila), on 1/24, and actual was 1:39 PM on 1/25, so about 15 hours delayed. The event timeline shows some interesting facts (all times are local to Manila):

1) At 11:03 PM, the flight departure was delayed to 3:00 AM (4:40 delay)
2) 11 minutes later, the departure was further delayed to 9:50 AM (11:30 delay)
3) At 11:42 PM, it was once again delayed to 1:00 PM (14:40 delay) -- I'll stop here, we're close enough to the actual 15+ hours.

So, my questions to OP:
1) What, and when, did UA communicate to the passengers regarding the delay? (To Neil, I see no evidence that they ever left the gate during this protracted delay.)
2) Did UA offer any accommodations (food, lodging) to the passengers?
3) I don't quite understand your use of the term "cancel" - if the flight were actually cancelled, as opposed to being very late, you would've been entitled to a full refund. Also, if cancelled and later reinstated, I'd expect the event timeline to record that.
4) What is the reference to "crew rest" - I've never heard, or seen, any on a 2+ hour 737 flight? Perhaps this is a reference to crew scheduling and required rest per the regulations?

As per the good advice above, try to remove the emotion, the accusations, the threats, etc. Stick to the facts and your desired resolution. Also, bear in mind that there are many people (both airline customers and employees) who might have a different opinion as to whether or not 50K miles annually qualifies as "extensive", but that's just my opinion. :)

Good luck.

Barry Graham

Staff Member
Jan 7, 2015
How did you e-mail them? In any case I usually try again e-mailing the same person if I don't get a response the first time.

Carol Phillips

Staff Member
Dec 28, 2014
Coastal South Carolina
I concur with my colleagues' advice about making your letter short and to the point. We've found that the best successes seem to come from letters like that.

For ease, here's the United Company Contacts: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/united-airlines/

I would also suggest removing the part of your letter where you say you're not going to fly United again. As a Serta rep said to me recently, "why would I want to help people if they say they're not going to be our customer?".

Please keep us posted.


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
Well, Christopher, your letter is so long and impolite that it was no doubt discarded, so hopefully by following our advice you can "start over". My colleagues have touched on all the relevant advice on how to obtain compensation for this annoying situation. Any letter that is more than a few paragraphs, or one that is difficult to understand is usually set aside, or finds its way into the round file.

I know it is extremely difficult to be polite and businesslike when you have experienced such seemingly terrible service. But we have found, through hundreds of successfully-negotiated situations, that that is the only way to obtain some relief. The person reading your letter did not cause your problem and you want them to be moved to help you. Grit your teeth and recompose a polite list of the facts so that someone at United will take some action on your behalf. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
Nov 14, 2016
Much like everyone else, you're going to have to start over with a different letter. Furthermore, they keep stuff like this on file so you may have already shot yourself in the foot with the above one. They may very well ignore the 2nd letter given this first one is quite confrontational.

If you do decide to craft another email, you also need to be specific about what you're asking for. They are NOT going to reimburse you for ancillary charges like a missed hotel stay at your destination. They never do. They're not going to reimburse you for "time lost" for your vacation or "missed tours". That's specifically excluded in the CoC. They will reimburse you for general inconvenience and it appears they may have already done this in the form of vouchers or miles. That's how they generally compensate people for late flights and if that's not good enough I'm afraid that you're not likely to get anything. So be realistic about what you're looking for and see if you can get compensation in a form of "funny money" (miles or vouchers) that the airlines dole out more willingly than trying to get cash back.
Feb 5, 2017
So hello Neil and jsn55 ( do you have a name by the way? I always wonder about those who use pseudonyms),

I have a suggestion for you.
People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Quite frankly I found the manner of YOUR criticism rather objectionable despite some other perhaps sage advice.
However my persistence and 'impolite ire' seems to have worked as,after refusing the first two offers United made and contacting the government agency responsible for overseeing airlines AND taking the advice one of the more polite contributors ( Thank you sir) to state what I needed from United.
Lo and behold this morning's email contained $400 voucher for a flight and an apology that was not a form letter.
The writer correctly interpreted everything I said and apologized for causing me not only delay and inconvenience but also to be upset as I was.
Apparently there are real human beings with empathy working at United which after this last experience,and knowledge of how upper management fills its pockets, I doubted.
Or maybe it was simply the shadow of a big stick wielded by government.
I remain a sceptical but pleasantly surprised.
I find the information on this site a great resource but I do not find the commentary either supportive or very useful.....but perhaps my expectations were too high and I was looking for help in the wrong place?
Sincerely thank you to those with manners,advice and empathy; to the rest I suggest you look to yourselves before criticizing others.
Christopher Morson

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Christopher, there was nothing impolite in my advice to cut your letter. This is the normal advice we provide that works. And when you see that every advocate says the same thing- isn't that what you came here for?

When we have more questions we need the person who asks for help to fill in the blanks. It doesn't help us to feel like we are taking our time as volunteers (which we all are, no one is paid here) and the writer who asked for help doesn't come back and update us)

Personally I think they should have given you more than $400 because of what you went through but I am glad they gave you something. When they settle up that quickly they know they screwed up.
Aug 28, 2015
New York
Thank you for the update. It seems you did take the advice offered by Jsn and Neil and tone it down for the United correspondence and that worked out? Interestingly, you didn't care for the tenor of those advocates' replies and you disregarded the substance of their message. Which was, when someone doesn't care for the tenor of your reply, they may ignore the rest. We all do this.

Neil does seem like a lazy pseudonym for Neil, though.
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