United Airlines ruins once in a life time trip

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Jul 14, 2019
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#1
I recently went to Europe for commemoration ceremonies for my uncle, who died during the liberation of France in World War II as part of the 75th anniversary. This trip was planned for well over a year, with every detail painstakingly thought through in order to accommodate the schedules of 17 family members from across the US.

My family flew United Airlines, while I flew another carrier with the plan to meet in London.

Following is a rough timeline of the whole ugly mess:
6/15 – An emergency landing and multiple blown tires at Newark airport creates enough chaos to cause my family members to miss their connecting flights.
6/16 – My nephew and his wife, after having to sleep at the airport, make a connection and arrive to meet me in London, a day late and exhausted. Meanwhile my brother and his wife got stuck in Boston.
6/17 – My brother/sister-in-law arrive in London. Their luggage on the other hand, was somewhere else. And NO ONE at United could tell where it was or when it would arrive. We had planned 3 days in London. 2.5 of these days were essentially lost due to United’s incompetence. Much of the rest of the trip was spent trying to trace the lost luggage. In addition, we had prepaid tickets for $125 each to see the sights of London. We did not have time to use the prepaid tickets. We also had prepaid accommodations, for which some did not benefit.

The days that followed were frustrating in trying to get the luggage delivered and MANY phone calls to United. Every day a new level of incompetence by United was revealed. FINALLY, the luggage arrived in 2 separate deliveries on 7/18 and 7/19.

Then, upon checking in for departure, my sister-in-law was informed that her reservation had been LOST. A few more hours on the phone with United to reschedule a flight. What a wonderful way to spend your last few hours in Paris. The customer service on this call was absolutely APPALLING.

What, if any, recourse do I have? The entire portion of my London trip was RUINED by United Airlines. As I was not a paying passenger of United, what are my options?

Your assistance is appreciated.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,958
2,055
113
Maui Hawaii
#2
I recently went to Europe for commemoration ceremonies for my uncle, who died during the liberation of France in World War II as part of the 75th anniversary. This trip was planned for well over a year, with every detail painstakingly thought through in order to accommodate the schedules of 17 family members from across the US.

My family flew United Airlines, while I flew another carrier with the plan to meet in London.

Following is a rough timeline of the whole ugly mess:
6/15 – An emergency landing and multiple blown tires at Newark airport creates enough chaos to cause my family members to miss their connecting flights.
6/16 – My nephew and his wife, after having to sleep at the airport, make a connection and arrive to meet me in London, a day late and exhausted. Meanwhile my brother and his wife got stuck in Boston.
6/17 – My brother/sister-in-law arrive in London. Their luggage on the other hand, was somewhere else. And NO ONE at United could tell where it was or when it would arrive. We had planned 3 days in London. 2.5 of these days were essentially lost due to United’s incompetence. Much of the rest of the trip was spent trying to trace the lost luggage. In addition, we had prepaid tickets for $125 each to see the sights of London. We did not have time to use the prepaid tickets. We also had prepaid accommodations, for which some did not benefit.

The days that followed were frustrating in trying to get the luggage delivered and MANY phone calls to United. Every day a new level of incompetence by United was revealed. FINALLY, the luggage arrived in 2 separate deliveries on 7/18 and 7/19.

Then, upon checking in for departure, my sister-in-law was informed that her reservation had been LOST. A few more hours on the phone with United to reschedule a flight. What a wonderful way to spend your last few hours in Paris. The customer service on this call was absolutely APPALLING.

What, if any, recourse do I have? The entire portion of my London trip was RUINED by United Airlines. As I was not a paying passenger of United, what are my options?

Your assistance is appreciated.
Those who flew on UA need to use the contacts to ask for consideration such as vouchers or miles, as well as reimbursement for the expenses they incurred due to the lost luggage. United will not reimburse for missed activities or prepaid hotels. The Newark problem caused flights to be delayed or canceled for many other airlines.
"FINALLY, the luggage arrived in 2 separate deliveries on 7/18 and 7/19. " This is clearly incorrect--your trip was in June. Today is July 14.

https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/united-airlines/

Unfortunately, United will not deal with your personal issues as you were not a passenger on United. You can use the above contacts but I would be surprised if United replies.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Feb 12, 2019
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#3
Your options? None.

Though those who had their luggage lost could be due something from United depending on how long the luggage was delayed. I don't think United owes anything for the delays due to the fiasco at the airport based on responses to other posts on here, though they might respond with a goodwill gesture to a well written letter.

Otherwise those affected should, if they didn't purchase separate travel insurance, check the credit card they bought the flights with to see if they have insurance to cover the delays. And possibly expenses from delayed luggage beyond what United covers.
 
Jul 14, 2019
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#4
Thank you all for your input. As I suspected, as a non passenger I have no recourse except to never fly United as a matter of principle. And yes, I incorrectly wrote the luggage delivery dates. They should have been 6/18 and 6/19. Thank you for pointing out the error.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,722
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#5
I hope you were able to actually attend the 75th D Day Ceremonies, my husband and I also attended and what a moving tribute and the day was glorious. Please while dealing with the awful travel situation try to remember why you went and focus on that. Walking Omaha Beach early one morning with an American Flag flying high was a sight I will never forget. I’m sorry this took away from this wonderful trip.
 
Likes: ADM
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
I am sorry that the trip started off so badly. As has been mentioned as a non passenger there is no recourse.

This was just very unfortunate timing -- the FAA demanded that the disabled plane stay on the runway until it could be inspected. That took out a runway -- 400 flights delayed or cancelled.

There have been some absolute dreadful days at airports -- the drones in London Gatwick in December 2018, the lightening strike at DFW in June 2019--
and the Newark closure in June.

Do the passengers that were delayed have any travel insurance, perhaps on the credit card used? Has the airline reimbursed for the delayed luggage.

There is not much that can be said as what can be done other than write a letter to United -- but one is more likely to get points or a voucher. Once an airport has had a major closure it takes a bit of time for things to get back to normal.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jul 14, 2019
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#7
Thank you all for your input. As I suspected, as a non passenger I have no recourse except to never fly United as a matter of principle. And yes, I incorrectly wrote the luggage delivery dates. They should have been 6/18 and 6/19. Thank you for pointing out the error.
I might also add, that the delay was challenging, but the customer service levels and lack of communication systems makes the entire exper
I am sorry that the trip started off so badly. As has been mentioned as a non passenger there is no recourse.

This was just very unfortunate timing -- the FAA demanded that the disabled plane stay on the runway until it could be inspected. That took out a runway -- 400 flights delayed or cancelled.

There have been some absolute dreadful days at airports -- the drones in London Gatwick in December 2018, the lightening strike at DFW in June 2019--
and the Newark closure in June.

Do the passengers that were delayed have any travel insurance, perhaps on the credit card used? Has the airline reimbursed for the delayed luggage.

There is not much that can be said as what can be done other than write a letter to United -- but one is more likely to get points or a voucher. Once an airport has had a major closure it takes a bit of time for things to get back to normal.
 
Jul 14, 2019
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#8
My family members are pursuing compensation as they were passengers. I am, as suspected out of luck. Ultimately, while the emergency landing and blown tires are of a safety concern, it is the terrible customer service and very poor internal systems, that would make points or a voucher useless to me.
 
Jul 14, 2019
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#9
I hope you were able to actually attend the 75th D Day Ceremonies, my husband and I also attended and what a moving tribute and the day was glorious. Please while dealing with the awful travel situation try to remember why you went and focus on that. Walking Omaha Beach early one morning with an American Flag flying high was a sight I will never forget. I’m sorry this took away from this wonderful trip.
Yes, thankfully, the ceremonies were on the second leg of our trip. We traveled the beaches and for sure they were a somber reminder that our issues were minor compared to those who gave so much. My aunts were actually the first Americans to raise the flags at the American Cemetery at Omaha beach at the 70th anniversary. We attended the ceremonies for the liberation of Valogne, so two weeks after the June 6 celebration. The villages are incredibly grateful to this date. Despite not having the vacation we planned in London, the trip to France was remarkable.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,927
17,142
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
My family members are pursuing compensation as they were passengers. I am, as suspected out of luck. Ultimately, while the emergency landing and blown tires are of a safety concern, it is the terrible customer service and very poor internal systems, that would make points or a voucher useless to me.
I’m confused. You flew another airline and weren’t affected by the UA problems your family were affected by - why would you be asking for a voucher?

I also visited Normandy in May and it was an amazing visit. I hope the rest of your trip went well.
 
Jul 14, 2019
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#11
I’m confused. You flew another airline and weren’t affected by the UA problems your family were affected by - why would you be asking for a voucher?

I also visited Normandy in May and it was an amazing visit. I hope the rest of your trip went well.
I had three days planned with my family to see London. In the end, I walked around London by myself and missed the attractions planned with them. Our trip to France was INCREDIBLE.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,927
17,142
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#12
I had three days planned with my family to see London. In the end, I walked around London by myself and missed the attractions planned with them. Our trip to France was INCREDIBLE.
I understand that, but you have no case to go back to your airline of UA. You were able to partake in all of your activities, albeit without your family. There is no compensation due.

Having just come back from London I think my wife and I would have liked some time apart to see sites because we have very different interests.
 
Jul 14, 2019
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#13
I understand that, but you have no case to go back to your airline of UA. You were able to partake in all of your activities, albeit without your family. There is no compensation due.

Having just come back from London I think my wife and I would have liked some time apart to see sites because we have very different interests.
I was unable to participate in the activities for which we pre-paid. Also while you may prefer to spend time away from your wife, I see my family once a year and had pre-planned activities to share with my family. As I see it, UA caused a direct impact on my vacation in which I was not able to get the value. While I anticipated UA would not cover, I turned to this forum to understand my options.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
I was unable to participate in the activities for which we pre-paid. Also while you may prefer to spend time away from your wife, I see my family once a year and had pre-planned activities to share with my family. As I see it, UA caused a direct impact on my vacation in which I was not able to get the value. While I anticipated UA would not cover, I turned to this forum to understand my options.
You may as well blame the FAA/ NTSB for insisting the plane not be moved and of course it took hours for them to get there so the runway was blocked. The airport could not do anything about that.

At this point no one knows what the cause of the tire blow out was — debris on runway? That caused the devastating crash with the Concorde — and everyone died. Was it pilot error? Faulty tires? At this point no one knows.

After the safe landing once the FAA/NTSB said the plane was staying put the airport was crippled. And that meant thousands of people were inconvenienced — once the FAA gave orders what could United do?

But this is what happens with travel and life in general. I have been delayed by: medical diversion for a passenger having a heart attack so unscheduled stop in Ireland and no getting off the plane; a freak early snowstorm closed airport — and I was stranded overnight as airport closed and this delayed me getting to a family member’s wedding — a once in a lifetime event, pre planned and my rerouting was awful with another extra stop and I missed the vows and the ceremony—but I enjoyed the reception and focused on what I was there for. And then thunderstorms, hail, April snow in the Midwest, mechanical delays, luggage going to Guam where I have never been....

All these times I did not get the “full value” of the time away— but I try to make the best of it, even without a change of clothes. The advice to have tried to enjoy London even if on one’s own was given so one can take advantage of being there when other factors have made travel for the others impossible.

Travel has so many elements out of the passengers control — Southwest computer outages have grounded flights in 2019 and earlier— Or the bad Atlanta power outage which grounded Delta flights — none of the airlines are immune to issues and it sadly is a part of travel today. It is aggravating and infuriating— but when bad things happen in life there is often no compensation.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,927
17,142
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
I was unable to participate in the activities for which we pre-paid. Also while you may prefer to spend time away from your wife, I see my family once a year and had pre-planned activities to share with my family. As I see it, UA caused a direct impact on my vacation in which I was not able to get the value. While I anticipated UA would not cover, I turned to this forum to understand my options.
But you were able to partake in the activities because you were there on time - if you opted not to do them because the rest of your family wasn’t there, that’s not the airlines fault- you chose to not participate.

You came here to find out your options and we are telling you that there are no options. Your flight arrived with no problems and you were able to partake in the activities you pre-booked. It is unfortunate that your relatives were unable to get there on time to join you but there are no aviation rules that will reimburse you or offer you credits for this.

In the future, arrive a day of two before you have any tours or activities planned, as you should if you are flying to a cruise. All it takes is one canceled flight to cause you to lose money on a major activity you have planned. Life doesn’t always go as planned.

If there were options, we would tell you but there are none I’m sorry to say.

Here are your passenger rights according to the DOT:

https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights
 
Dec 12, 2016
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#16
You may as well blame the FAA/ NTSB for insisting the plane not be moved and of course it took hours for them to get there so the runway was blocked. The airport could not do anything about that.

At this point no one knows what the cause of the tire blow out was — debris on runway? That caused the devastating crash with the Concorde — and everyone died. Was it pilot error? Faulty tires? At this point no one knows.

After the safe landing once the FAA/NTSB said the plane was staying put the airport was crippled. And that meant thousands of people were inconvenienced — once the FAA gave orders what could United do?

But this is what happens with travel and life in general. I have been delayed by: medical diversion for a passenger having a heart attack so unscheduled stop in Ireland and no getting off the plane; a freak early snowstorm closed airport — and I was stranded overnight as airport closed and this delayed me getting to a family member’s wedding — a once in a lifetime event, pre planned and my rerouting was awful with another extra stop and I missed the vows and the ceremony—but I enjoyed the reception and focused on what I was there for. And then thunderstorms, hail, April snow in the Midwest, mechanical delays, luggage going to Guam where I have never been....

All these times I did not get the “full value” of the time away— but I try to make the best of it, even without a change of clothes. The advice to have tried to enjoy London even if on one’s own was given so one can take advantage of being there when other factors have made travel for the others impossible.

Travel has so many elements out of the passengers control — Southwest computer outages have grounded flights in 2019 and earlier— Or the bad Atlanta power outage which grounded Delta flights — none of the airlines are immune to issues and it sadly is a part of travel today. It is aggravating and infuriating— but when bad things happen in life there is often no compensation.
I agree 100%. I never plan exactly on nothing to go 100% to my desires when I travel and very seldom am I dissapointed. It happens to all of us, that something gets derailed and we don't arrive on time, or have to go to a different airport than our destination. Upon arrival to any destination I always politely thamk the crew for " a safe flight", that is the most important aspect of any travel, to arrive safely to any destination. Part of life, and part of travel in the 21st century. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter!
 
Sep 27, 2018
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#17
I had three days planned with my family to see London. In the end, I walked around London by myself and missed the attractions planned with them. Our trip to France was INCREDIBLE.
Joey, just want you to look on the things you did right. You made trip plans that allowed your family to participate in the key event of the trip, despite huge travel delays. That puts your planning way ahead of many others. I understand your frustration at missing time with them, my family is scattered across the US and every time we get together travel delays hit at least a few people.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,417
8,527
113
San Francisco
#18
You may as well blame the FAA/ NTSB for insisting the plane not be moved and of course it took hours for them to get there so the runway was blocked. The airport could not do anything about that.

At this point no one knows what the cause of the tire blow out was — debris on runway? That caused the devastating crash with the Concorde — and everyone died. Was it pilot error? Faulty tires? At this point no one knows.

After the safe landing once the FAA/NTSB said the plane was staying put the airport was crippled. And that meant thousands of people were inconvenienced — once the FAA gave orders what could United do?

But this is what happens with travel and life in general. I have been delayed by: medical diversion for a passenger having a heart attack so unscheduled stop in Ireland and no getting off the plane; a freak early snowstorm closed airport — and I was stranded overnight as airport closed and this delayed me getting to a family member’s wedding — a once in a lifetime event, pre planned and my rerouting was awful with another extra stop and I missed the vows and the ceremony—but I enjoyed the reception and focused on what I was there for. And then thunderstorms, hail, April snow in the Midwest, mechanical delays, luggage going to Guam where I have never been....

All these times I did not get the “full value” of the time away— but I try to make the best of it, even without a change of clothes. The advice to have tried to enjoy London even if on one’s own was given so one can take advantage of being there when other factors have made travel for the others impossible.

Travel has so many elements out of the passengers control — Southwest computer outages have grounded flights in 2019 and earlier— Or the bad Atlanta power outage which grounded Delta flights — none of the airlines are immune to issues and it sadly is a part of travel today. It is aggravating and infuriating— but when bad things happen in life there is often no compensation.
Joey, travel is all about attitude. Adverse situations can "ruin your trip" or be a minor inconvenience. Walking around London by yourself instead of doing the planned activities is guaranteed to make you resent the airline, the airport, the FAA, whomever. But really, if we travel we have to be prepared for dealing with adverse conditions. They are part and parcel of travel. We're the ones who govern how enjoyable our trip is, nobody else.
 
Sep 1, 2018
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#19
At this point no one knows what the cause of the tire blow out was — debris on runway? That caused the devastating crash with the Concorde — and everyone died. Was it pilot error? Faulty tires? At this point no one knows.

After the safe landing once the FAA/NTSB said the plane was staying put the airport was crippled. And that meant thousands of people were inconvenienced — once the FAA gave orders what could United do?

Wait...a plane crashed and people died and the LW is upset he didn't get the entire three days with his family in London? Am I understanding this correctly?
 
Likes: jsn55