Thanks to all the hits and responses to my post yesterday, I actually did hear from United Airlines. Don’t get your hopes up however, the response was less than satisfactory. For your reading pleasure, I will include the response and my answer to that response. I have removed names because I am not trying to get any individuals in trouble, but to ask a corporation to realize that there is a human factor in what they do.
Dear Mrs. Kramer:
Thank you for your reply. We send our condolences for your loss.
Your comments clearly convey how disappointed you were to learn of additional costs associated with changing your ticket.
I was glad to see that our reservation agent made an exception to our policies and waived the change fee for you due to your recent loss; however the additional fee that was assessed was applicable as your original fare had an advance purchase requirement. The amount you paid was the difference in fare of your original ticket & the current fare level. I regret the circumstances which required you to change your ticket on such short notice. I accessed our past-date database to verify the inventory for the day you wished to travel. According to our records, the itinerary no longer met the advance-notice criteria for the original fare.
You state that your original return was changed and our records indicate that the change on your return travel was done when your husband called to change your ticket. I regret any confusion in regards to what happened with your return flight reservation.
Most excursion tickets are non-refundable. A service charge usually applies for changing the time or date of travel. Service charges help cover costs associated with processing ticket changes, adjusting passenger manifests, and filling empty seats.
Tickets are often reissued for a $150 service charge; however, depending on the available inventory when the ticket is reissued, an additional collection may also apply. Customers must pay the difference between the original fare and the new fare when there is reduced inventory or published fare increases.
Our published terms and conditions are designed to balance the needs of customers with the business needs of our company. We sell several types of tickets with varying levels of restrictions. Please visit our website for more information: www.united.com
Mrs. Kramer, we appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you on board a future United Airlines flight.
With kindest regards,
Corporate Customer Care Manager
My response is as follows. Note that Nathan was on the phone with them about 20 minutes after my mother had been informed of my father’s passing. (which was when I heard the news):
While I understand you have rules and regulations there is also such a thing as a bereavement fare, which (although still ridiculously high) should still have been considered in this situation. I also think it was completely inappropriate for you to cancel my return flight with my family, and then when I wanted to get back on that flight try to charge me another full fair. Yes, the agent who worked with me did the right thing, and I commend him for that. That doesn’t excuse the fact that your company put the bottom line ahead of the reality that life happens and that, just because someone shops for a less expensive fare shouldn’t mean that they get penalized in times such us this. I’m sorry that my father did not pass away in time for me to make your “advanced purchase requirements,” but that is, in my opinion a crass business tactic.
I’m sorry, but I do not accept this apology and will make every effort to never fly with United again. I have flown with you for a long time and I used to enjoy the flights, but now it is simply not worth it. Perhaps your policies are in line with the standards of the industry, but to me they are evidence of how much more important money has become over the human factor. I am also aware of other airlines who will make exceptions and refuse to believe that you couldn’t have done the same.
Lisa A. Kramer
I realize that I may just be tilting at windmills here, but the powerful response on social media since yesterday has taught me something. We have allowed corporations to treat us like dirt for too long. We have allowed the voices of people who don’t have lots of money to get subsumed by the voices of those who do. If we want a better world, we need to stand up and say we aren’t going to tolerate being treated like this anymore. I know that United probably doesn’t care if I ever fly with them again. I know that travelling is probably going to be slightly more difficult and more expensive if I try to avoid United and all its affiliates. I also know that I can no longer support companies that do not take into account that human beings matter. I avoid the big stores like Wal-Mart etc. Now I choose to avoid a company that simply doesn’t care.