Bad customer experience at Newark Intl. Airport
Posted Wed April 18, 2012 4:47 am, by Kim N. written to United Airlines
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The trouble started on our return flight UA1171 from Austin to Newark on Monday April 9th with the official departure 11:03 AM. Because of high wind and bad weather in NYC the flight was nearly three hours late which resulted that we missed our evening flight with Scandinavian Airlines flight SK908 scheduled to depart Newark 7:00 PM.
Your colleague’s first response to this was that since we had bought separately tickets could neither United nor SAS be held responsible for this and we were left by ourselves. To quote him: “we absolve responsibility at Newark”. I understand that, but we had no other alternative than to purchase them separately. Firstly the ticket with SAS was bought last fall (in order to get tickets at all) and the ticket trough United had to be bought on a later stage as we had to be sure when the families in Austin were ready to have us four over.
Before departure in Austin on Monday April 9th, we informed the ground personnel that we would experience huge problems with our connections in Newark and while in air we twice informed the cabin crew to please inform their Star Alliance partner SAS that we are four people who will do our outmost in order to make this connection.
Our United flight landed at Newark at 6:14 PM. When we arrived at terminal B, the SAS agent told us that it was too late to make the flight and there was no other flight back to Oslo until Friday, April 13th. As the flight was still at the gate when we arrived at Terminal B in Newark, believe we would make that connection if SAS had been informed about of our delay. To our surprise SAS had no records of receiving any information from United about our delay. The luggage was not our concern and we would not have minded at all if that would arrived a day or two later.
Since I previously have been a Eurobonus Gold member for many years (only basic now) and the fact that we know several person who work as cabin crew, we know what is possible to do in such a case. It is possible to inform another airliner about delayed passengers while in air. We also know that it is possible to transfer our SAS ticket to a United flight with direct service to Oslo.
After we got the final message from the SAS operator on duty that evening, we were told that there were no available flights home until Friday, April 13th – five full days later, but that we should speak to United. So we ran between several United counters in Newark as your on-the-ground agents kept sending us to different – but wrong - places to speak to someone (one agent even sent us all the way down to the ground floor International Transfer desk which had been closed for hours!). After finally finding one manager, we only got the same message as there were nothing they could do.
So what could possible prevented our bad experience with United? Yes, I do know that we should have bought all our flights from one carrier. And yes I do know that because we did not, we legally you do not have the obligation to help us out. But this is about how we feel United as a company has threatened us and the service you have offered or rather not offered in connection with our experience on Newark airport Monday April 9th 2012.
As a result of this poor service, my family and I were stuck in America for 4 extra days at our own cost. United has many flights in and out of Oslo, I have long been an advocate of your airline but after this experience I feel like I must let people know how poorly we were treated.
Do you think that you have offered me and my family correct service?
(This complaint will also be sent to you in a airmail format as well in copy to Scandinavian Airlines and Star Alliance Group)
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