I was flying United Airlines from Melbourne, Australia to San Antonio, TX on April 10 2011. On the day of the flight United had a mechanical problem with their plane and could not fly us out.
No problem there, as mechanical problems are a reality. I'd rather experience a failure with a plane while on the ground than in the air.
Being unable to take our regularly scheduled United flight, we were instead directed to fly via Virgin Blue to Sydney. This connecting flight was later but should still get us to our originally scheduled leg as United was going to delay our connecting flight in Sydney rather than leave so many people stranded and fly out a half-full plane.
Reporting to the Virgin Blue counter I was informed that I had to pay an additional $150 due to excess baggage. My International flight originally scheduled through United allowed two checked bags but domestic flights only allow one and my second bag cost $150 extra. I explained to the Virgin Blue agent that the original leg of my International flight with United was canceled due to mechanical error and that we were routed through Virgin Blue and was told to take the issue up with United for a refund. She billed my credit card and handed me a receipt.
Arriving in Sydney, we learned that United did NOT delay the leg from Sydney and it had departed half full and on time. We had to find a different flight. The United agent found a flight into Austin instead of San Antonio so we would still arrive in Texas on the same day, just several hours later. OK, no big deal.
Addressing the excess baggage issue with the United agent, we were informed that United would issue a refund due to their mechanical error. She filled out a receipt with the customer service contact info.
After arriving home, I scanned both Virgin Blue and United receipts and forwarded them to the United Customer Service department that handles refunds with a full explanation of what happened. This began a nearly two month odyssey of useless back and forth.
United refunds typically take about seven business days to respond to any contact. The first response I received said they couldn't do anything without the receipts, despite the fact I already had sent them. I re-sent the receipts again with the full explanation.
It took nearly two months to get three emails back from these clowns. The receipts I had proved my claim. The receipt from United clearly stated that this entire issue stemmed from a mechanical error on their plane and that I was routed via Virgin Blue because of it.
The chief clown at United Refunds is one Surinder Singh, United Airlines Passenger Refunds. Mr. Singh also needs a spell checker as his very slow responses typically contained a few typos as well.
His final response to me was that I need to go through Virgin Blue for a refund as it is their fault! He claims that my request was forwarded to them, but gives zero details as to who or where, nor does he indicate to whom I should address this issue.
Problems happen. It is how a person or company responds to them that matters. United completely failed to address this issue, failed to take responsibility for their fault, and took two months to finally decide to blame another company.
United Airlines and Surinder Singh: Fuck you.