Basic Stupidity from United Airlines

The Supervisor and the Checkin Agent at United

With all the traveling I’ve been doing these past eighteen months–mostly going back and forth between upstate New York and Colorado–I guess I was due for a bad airline experience. Sure, I’ve had upsets this past year and a half, at least two that forced me to stay over at a connecting city because of a flight cancelled due to supposed mechanical problems. (I’m told that’s what airlines say and do these days when a plane isn’t packed to the gills.) But yesterday, I felt the full brunt of lousy customer service.

I arrived with some trepidation at the airport to check in at United for my Albany to Chicago to Denver travel itinerary. I had already received a few updates stating that my flight was delayed due to thunderstorms in Chicago. OK, that’s acceptable, that’s an act of nature that has forced me to be grounded in Chicago several times before. That’s not the fault of the airlines. These storms goofed up the arrival of the inbound flight to Albany, so I just had to take a deep breath and hope for the best.

But the real trouble began when the checkin agent told me I had to check my rolling carryon at checkin. “Are you serious?” I exclaimed. “That’s not at all what I was told.”

United’s Basic Economy

“You have a Basic Economy ticket and that’s what you have to do,” the agent replied without a hint of an apology.

I proceeded to explain to him that I knew I had a Basic Economy ticket and that’s why I packed the way I did. I booked it two months ago and checked the restrictions four times over with the agent I spoke with on the phone. (I always do check, double check to practically ad nauseam. My father was in WWII and he said that was the rule of the land–no one could afford any mistakes. And I learned well from Dad.) Since this is a new reduced fare that United recently launched, I questioned the agent up and down and then planned my strategy accordingly.

It was my understanding that I was not allowed to check a bag although I could check a carryon at the gate at the cost of $50. each way ($25. for the bag; $25. for the handling fee). I thought it odd that I’d be paying for anything at the gate but the agent I spoke with was insistent upon that. (She did have a thick accent, so in retrospect, I can only think something was lost in our ability to understand each other.)

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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