Saturday, December 15, 2007

United Airlines Crushed My Christmas Spirit

I guess a blog is a great place to vent about something that, in the grand scheme of things, is not that terrible, but frustrating nonetheless. I have always despised incompetence, especially when it makes my life more difficult. This post is mostly for my own benefit, to rail against corporate incompetence. I don't expect anyone to find this an interesting read.

Back in September I made reservations to fly home to Los Angeles for Christmas. I had enough miles to upgrade to business class for the Munich-LAX legs of the trip. For the privilege of redeeming my Mileage Plus miles, United forced me to buy the "upgradable" fare, about $1000 more than the regular fare. The entire interaction took about an hour on the phone, much of that time was spent waiting for the United agent to submit the upgrade request to their partner, Lufthansa.

A few days ago I called United just to make sure everything is okay. The agent told me, in a strong Indian accent, that, unfortunately, the upgrade request was never submitted to Lufthansa. Okay, I said, so submit it now. Well, she replied, it's too late to submit a request to Lufthansa this close to the departure date. So what is United going to do to fix this mistake, I asked as pleasantly as I could manage. The agent offered me a $150 travel voucher to use toward a future United flight. I laughed. So I'll be flying home in coach, having paid way more for the ticket than anyone else in coach paid. (In my anger, I submitted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. That'll show 'em!)

I imagine United managers sitting in a dark, windowless room plotting ways to bring destruction and soul-stealing evil into the world. I can only take a small bit of comfort in knowing that in the next year and a half, the State Department will spend at least $15,000 - $20,000 on my travel (flying me back to LA in May - biz class, from LA to DC, from DC to Baghdad - biz class, 2 round trips from Baghdad to LA - biz class, and finally back to LA - biz class). Not one dime of that will go to United.

I spent most of this morning registering for frequent flier programs for 5 different airlines. Hell hath no fury like a woman cheated out of business class!