The wife and I flew to San Diego last weekend for my buddy Christian's wedding. We left on Thursday evening for the Friday rehearsal; we booked 4 roundtrip tickets on United from SFO to San Diego, and an additional 2 one-way tickets from SD to SFO, as we were flying back with some more friends.
Flying out of SFO, the 1 hour trip was easy -- until we tried to land. All of a sudden it felt like we were falling out of the sky, then we nosed up and took off out of there FAST. The captain came on and said there was too much fog to land the 737-200, so we were going to LAX.
After just a few minutes on the ground at LAX, we were informed that they had booked two first-come-first-served shuttle busses to take us to San Diego, so get down there quick. We were, of course, in the very last row in coach.
Just off the jetway, I spotted United's customer service rep, Jerome (pictured at left), and explained the situation. We weren't likely to get a spot on the shuttle, the 4 of us had a wedding rehearsal in the morning. Was there anything he could do to help? Find an alternate flight, help us get a discounted rate on a rental car, anything? The answer was a very flat and definite "no". Jerome and I went around and around very civilly for 10 or 15 minutes while the rest of my party tried to grab a shuttle spot, just in case. Jerome was very strict that because the delay was caused by weather, there was nothing he could do for us -- that arranging the shuttle itself was "above and beyond". Unreal.
I related to Jerome that the worst part about this is that nobody from United had offered any kind of apology. No "We apologize for the inconvenience," nothing. He said, and I quote, "The weather is out of our control. Take it up with the FAA." Are you serious? This is what passes for customer service at United?
(Aside: I do realize United's policy is to give you the finger in the case of inclement weather. But seriously, no "sorry"?)
We ended up renting a car at Avis and driving down to San Diego, heads finally hitting the pillow at 4:30am. Incidentally, we ran into some people just off THEIR shuttle from LAX to SD, on a flight that touched down at 10pm (ours touched down around 11:30). Good thing we threw in the towel and rented that car; we'd have gotten in at what, 6am?
As a somewhat frequent traveler -- last I checked I logged ~45k miles in the last 12 months -- service like this makes it easy to write off United. With other carriers like Southwest and JetBlue taking customer service more seriously than ever, there's just no reason to fly an airline that doesn't care enough to even say "We apologize for the inconvenience." I will gladly pay 3x the fare to fly on a non-United flight.
I'm done with United for good.
Update: Passenger on United flight gets arrested for going to the bathroom [link]
And of course, United Breaks Guitars