This stuff hit the headlines yesterday, but because I wasn't feeling especially perceptive, it's only just hit me that the incident involved United - my least favourite airline!
Last time I was in the US, I was attending a wedding, and these wankers lost my luggage. I'd been fortunate enough to take my suit in a holder as my carry on luggage, so that was OK. The problem was I had hardly anything else in my carry on - the rest was in the suitcase. But the suitcase did contain the shoes I was planning to wear for the wedding.
This was particularly problematic, as prior to the wedding, I had decided to take a trip up to the Canadian Rockies. So I wasted a day in Seattle, waiting for the bag to be found, which I was assured that it would be. It wasn't. Deciding that no more time could be wasted, I left Seattle, and stopped on the way at Merritt, British Columbia, to buy the clothes I thought I might need for the next day, because (stupidly) I believed them that they'd send the bag up to the place I was staying in that night. Didn't happen.
Realising by now that this wasn't going to be a quick fix, I bought a number of other clothes (and no offence to Merritt, BC, what you had in your shops on that day mainly consisted of stuff I didn't really want, and has only subsequently been worn when IDGAF about ruining said clothing. Apologies to rural Canada for the stereotyping, there are so many things I love about the place, but people don't go there for the shopping). My main issue was the shoes. Merritt couldn't provide. But not a big headache, because surely in a week, they'd have found the case, right?
Wrong. When we got back to Seattle, no case. By now I needed a new suitcase, because I couldn't take the hire car boot with me. Got that at the airport, where clearly you pay top price. But United were going to pay (lol), so no big deal. Flew to DC, wedding in three days. One day spent getting new shoes. So two days of my trip now wasted on this shit because United had lost my bag.
Wedding went well, still no sign of my bag. Got asked to sign emailed documents to apply for compensation. Hidden in the small print? Waiving my rights to the bag and its contents, so I decided as I was returning home shortly, I could now play the waiting game, or else my bag was going to a place like this, all ready to be auctioned off.
Bag eventually found five weeks later, and returned to me. But then United refused to pay more than 50% of what I'd spent on replacements (remember, I didn't want most of this stuff, and haven't used it much since). I went through numerous phone calls with guys who were inevitably called Roy (but who obviously weren't really called Roy), including the aptly-named Roy Burk (are United still really using this pseudonym for customer relations???), before deciding to just sue the bastards.
I ended up getting more than double what I'd actually spent (due to some pretty crazy exchange rate fluctuations at the time, and also a little creativity on the claims form), which served the bastards right. For the record, I don't feel remotely smug about that - it certainly wasn't worth the wasted days, the stress, the hassle factor etc.
I've since flown with a good number of airlines, some of which you'd expect would be pretty ropey (JAT Airways, Taca Peru etc) and they were all better than United. Was pretty concerned about Uzbekistan Airlines, especially because it was a domestic flight originating in the delightfully-named city of Urgench, but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, United - an internal flight in Central Asia had better customer service than you do.
Even these guys, who can't spell their name right on their own website (click on the link, then you'll see that 'Northern' at your top tab is missing an 'r') had them beat - https://www.northernair.com.fj/
You'd think after all this, I'd have learned my lesson, and would never fly with them again, right?
Unfortunately wrong. They had the advantage of the only direct connection between my home airport and DC, to where we're flying next month. I thought, "Hmmm, this was years ago, they must have improved, one bad experience etc etc etc". The advantages of the direct flight won out, and I booked with United.
What did they just do? Got in touch to say they were cancelling the direct route, and we can have our money back or go via Newark, NJ.
Years later, still tossers...
But they WILL continue to get away with it, because unless you use them all the time, they can afford to write off your business.
Good luck, too, if they're the only people who fly a particular route you need to use.
That's why I'm taking my hat off to the good doctor who made them drag him out of the place earlier this week - you can't beat BAD publicity.
Maybe they will start to change. Maybe pigs might fly too...