What to do when you don’t get what you paid for

Share via:

It’s quite common that on any given trip things don’t go as planned.  You miss the flight, the flight is delayed because of weather, your flight experience is hindered because of significant turbulence, air traffic congestion, and so forth.  All these are aggravating and there’s not much any of us can do to prevent, alleviate, or be compensated for the bad experience.  However, there are occasions when your carrier is responsible for the bad experience.  Delays because of an airline glitch, a damaged seat, lack of food options, issues with entertainment, among others.Yes, I meant to type the next statement in bold capital letters: ALWAYS CONTACT THE AIRLINE IF YOUR EXPERIENCE WAS NOT UP TO THE MARKETED STANDARDS.  For this reason, it pays off to be familiar with the Contract of Carrier Document (link to United’s COC Doc), as it will provide you with the information you need as leverage to request rightful compensation.  Yet, so many people have bad experiences on a regular basis and don’t do anything about it.  But think about it, if the airline doesn’t hear about your experience 1) they likely won’t implement needed changes, and 2) they definitely might just compensate you for the sub-par experience.  I recently flew with my wife on United from Chicago to Seattle and unfortunately there were several hiccups along the way.  I made sure within a few days to contact United via the Contact Customer Service form.  Another way to contact them -although you’ll still be asked to submit the form- is through Twitter.  Here’s how it went down:

10/26/2016 – Me: In my most recent itinerary with United I had a sub-par experience. When I book any flight reservations I review the aircraft, the in-flight entertainment and the dining options. In both legs of my trip, United failed to provide all that I booked. I understand things happen, but I feel as though I must bring this up to your attention.  On my outbound leg, for instance, I was counting on being able to work utilizing WiFi, but it was announced after boarding that it was broken.  Additionally, I could barely use my tray table as it was wobbly and any liquids would easily spill. My return leg was delayed because of a late incoming aircraft, and for that reason there was no dining options, only snacks for purchase. Because of the time I was really banking on having dinner on board. I didn’t expect any more than what I purchased, but i feel like i didn’t get that this time and for this reason I would like to be somehow compensated; it’s the fair thing to do. On the positive note, I’ll tell you that the egg breakfast plate and the Stroopwaffles are both delicious! Thank you for your attention to this matter.

10/26/2016 – Automated Email:

Your feedback is very important to us. Your perspective is important to shaping the future United experience.

Our Customer Care team will address your email and respond back to you shortly.  Response time is generally within 7-10 business days.  Please note, some baggage and regulatory cases may take up to 30 calendar days.  

  • Please use Case ID number 13376219 if you need to contact us about your inquiry.

If your email is about general information, an upcoming trip, baggage delay or MileagePlus, here’s information you might find helpful.

11/7/2016 – Customer Care agent:

Dear Mr. Rivera:


I’m sorry to learn that your Wi-Fi wasn’t working; I can imagine how frustrating that must have been.


As a way to say sorry I have requested for a travel certificate be sent to you. You will receive the conditions

and the certificate under a separate email. Please allow 24-72 business hours to receive.


We appreciate your business a Member of  MileagePlus and hope for the pleasure to welcoming your aboard

again soon.





Customer Care


11/7/2016 – Automated Email:

Thank you again for taking time to let us know about your recent experience with United Airlines.

An Electronic Travel Certificate has been issued to Ricardo Rivera (Mileage Plus XLXXXXXX) valid towards the purchase of one electronic airline ticket, where eligible, on United up to $100.00.

Redemption information – Total Value: $100.00  Promotion Code:******  PIN Code: **********  Issued Date: 11/7/2016  Expiration Date: 11/7/2017  Original Ticket Number: **************

*Further instructions on redeeming the certificate were provided.

Final thoughts and suggestions:

  • There’s no provision from United to provide this feedback/complaint on the phone.  I’d like to have the option to do that.
  • While I’m not happy that I’m not able to do this on the phone, the response time was within the 7-10 business days, and I was very pleased with that.
  • I was glad to see that the United agent seemed to show concern about my experience, even repeating one of the main concerns I had in one of my flights.

To put this into perspective, my ticket cost $116.20, from which I was compensated with a $100.00 Travel Certificate.  In essence, once I use the travel certificate toward a future flight, I will have ended up paying $16.20 for this round-trip ticket from Chicago to Seattle.  (I’ve also submitted my wife’s complaint form as well, at a later date and she received the exact same compensation – good to see the same standard held for both tickets).

In conclusion, this particular experience tells me that perhaps United has received enough complaints that they’re starting to do something about it and are working hard to meet customers’ expectations now, and hopefully exceed them on a regular basis in the future.  Given that I find so much value in the MileagePlus program, this is great to see!  Are you going to let the airline know about your negative experience next time?


Give me your thoughts