When things go wrong onboard United Airlines, the pursers are armed with handy “Please accept our apology” cards, previously known as Skykits. They allow you to log onto United’s website, punch in the nature of the problem along with the unique serial number from the card, and you are presented with a few options to compensate you for the issue. Below was what I was offered last week for a faulty audio jack on a Premium Service flight between JFK and Los Angeles:
Ben over at One Mile at a Time recently posted that the electronic certificate amounts have been dropping. His source stated that as of March 1st, the maximum amount for the dollar off electronic certificate option for an issue on a domestic flight would be maxed out at $100 for Mileage Plus 1Ks, $75 for Premier Executives, and down the elite ranks. I was pleased, then, as a 1K to still get a $200 certificate, but fully expect the compensation levels to go down in the future.
Is the $200 I was offered warranted for faulty audio? My answer is no, absolutely not. Would it be warranted for an inoperative seat? Depending on the specific issue it just might. Not being able to recline or lift the leg rest in one of the business class seats on that route almost completely negates the benefit of the seat. I was on an upgrade, but had I paid the hefty premium over coach fares for that trip, $100 wouldn’t cut it in my mind.
On the other hand, Continental Airlines pretty much has a no compensation policy. I’ve only read of an isolated incident or two where the occasional $50 certificate is finally granted after lengthy back-n-forth emails. So it sounds based on Ben’s post that the new United Airlines is heading to the middle ground for service failures. In all honesty I have to agree with it, with the provision for reconsideration on case-by-case bases such as the business class seat issue I proposed above. I’m grateful & have definitely benefited under the old scheme, but being more of a realist, I’ll be just fine with a reduced policy.
Oh, and I did take the $200 e-certificate. It carries the most value to me, and I can turn that $200 into about 10,000 redeemable miles and 5,000 elite qualifying miles on a simple transcon mileage run. The 10% off certificate although good worldwide, would require a ticket price of $2,000 to match the value of the domestic certificate, so that one is a pass for me.