United Airlines compensation for service failures still generous for this 1K

About two months ago I posted that decreased compensation levels are apparently coming to the “new” United Airlines for service failures and other issues. As is widely known, Continental Airlines is stingy when it comes to offering apologies and/or compensation for such occurrences, and this devaluation, if you will, was expected to survive the merger between Continental and United.

Reports are surfacing that United is directly acknowledging this change of policy, specifically telling members,  “we will no longer be issuing compensation for every contact and in fact are limited to compensation to 6 times per 6 month period.” First, I find it interesting that regular flyers complain six or more times within a six-month period. Then, it’s kind of amazing that United has in the past dolled out compensation to people that do.

The reports of decreased compensation come from people who write into customer relations directly. I myself have written in a couple of times, but they total maybe four occasions in the past 10 years. One, I recall, was to praise an exceptional flight attendant I had encountered who remembered me on subsequent flights over a couple of months, even recalling my name. The last email I sent to customer relations was just recently, and was due to a flight attendant’s less than professional discussion of airplane accidents, incidents, and other events focusing on crashes, deaths & disasters.

In that case, a first class passenger had asked why she specifically made an announcement that all window shades had to be raised during takeoff & landing. The flight attendant ended up going into a 10-minute lecture of accidents, including the United DC-10 that had cart wheeled down a runway in Sioux City, Iowa saying, “I have a video of that crash at home!” It was a completely inappropriate response to the passenger’s question, and the entire cabin appeared disturbed by her behavior.

I never received compensation for my few write-ins, nor did I expect any. I was simply relaying positive or negative experiences that were exceptional from the “norm.” The compensation I have received is from the “Please accept our apology” (PAOA) cards handed out by flight attendants onboard. The issues I’ve had are incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve been compensated generously by United, particularly since I’ve been a 1K 100,000-mile flyer each year.

Last week, a reading light kept shorting out & flickering during a transcon flight from Washington Dulles airport to Los Angeles. It eventually totally failed, and the purser handed me one of the PAOA cards unsolicited. When I redeemed it online, the choices were are follows:

Now I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to get a card, but I was completely expecting a token amount based on the reports, A $200 travel credit goes a long way for people like me, who generally fly on inexpensive fares & know how to hunt for them. In fact, I had only spent less than $71 out-of-pocket for the ticket I was flying on (due to a redemption of previous credits), so United basically paid my fare, and then some.

I actually expect these levels to decrease as the merger progresses, and was kind of surprised to still receive such a generous amount. The flight I was on was numbered in the 900-series, a continuation of an international flight, so maybe that’s why the amount was high. Elite status comes into play when determining an amount, too, so a similar issue for a Premier Executive and below would likely yield a lower amount. In any case, I still remain thankful for the generosity, although if they knew whom they were giving it to and what fare I was flying on, they might think twice.

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  1. Go ahead and try to get that today. I am a Premier Gold and was on a flight where there was a service issue. Rather than handing out one of those cards they told us to go to united.com. Neither on a mobile nor on the website can you find a link to compensation, and there’s no site map or search function. What a joke.

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