There’s an update on the situation I reported on last week involving a United flight with broken air conditioning.
In case you missed it, here’s the initial write-up on a customer who paid for Economy Plus seating, ended up with no air conditioning on a long flight from LAX to JFK and was then refused a refund of the money she paid to upgrade to Economy Plus. The customer is a TV personality. I saw one of her tweets and wrote about it shortly after she got the word from United.
Not too long after my post, she was contacted via phone by United and scolded by the employee for filing a complaint. There are absolutely more egregious situations I’ve seen or heard about with airline employees over the years, but this was definitely in the pretty bizarre category.
Now, according to Karen, she’s received a compensation offer from United even though they declined to compensate her previously (and without her asking again). I have to think that was at least partly driven by media attention, in that I doubt there’s someone at United who audits customer complaint e-mails after a resolution speciality closes out a request. It’s within the realm of possibility, but I think it’s more likely they saw her tweets or other media attention (hey, I may not have as much traffic as that superstar from One Mile at a Time, but a few people stop by here) and decided that they should do something to try to create a positive spin.
They offered her a refund of the money she paid for the E+ upgrade and a $200 travel voucher. In the olden days of United, that would have been borderline weak. But, in the new age of stinginess, that’s actually pretty reasonable compensation given what I hear from others who have issues. There was also a written apology about the attitude of the employee who called her.
So, the story has a happy ending after all, though a lot more runway on it than needed. It would have been perfectly reasonable for United to issue a refund of the E+ surcharge or a travel voucher in the beginning. I don’t think that was anywhere near an audacious ask. Instead, they get a bunch of blog posts and social media attention and probably end up giving more compensation than they needed to. Not necessarily a winning strategy, and the customer is still probably at least a little frustrated.