My experience with United and US Airways

This is a tech blog, and I try very hard to present facts and technical advances here. However, this is simply a story that needs to be shared (mostly for my own personal expression, but I hope others find some benefit in it).

What follows, is a copy of a compliment I sent to United, when they helped me get home as quickly as possible after my father-in-law passed away. I live in Northwest Arkansas, and at the time I was at a conference in California. I initially looked to change my flight but United had no flights available that night so (with help from my incredible management team of @mrembetsy and @allspaw) I booked a pretty expensive last minute flight on US Airways. At the last minute US Airways cancelled the flight. This was the last flight out that night, and they left me stranded with zero assistance of any kind, other than to book me on a flight 12 hours later and delay my arriving home for the entire day.

The reason they gave, was the pilot felt sick. Forgive me US Airways, but when you commit to something at this level, “I don’t feel well” isn’t an appropriate reason. You had two hours to find another pilot. You failed.

United saw what was happening, and immediately jumped on it to fix things, and they came through shining. This is an email I later sent to United:

This is a slightly long story, I hope you bear with me 🙂

My father in law had end stage cancer. I was supposed to fly out on SFO on Fathers Day and changed it to fly out Monday instead so we could be with him.

On Tuesday, while in California, I received a message from my wife that i needed to come home immediately.
I looked to change my return ticket but there wasn’t an available United flight that night. So, I bought a $650 ticket on US Airways.
Not my first option – I’ve previously been Star Alliance Gold with United and really like you guys.

That flight was supposed to leave at 00:20 Wednesday, and get me home Wednesday morning.

At 01:00, US cancelled the flight because “pilot was sick”.
I should mention here that my father in law passed away shortly before this and I was desperate to get home.
I was rebooked on a flight that would get me home on Wednesday NIGHT, after 9pm. I had no other option, and in my frustration I vented on Twitter at US Airways, explaining that I’m going to stick with United from now on.

What happened next is really leaves me speechless. You can see the twitter discussion here:


(as you can see, I have a good number of followers and privately many expressed their shock at US Airways’ behaviour).

As requested by @United’s twitter, I DM’d the confirmation number to you guys, expecting that I would either have to pay a huge change fee, or be told there was nothing to be done.

Instead, at 4:25am PT, while I’m huddled in the cold in SFO, I receive a called from Janet (who I think was ^JJ on twitter). After confirming the situation, she said she would call me right back.

5 minutes later the phone rings again. She changed my return flight to a trip through ORD which left 3 hours later and got me home before 5pm.

How can I really express my feelings here?
You guys called me. Let me say that again:
You. Called. ME.
And then you fixed it. No questions, you just did it.
I’m just one customer, but you heard me in the middle of the night, realised how this impacted my family and me, and you handled it.

The saddest thing? US Airways tweeting me shortly before I board my United flight, asking me to DM my reservation number to them. They had SIX HOURS and did nothing. You guys handled it.

I’m working back up to Silver (maybe Gold) on United again this year, and very proud of it.
My family is extremely thankful for what you folks did. Please extend this to the social media team, Janet and her managers.