Compensation Clinic: United Airlines Irregularities On Long Haul Flight To Hong Kong


This week our Compensation Clinic has a case from United Airlines where I had some irregularities during a recent long haul flight to Hong Kong.

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The complaint file was processed by United Airlines Customer Relation very quickly, in fact it took them less than 24 hours to regulate it.

In short, the flight purchased was ticketed and operated by United from Los Angeles via San Francisco to Hong Kong with a relatively short one hour connection in SFO.

I outlined the following issued encountered during the trip:

  • Gate blocked in SFO, arriving aircraft was sitting on the tarmac for 40 minutes, eliminating any lounge time during the connection;
  • Audio of the Inflight Entertainment scratchy
  • Argument with a flight attendant who claimed the overhead space above my seat was reserved for crew, even though there was zero designation of that being true (and it was a tiny compartment to begin with);
  • Baggage delivery at HKG Airport took 1:10h and priority baggage came out last

The reply was very prompt as mentioned:

… What you described isn’t our commitment to providing exceptional customer service. You should expect our employees to treat you with dignity and respect, maintaining friendly, professional service at all times. We expect the same from our representatives, as its part of our culture. I’m sorry we didn’t deliver that to you. There’s never an excuse for what you described. I assure you that your comments are taken seriously and will help us address the issue as we review this with the employees.

In addition, I’m sorry for any inconvenience due to seating assignment and our equipment not working onboard the new 777-300 to Hong Kong.

I can imagine your disappointment. That’s a long flight! We didn’t mean to let you down. Let me make this better for you by sending an Electronic Travel Certificate, which you’ll receive in the next few days. We try and fix these issues before we take off. At times, we find out after we’ve left. Once again, I regret any inconvenience. …

I was sent a $200 Electronic Travel Certificate good for Travel on United Airlines. Since I wasn’t sure if I’ll have the option of using that voucher in the next 12 months I asked if it’s possible to exchange the voucher against a Mileage Plus mileage credit and the same lady replied, offering 10,000 Mileage Plus Miles which were credited to the account in less than a day. The eVoucher was voided in the process.


I was impressed by the short turnaround time United Customer Relations has these days (at least for Premier Gold and above) compared to how long it took a few years ago. At the same time I feel that their CR team is more generous again in compensation cases than they used to be.

The experience itself wasn’t really that pleasant, especially the nasty conversation with the flight attendant about ‘HER’ overhead bin space and the long wait for the baggage in Hong Kong.

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