United First Class Passenger Ousted for More Important Traveler, Threatened With Cuffs

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If you just can’t get enough of United’s poor treatment of passengers, here’s another one for you via the Los Angeles Times (h/t: Brad).

Removing passengers after boarding is becoming a trend for United, and not even first class is safe. Last week Geoff Fearns, a paying first class customer, was told he’d have to get off the plane because another passenger with higher priority needed his seat. He resisted initially — he was already seated and had paid for his ticket — but was threatened with handcuffs if he didn’t comply. He was eventually allowed to reboard and given a middle seat for the flight from Hawaii to California.

A United employee, responding to Fearns’ complaint that he shouldn’t have to miss the flight, compromised by downgrading him to economy class and placing him in the middle seat between a married couple who were in the midst of a nasty fight and refused to be seated next to each other.

Apparently there had been an aircraft swap to a smaller plane with fewer first class seats.

These things happen. They’re unfortunate and sometimes unavoidable. The agent on the ground clearly handled the situation badly. But it was the subsequent United response to Fearn’s request for a full refund that highlights their many customer service issues.

He received an email back from a United “corporate customer care specialist” apologizing that Fearns apparently had an unpleasant experience. But, no, forget about a refund…

…Instead, the service rep offered to refund Fearns the difference between his first-class ticket and an economy ticket — about a week later, as if that wasn’t the first thing they should do in a situation like this — and to give him a $500 credit for a future trip on the airline.

Yet another example they don’t care about passengers. No proactive attempt to make Fearns whole or offer any real apology for a truly sub-standard experience. Read the full story.

But I guess it’s not that surprising from the folks who inspired the fantastic “United Breaks Guitars” song.

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