Flights across the East Coast and Midwest have been canceled and delayed because of extreme cold and new anti-fatigue regulations. United Airlines is just one of the many companies that had flights canceled in droves. Its not their fault that the weather sucked, and the flight delays an inevitable part of travel from time to time… But there’s no excuse for lying about flight delays.
After United flight 4116 from Cincinnati to Denver was canceled on Monday, January 6, the United gate staff denied affected travelers hotel and transportation compensation, claiming the flight was delayed due to weather. It was a transparent excuse. A member of the gate staff had already made an announcement saying that the flight would fly empty because no flight attendants could be found for the leg to Cincinnati. On January 7, a member of the gate staff for the flight to Houston said that the flight to Denver was in fact canceled because of crew-related reasons and that compensation may be provided.
I had been rebooked on United flights from Cincinnati to Houston then to Denver, but my final destination was Fort Collins, one hour north of Denver. I had a shuttle scheduled to get from the Denver airport to Fort Collins. Flight UA1099 was two hours late departing from Houston, and I missed my shuttle to Fort Collins. The gate agents had announced that a fresh plane was coming from the hanger because the original flight didn’t arrive in Houston.
According to United’s flight delay and cancelation policies, compensation should be provided for delays caused by lack of crew availability:
For issues within United’s control, such as required maintenance or lack of crew availability, the following amenities may be offered, depending on the length of delay:
Depending upon the duration of the delay, we may offer food and beverages where available. Snack or meal vouchers may be offered in locations where a beverage cart is not available.
For delays that exceed 4 hours, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., customers in a connecting city may be offered complimentary hotel accommodations depending on the amount of time involved and the location of the hotel. Hotel accommodations may not be provided if transportation is offered to or from a nearby airport.
Will United provide compensation for transportation and lodging? I will update with their response.
According to USA Today, there were 4,106 canceled flights on January 6 and 2,194 on January 7.
UPDATE: United Airlines doesn’t compensate the writer for their canceled and delayed flights. After sending a request 19 days ago, United still hasn’t responded.
UPDATE II: United Twitter has responded saying that current response time is 14-21 days. This story will continue to be updated as it develops.
UPDATE III: I respond on Twitter:
.@united Thanks for your response. It has been 25 days since I sent the original request. What should I do if I don't get a response?
— Marketing In China (@ChinaMktgNews) February 4, 2014
UPDATE IIII (Final Update): On February 7, United issued a travel certificate in the amount requested.
Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, The Korea Times, The Shanghai Daily, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, City Weekend, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.