United Breaks Custom Motorized Wheelchairs

Jesus, United. I don’t even know what to say anymore.

Valentin Duthion has spinal muscular atrophy, and requires the use of his wheelchair to get around. When he and his friends boarded a United Airlines flight to New Jersey, they left his chair in the care of airline staff, as is normal procedure, according to the website Travel Pulse.

When they arrived, Duthion’s 250-kilogram wheelchair was missing a wheel, while another was tilted. The user interface box had been broken off and the steering handle had been damaged.

A mechanic who took a look at the chair confirmed that it was beyond usable for Duthion’s 27-day trip, according to French newspaper Le Progres.
United is paying to repair the chair and offered Duthion a different motorized wheelchair, which was not adapted for his particular needs.
In a statement to People, Airline officials confirmed they had provided a loaner wheelchair and upgraded the group’s return flight.
But Duthion’s sister Lucie told Le Progres the group was told if they did not accept United’s wheelchair, they would have to sign a waiver saying they refused the airline’s help.
“We had no choice but to accept this proposal after an ultimatum posed by the company,” she said.

Other than that they’re United and that’s just how they roll, there is no information on how or why a wheelchair valued at nearly $55,000 was treated so carelessly. Perhaps the aviation police were pulling double duty as baggage handlers that day. They have a bit of a thing for beating the shit out of United’s cargo, after all.

United Breaks Violinists

Though the reasons why remain a mystery, we’ve known for quite some time that United Airlines and the industry in general clearly has something against musicians who play stringed instruments.

It’s happened again, this time to violinist Yennifer Correia who wound up in a literal fight over her 17th century instrument with a supervisor of all things after being told by an agent that she’d have to check it.

Correia, a classical violinist on her way to play in the summer season at the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, asked for an airport supervisor. But the supervisor said there were no other options. The violin had to be checked.
Her attorney, Phil MacNaughton, recounted what happened from there. Correia told the supervisor, “I can’t not take my violin on board. I’ll pay the money. I’ll take another flight. Just tell me what I can do.”
As the altercation intensified, Correia told the agents that she would appeal to their bosses and asked the supervisor for her name, MacNaughton said. The supervisor said she wanted Correia’s name and reached for the tag on her luggage.
“Without provocation, the supervisor for the Chicago-based carrier then lunged for Ms. Correia’s case and, incredibly, tried to wrestle it away from the musician,” said a statement written by MacNaughton.
“I start screaming, ‘Help, help, help, can somebody record what’s happening because this lady’s trying to take my personal suitcase from me,’” Correia told Houston NBC-affiliate KPRC.
The supervisor said she was going to call security, and Correia apparently responded, “Please do.” Then the supervisor dashed off. That was the last Correia saw of her.

None of this should have been a problem since there are laws on the books in the United States that allow musicians to carry their instruments onto planes with them, a fact of which you would think someone working for a damn airline would be well aware. Sometimes you get to wondering if United just can’t help itself, don’t you?

Thankfully, Correia’s violin was unharmed. Her hand, not so much. She says it was injured enough during the scuffle that she went to see a specialist juuuuuust in case, but not enough to prevent her from making her trip…on American airlines.

United offered up its usual statement, which at this point it really ought to consider plastering on the side of every plane to save time.

“We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that does not live up to his or her expectation. We are reaching out to Ms. Correia to gain a better understanding of what occurred and to offer assistance.”

So far, no pathetic make good offer has been extended, but I imagine those discounted flight vouchers and free sandwich coupons should be in the mail any day now.

United Breaks My Brain A Bit, But At Least Its Trying A Little Harder To Say Sorry

CEO says airline will not use police to remove passengers in the wake of a video that showed a forcible removal of a Chicago passenger on Sunday

Probably a good idea, but here’s a better one. Count the number of seats in each plane, then sell the same number of tickets. It’s not rocket science, though maybe airplane science is more difficult somehow, I dunno.

United Airlines will no longer use law enforcement officers to remove overbooked passengers from aircraft in the wake of a video that showed a Chicago passenger dragged from one of its flights on Sunday.
“We’re not going to put a law enforcement official… to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger,” United Continental Holdings Inc Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz told ABC News on Wednesday morning. “We can’t do that.”
Munoz said the problem resulted from a “system failure” that prevented employees from using “common sense” in the situation and that Dr. David Dao, whom security officers dragged by his hands, on his back, from the cabin before takeoff, was not at fault.

It’s nice he’s finally apologizing, but one small thing.

“Munoz said the problem resulted from a “system failure” that prevented employees from using “common sense” in the situation…”

What does he mean by system failure? A computer system? I know that even the most sensible of people can get a little squirrelly when a computer gets involved, but with all these supposedly highly trained professionals on the case, how do we get from that to having the cops kick the shit out of a guy who knows not from your software package and just wants to go home?

Or maybe he meant system failure as in procedures put in place by the company he leads that don’t allow for enough flexibility to treat customers like dignified human beings, which is much, much worse. It’s also not a minor mistake. It’s the inevitable result of policies that are specifically designed to favour revenue and compliance over customer experience and morality.

Either way, it’s a shame that Oscar Munoz has no plans to resign. If he truly cares about the company, that’s his only choice. The company was awful long before he took the job in 2015, but this one’s on him. Truly good leadership starts from the top down, and there’s no possible way that anyone can ever have confidence in leadership again while he’s still on top.

United Breaks Faces, Any Pretense Of Giving A Shit

Listen. We’ve all had a lot of fun with the whole United Breaks thing and we all know that United can go fuck itself right along with basically every other airline, but there are almost no words for this.
https://www.facebook.com/audra.dickerson/videos/10104378182069960/

Quiz time. The distressed fellow in that video:
A: Got past security and made his way onto a plane he had no right to be on and then didn’t want to leave.
B: Got a little carried away at the airport lounge/beverage cart and had become unruly.
C: Was a paying customer with somewhere to be who wasn’t having any of United’s we overbooked the plane nonsense.

No, you don’t want to believe it but yes, you know the answer.

Passenger Audra Bridges, who uploaded a video of the incident to Facebook, told the newspaper that United initially offered customers $400 and a hotel room if they offered to take a flight the next day at 3pm. Nobody chose to give up the seat that they paid for, so United upped the ante to $800 after passengers boarded, announcing that the flight would not leave until four stand-by United employees had seats. After there were still no takers, a manager allegedly told passengers that a computer would select four passengers to be kicked off the flight.

The man in the video apparently claimed to be a doctor who had appointments with patients the next morning. After he refused to give up his seat, Bridges says a security official threw him “against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.” According to Bridges, the seemingly disoriented man came back onto the plane with blood on his face and the crew asked passengers to go back to the gate so that United crew could “tidy up” the plane.

Yes, there’s video of him getting back on the plane. No, he definitely doesn’t seem right.

And you know what else isn’t right? Literally everything United did to cause this situation and everything it’s done since. I mean just look at this garbage statement from CEO Oscar Munoz.

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.”
“We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation,” he added in the statement.

Having to re-accommodate these customers? Fuck off, dude. Seriously. Fuck! Off! You had to do nothing of the sort. You could have found those employees another plane. You could have rented them a car. Bought them bus tickets. Paid for a cab. Put them on a train. Given them hitchhiking lessons. The only thing you absolutely had to do was anything it took to avoid beating up paying customers for expecting you to provide the service they paid you to provide, and of course you didn’t do it. Why? Because as we’ve gone over time and time again, you suck.

I don’t know if your victim is a doctor or not, but what I hope he is is a man with the will and the resources to sue you hideous rumpdongles so far back in time that the stone age looks up from whatever it’s doing and says “holy shit, did you see those dickheads that just whizzed bye?”

United Breaks Pilots

Ok, so this broken seems to have been caused by life and the world in general, but this tag has a theme, in case you haven’t noticed.

An unidentified United Airlines pilot caused a two hour delay and perhaps more than one bowel evacuation when she boarded a flight, grabbed the microphone and started chatting to the passengers about politics, the state of her personal life and whatever else came to mind.

The pilot, who was not identified, reportedly boarded the plane in everyday clothes, not in her official uniform, Reuters reports.
“She shows up dressed like a civilian and asks to us to take a vote to see whether she should change into her uniform or fly as is,” Pam O’Neal said, according to Reuters. O’Neal was a passenger on the United Flight 455 that was headed to Austin, TX from San Francisco International Airport.
The pilot then used the plane’s intercom to call both President Trump and Hillary Clinton “a—holes,” according to O’Neal.
“She started off by saying that she had not voted for either Trump or Clinton because they’re a bunch of liars… It just really sort of went downhill from there and didn’t make a lot of sense to any of us,” O’Neal said.
The pilot reportedly announced she was going through a divorce, and commented on an interracial couple in the first-class section, saying “yay unity.”

She was soon removed from the plane and a new pilot was found, hence the delay.

United made a canned statement about holding employees to a high standard, but offered no clues as to what may have caused her to act that way. Stress seems like an obvious place to start, but beyond that we might never know.

United Breaks Baggage Handlers

To be fair he was unharmed so I suppose they didn’t break him per se, but they certainly could have since while baggage is meant to fly in the cargo hold, the same isn’t generally true of its handlers.

A baggage handler was locked inside an airplane’s cargo area during a 1.5-hour flight from North Carolina to Northern Virginia on Sunday.
A United Airlines spokeswoman said Monday that the airline was looking into how it had happened. The baggage handler, Reginald Gaskin, 45, was unharmed.
Reached by The Washington Post on Monday night, Gaskin declined to discuss how he wound up inside the plane. He said he had been advised by an attorney not to discuss the matter.
Gaskin only said: “I thank God. He was with me.”

The incident is being looked into, but so far the only comment from the authorities calls it an accident, which it almost certainly is.

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for the statement from United commending Mr. Gaskin for his dedication to ensuring that all passenger belongings arrived at their destination safe and sound.

United Breaks The Seal?

This one’s slightly questionable, but since messed up shit has a tendency to happen at airports I’m going with it until I hear a good reason not to.

The woman, who flew from Newark to San Francisco last week, says that when she opened her checked baggage she saw yellow stains and smelled urine, TMZ reports.
According to the woman, when she went to unpack she found what she believes was urine on both the clothing and the lining of her bag.

The woman, who Consumerist didn’t name but TMZ identifies as Laura Henry, is pretty sure that someone working for United is responsible, because believe it or not she didn’t piss on her own belongings before checking them.

She took the bag to the airport the next day, but says a United employee didn’t believe her story. She filed an official complaint anyway and in spite of thinking she’s a liar liar pants fire extinguished by a stream of the making of somebody who totally doesn’t work here, United offered to replace the damaged bag. As for its damaged contents, Henry says that after a few trips through the wash they seem to be ok, which is nice.

United Breaks The Bank

United Airlines is facing millions in federal fines for failing to properly accommodate travelers with disabilities on numerous occasions.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said this week that it is fining the airline $2 million in response to disability-related complaints in 2014.
An investigation found that United did not provide proper assistance for passengers with disabilities getting on and off planes and in moving through airport terminals in Houston, Chicago, Denver, Newark, N.J. and at Washington Dulles International Airport, the Transportation Department said.

The airline is also accused of failing to return wheelchairs and other mobility or assistive devices to passengers in a timely fashion or in the same condition in which they started, which is a no no, in case you were wondering.

United Breaks Dignity

Oh United, will you never learn?

A United passenger with cerebral palsy was forced to crawl from his airplane to the gate when the airline’s staff took away a special wheelchair needed for just such a case, reports the Los Angeles Times.
D’Arcee Neal was on a flight from San Francisco and urgently needed to use the restroom when the flight landed in Washington. A special wheelchair that fits in the airplane’s aisle that had been arranged for Neal was mistakenly removed by United’s staff.

United issued its customary we aren’t usually this shitty, here, have some money ($300 in this case) statement afterward, but it wasn’t clear whether or not Neal had taken the company up on its offer.

I almost feel bad for picking on United here because treating disabled people like everyone else isn’t exactly what you’d call a strength for the airline industry as a whole, it turns out. If anything, in spite of all the laws and training and what have you that exists now, it’s somehow getting worse at it.

Last year, 774 complaints were filed by disabled passengers with the U.S. Department of Transportation over civil rights violations, up 50% from the 519 complaints filed in 2009.
In the first six months of 2015, 459 complaints have been filed over civil rights violations of disabled passengers, putting the U.S. airline industry on pace to surpass last year’s total by 18%, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Obviously not every single one of those complaints is going to be found to be valid or actionable, but holy Christ, that sure is a lot of complaints. And no matter the results of individual cases, when the number of people who feel strongly enough that you’ve done them wrong that they’re willing to do paperwork is rising that steadily, that’s bad.

United Breaks Stomachs

A couple celebrating their anniversary got a lovely present to mark the occasion thanks to a United Airlines airplane cleaner who didn’t quite live up to his job description.

A couple on their anniversary trip to Hawaii said they found a full barf bag in a blanket in the seat-back pocket in front of them, reports CBS Sacramento, and naturally, they weren’t pleased to have to deal with someone’s bodily fluids.
The woman said when she handed the bag over to a United Airlines flight attendant, the contents spilled on both her and her husband’s clothes. Though the attendant offered them new seats, it was too late, she says — the smell was already on their clothes and they had to endure it for the rest of the flight.
“Smelling that smell on us and around us was just totally, totally disgusting,” she recalls.

After getting pretty well nowhere reporting their experience directly to United, they took their story to their local news’s consumer justice getter guy who scored them a $300 flight credit that they probably won’t use because, as the female victim quite reasonably states, “I’ve lost a lot of faith and trust with the airline.”

And lunch. Don’t forget lunch.