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Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

London, United...
Level Contributor
1 post
33 reviews
Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

Hi can anybody please giv me some advise with regard to complaining about United. I have spent ages on the phone and have truely been talking to robots andI have sent e-mails with no reply . Has anyone ever had a complaint sucessfully resolved? If so how did you do it. I really think this airline just does not care.

279 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Pompano Beach
Level Contributor
1,096 posts
50 reviews
1. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

Go online, find out who the president/CEO of the airline is and send them a physical letter that is politely written and details your issue and documenting all the times you've tried to contact them and gotten no response. No guarantee that it will work but sometimes a written letter mailed that is polite to the point makes a difference. Also if they have return receipt in England pay extra for that. In the US it requires a signature so you have proof someone received it. If you don't have return receipt send it via Fed Ex and require a signature. Good luck!

Edited: 9:17 pm, May 14, 2012
Altamonte Springs...
Destination Expert
for Saint Augustine
Level Contributor
13,604 posts
34 reviews
2. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

What GK95 says makes a lot of sense. I recently had a complaint with another airline and mailed a letter to the Senior Vice President (by name) and the dispute was resolved in my favor.

The real experts are found on Flyertalk. Register and post this question here: flyertalk.com/forum/…

They are serious travelers and I have no doubt someone will have the full contact information.

New Jersey
Level Contributor
276 posts
27 reviews
3. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

same thing happened to me long letter, on hold for an hour and a half and no response. Terrible situation w/United taking over Continental

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
Level Contributor
7,963 posts
85 reviews
4. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

Hold times are getting shorter at United.

Sending email/letters through to Senior executive most certainly does not get their attention as 99.9% of the correspondance is funneled through the normal channels, despite to whom it is addressed. They simply do not have the time to look at, let alone become involved with even the smallest fraction of the communication they are sent.

Successful resolution of a complaint sent does not mean that the addressee caused the success. It is not a causative factor any more than eating processed cheese spread immediately after hitting send would influence results. A successful settlement is more likely attributed to a sound, factual and unemotional presentation of the issue... an issue that deserves resolution in your favor.

Actually, the real experts are found on MilePoint.com, no longer as much on Flyertalk.com. FT has become a whinging, whiney, you-got-peanutbutter-in-my-chocolate sort of place, especially where United is concerned.

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
Level Contributor
15,057 posts
73 reviews
5. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !


One note about the use of mail.. Overall, I am against the idea of addressing a first written correspondence to a CEO or similar level person.. Yes, you've been unsuccessful via other methods-- online, etc.. but when it comes to written, I'd try to give "the process" a chance to work..

Yes, some DO get immediate action by addressing it to the CEO, that's true.... but I can tell you having spent time in that type of department within my own carrier, that the overwhelming percentage of letters that are routed outside of the traditional channels-- to the CEO, to some alternate address, etc.. are commonly delayed until they are routed back into the proper channel.. that is, rightly or wrongly, one of the issues in dealing with an organization of that size...

A paper letter does tend to take longer to get resolution as it has to work its way thru the channels.. but you do also create a paper trail later on; should that become necessary,.

One note about Registered versus the more expensive Restricted delivery options..

Sending Registered mail is fine-- you'll get an rubber stamped signature from their mail room (they get lots of mail that requires signatures) on that green post card that you will get back in the mail a few days after your letter is delivered... BUT..... I wouldn't waste money on RESTRICTED delivery (in the US there is both Registered and Restricted).


Some like to believe that by paying more and sending it RESTRICTED directly to the CEO means S/HE him/herself will need to physically sign for it.. wrong..

USPS Regulations-- called the DMM or Domestic Mail Manual do directly address this topic, and most businesses of UA's size fall within the USPS policy for acceptance of Restricted letters.

It says in part:

"3.1 "Mail marked “Restricted Delivery” is delivered only to the addressee or to the person authorized in writing as the addressee’s agent to receive the mail, subject to D042 and these exceptions:

a. Mail for famous personalities and executives of large organizations is normally delivered to an agent authorized to sign for such mail."



So, yes, Registered gets you proof that it was accepted, but RESTRICTED does not further your case, and really is only an unnecessary added postal cost. It doesn't force or require the CEO to come and sign for it as one might suspect.

When I spent some time in my carriers Consumer Relations group, I was amazed at how many letters came in with paid Restricted delivery and/or with markings on the letter like "Only for ____" or "Do not open under penalty of law" or other non-enforceable restrictions and ended up getting the exact same treatment as the normal first-class letter.

My thought is that if you do write, make sure you are:

1) Clear and to the point.. While the issue may be emotional or otherwise to you, when you write, you need to quickly get to the point.. This is the #1 reason I've seen that gets letters kicked out with little to no action..

Avoid things like "I'll never fly you again".. "You suck" or the like.. None of these really motivate a clerk-- who IS the gatekeeper-- to further action your letter.

2) Outline EXACTLY what you believe is/are the failures, and be sure they are true failures.. Example: My bag was not delivered to me, versus I didn't care for the selection of movies.. One is a clear service failure, the other is largely a matter of opinion and not one of a failure per se.

3) Provide reasonable copies of proof to support your position/case. Clerks can "pull" most basic information about your trip, but if you have specifics-- facts and can document them, then by all means, do so.. It only helps your case.

4) Outline EXACTLY what you are ASKING in terms of resolution.. This is second most common reason letters are not acted on and get moved to the administratively closed file (closed with no action)

Be sure that what you ask for really IS commensurate with the failure-- in both impact and costs.. Not working IFE is not going to get you two free tickets to Paris.. It might get you some future travel credit or miles, but not free tickets.. and asking for that, or making that your only acceptable resolution tends to result in administrative closure.

Best of luck.

Travel Safe,

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
Level Contributor
7,963 posts
85 reviews
6. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

And for more information...

See "How do I effectively communicate with an airline" in the Top Questions section of the forum page.

London, United...
Level Contributor
25,561 posts
28 reviews
7. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

The above info is correct the CEOs don't open their mail and it will be sent on a long route back.

Vice presidents are different and there is more of a chance it will get through, however he or she will simply pass it back. There is more of a chance though it will be dealt with properly, simply because the vp saw it, although it will take a bit longer. Not much longer though. Personally I would simply send it tot the customer services manager. It's senior enough.

Level Contributor
3,404 posts
72 reviews
8. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

Good advice above.

Especially from GOPBI on keeping your correspondence concise, factual and with limited emotion.

Just out of interest, what is your complaint and what would you see as a 'successful resolution'?

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
15,463 posts
192 reviews
9. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

I don't know if the information on this website is still in-date, but I had saved it as a favorite:


Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
7,645 posts
37 reviews
10. Re: Trying to complain about United Airlines...help !

Naturally people have had their complaints resolved...all depends on what the complaint is.

Without going into the specific details what is the essence of your complaint? Delayed flight? Getting refund? Other?

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