Free Airline Tickets, Anyone!?


A couple of weeks ago, I was on a early morning flight from Chicago to New York.  I fell promptly asleep, only to wake up 30 minutes later with the pilot’s calm voice saying that there was no need to panic! Say what?! Our landing gearing was not functioning properly, and we were heading back to Chicago to switch planes before things became a real problem.  In the end, everything was fine, but the ordeal did delay us an hour and a half.  Just enough time to screw up the afternoon appointment that I had scheduled….

When I did finally make it home, there was a proactive – and very unexpected – email waiting in my inbox.  A $150 travel voucher for all my troubles!  I was blown away by United’s customer service, and I told all of my friends that I was now a loyal United/Continental customer.  Well, that was until I went to apply the voucher to my next ticket….

When I went to book an extremely well priced ticket to Los Angeles on the United website, I was unable to apply the voucher to the purchase (the ticket would be almost free if I could apply the discount).  I called a representative who went ahead and booked my flight, but in the end confirmed that I couldn’t use the voucher because the flight I was taking was actually going to be operated by Continental – not United.  “Aren’t you the same company now” I said, completely annoyed! ” And furthermore, didn’t I book this flight directly through United anyway”!

After trying to hold it together, I became so confused (and irrationally enraged) that I canceled the reservation all together and booked a slightly more expensive ticket on another airline – just to prove my point!

Was I petty to let my principals get in the way of a good deal, or was I right to demand the service that I felt I had been promised?  What would you have done?  Tell us what you think!

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3 Responses to “Free Airline Tickets, Anyone!?”

  1. Wendy says:

    I would have done what you did, but was it the right thing….I don’t know! If you have a $200. dollar ticket and they will only let you use your voucher on an $800. ticket…what is the sense. They are just scamming you to buy a more expensive ticket. You did cut off your nose to spite your face a bit, but I know the feeling well. It brought you satisfaction, but do they really care??? The next time I would fly United/Continental would be to use the voucher (if you ever could) then bring my business elsewhere. I might really be “cutting your nose”, but if it calms your frustration, it is worth it.

  2. Penny Ray says:

    I would have done the same, Brandi! Customer service has been lost over the last 5 years and businesses need to get back to it or they will soon see their customers shopping elsewhere.

  3. Louie says:

    Here’s a prime example of how “Good Will” gestures can actually damage a valued relationship. A cardinal rule of business is don’t make a promise you can’t keep. The voucher was valueless to you and how are you to be expected to know that United does not always use United as the actual carrier? Even the United mileage plus program has tremendous restrictions and is most difficult to use unless it’s at their convenience. Yes, this is in the fine print, but unless your on-staff attorney divulges all of this to you, is even signing up for a program like this worth it? This has been the success story of airlines like Southwest, who uses the KISS principle in their loyalty programs and no frill, but reliable service. Customer loyalty has deteriorated to the cheapest flight that will get me to where I’m going and back as reliably and hassle free as possible. A real testament to the airline industry, isn’t it? Just get me from point A to point B and back safely and within reasonable timeliness at the cheapest price and I”ll be happy.

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