With a leadoff like this, I don’t blame you for jumping to a conclusion that United is simply hopeless…
A 77-year-old woman who uses a wheelchair was left alone and stranded at a gate at Newark airport for 12 hours after United Airlines bumped her from her London-bound flight, the woman’s son alleges.
But things are not always as they seem.
A man claims he dropped his mom at Washington National where she was to fly via Newark to London. Upon reaching Newark, she was bumped off her flight to London.
United initially responded–
While we offered our customer a hotel and to take her there, she declined our offer of assistance. We checked on her throughout the evening. We have since spoken with our customer’s family to express our sincere apologies and are working with our team at Newark to review what happened and to ensure we learn from this incident.
But later followed up with an important clarification. The woman was never bumped. Her flight went out with open seats–she just did not make it the gate in time.
Maybe the wheelchair chair assistance service is to blame or maybe it was a flight delay. Maybe there was a line to use the restroom. We don’t know. What we do know, based on the clip above, is that her driver in Heathrow texted the woman’s son stating that her flight arrived at 8:40a and she had not shown up.
I’m going to assume that she was on UA16, scheduled to arrive at 9:20a but it must have arrived early. That meant there were two additional flights to London–someone may have dropped the ball there. United currently offers six daily flights from Newark to London:
United offered the woman a hotel and she declined it. The innuendo is that she declined it because she could not get to the hotel herself, but we don’t know that. We have no idea.
The Son’s Obligation
You may think this is harsh, but was the son just too lazy to drive his mother to Washington Dulles or send her on a taxi or Uber there? United operates three non-stops per day from Washington DC (Dulles) to London. Why start at National and take a delay-prone regional jet via a delay-prone hub? All I am saying is that if it was my infirm mother, you can bet she’d be flying nonstop. Delay or cancellation? Then I’m in town to help. I’d also make sure she had a charged mobile phone. I do empathize with the son’s anguish over not being able to locate his mother and having to deal with the inept Philippines call center at United.
So let’s not jump to conclusions. It may be that United is guilty as charged. Perhaps not. The facts are playing out and it seems there is a lot more to the story than the news video above.