Success with United Customer Comments

As you may have read in my recent blog posts my wife and I had an unfortunate interaction with United Airlines last week that resulted in me making an official customer comment (complaint) on their website. It took a few days, but I received a pleasant response from one of their representatives who told me I would be receiving a travel voucher for my troubles.

Dear Mr. Cohen:

I’m sorry for the inconvenience you experienced when your flight was delayed.

Direct customer feedback about our products and services is so important in helping us to improve.

Please know our goal is to operate every flight on schedule, every day. Unfortunately, there may be times when weather, a mechanical issue or the late arrival of a crew member, due to missed connection or other unforeseen event, may cause a flight to be delayed. When this occurs, we want to minimize the impact to you as much as possible and keep you informed.

For information of your damaged clothing in your baggage, please contact our baggage resolution department at 1-800-335-2247.

For your inconvenience I would like to offer you an electronic travel certificate as an expression of our concern. Please allow 3-5 days for processing and delivery via a separate email.

We hope to welcome you aboard another flight in the near future, and thereby have the opportunity to win back your trust. Our goal is to create the world’s most Flyer Friendly airline. We have room for improvement, but that’s the direction we’re headed.

Thank you for your business and for flying the friendly skies.

In the end, they sent me two $150 travel vouchers (one for me and one for my wife). We are now contemplating what to do with these vouchers (likely get us to Florida again in the winter).

After the success of that comment, I sent another one in because we had almost been bumped and received separate travel vouchers for $700 each. I said that I had signed something that seemed like a contract for those vouchers and they should not have taken them back. We will see what happens with that. It might be me being greedy but, hey, if you don’t ask, you won’t receive!

Persistence begets free stuff from Delta

My wife and I recently took a trip to San Francisco for a wedding and unfortunately our flight out on Friday night was delayed by about 2.5 hours. We booked the flight using points in a wonderfully convoluted way that I am very proud of. That being said, it was very annoying to be on a Delta flight, sitting at the gate for 2.5 hours as thundershowers passed overhead. Yes, we had an in-flight entertainment system (Delta Studio – lots of free movies to watch) with some good options, but we were not fed anything and I was getting hungry.

Once we reached San Francisco and I had a good night’s sleep, I sent an email through Delta’s complaint system detailing the unfortunate events of the flight, as well as the fact that when we arrived, half of my wife’s clothes were wet and we had to pay ourselves to dry them at the hotel.

To their credit, the Delta representative who gave feedback, sent this letter:

I understand how upsetting it was to be delayed. We know your eager to get where you are going, and it’s difficult when you have to wait. This is definitely not what we want our passengers to experience. On-time performance is one of our top priorities, but clearly you didn’t get to your destinations on time.

I recognize that the wait would have been more comfortable if snacks and beverages had been provided on Flight 0431. Please understand that when the aircraft is on an active taxiway, or even at the gate, beverage and snack service may be limited or discontinued due to aircraft movement or imminent movement for safety reasons. This decision is made by the pilot in command. Our number one priority is the safety and security of our passengers and crew.

To make matters worse your wife’s clothing that she was going to wear for the weeding celebrations were wet.   This is not the experience we want our passengers to go through. If I was in your shoes I would be upset too.

I’ve passed your comments directly to the Airport Customer Service and Reservations Sales teams, so they can consider your experience when making needed changes to improve our service.

Delta Choice Gifts
As a goodwill gesture, I’m sending two $50.00 Delta Choice gifts. You will receive two Delta Choice gift codes, from delta@deltachoices.com in separate emails within three business days and can select the gift cards of your choice within 60 days of receipt. Included in the gift option are several merchants that you will be familiar with as well as our new Delta gift cards. Once redeemed, the gift cards have no expiration and may be used by anyone you wish. You will want to add this email address to your list of accepted addresses. Our Delta Choice gift code emails will include a customer ID and instructions on how to redeem each gift. Please check your spam folder if you don’t see the emails in your inbox. Most certainly, this gesture is not intended to place a value on this unsatisfactory experience. Rather, this is meant as a heartfelt apology for not meeting your customer service expectations.

I hope your return flight on October 12th was more pleasant. We look forward to seeing you on another Delta flight soon – hopefully one without a delay.

So now my wife and I have two $50 gift cards to spend on a variety of options – things like Amazon.com, the Gap, Macy’s, Barnes and Noble, and more. I am impressed that Delta handled this so quickly (3 day turnaround including the weekend) and the response is definitely adequate for our frustration.

Why I will avoid Turkish Airlines – Part 3 of my Turkish Airlines saga

One of the worst things in customer service is when the proverbial hand doesn’t know what the foot is doing. Unfortunately for me, that is the case with Turkish Airlines’ phone representatives, the people in their Manhattan office, and those at the ticket counter at JFK.

I decided one Wednesday evening to get on a Long Island Railroad train out to Jamaica with the intention of talking to the ticket counter representative and get a refund for my plane ticket that had been cancelled now three months earlier. I listened to a podcast and was hopeful that I would get my desired final result.

When I arrived at the ticket counter I found out very quickly that 1) I was not going to be happy that evening and 2) no one in Turkish Airlines customer service knows what the other people do. The representative at the counter told me quickly that I would be unable to get a refund from her and had to send an email to a special address in order to get my refund processed: nyc.refunds@thy.com. I tried to push her for another five minutes by asking for a manager and she did, eventually, get someone else to confirm the same thing: I would go home empty-handed.

I was extremely upset since this was such a roundabout excursion to get me to JFK when all I really needed to do was send an email with my ticket number, address, and call to give my credit card number for reimbursement. I sent the email the following day and even requested a refund of the $26.50 that I had spent on the train tickets to get out to JFK.

I communicated with a woman named Semra Ibrahimi Hamza, the New York Refunds officer, concerning my ticket and she eventually did allow me to get a refund. It took a while to contact her by phone to give her my credit card number since as a rule I do not send important details like that over the Internet. In the end, she was also able to refund my train tickets to me.

Fortunately for me, I am made whole again after a three-month long, quadruple-pronged refund request saga. Unfortunately for Turkish Airlines, I will do my best never to fly them again and will share this story with whomever is interested.

The end.

Why I will avoid Turkish Airlines – Part 1 of my Turkish Airlines saga of 2014

I used to love Turkish Airlines – and the love came on strong and fast. During the summer of 2013 I got a chance to fly them on a trip from Tel Aviv to Stockholm as well as the return trip from Copenhagen to Tel Aviv. These flights were short and involved transferring through Istanbul, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was given meals on such short flights as well as when I had a great video on-demand system in my economy seat. I appreciated all the help the flight attendants offered and it was a simple process from boarding to exit.

Everything changed in July of 2014. I was in Israel again with my fianceé, and we had planned a trip to Turkey for 10 days. Due to the conflict with Hamas in Gaza, we had to cancel the trip (or, rather, Turkish Airlines cancelled our flights). The one clue of the unfortunate circumstances to come was that they didn’t even call us ahead of time – we found out when we tried to cancel and were told the booking no longer existed. Only about an hour before the flight did I receive an email explaining this.

The saga began a few days later when we trekked to the Turkish Airlines office in Tel Aviv and re-routed my fianceé’s flight and asked for a refund for mine. The officer said my money would be reimbursed and all was well. Unfortunately, she was incorrect.

Upon return to the USA I called Turkish Airlines because the refund had not posted. I kept calling for weeks and even received something called a “feedback number” that was supposed to boost my status in the customer service system (clue: it did not). It wasn’t until early September when I was told I had to go to visit a customer service office in person (something I had done in Israel) to get my refund.

I had two options: go into Manhattan or visit the ticket booth at JFK Airport.

Wait until next time to read about my visit(s). Yes, I do mean plural.