United doesn’t have the best track record with its customer service - charging families extra for pre-boarding and losing baggage - but losing a 10-year old girl! Apparently United outsources its unaccompanied minor service and that third party ‘forgot to show up’ to help her transfer from one flight to the next; and when the girl asked for help she was repeatedly told by United staff they were too busy to help and she had to wait and the girl missed her connecting flight. Who does that to a 10 year old??
Here are some key points highlighting the so many things United did wrong, taken directly from the letter written by the girls’ parents (which you can find here) to United:
- United outsourced a service to accompany small children without informing parents in advance of taking their children into their care—HUGE liability
- United neglected to care for and keep safe the unaccompanied minor that they took into their care by forgetting her and having all their staff ignore her requests for help—HUGE liability
- United neglected to inform the minor’s parents and/or the minor’s designated pick up contact that she was delayed (or should I say forgotten?)—HUGE liability
- United in India was completely unable to help us on any account (except to tell us incorrectly that Phoebe had indeed arrived safely when she had not)
- United baggage is completely inept and has no business being in business
- United has made the travel process and experience unbearable by de-humanizing any and all experiences UNLESS you are a Premier member AND you beg someone to “be a parent” AND they break the rules ONLY then can they maybe help you
- United’s complaint process is unacceptable—you lost our child and we still have not heard form you that you are even sorry and we can have our $99 fee back
My heart goes out to this little girl and her parents who had to ensure their child being lost. Stanford professor and author Robert Sutton posts a very detailed account of the incident on his blog. You’ll be shocked at how terribly this matter was handled by United.
United should be ashamed! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – When I have other options to fly I absolutely will choose another carrier over United.