Oh my goodness United. Sure the people who assist passengers in wheelchairs are contract workers but you bumped the woman from a flight, you see she’s in a wheel chair, and no one bothers to help her. Even when she’s sitting at the gate for 12 hours because she cannot move herself. (See update below, United says the woman wasn’t bumped. Apparently the wheelchair didn’t get her from one United flight to the other before the door closed.)
Of course this happened at Newark. Indifference at Newark isn’t new.
A 77 year old woman was dropped off at Washington National airport scheduled to fly to Newark and connect on to London Heathrow.
“I got a text at 4:30 in the morning saying she hadn’t arrived. I called the airline to make sure she was on the flight and they reassured me three or four times she was on that flight,” he said.
It turns out his mother wasn’t on that flight. He only found that out after hours of frantic phone calls. His mother made it to New Jersey, but Williams says United told him they bumped his mother off her connecting flight to London. He’s still trying to figure out why.
United offered the woman a hotel voucher when they bumped her, but she was on her own to get there. Her son describes her as easily confused and “[t]here’s no way my mom could have pushed a wheelchair at her age, so she sat there.”
The airline acknowledges the incident and says they’ve offered her “a $1,000 flight voucher” (for avoidance of doubt, not $1000).
This was an involuntary denied boarding and so much for United’s promise to offer “up to $10,000” for volunteers so that doesn’t happen.
And so much for United’s promise of “a customer solutions team” if that team leaves a woman in a wheelchair at the gate overnight. At least customer service didn’t throw her out of her wheelchair and shove her to the ground and then threaten to steal all her miles if she complained.
Update: United adds the following statement,
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. We are working with our team at Newark to review what happened and to ensure we learn from this incident.
Update 2: United follows up to say that they did not bump this passenger. According to spokesperson Maddie King, “the customer missed her flight.” She arrived on United and was to depart on United and travel between the two planes via United-arranged wheel chair and she didn’t make it before the doors closed. But apparently they didn’t oversell the aircraft.