Bad customer service: United Airlines

Update 7/12/2013: I received a phone call, which went to voice mail, and an email. May I point out that it is day 15 after my complaint? 15 days to respond to an issue that took their employee ten minutes to create. Not to mention the money missing from my account. The response is just as insulting and almost MORE disgusting than my original treatment because they offer it up as a “goodwill gesture”. YOU HAVE NOT HEARD THE LAST OF ME.

Updated 7/9/2013: STILL no response from United.

Updated: It gets worse. See the very bottom.

Flights booked. Bags packed. Excitement level: HIGH!

Last week we were headed to Florida for the Jr. Olympics for baseball tournament and we were excited. Our flight left Denver at 6:00am, but we were too excited to care.

I’m a frequent traveler and have logged over 82,000 miles with United Airlines alone. I have been loyal to them wherever possible.


Our flight was scheduled on Tuesday morning so I checked in online Monday night and paid for one checked bag (J’s baseball bag) online too. And we proceeded to the gate with two bags. We have always taken our bags through security and gate checked them. You know, when they make the overhead announcement that they’ll gladly gate check your bags so that it saves time for everyone boarding the plane? That.

We got to our gate and I proactively went to the desk and asked the gentleman on the right if they were able to gate check bags yet and he said yes so I went back and got my son and our two bags.

The guy on the left, Ricki Ishi, said “well, what do we have here?”

I said “I’m here to go ahead and tag these now.” And he sneered something that I can’t even remember exactly. I told him I wasn’t sure what he meant.

He proceeded to tell me that I was going to have to pay to gate check the bags. I asked him why and he said because you can’t just bring those here. I explained to him that I’d already checked one bag at the service desk, made it all the way through security and didn’t understand why I had to pay to gate check these two bags.

He belittled me talking to me like I was stupid. I can’t remember exactly the words he used but he was basically telling me I was breaking the “law”.

I didn’t argue that point long. Whatever. I’d pay.

But when he told me that I’d have to pay $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second I did argue that. Because the policy is $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag. WE HAD THREE TICKETS. So each bag was $25.

He was an utterly complete asshole and my 10 year old was hiding on my side of the counter mouthing “oh my god”.

He repeated the exact words “It is $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second” about nine times. And I repeated that I had three tickets and each bag that he was requiring me to check would be bag #1 so $25 each… about nine times. I told him I would absolutely not be paying $35 for one of the bags when I paid for three tickets, I would pay $25. He proceeded to chide me PUBLICLY and then picked up the phone and made a phone call.

I wasn’t being unreasonable. I wasn’t even being loud. But I wasn’t going to be bullied and treated like shit either.

A lady came over, not sure who she was, but he THEN TELLS HER………

“This lady doesn’t want to pay to check these bags.” I explained my side AGAIN that I was willing to pay $25 to check each bag, not $35.

THEN HE SAYS “She’s telling me that she’s already checked two bags and now she wants to check two more so that’s $25 for the first and $35 for the second.”

I KID YOU NOT. He flat out lied to whoever this lady was.

I pulled out my receipt and my THREE tickets and I explained the whole thing once again. I even waved my hand around to the audience in the boarding area and said “ask them all, they all know that I’ve told him I’ve checked ONE bag.”

The lady said “charge her $25 each” and walked away.

I handed my tickets and my debit card.

A full 10 minutes later we are still standing there, the plane is boarding and I asked him if there was a problem because in my head he was figuring out a way to send our bags to China. He told me that because I didn’t follow the rules and check my bag earlier he had to do each one individually. Um, YEAH!?! Still doesn’t take 10 minutes.

He gave me two receipts each for $25.

When I boarded the plane I had that gate agent verify that our bags were tagged for Ft. Lauderdale and they were.

We had an amazing time in Florida, and we flew American Airlines home. Funny thing… As we waited in line to check J’s baseball bag with American the people behind us were running late and they let them cut in line in front of us. I didn’t even think twice – there was no one else in line we were in front. The lady then came to me took our tickets and printed out THREE bag tags FOR FREE!!!!!!!! She never even acknowledged that she’d done it or why. I did, however, realize what she’d done and thanked her. (For the record, American also charges $25 per bag.)

But isn’t that funny?

Here’s where I throw up:

I’m home and checking in allĀ  my receipts against my bank account and there is three charges for United. As there should be, but…

I cannot make this up!!!

He charged me $50 for one of the bags! And $25 for the other.

I research a little more and I figure out what he did and how he did it.

Remember how it took him forever to process? He REPRINTED my original bag check – J’s baseball bag. It matches exactly the print out that I printed the night I checked in online. The one that I paid for online and checked at the check-in desk and gave me that along with a new receipt.

What he didn’t do was give me a receipt for the one where he charged me $50!

In all my 37 years I have received bad customer service, but I have never been so publicly humiliated and then found out that I was also slapped in the face after the fact. When the realization of his underhandedness after having been treated so poorly it made me sick.

Ricki should be reprimanded. And United should be ashamed to employ such a nasty employee.


So, I just confirmed that he not only charged me too much, he charged me $25, $25 AND $50. Everything on this debit card was from him.

I just remembered that I’d used my Bellco debit card when I checked in the night before.


He charged me $100.

I have no words.



  1. Noelle Reese says

    I would call Tom Martino or anyone else that does his type of stuff. This is such BS my mouth is actually hanging open! This jerk needs to be crediting your account for all of the fees and if he has done this more than once be FIRED! That is not only rude but he purposely stole money from you. I would let United know you are opening a Texas sized can of whoop ass!

    • says

      Funny, I have already run through the list of media contacts I have worked with. :) Good point: stealing.

  2. janine says

    OMG! I am furious along side you! Did you get on the phone with United Mgr yet? I would drink my diet coke, take a deep breath and make my call..and make it be known (once they have credited your account) that the best form of advertisement is word of mouth and you run a blog and you will NOT be giving kuddo’s to United anymore (just the opposite). if it was me..once I got the credit and the APOLOGY from United, I would go back and say to that smart ass guy…”see, you thought you outsmarted me….I got my money back and hopefully you got a reprimand! Sorry, I hate people like that! Maybe when I calmed down I wouldn’t do that..but that just chaps my hide!!!! I hope you get your money back! Keep us posted!

    • says

      I literally cried when I realized what he’d actually done to me. What a violation! My stomach sank and I felt like I was going to throw up. I mean WHAT DID I DO to deserve his underhanded actions? I did have to settle myself down before I could even think of how to handle it. :(

      No phone, their answer is to fill out a form. I filled out that form and pointed them to this blog post. :) Hopefully they read the comments too.

  3. says

    WOW!!! I’ve had some pretty crappy experiences with airlines but none like this! I would definitely report that POS!!

  4. Mandy says

    I’m so sorry that happened to you! No one deserves to be treated the way this jerk treated you. Please let us know if United fixes this-hopefully by firing this jerk and giving the job to someone who needs it and will do it right and by giving you lots of free stuff and a true apology!

    • says

      Oh, I will be sure to keep everyone updated. Unfortunately, they keep directing me to fill out a form. I doubt very much it will be handled timely, but I’m not going to go down quietly. I want my money back and I do hope that man is reprimanded. What he did was conniving and underhanded. I didn’t do anything to him but fly on the airline that employs him.

  5. says

    That is horrible! I have only flown United once and thankfully did not have an issue but I have heard of many people who have. Every time I think of United, I think of that song, “United Breaks Guitars”, the protest song by Canadian musician Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines.

    • says

      They just point me to their online form which says 7-14 days. So my guess is day 14. I did just communicate my case id to them on twitter though.

  6. says

    Oh my goodness. That is disgusting. What a horrible thing to do, and for what reason? HE definitely didn’t get anything out of it except hatefullness.

  7. says

    Yikes! This is awful. Customer service really stinks everywhere now a days. I hope you are able to get your money back.

  8. says

    I’ve heard horror stories before but luckily have never experienced it myself. I sure hope United does the right thing and refunds you (and compensates you for your trouble)!

  9. says

    I had a horrible experience with United Airlines at Dulles Airport, the gate agent was the rudest person I have ever dealt with. I won’t go into the specifics, but I will never fly them again (and I let corporate know and they didn’t even respond to my complaint).

    Recently, I flew Delta to New York and went out of my way to let corporate know what a pleasure the experience was! Their customer service was TOP NOTCH and they were beyond helpful!

    Get them girl! United NEEDS to do the right thing!

    • says

      I am beyond irritated that I don’t have my money back yet. For me $50 is a tank of gas. No matter, that is MY money. My money that was taken by an employee who needs a MAJOR attitude adjustment. It’s ridiculous. I’ve been tweeting @United and all they say is “it can take up to two weeks”. F that. It took your dumb employee ten minutes to rob me. Since I started this whole tirade I have come to realize that NO ONE has had anything good to say about United customer service. Everyone has their own horror story.

      The good news is that through this I’m learning of fabulous experiences from other airlines who would love to take on my business, I’m sure.

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