United Airlines removed woman from flight to dying mother's bedside after ticketing glitch: "nobody flies for free"

Feh, Delta airlines treated my wife worse when flying cross-country to her grandfather’s funeral. She made it as far as Atlanta where her connecting flight DEPARTED EARLY, leaving her stranded. Delta demanded another $800 (which we didn’t have) to get her on another flight that would at least get her into the state by morning. As my wife called me in tears the ticketing agent was screaming at her. So my wife ended up getting back on a plane, flying home, and missing the funeral.

I fucking HATE Delta airlines and that ticketing agent is lucky I wasn’t also on that flight.


Years ago I remember an acquaintance who worked for an airline telling me that there was a semi-official policy for dealing with situations like this called “Rule One” (i.e. the old version of the Golden Rule). I’m sure that’s long gone, since the new Golden Rule (“he who has the gold rules”) is the standard in our society.

Thanks, United, for giving me yet another reason not to fly with you.


It’s not the words and tone at all, it’s the actions and results that bother me.

The passenger was on the plane, a ticket was bought for her and United’s own people previously told her she could be on the plane. That right there means she should not have been pulled off the plane, whether or not that ended up costing United money. The words and tone in doing this are secondary.

Add to that her ticket was cancelled through no fault of her own, and the offer to fix the matter by paying for a new ticket was turned down. All of those events are the fault of United’s systems and employees, and not the passenger’s.

Finally the gate agent could have chosen to be a human being and let her on anyway, or just “happen not to get to the plane” until it already took off. “Oh, whoops!”

I expect both I and the passenger are in agreement: we’d much prefer the gate agent’s words and tone were awful but the passenger still got on the plane.


You must have those bumper stickers in your part of the world too. I see them sometimes on a car driven by a single guy but then I saw one on this car driven by a 20-something guy and a woman (presumably his GF) was in the passenger seat which caused me to wonder how she was paying for her ride…

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Sorry, that’s all BS. She was already on the plane, in her assigned seat.

Also BS. Your attempt to cancel your ticket once a boarding pass was issued would be rejected, as it should have been in this case.


“The fiendly skies.”


“Cash” was definitely not the third item in that list the way I learned it.

Accepting payments for flights in marijuana would probably help United chill the heck out, though.


What was the agent’s motive to cancel the ticket? My guess is they lost a commission when United changed the flight.
The agent needs to have backup contacts for travel emergencies that arise, or what is the point of having an agent?
The customer is being punished because they were unwittingly allowed to go down this path. It’s just bad business, regardless if it is United or anyone else.

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The woman was seated on the plane. Not sure how that qualifies as “not checked in”.

It’s as if we’re taking about two completely different stories.


There were 3 linked reasons for her getting yanked:
1:The United agent that accepted the flight change told the landlord (who was paying for the flight) that changing the ticket wouldn’t be an issue (because no-one would notice the change)
2: The Travel Agency, who have been bitten by fraud by people changing tickets, DOES check that the booked ticket has not been changed and after trying to contact the landlord to confirm the change, canceled the ticket at the last minute
3: United yanked her from the flight (because no ticket) and without the landlord present at the gate to pay immediately for a ticket the poor lady did not have the means to buy a new ticket.

So: Who’s not at fault:

  • The United personnel who pulled her off the plane and faced with someone unable to pay immediately for a new ticket, did not block the hundred or so other passengers until she could find a way to do so.
  • The Travel agency who don’t allow unconfirmed changes to a flights booked through them

Who’s at fault:

  • The Landlord for not leaving a telephone number she could be available on to confirm that she authorised the booking change
  • The United booking agent who assumed that the travel agency would not see the change and cancel the ticket

Flight agents deal with last minute cancellations all the time and have no leeway to hand out free flights. They’re not smiling when faced with upset people in difficult situations they’re professionals who will be out of a job if they let people without the means to buy a ticket fly for free.

To those like Rob Beschizza who criticise the gate personnel: why don’t you call United and leave them your credit card information so that the next time someone wants to fly to wherever but can’t/doesn’t want to pay, It’ll be on you. No, you don’t want to? Well then, how so very heartless of you to refuse to pay for whoever it would have been’s flight.

So that heartless smile you imagined on the agent’s face, yeah that’s just your own reflection in the mirror.

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Define “departed early”. You’re required to be available for boarding 10 to 20 minutes before the departure time. If you’re not at the gate by then and they’re otherwise ready to go they may choose to leave even if it’s before the scheduled departure time.

It sounds like she got there within that window and not due to the airlines’ fault–she missed the flight.

or up here in the PNW, ass, grass or cash :upside_down_face:

2.b would be United assuring the friend that it wouldn’t be a problem.

I have to wonder how many agencies have a “fail-safe” like Traveler Help Desk, and would United know? (Would it kick in if someone upgraded their seat at the last minute?)

Also, Traveler Help Desk said “that a representative had tried ‘numerous times’ to contact Ms. Amrich first”. Oh, let me guess, they kept calling Ms. Amrich at home or out of cell range, assuming that they actually tried?

As an aside, I used a travel agency once and only once. I forgot what problem I had, but they were useless and wouldn’t take any responsibility. You get into this situation where they blame the airline and the airline won’t talk to you and just refers you to the travel agency. I’ll only book directly from now on.

I was in a situation where I had to leave early to see my sick mom actually. I told the ticket agent and she worked some magic and got me on the earliest flight back home and I was very grateful. It all depends on the individual sometimes. Some corporations are heartless, but some people still have a heart and will help people in need.


Thank you for flying Stockholm Syndrome Airlines, where you will surely agree that no matter what happens to you on our airplane it’s not really our fault.


My turn to guess: Travel Help Desk called the number that the landlord filled in and had no other way to reach her. If the landlord filled in her home phone number (or a fake number as we often do to avoid getting added to a telemarketer’s call list) that meant that when she changed the reservation changed, that was the reason Travel Help Desk was unable to confirm that the reservation change was indeed authorised.

Yes yes, I know, but I figured United would prefer the other less common phrasing.


Unfortunate , her opinion was being knocked out and dragged off or just leaving.

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