United Airlines has started to offer compensation to passengers who were caught up in the carrier’s messy operational meltdown in the form of MileagePlus miles which could be worth more than $300.
The embattled airline has been sending out emails to affected customers with the offer of 30,000 MileagePlus miles as an apology for the “rough experience” many passengers suffered over the course of the week.
MileagePlus miles are valued by some experts at around 1.1 cent which means that the offer could be worth around $330, although the actual value is subjective and can fluctuate depending on how customers spend their miles.
In an email sent to impacted passengers, United’s chief customer officer Linda Jojo explained: “I know this week was hard. really bad weather, air traffic control issues and some of our own operational challenged led to a rough experience for you and many of our customers.”
“Because this was a unique series of events and your travel plans were significantly disrupted, we’d like to give you and any other travelers on your reservation 30,000 free MileagePlus miles each. You’ll get an email from us next week with simple steps to claim your miles,” the email continued.
Jojo said MileagePlus miles could be used for flights, as well as purchasing onboard WiFi, food and drink, upgrades and other services. Generally, the best value to be had by spending MileagePlus miles is on flights rather than ancillary services.
The email continued: “Providing these miles is the right thing to do. After all, you put your trust in us and expect more.”
“Running an airline means managing things that are in our control and being ready to adapt to things that aren’t, and I’m confident that we can be better at both moving forward.”
United’s operation went into meltdown last week after severe weather and FAA staffing issues across the North East resulted in a snowball effect that, unlike other airlines, United struggled to recover from.
Chief executive Scott Kirby, who has faced criticism for his decision to escape his own airline’s meltdown by hiring a private jet, has drawn up an action plan to avoid any more operational woes this summer, although flight attendant union leader Ken Diaz said the airline was still to come with true solutions.
“Management has had days to implement our plan for recovery and recognition of the hell we’ve been through,” Diaz commented after United started offering flight attendants up to 300% pay to come in on their days off to help get the operation back on track.
Referencing United’s company motto, Diaz said: “Good can’t lead the way when United Airlines had a year to address many of the problems we are experiencing now”.
“As our International President told CNN, blaming the FAA and ATC (air traffic control) is absurd when the staffing issues with ATC were a known quantity going into this holiday travel period and every other airline is operating near perfect operations at this time.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.