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Bad United flights experience - is this becoming normal?

Bad United flights experience - is this becoming normal?

Jan 7th, 2009, 06:27 AM
  #1  
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Bad United flights experience - is this becoming normal?

On Dec. 20 we had a transatlantic Lufthansa flight (punctually to the minute) from Düsseldorf to Chicago, with a connecting flight to Denver which was operated by United (five hours layover).

The United flight was delayed by two hours - and my bag was lost. Since many people's bags were lost, there was a long line at the lost baggage office. The electronic bag tracking kiosks were not working. I waited for 90 minutes (!) - it was well after midnight - until my claim was processed. They said, the bag was still in Chicago but they would send it directly to Albuquerque, our next destination.

The next day, the flight Denver-Albuquerque was over 1 hour late. On arrival, the bag was still missing. Again over 1 hour waiting time at the lost baggage office. They told me, the bag was at the baggage claim in Chicago but they would send it to my house in Santa Fe the same evening.

Of course, it did not arrive this evening, but three days later. Totally, I waited four days for my bag.

Did I mention that I flew business class and have Star Alliance Silver Status and my bag had a priority tag?

I understand that it can happen that bags get lost.

But Lufthansa has always delivered my bags within 6 hours after arrival to my hotel or house. And they send additional agents if a line forms at the lost baggage counter. Why is United not able to do the same?
traveller1959 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 10:22 AM
  #2  
 
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"Why is United not able to do the same?"

Because Lufthansa is subsidized by the German government, has little internal competition, and is financially healthy.

Your problems occurred during a melt-down at United's main hub--Chicago--during a period of severe weather.
MikeT is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 03:05 PM
  #3  
 
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> Because Lufthansa is subsidized by the German government,

Is today Make Up A Fact Day?

The European Union has explicitly forbidden individual governments from subsidizing their flag carriers, and it has been that way for several years.

You can argue about some specific details, in the same way that you could argue about various bailouts and tax breaks that the US gov't has given to US airlines. The bottom line, though, is that Lufthansa is a much more profitable and better-run airline than United, and Lufthansa offers, in virtually every respect, a better flying experience than United.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 05:02 PM
  #4  
 
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You haven't flown LH transatlantic in coach lately. I did when they screwed up a connection in FRA and put me on their next flight instead of UA (to which I was supposed to connect). I will choose UA over that experience every time.
EricH is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 06:30 PM
  #5  
 
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"Is today Make Up A Fact Day?"

No, but apparently it's be a big jerk day.

I was wrong about Lufthansa's funding.
MikeT is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:42 PM
  #6  
 
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LH is a profitable airline. One reason is that it has next to zero competition in business contracts from large German firms.

Anyways, it's a strong group; and it owns all or significant shares in other airlines - Swiss, Austrian, Brussels, SAS and so on.

In contrast, UA is a contracting airline. It tried for the past few years to sell itself to Continental, but failed. It is cutting capacity and routes quickly; it has no new plane on order. Just this last few days, it announced it's pulling mainline out of MIA, and more coming. It was in bad shape even before the fuel price went through the roof last summer and the economy went south last fall.

The state of the two airlines can't be more different.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 05:45 AM
  #7  
 
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I agree with rkkwan's analysis. It's like comparing apples to oranges. In addition, some of the internal "competition" LH faces is with its own subsidiary, Germanwings. It is also expected to complete it's 80% stake in BWI this month. It's current financial position is pretty strong compared to UA and many others.

Any one can have a bad experience on any given day with any airline. But we've flown LH on 6 transatlantic flights in the past 3 years (plus 5 intra Europe connecting flights) - all in economy - and our experience has been quite good. Very attentive staff, plenty of decent food (and drinks) and very punctual. The one time we were delayed on a connecting flight to FRA and had only 25 min to make flight back to USA, agent met us at gate and escourted us to flight - and all bags made the connection. Not bad at all IMO.
dfr4848 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 09:42 AM
  #8  
 
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I've had a bunch of United flights, both domestic and international in the past year, and I've had no problems with luggage (admittedly about half my flights were carry-on only) and no problems with scheduling either. I'm sorry you had a bad time, but it's not necessarily representative.
WillTravel is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 11:57 AM
  #9  
 
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I've had good luck with United, as well - and have actually always had problems with Lufthansa, so I'm guessing it just depends on the flight, the day, and your luck... Since I've never had United lose my luggage, I would say it's not necessarily them...
Debi is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 12:47 PM
  #10  
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On each airline, you can have bad luck or good luck.

What really made me angry is that the lost baggage offices on BOTH airports were so understaffed (and that the kiosks did not work) that I had to wait for over one hour (after 20 hours traveling) and that they made mistakes in a row.

As Confucius said, it is excusable to make a mistake if you do anything to correct it and if you do not repeat it.
traveller1959 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 11:44 PM
  #11  
 
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Just would like to comment on two things in the OP:

"flew business class and have Star Alliance Silver Status and my bag had a priority tag"

You flew biz class on LH, not United. Not that it mattered. All the luggage flies in the same bin. The baggage handlers don't look at the biz class tags and choose not to lose those.

Star Silver status is not at all worth mentioning.

About the priority tag. Probably half of the luggage flying between ORD and DEN has Star Gold tags. Not that it matters. It is sort of like when the lady at the post office stamped my letter "First Class" after I bought first class postage. Those tags don't serve any purpose on United.

"But Lufthansa has always delivered my bags within 6 hours after arrival to my hotel or house."

Makes me wonder just how many times has Lufthansa lost your bags.
mrwunrfl is online now  

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