5 On Your Side

Airline Experience a Flying Fiasco for Fuquay-Varina Woman

Posted September 12, 2007

— Even when everything goes right, flying can be frustrating these days. Add delays, cancellations and a security issue – all with a young child– and it can be a fiasco.

Last month, Denise Peloso and her young son, Andrew, tried to head to Wisconsin for her grandmother's funeral.

Her problems began at a security checkpoint because of a spelling error on her United Airlines ticket. And, she said, they kept getting worse.

Peloso had paid almost $800 for two round-trip tickets, but the airline canceled the flight because of mechanical problems. She spent the next two hours in line trying to find another flight and make her connection.

"They said, 'Don't worry about it. We'll get you connected. Don't worry about it,'" Peloso said.

Then, the original flight was "uncanceled." But passengers sat for another two hours before boarding a plane to Chicago. The Pelosos missed their connection to Wisconsin.

"I go up to the first counter.I see and I ask the lady, 'How can you help me? I need to get on a connecting flight right away or I'm going to miss something I need to get to tonight,'" Peloso said.

She was sent to another counter with another line and another 1.5-hour wait. She got a seat on a late flight, but then it was canceled.

She and Andrew were stranded in Chicago at 11 p.m. with no chance of making the funeral.

"I didn't know, at this point, what I should do," Peloso said. "Should I go home? Should I fly there, anyway, to be able to spend time with my relatives. I was just so furious and frustrated, I just said, 'You know what, get me back home.'"

But that wasn't easy, either, Peloso said. She had to spend the night, and pay another $380 for new tickets.

"I'm just, I'm furious. I'm furious," Peloso recalled. "I want my money back. No one's listening to me. Everybody I've talk to says they can't help me."

In the end, she paid more than $1,100 for the trip. Once home, Peloso called United, asking for a refund.

"She said, 'I can't do anything for you. There's nothing that we can do for you. You took up a seat on our plane. There's nothing we can do for you,'" Peloso said.

Then, she called 5 on Your Side, which then called United.

Spokesman Jeff Kovick cited "extenuating circumstances" and refunded the entire $1,100 and sent her two travel vouchers worth $300 each.

Peloso said she is satisfied with that, but is still disappointed that she did not make it to the funeral.

"It's just sad, you know?" she said. "There's nothing I can do now to get back any of that."

Given her experience on United, Peloso said she isn't sure she wants to fly with them again – even for free.


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  • William Tell Sep 14, 2007

    NeverSurrender, they did not have to schedule the funeral so fast then, it's not like the dead guy is in any rush, don't blame the airline for the family's insensitivity to how long it would take her to get there and then expect the airline to be reponsible for getting her there on her schedule is rediculous

  • Made In USA Sep 14, 2007

    If you look closely at her photo above, you can still see the anger in this poor woman's face. I don't blame her and thank you 5 On Your Side for getting her some kind of justice for the way her trip went.

  • peacebee Sep 14, 2007

    If it is less than an 8 hour drive, I drive. I have had some interesting things happen, but so far not too bad. Lost luggage has been returned, was able to get on another flight from a cancelled flight, connections I was late for actually waited for me...

  • knelsud92 Sep 14, 2007

    If it's 10 hours or less by car, it's actually cheaper (even with the price of gas), easier, and usually less stressful just to drive. Seriously.

    It's DEFINETLY faster to drive to Atlanta from Charlotte than fly.

  • NeverSurrender Sep 14, 2007

    "the woman should have afforded more time to get there, if she need to do something, she should have left earlier to getthere. If I was the united Rep. I would have told her what she could do with her request. She would not get a dime"


    Wow. Blaming the woman for having an insensitive grandmother who apparently didn't die on a schedule to allow for careful planning of an itinerary for going to her funeral doesn't paint *YOUR* character in a favourable light, does it? I hope you're not that insensitive in the real world...because I'd imagine if some gate agent told YOU that, you'd be screaming bloody murder!

    I can assure you that if I ever caught you treating my customers that way, union or no union...I'd fire you on the spot and dare your shop steward to defend the indefensible.

    Being on the other side of the counter, this lady pretty much was left with no recourse against arbitrary stupidity than to publicly air her grievance. UA had all the time to fix it privately...

  • NeverSurrender Sep 14, 2007

    "Took me 2+ hours to get it sorted out to get me on a new flight. VERY frustrating experience with United."


    And the problem is that you were being screwed by both US and UA in this situation. Presuming you were on an electronic ticket (which is true for about 95% of domestic bookings), the US agent should have been able to transfer the electronic ticket to the UA agent in about two minutes.

    Most likely explanation is that the personnel on both sides don't know how to use that part of the electronic ticketing system because it's a relatively rare thing to do.

    What I suspect (but can't prove) is that US was looking to try to give UA a black eye...after all, they're having to contend with you and are likely to receive the lion's share of the blame even if it's not necessarily their doing. It's the same reason you *NEVER* change airlines during a trip unless you have to (international) unless you want your bags to go missing so you'll blame the "final" airline.

  • NeverSurrender Sep 14, 2007

    "Southwest is always our number one choice: I am sure they're not perfect either but in our experiences over the past several years they explain things in a friendly manner and actually seem to want our business."


    Kayla Ebbert and Setara Qassim would probably agree they're not perfect! :)

    Check out the show "Airline" on A&E sometime...they profiled Southwest employees going about their daily business. A couple of Southwest's gate agents at BWI and MDW consistently struck me as rather insensitive at best and downright cruel to some of the people they profiled...all the while hiding behind "corporate policy".

    I thought it rather curious Southwest allowed a lot of the segments get aired that really didn't paint their employees in a favourable light...I'd have thought they would have insisted on editorial rights.

    Mind you, WN still gets consistently better customer satisfaction surveys than pretty much anyone else but they've also got some real bad apples behind the desks.

  • LoneWolf72 Sep 13, 2007

    If you fly as much as I do, you know, this kind of story is not all that uncommon...all airlines need much improvement, they have forgotten who their cusomters are.

  • LoneWolf72 Sep 13, 2007

    William Tell doesn't fly much.

  • momofthreeinFV Sep 13, 2007

    Tell her if she does not want her $300.00 travel vouchers, then I will take them!!!:)