5 On Your Side

Airline Experience a Flying Fiasco for Fuquay-Varina Woman

Posted September 12, 2007 5:31 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2007 11:21 p.m. EDT

— 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.