The ‘Meanest’ Airlines in America

Overall U.S. airline performance may be up, but from baggage fees to late departures, air travel is not what it used to be.

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United gets my vote as meanest.  They run an advertisement on their website which says, "Fly in comfort by purchasing a ticket in United Business First."  My wife and I bought tickets in United Business First for 450,000 Mileage Plus points, years of savings.  Minutes before departure they downgraded me to coach and trapped me next to an obese man with his elbow in my ribs and with limited access to the bathroom for a 12 hour flight.  Not exactly the advertised "comfort."  We arrived 18 hours late and our luggage joined us 4 days later.  The real meanness began when I contacted "Customer Care," a misnomer if there ever was one.  They didn't return what we paid to be upgraded despite not providing the upgrade.  When I complained, they ignored me.  When I complained again, they claimed their records said I hadn't been downgraded.  This was just a way to delay and grind me into submission.  After six weeks of pursuing this, they have only returned half of what was paid for the upgrade.  It took five weeks to get a sincere apology from someone in the Mileage Plus department that had sold us the ticket.  The lady assigned to deal with me for Customer Care said she was sorry that I had unrealistic expectations.  She meant my unrealistic expectation that they would refund what I had paid for the service they had been unable/unwilling to provide and would give me something more for being involuntarily downgraded, delayed, and living without luggage.  She could have meant my unrealistic expectation that if we bought tickets to fly in United Business First, we would be flown in United Business First.