My daughter Katherine was given a trip to Hawaii on United Airlines for her birthday. It was this trip that motivated her through a difficult quarter at the University of Washington. (The United locator for her ticket is XXXXX and the ticket number is 1234567890.) The itinerary provided to my daughter was somewhat complicated, taking her from Seattle to Vancouver, BC, CANADA (and therein lies the problem), to San Francisco, and finally to Honolulu.
She was provided the itinerary, but there was no explanation as to why she was being flown OUT of the country in order to remain IN the country, and there was certainly no mention of a passport requirement for this (basically superfluous) leg of the trip. The evening before the trip, Katherine was able to print a boarding pass for the last two legs of her trip, but not for the initial leg of her trip -- although no reason was given as to why.
When we arrived at the airport, she was told that she would not be allowed on the flight since she didn't have a passport. (Her enhanced drivers license, which is used to cross the Canadian border by car was apparently not acceptable.)
As you can probably imagine, being turned away and not allowed on the flight was EXTREMELY upsetting to Katherine. To make matters worse, we were told that no money would be refunded as it is apparently the passenger's responsibility to know which travel documents are required for any trip. This is certainly understandable if the intent had been to travel to Canada... or even if she/we had made the itinerary, but this was an itinerary approved by United (via Cheaptickets) in order to get Katherine from Seattle to Hawaii -- both origination and destination within the US border. To turn her away at the counter, when she had no desire or intent to leave the country, because she didn't possess a passport (and had never been warned that one would be required) was very, very distressing!
Enter United Airlines's absolute STAR ticket agent and provider of customer service, Eugenia Ernst -- who I have already complimented via your online feedback form; she is now referred to as Katherine's Hawaiian Guardian Angel (as she comes from Hawaii, which was Kat's destination). Eugenia, bless her heart, stood by us and worked hard to find a solution to Katherine's circumstance. Ultimately, she found the last seat on flights to Portland and LAX and then on to Honolulu. The initial flight would be leaving in a few minutes... did we want it? It would entail a change fee of $150. Any parent reading this will know that the ONLY answer to that question was "Yes." I paid the change fee with my Visa, Eugenia walked Kat to the front of the security line, and she was off.
TRIP SAVED! $150 lost.
I would like to request a refund of my $150 on the grounds that an itinerary flying out of the country in order to keep a passenger in the country should have never been approved by United Airlines. And even if it were approved, there should have been warnings in big, bold print on all communication, warning Katherine that even though she wouldn't be leaving the Vancouver airport, but would only be walking (presumably) across the isle to go from one United flight to another, she would need a passport. There was no such warning on ANY of the correspondence sent to her.
I hope that you will take a serious look at Katherine's situation and take steps to prevent this from happening to other passengers. Had she not been able to get to Hawaii, her entire holiday season would have been ruined. (Thanks again, Eugenia Ernst!)
If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 123-456-7890 or to reply to this e-mail.
Thanks you very much for your kind consideration.
So, what do you predict their reply will be? Guesses?