Several news outlets have reported on the experience of a World War II veteran flying United recently. The coverage has generated questions about how we handled Mr. Ewalt Shatz’s experience flying to Honolulu, and we’d like to tell you more.
Whenever we face an unplanned scenario, our goal is to get customers where they need to go as quickly and efficiently as possible. Often this involves challenges of time, schedules, and nature. On this day, severe weather in the flight path between Los Angeles and Honolulu meant our aircraft needed to carry more fuel than normal to operate safely. In turn, the additional fuel load required we reduce the number of passengers by 41. When Mr. Shatz attempted to check in at a United check-in kiosk approximately 1 hour 15 minutes before departure and about 40 minutes before boarding, within United’s check-in guidelines, the system would not complete the check-in given the flight’s reduced passenger capacity.
Mr. Shatz told a United agent of his need to arrive in Honolulu the same day. The agent apologized for the inconvenience, quickly rebooked Mr. Shatz on another airline at United’s expense, and called for transportation to get Mr. Shatz to that other airline’s terminal. Though the new itinerary would cause a delay for Mr. Shatz, he would avoid being among the 40 other customers still in the process of accommodation, with only three having volunteered to give up their seats.
Mr. Shatz did in fact arrive on the same day. On his return flight, our Honolulu agents welcomed him and upgraded him to first class.
We intend to reach out to Mr. Shatz to tell him again that we are sorry we didn’t meet his expectations, and to reiterate how much we appreciate his business and his service to our country. We hope he – and you – will join us on board a United flight soon.