Last week, a United Airlines flight from Chicago to London made an unexpected stop in Canada due to technical difficulties. While customers understand this could not be helped, they are incensed at the treatment they received by United Airlines during the long overnight layover.
United 958 turned around shortly after it began to cross the Atlantic Ocean, landing at the Goose Bay military base in Canada. According to passengers, United Airlines staff did not do a good job at keeping them apprised of the situation, reports CNN. Lois Harper, United Airlines Flight 958 passenger, had this to say about the debacle.
“The captain came on and basically just said there were some lights on in the cockpit and that there was some vibrations that passengers in the back of the plane were feeling. Once we were on the plane for quite some time, they finally did communicate to us that we would be staying overnight.”
This was basically the only information United Airlines staff provided while customers waited with growing impatience to gain some knowledge of what was happening. Eventually, it was decided to house the passengers in the military base at Goose Bay because there weren’t enough rooms at the four area hotels to accommodate all 176 United Airlines clients.
The long, unexpected United Airlines layover is recounted as a nightmare experience by those who were present. The barracks had no heat, and no blankets on the beds, though the temperature dipped into the 30’s that night. According to the Daily Mail, passenger Simon Milward shared his opinion of the layover.
“We have been completely abandoned by United staff. We were put in barracks with no heating, in the freezing north, and given two thin sheets to sleep with. We all slept in our clothes. Not a single person from United has seen us or been in touch.”
“There were two old people who had difficulty walking who were dumped at a different part of the barracks, with no-one to contact them. There were a lot of children and babies on the flight. We’ve literally been dumped in the middle of nowhere. But all the crew stayed at a hotel in town. None of them have come to see us. We have been completely abandoned and are all confused.”
Yet another passenger likened the United Airlines layover to a scene from a Stephen King novel.
“A couple even have a baby and they had to sleep with it between them in a single bed to keep the poor thing warm. It’s like a Stephen King novel.”
The Huffington Post reports that a United Airlines spokesperson has apologized for the poor treatment of the Flight 958 passengers and has decided to refund their money.
“We apologize to our customers for the disruption, and we recognize this was a considerable inconvenience, so we will be refunding their tickets to London and providing additional compensation.”
It seems the mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay has been offended by the comments of the United Airlines fliers. Mayor Jamie Snook released the following statement in defense of the accommodations.
“The accommodations they received were standard military barracks that our Canadian forces use regularly. Our allied training partners throughout Europe used them regularly … they’re pretty standard. A little on the basic side. They’re not five-star, but considering the alternatives where someone could’ve slept that night — in a terminal or whatnot — I would’ve been quite content.”
Do you think these passengers were treated well by United Airlines, or was this an epic fail?
[Image via Wikipedia]