United just settled a lawsuit with a passenger who flew from Newark to San Francisco instead of Newark to Paris.
The woman doesn’t speak English. United changed the gate of her Newark – Paris flight but didn’t make an announcement in French. The woman assumed she was in the right place. She boarded the aircraft and this is the past where there was the first major error on United’s part. When her boarding pass was scanned it shouldn’t have been accepted. Presumably the system rejected it, but the gate agent boarded her anyway.
United Has So Many Planes at Newark It’s Confusing
When the woman got on the plane and reached the seat on her boarding pass, another passenger was already sitting there. That’s another flag — if the gate agent hadn’t looked at the destination on her boarding pass, and simply manually entered her seat number, that would have been another issue since it’s a duplicate passenger in the seat.
A flight attendant simply told the woman to take a different, empty seat rather than resolving the discrepancy of two passengers who apparently had boarding passes for the same seat.
When she arrived in San Franciso she was stuck with the tab for an airport hotel overnight, and United flew her home to Paris the next day.
United acknowledges they blew it. They’ve provided:
- a refund of the ticket
- a voucher for another flight
- payment for the San Francisco hotel
I’ve observed in the past that foreign airlines generally have flight attendants check passenger boarding passes at the door to the aircraft while US airlines don’t.
If United’s procedures for making sure the right passengers are on the right planes are this bad (and we know their computer systems are weak, but hope that their people are better than the computers) perhaps they need to model their foreign counterparts.