United Airlines

United Airlines makes good on $10,000 bump fee

Here’s a good airline story to kick off the New Year

There are travel sites that promise to go to bat for you should you have an issue with an airline, hotel or some other outfit you may give your money and business to on the road.

Most of the time, that’s not what we do here at StuckatTheAirport.com.

We stick mostly to telling you about great adventures and cool amenities to explore when you’re in an airport, on a plane or in a town.

But if someone asks for advice or help with a travel problem, we do our best to help.

That’s what happened when Annie, a childhood friend of ours, reached out.

She’d had a scary and frustrating trip from Newark to Los Angeles over Thanksgiving and wanted help getting United Airlines to give her and her husband the $10,000 they were offered for volunteering to give up their seats.

Problem was she had no paperwork showing that the hefty vouchers had been promised.

Here’s her story:

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we were flying from Newark to LA on United.

We were in the air briefly when the pilot announced we were going back to Newark as the plane lost an engine.

Arrived safely. They attempted to fix the plane but gave up after several hours.

When they announced a new plane, we went to the new gate with a newly assigned seat electronically.

Then they announced they needed 50 volunteers to give up their seats at $5k voucher per person. You can imagine many people started scrambling including me. It was chaos. I backed away when I saw the chaos. The flight kept getting delayed as they waited for food service. Then the crew timed out. Then they announced they needed more volunteers.

I got to the front of the line. A supervisor gave me a new boarding pass for the next day that said: “See agent.”

We waited around for a while to see if we would get hotel voucher. It was still chaotic, and some people were getting heated…. No one said how we can claim our vouchers.

We got our own hotel at Newark. I figured I can pay 150.00 if I am going to get 10k. …. I assumed we would hear from United via email.

When we didn’t, I reached out on-line about two weeks ago. I have been dealing with someone from Customer Service who said we should have received the vouchers at Newark. She has been reaching out directly to Newark but hasn’t gotten any response.

Trust me, we didn’t give up our prime seats for no compensation!

Sometimes, things work out!

To be honest, we weren’t at all confident Annie and her husband would be able to collect their vouchers since they had no documentation in hand.

But when we asked our United Airlines contact where to send Annie to get help, they said they’d have Customer Service get in touch.

And they did.

Now we are pleased to report that the Customer Service person who investigated this issue quickly – as in less than a dayon the day before New Year’s, no less – figured out that yes, indeed, these two travelers were in fact due $5,000 each in bump compensation.

Apologies were offered. And now those vouchers have been issued.

Good work United Airlines!!!

Moral of the story?

If you volunteer to be bumped off a flight in exchange for $50 or $5,000, never leave the counter without getting the voucher placed in your hand.

One good reason to check a bag on your next flight

So many people are determined to travel with just a carry-on bag these days.

No fees and no waiting at the bag claim carousel are just two of the many good reasons for sticking with a carry-on only policy.

But here’s one good reason why you might want to check a bag next time you fly.

Prizes. And surprises.

On Monday, passengers on an arriving United Airlines flight at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) were greeted with a surprise welcome party at the bag claim.

Before spitting out real baggage, the bag carousel dispensed gift boxes with restaurant gift cards, socks, water tumblers, earbuds, holiday snacks, and more.

The party didn’t stop there.

Other travelers could visit the hot chocolate bar, snack on Graeter’s ice cream samples, and listen to carolers from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.

And check out this gift-delivering Grinch.

And it looks like other airports have the same idea this holiday season.

Here’s a tweet from the Krakow Airport, showing gift bags arriving for passengers at the bag claim as well.

What do you think? Would the possibility of prizes at the baggage claim carousel make you rethink your carry-on only policy?

Discount fares for young people on United Airlines

United is offering flight discounts for young travelers

Discount fares for young travelers used to be quite common. Not anymore.

So let’s hope United Airlines’ new promotion (re)starts that trend.

For now: here’s the deal:

If you’re between the ages of 18 to 22 and looking to book a flight on United, you can get a 10% discount if you’re a MileagePlus member with your birth date in your profile and if you book your trip through the airline’s mobile app by December 31, 2019.

As a bonus, and because young people are said to be all about saving the earth, United will also offset carbon emissions for the first 25,000 customers who travel using this promotion.

Some extra details on United’s discount plan for young people:

*The promotion applies to new flights booked between now and December 31, 2019, including flights departing after the promotion period ends.

*Flights within the United States, Canada, or Mexico, and some international destinations, are eligible for the discount.

Next up? Let’s bring back cheap standby fares.

Celebrating the Apollo 11 Moon Landing anniversary

Straight to the Moon – well, Houston.

This week pretty much everyone is celebrating and commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 launch and the first manned mission to land on the Moon.

And today, July 17 -the same day Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin made their first TV transmission from Earth to space – United Airlines is hosting a special celebration flight from Newark Liberty International (EWR) airport to Houston’s Georg Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

Why fly to Houston now?

Houston is also known as “Space City”  because it is home to NASA’s Mission Control Center at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

StuckatTheAirport.com is going along on Flight 355. We’re promised space-themed entertainment, inflight gifts (yay!) and “special onboard guests who have first-hand experience in space.”

We think that means astronauts will on board…

Once we land in Houston, we’ll join Space Center Houston’s Apollo Anniversary Celebration and get to tour the Apollo Mission Control Center, among other activities.

We’ll also try to taste some of the special cocktails and menu items being served this month at two OTG restaurants at IAH that were inspired by meals the astronauts ate during the Apollo 11 mission.

The astronauts were served “meals” that look like this:

But the special “Eat Like an Astronaut” dishes on the menu at Ember Tavern and Tanglewood Grille in United Airlines’ Terminal C and E at IAH look far more appetizing:

 Stay tuned here and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for Apollo 11 celebration pictures along the way.

Win a seat on United Airlines’ Apollo 11 party flight. Eat like an astronaut on the ground.

Courtesy NASA

Celebrations are already underway to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the first steps taken by humans on the moon.

July 20 is the official anniversary day, but United Airlines and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport are among the groups that have a planned more than a month’s worth of activities to mark the lunar milestone.

Win a seat on a special United Airlines celebration flight

Top among the events is a special flight from Newark to Houston on July 17, the anniversary of the day astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin made their first TV transmission from Earth to space.

On that day, United Flight 355 from Newark Liberty International Airport to Houston will be a celebratory flight with space-themed entertainment, inflight gifts and special guests who have been to space.

Want to go along? United is hosting a social media contest on Twitter with a prize that includes seats on board the Apollo 11 celebration flight as well as a behind the scenes tour of NASA facilities in Houston. Deadline to enter is June 22, 2019 at 10:29 a.m. CT.

Click here for rules on enterting United’s contest.

Beginning July 1, members of United’s Mileage Plus mileage program can bid miles on space-themed experiences such as VIP access to Space Center Houston’s Apollo 11 50thAnniversary Celebration featuring the band Walk the Moon. More information on that here.  

Courtesy NASA

No contest entry needed for these Apollo 11 activities:

There’s more: Starting July 1, seatback and personal device entertainment on United flights will include a channel with dedicated space-related program from NASA, including action cam footage of astronaut spacewalks.

In United’s Terminal C and E at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), there are lots of activities planned as well:

In Terminal C, gate lounges will display digital photographs from the Apollo 11 mission on the monitors.

From July 9-11 Space Center Houston will provide Apollo 11-themed pop-up science labs in the terminals. In the United Clubs, customers will have a chance to meet and take photos with retired Astronaut Ken Cameron.

During July, travelers will also have a chance to eat like an astronaut at In United Airlines’ at two restaurants at IAH, one in Terminal C and one in Terminal E.

What did the astronauts eat?

Courtesy National Air and Space Museum

Between liftoff and touchdown back on earth, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins were running experiments, taking pictures, gathering samples and making history.

They also took time to eat.

“More than 70 items comprise the food selection list of freeze-dried rehydratable, wet-pack and spoon-bowl foods,” NASA explains in the 250-page typewritten press kit for the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission on July 6, 1969.

The press kit lists the day-by-day, meal-by-meal menu for each crewman and explains how some of the meals were prepared.

“After water has been injected into a food bag, it is kneaded for about three minutes. The bag neck is then cut off and the food squeezed into the crewman ‘s mouth,” the release explains.

Freeze-dried ice-cream isn’t on the list, but powdered fruit-drinks (not Tang; NASA doesn’t use brand names), along with bacon cubes, shrimp cocktail, beef stew, frankfurters, fruit cocktail, tuna salad and many other familiar foods are.

Familiar foods, or even just fresh foods, are often hugely satisfying in space for the memories they trigger and warm feelings they generate,” said Jennifer Levasseur, Museum Curator, Department of Space History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which has 13 packets of food the Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t eat.

Like modern day travelers, food is one of the few things astronauts can control during a journey far from home. “Food must have had a very important role on Apollo 11 because they were doing things that had never been done before,” said Vickie Kloeris, NASA Food Scientist Emeritus.

Dine like an astronaut

Many of the foods found on those original Apollo 11 menus are featured during July on a special menu at OTG’s Ember Tavern and Tanglewood Grille in United Airlines’ Terminal C and E at IAH.

To ensure authenticity, OTG’s culinary team visited NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory in Houston to learn about and taste food prepared by NASA’s food scientists.

“We wanted to understand what food meant to astronauts having that experience and what it means now,” said Dan O’Donnell, OTG’s Head of Culinary, “We wanted to know the science and philosophy behind space food; where they were then and where it is now.”

The biggest take-away, said O’Donnell was that the astronauts could choose a lot of the foods they wanted to eat. “It wasn’t just about sustenance. Much of it was food that reminded the astronauts of home; like beef and potatoes, tuna salad and sugar cookies. Our menu is a play on those items.”

Travelers who order from the Apollo 11-inspired IAH menu won’t be served meals that need to be reconstituted and squeezed into their mouths from bags. Nor will they find 1969 prices.

Instead they’ll find modern-day versions of many menu items from the Apollo 11 mission.

“For instance, our take on the Tuna Salad uses seared ahi instead of regular tuna, but we prepared it in the same way with walnuts, grapes, celery, apple and some fresh yogurt,” said O’Donnell, “The Beef & Potatoes is made with grilled ribeye, scalloped potatoes and parsley pesto.

Although there was no alcohol on Apollo 11, there’s are cocktails on the IAH Apollo 11 anniversary menu.

“The original menus said, ‘orange drink,’ ‘grapefruit drink’ or ‘citrus drink.’ They were very flavor focused and on the sweeter side, because people taste things differently in space,” said Allison Kafalas, OTG Beverage Director, “I took those flavors and translated them to cocktails that are a bit more relevant and modern for today’s eater, including a peach bellini, a martini using an orange vodka from Texas and a pineapple margarita.”