United Airlines

Wear a face mask at the airport & on the plane. Or else!

Most every airline now requires passengers to wear face coverings in airports and on airplanes.

But now the failure to do so may result in denied boarding or a ban on future travel.

On Monday, the airline trade group Airlines for America (A4A) announced that for the duration of the COVID-19 health crisis its member airlines, including Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and United, are stepping up enforcement of face coverings.

The airlines will also now impose “substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules.”

Each carrier will be determining its own set of consequences for passengers who do not comply. But those policies may now include being banned from flying on the airline.

United Airlines says in a statement that starting June 18 and for at least the next 60 days, “any passenger that does not comply when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list. Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.”

United has been requiring passengers to wear masks on board aircraft since May 4 and most passengers have been complying.

But not all. So the new rule “is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew,” said United’s Chief Customer Officer, Toby Enqvist in the airline’s statement.

United says flight attendants will “proactively inform” customers not wearing face mask of the rules and offer masks, if needed.

Then:

If the customer continues to be non-compliant, flight attendants will do their best to de-escalate the situation, again inform the customer of United’s policy, and provide the passenger with an In-Flight Mask policy reminder card.”

If a customer continues to not comply, the flight attendant will file a report of the incident, which will initiate a formal review process.”

Any final decision or actions regarding a customer’s future flight benefits will not occur onboard but instead take place after the flight has reached its destination and the security team has investigated the incident.

American Airlines says its updated policies will go into effect June 16. Customers who do not comply with the requirement to wear face coverings at the gate will be denied boarding.

“American may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering,” the airline said in a statement.

Other airlines will likely spell out the consequences for not complying with the face mask requirement in the next day or two.

United Airlines is making its own hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is in high demand around the world as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In many cities, it is almost impossible to find hand sanitizer and keep in stock.

To address the shortage, many liquor and perfume companies around the world are using their distilleries and production facilities to make sanitizing solutions of their own. Some of it they sell; some they give to hospitals and health care facilities and first responders.

Now United Airlines is doing it too.

San Francisco-based maintenance technician George Skoufos came up with the idea.

In late March he enlisted chemists and chemical engineers at the maintenance center at San Francisco International Airport to use chemicals they have on hand to whip up a sample batch of sanitizer.

They then got the recipe registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

In just a few weeks, employees at the center produced 550 gallons of hand sanitizer. That is enough to supply the entire base.

Now production is being ramped up so that the airline-made sanitizer can be distributed to United facilities worldwide.

A United spokesperson said the in-house sanitizer helps take the pressure off buying hand sanitizer from the open market. It also means more commercially made sanitizer is available for those working on the front lines of the healthcare system.

And it means there’s work for some of the idled United’s technicians and other employees who usually fix planes and plane parts at a time when few planes are flying.

(All photos courtesy of United Airlines)

Coronavirus brings more bad news for travelers.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is bringing with it a lot of fast-breaking, bad news for travelers and the travel industry.

Over the weekend, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced the temporary suspension of flights to Milan, Italy and United Airlines announced a temporary suspension of flights to Tokyo Narita, Osaka Singapore and Seoul.

And, because travelers are holding back on buying new plane tickets, on Sunday American Airlines announced it will join JetBlue and Alaska Airlines in offering a change fee waiver on new tickets purchased in the next two weeks.

Alaska Airlines also shared some notes about the efforts it is taking to keep planes clean and passengers safe.

The airline says using wipes to clean armrests and tray tables is fine, but they’re asking passengers not to use cleaning wipes on the leather seats because commercial wipes will deteriorate the top coat of leather.

“The wipe might look dirty, ” says Alaska, “but it’s actually the leather dye color that’s coming off.”

Bad news for travelers may keep coming for a while, so it was refreshing to have Saturday Night Live do this silly bit about traveling through New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

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?