A Poignant Heartfelt Thanks to United Airlines by a Veteran FlyerTalk Member

T he media whipped up a feeding frenzy in recent months on the foibles of United Airlines upon its customers with operational issues and inhumane treatment — amongst other problems — but although my experiences as a passenger aboard airplanes operated by United Airlines have been uneventful, I wanted to share the following story with you after I read it.

A Poignant Heartfelt Thanks to United Airlines by a Veteran FlyerTalk Member

As a member of FlyerTalk for greater than 18 years and certainly longer than my own tenure as a member, flyme2 imparted a poignant and heartfelt thanks to the otherwise vilified airline

…but rather than summarize it, please permit me to use the words posted by flyme2 verbatim:

“I wish to extend my sincere thanks to United and the 1K staff that recently helped me through an extremely difficult period in my life. My wife was diagnosed with cancer on November 24 and succumbed to the disease on April 20. She was 54.

“The early prognosis was hopeful, so we rescheduled a few of our six upcoming trips for later in the year and canceled others that would have interfered with her treatment. Throughout the process, the UA personnel with whom I dealt were the epitome of kindness and understanding. They rescheduled the two trips we decided were doable, and even re-routed us on a direct AC flight when inclement Chicago weather would have resulted in a series of misconnected UA flights. Any and all change fees were proactively waived.

“Unfortunately, upon returning from our last trip, my wife’s condition suddenly deteriorated, and she passed away 16 days later. Still reeling from shock, dealing with superfluous travel issues was furthest from my list of priorities. Last week I got around to dealing with refund requests for the remaining flights that would not be flown. Again the UA staff were solicitous and respectful. Truthfully, I was not confident those tickets that were non-refundable P and W fares would actually be refunded. However, true to what I had been told, all tickets were refunded without fees, only a few days later. At this point, the money is really irrelevant, but the fact that UA showed such empathy and compassion will stay with me forever. Thank you, UA and Mr. Munoz for bringing a sliver of light to what has been a very dark period in my life.”


I am no apologist of United Airlines by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I am most likely one of the first people to tell you that significant improvements should be implemented by the beleaguered airline…

…but I also feel that the time is overdue to show that there is actually a human side of United Airlines — and that there is hope for the human race after all despite the seemingly callous indifference in general exhibited by big business and multinational corporations.

Finally, I want to personally extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to flyme2 on his substantial loss. I have never met flyme2 in person or communicated with him in any way to my knowledge over the years — but many members of FlyerTalk have a strong sense of community which has personally affected me in so many ways since I joined as a member of FlyerTalk years ago; and I felt obligated to give some sort of emotional support…

…and you can do so as well: please share your thoughts in this discussion on FlyerTalk — or if you are not a member, you may instead use the Comments section below.

Sharing your story publicly must have been incredibly difficult for you, flyme2. Thank you for the courage and the strength to do so.

This article is dedicated to the memory of the wife of flyme2. May she rest in peace and be fondly remembered.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

6 thoughts on “A Poignant Heartfelt Thanks to United Airlines by a Veteran FlyerTalk Member”

  1. henry LAX says:

    that post will most likely get him a permanent ban from Flyertalk, since the moderators there are hell bent on keeping up the anti-UA sentiment and continues to reward the trolls.

  2. rjb says:

    First, condolences to Flyme2. Second, Flyme2 was a 1K. I am certain “regular” United flyers would not have received reroutes on AC and waived change fees on the other flights. Third, all United flyers get refunds in the event of the death of the ticketed passenger. It’s in the Conditions of Carriage so no way for United to weasel out of this obligation.

    I will forever wish ill will upon United the corporation for their poor treatment of me in 2012 and 2013. A pox on their house forevermore!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Do you mind if I ask what happened in 2012 and 2013, rjb?

  3. AdamR says:

    I definitely have to second what @rjb said. flyme2’s story is sad, and I say that as a cancer survivor myself. But let’s not confuse the issue here. If we’re going to be pragmatic about it, flyme2’s success likely has VERY little to do with his/her wife’s terminal illness and more to do with the latitude afforded 1K callcenter agents. So while I’m happy that flyme2 was able to mourn without the added distraction of typical UA bullshit, let’s not pretend that any of this would be true for a passenger with anything less than 1K status. And to pass this off as somehow representative of an airline that’s recently gotten an undeserved bad reputation is both disingenuous and poor reporting even for a blog.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Nowhere in the article did I claim or infer that United Airlines has an “undeserved” bad reputation.

      On the contrary — I wrote: “I am no apologist of United Airlines by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I am most likely one of the first people to tell you that significant improvements should be implemented by the beleaguered airline.”

      That elite level status may have been a factor in this story is indeed possible; but in my opinion, that does not take away from the fact that there are people at United Airlines who helped a passenger in need.

      Finally, AdamR, I am thrilled that you are a survivor of that dreaded disease. I hope that the cancer remains in remission indefinitely and that you can enjoy the rest of your life to its fullest.

  4. Richard Ribicki says:

    I was only made aware of this thread today. I, as so many others, am not an apologist for UA or other *A airlines. In actual fact, I was a dedicated NW elite for many years before SkyTeam or Richard Anderson ever came to prominence. That being said, AC did not refund any of the itineraries that my wife and I had booked on their metal before her untimely death. To me, that lack of compassion is far more relevant than whether the UA Polaris ice cream sundae is currently served in a paper cup or shatter-proof glass vessel. I have flown many long haul flights in economy and business class over the past decades, and despite the shortcomings in most of the US based carriers soft and hard product, when issues happen, they step up to the plate and deliver. I have not had the same experience with non-US based 4* or 5* airlines that provide a superior in-flight experience, but are woefully inadequate when dealing with unexpected “turbulence,”

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