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Posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Dave!I travel a lot.

Now, "a lot" is relative, and there are people who travel even more than I do... but I definitely get around. Last year it was to the tune of 138,000 miles flown. This year I'm already within spitting distance of frequent flier Platinum status, and the year is only half over.

My point is, when it comes to airplane-related incidents, I've just about seen it all. I've been on a plane where a fire broke out. I've seen a drunken asshole have to be restrained and eventually removed. I've been in an uncontrolled landing. I've been through a bird strike. And a lightning storm. Twice. I've been stuck on the tarmac. I've been stranded, rerouted, and rejected. The list goes on and on.

Of course I've had my luggage lost. And damaged.

Once my luggage was lost as I was flying to a meeting in San Frncisco. The airline kept promising me that the luggage would turn up, and told me not to buy any new clothes because mine were on the way. Finally, after a dozen phone calls over two days with no suitcase, I explained that I had to buy a new suit for my meeting. And since the airline made me wait so long, there was no time for alterations... I had to find a suit off the rack that would fit. And the only one I could find was a $1100 Calvin Klein.

Naturally, the airline categorically refused to pay for that large of an expense... even though it was entirely their fault. It was their fault they lost my luggage. It was their fault they lied about getting it to me. It was their fault they made me wait until it was too late to alter a cheaper suit. It took months of negotiation before I came to a settlement that covered only half my expenses, but the airlines were such assholes about the whole ordeal that I felt lucky to get that much.

So when I see this really cool video by Dave Carroll making the rounds on the internet, I can sympathize...

Of course, we don't know United's side of things here... but this seems so typical that I don't doubt the guy's story one bit. There were witnesses as to the abusive handling, and he did try to report it before the plane even took off, so it's not like United can claim it was "normal wear and tear." They fucked up. They should have to pay for it.

And so now they are.

With a public relations nightmare that's only going to get worse as this thing goes viral (and it will, because the video is so well done that people are going to want to watch it, even if they choose to ignore the message).

So sad that it always seems to have to come to this, but that's modern customer service for you.

UPDATE: And that didn't take long... apparently NOW United Airlines is interested in doing the right thing. But you just know that there are lots of people out there who aren't going to get a fair shake because they don't have the talent Dave Carroll does to make a video. Sad, really.


  1. That is a great video! I wish I had the talent to do a song called #DeltaSucks 😉

  2. kapgar says:

    More shocking than what United did, or did not, do to his guitar is the fact that you embedded a YouTube video on your blog!!!!

    It’s the apocalypse!!!

  3. That video is awesome. It would be cool if people/companies would do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do, but sadly that doesn’t usually seem to be the case.

  4. Avitable says:

    Hate the style of music. Loved the video.

  5. Jeff says:

    Interesting how nothing has changed in 25 years. The exact same thing happened to my band in the 80s. We were in the airport watching them unload our gear from the plane through the windows and there was only one guy throwing the luggage from the conveyor belt to the luggage tram. When our 100 lb rack of amplifiers came down the belt I started screaming (in vain because I was inside the airport and no one outside could hear me) “HEY, THAT’S GOING TO BE TOO HEAVY FOR HIM TO MANAGE… STOP THE CONVEYOR BELT!”

    Sure enough, as soon as it got to the end the guy tried to grab the handles but it was too heavy and he just let it fall the 4 feet off the end of the belt onto the tarmac which smashed the rack into pieces.

    AND… just like you and Dave Carroll, it took nearly a year to get resolved AND not to the value of what was destroyed.

    This video is awesome. I would have done the same thing if… well, if there had been the internet I suppose.

  6. alan7933 says:

    A number of years ago (10?) Tom Paxton, a well known national folk singer also wrote and performs a true song/story about United Airlines breaking his expensive guitar. I don’t know if there’s a video but you can probably get the story through Google.

  7. Dan says:

    A learning opportunity for training purposes?!? WTF? I hate corporate America. Help me move to Europe, where I think they still try at least to put people first. If you don’t, I’ll have to make a video.

  8. Faiqa says:

    I had my wedding dress made in Pakistan. And stupidly packed it in a suitcase on the assumption that, you know, it would come home with me. It got to New York where it passed through customs and I had to recheck it to Florida.

    The airline lost it. And offered to pay for what would have been the thread used to sew the hemline onto the dress. Never mind all the OTHER stuff in the suitcase.

    Two months later, a call from Amman, JORDAN, “Yes, we’ve had this suitcase sitting in our office for two months with no identification on it, and we just went ahead and opened it. We found your invitation in here, and thought you might want your things.”

    I have never been to Jordan. I know nobody in Jordan. I have no idea why my suitcase went to Jordan INSTEAD of Florida.

    And the thing is, the suitcase had one of those slip in cards with my name, number, address, e-mail, blood type, astrological sign and …. sigh. I finally got it back, just a few weeks before my wedding. The suitcase, of course, was in shambles.

    I chalk this all up to apathy on the part of everyone involved. And utter stupidity. Yeah, that, too.

  9. Dave2 says:

    My flight to San Francisco (where my suitcase was lost) was out of Seattle… NON-STOP!! I never saw it again. I have no clue where it could go considering it was only at two airports with no confusion in-between. As always, my name and address were inside the suitcase as well. My only guess was that it was stolen, but how I have no idea, since I was at the carousel when the luggage was coming off. Maybe it’s in Jordan?

  10. Mooselet says:

    United Airlines suck donkey balls and I will never fly them. Ever. After all the drama with them leaving my then-17 year old stranded in Sydney last year and refusing to cop the fee to change her flights back so she didn’t get stuck in San Fran or paying part of the cost for me to fly to Sydney and help her after they refused to offer her any help and generally treating the whole affair as something they couldn’t be bothered with… okay, taking a deep breath… They suck. Good on this guy for having the talent to make a public stink about what they did to him.

  11. Nat says:

    I see United has come around — the message earlier yesterday was that it was a ‘learning opporunity’ but they were not offering to compensate him for the damage… I guess they decided the PR nightmare got serious when it went from Canada to U.S. media.

  12. Sybil Law says:

    I saw that the other day and love it. Airlines make me nuts!!

  13. Pathos and harmonizing aside, the thing that looked like a patch of pubic hair on the left shoulder of his white shirt really bugged me. Am I the only one???

  14. diane says:

    United had an epic computer server fail on Thursday that screwed up a bunch of flights out of O’Hare. Luckily, my plane took off late enough in the day that everything was resolved by then and I wasn’t impacted.
    I got an email apology from United for the incident. No voucher, no coupon, no bonus miles, nothing. Just an apology that I promptly deleted.

  15. ETinNY says:

    The new “Guitar Hero”….

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