My New Nemesis – United Airlines

It’s been a week since our stroller was effectively destroyed by United Airlines during our flight from Chicago to Baltimore. I really wanted to believe that the airline would do right by us, considering Shane chooses to fly United frequently when traveling around the world for his job. We had an expectation that our property would be be returned in the same manner as when we checked it at the gate. After reviewing United’s policies, it clearly states: United is not liable for damage to strollers.

Well, alrighty then. I guess I just don’t know what we’re expected to do the next time we travel. Buy two cheapo umbrella strollers and just pray they arrive in one piece? Attempt to carry our squirmy, wormy, active babies while also juggling our carry on bags, diaper bag and my purse? Never travel again until they’re able to walk, carry their own bags and maybe help chip in on the cost of airfare? I don’t think any of those options will work for us. Our nice double stroller (RIP) was a gift from Shane’s parents. We loved everything about it. Easy to manuver, independent reclining seats, breathable mesh rear wall to allow a nice breeze… not to mention we purchased a parent console, belly bar and received the coordinating rain canopy as a gift. Really though, who has a few hundred dollars lying around to replace a stroller? We looked into cheaper ones, but for the reasons listed above, we’ll probably end up just replacing ours. Why should we have to deal with an inferior stroller because United ruined our perfectly good one? Don’t they make enough money to throw a couple hundred our way to help out? Fingers crossed, I have a few inquiries into some second hand ones from Craigslist, so maybe we’ll be able to get a bit of a deal off our replacement. If that fails, I found a 20% off coupon for our local baby store that sells it. I’m pretty much refusing to pay full price.

Lesson learned I guess. I don’t think we have any recourse since it’s very clearly stated in the travel information on their website. I’m just really upset at how poorly the whole situation played out.

When we took the stroller to the small office near baggage claim and filed a complaint we were told they would keep the stroller for an “investigation.” We were never told what United’s policy was. Surely the woman we dealt with was aware of the fact that they don’t cover damage to strollers. We were also told we would be contacted in a few days. Our flight was on Monday night, so Shane called again on Wednesday and Friday. He was promised on Friday that a supervisor would contact him on Saturday and that there was a note made in our file indicated our request. Well, Saturday came and went, so this morning, one full week later, Shane finally got in touch with this supervisor who said that their policy is to never cover damage to strollers and that they usually don’t even contact customers to relay this information. He was only responding to our numerous calls. I’m still confused as to why the woman at the baggage claim office said she needed to keep our stroller to investigate. She probably just wanted to appease us and send us on our way and let her supervisor deal with it days later. It’s infuriating. When I arrived home today, our stroller had risen from the dead and landed on our front doorstep. Not sure why they bothered to return our damaged stroller, but thanks, I guess?

Luckily we had our carseats so we had other means of carrying the boys around the airport. There’s a small part of me that is obsessed with stressing about the future and she wonders what will I do if instead of a stroller, it’s Caleb’s wheelchair that’s bent and damaged. Would that not be covered? Believe me, I swore up and down and threw a fit when I saw our broken stroller, I can only imagine the the rabid mama bear that will show her face if anything happens to an assistive device that Caleb needs. I’m fuming just thinking about it!

Personally, our family will be unlikely to travel with United Airlines ever again. We’d love to encourage our family and friends to do the same, but let’s face it, times are tough and the airfare dictates the airline a majority of the time. I do, however, highly suggest you learn from our mistakes and think twice when checking items at the gate. I’m off to eat some Ramen noodles… for the next 6 months.


I'm a working mom of three fantastic boys: Caleb, Wyatt and Parker. My husband, Shane, and I live in the Washington DC suburbs where we enjoy playgrounds, pools and never getting to sleep in. This blog is a journal of our day-to-day lives as well as a chronicle of Caleb's progress after a recent spinal surgery to alleviate the effects of his cerebral palsy.

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9 comments on “My New Nemesis – United Airlines
  1. Sarah Gostenik says:

    Wow, I’m sorry that happened to you guys. I’m sure it was a really nice stroller, but even the cheapest umbrella strollers, it’s just the principle of it all, and how are you supposed to juggle everything? And the wheelchair scenario is scary. I haven’t flown on United in a really long time, but that’s really a shame that Shane has been a frequent passenger and they still react that way. I never really cared about airlines until becoming a parent, but I’ve been really pleased with Southwest. They’ve bent over backwards for me (even while pregnant), such as assisting during diaper changes by holding the door open and holding the diaper bag, without me asking for help. Hope your next trip is much better…

  2. Paul rasey says:

    Just because you see the policy language now does not mean it was clearly accessible prior to the flight or explained clearly. Please send me info and photos

  3. Amander Wotton says:

    Ali- My mother told me that with multiples, many companies are willing to assist with coupons, discounts and freebies. Perhaps if you play up a sob story to the company that made the stroller they would be willing to help out. Especially since you are so in love with their product and it’s safety for your children that you refuse to go cheap and swear by their product. Enclose photos of the stroller too! Let me know if you choose to do this and how it plays out! Good luck!

    And by the way, it sounds like you are an amazing mom and are doing incredibly right by those boys and your husband. 🙂

    Warm wishes and love!

  4. Michelle says:

    I’m totally on board with ditching United. I’m currently fighting with them for an upgrade fee that I was told would be refunded “within one week” if I wasn’t upgraded….which I wasn’t. It’s now 5 weeks later and I’ve received nothing but rude people on the phone. So, I can’t even imagine what you have dealt with. I’m so sorry that this happened to you guys!

    And I completely agree with Sarah above, Southwest is by far the best airline going.

  5. […] My New Nemesis – United Airlines How are we supposed to pick up chicks cruisin’ around in this busted stroller? […]

  6. […] our nice stroller, but rather the two smaller umbrella strollers on this trip. No need to relive Strollergate 2012! Sharing is Caring:EmailFacebookTwitterPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  7. Bee says:

    I wish I saw this post prior to traveling with United on a recent international flight. After an 8 hour flight with a jet lagged infant and toddler, our uppababy vista was returned to us totally destroyed and unusable. The frame of the stroller was broken, canopy bent and a bar missing. They didn’t even have the decency to tell us that the stroller was destroyed. We found out when opening the stroller. Their policy is disgraceful. Damages were not the result of the “fragility” of the stroller, but blatant mishandling and disrespect for their customers’ property. I have enough to worry about when traveling with 2 small children and now a United policy that allows their employees to destroy customer property without a care in the world. Parents beware!

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you! I also don’t understand their stroller damage policy. Families need strollers to navigate the airport and their destination. How are they supposed to transport them from one location to another? They have to be checked or gate checked and if they’re damaged during transit, that should be the responsibility of the airline. At the time of this posting, my kids were too young to walk, which meant the stroller served as their mobility device. You can’t tell me that if someone’s wheelchair (mobility device) was damaged during transit they wouldn’t pay to fix it? Pretty awful if you ask me. Sorry to hear about your experience!

  8. Loic says:

    I wish we had read that beforehand. United broke our stroller, in fact the left front wheel is broken and the right front one is bent and almost useless

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