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The Time United Airlines Pissed Off a Monk

The Time United Airlines Pissed Off a Monk

The Time United Airlines Pissed Off a Monk

Is airline customer service so bad that even monks are losing their temper?

Calling about a changed reservation or possible upgrades are often tests of patience. But things may have gotten so bad at United Airlines that New Mexico monks were recently driven to desperation.

Brother John Baptist booked a flight to his home nation of Malawi, but had to extend his stay. When Brother Noah, a fellow monk at the monastery, tried to change the return flight, he was told the original purchase was fradulent and that he should drive three hours to the Albuquerque airport to straighten things out. After speaking to a supervisor, Noah was told John would indeed get a new ticket and they would receive it via email. That never happened, and when Noah called back United, there was no record of the previous phone call even taking place. 

"This was the most frustrating call of the day," Noah told The New York Times. "Everything became our fault. There was no evidence that Brother John Baptist had been placed on a new return flight. No record of the conversation with [the previous customer service rep]. I really struggled to remain calm and charitable. My monastic life is about staying peaceful in all circumstances. I failed during this call." 

The Times asked how Noah exactly failed: "I said to her something like: 'Thank you for speaking. God bless you. I will pray for you. But you have not been helpful.'"

After posting an open letter on the monastery's website, United contacted the monks and told them John's return ticket had been reissued. The problem was an overzealous third-party fraud-detection company that believed a ticket to Malawi was not legit. For the monks' trouble, United gave them a $350 credit and something even better: an apology.

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Neal Broverman