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United is offering travelers 30,000 miles after weeklong disruptions




United Airlines is offering passengers affected by weeks of delays and cancellations 30,000 frequent flyer miles after a bumpy recovery and a string of bad publicity.

“I know this week was difficult,” United wrote in an email from Chief Customer Officer Linda Jojo on Saturday to affected passengers, and obtained by TPG. “Really bad weather, air traffic control issues and some of our own operational challenges led to a tough experience for you and many of our customers.”

Customer service email from United. UNITED AIRLINES

Severe thunderstorms spurred widespread travel disruption last weekend, but United fared far worse than the other US airlines, leading to cancellations and delays in the days following the bad weather.

As a result of the thousands of cancellations and delays reported by United during the week, thousands of travelers were stranded at airports across the country, scrambling for backup flights ahead of July 4, reported to be one of the busiest travel weekends on record.

According to United, the email was sent to customers traveling between June 24 and 30, who were delayed overnight or had their flights cancelled.

United told TPG via email, “Customers will receive a follow-up email later next week with simple steps to automatically add 30,000 miles to their account (existing MileagePlus members will have one way, non-MP members will be given instructions on how to sign up and receive their miles).”[ads1];

United initially blamed the disruptions on the Federal Aviation Administration, but the airline also faced staffing issues, and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA chapter reported long wait times for scheduling.

Adding fuel to the fire, Kirby also chartered a private jet from Teterboro Airport to Denver as the Chicago-based airline struggled to restore operations. United said it did not pay for Kirby’s flight.

Kirby apologized for flying on a private jet when United faced operational problems in a memo sent to employees.

“Taking a private jet was the wrong decision because it was insensitive to our customers who were waiting to get home,” he wrote.

As of Saturday afternoon, United appeared to be on the mend, with 523 delays and 56 cancellations, according to FlightAware. Still, 19% of flights on Saturday were delayed by 4:48 PM ET, and most of those delays were again from the Newark hub.

Flight Aware cancellations and delays chart.

“Giving these miles is the right thing to do,” Kirby wrote in the email to passengers. “After all, you put your trust in us and expect more.” Customers will receive a follow-up email on how to claim their miles.

United told TPG: “This gesture is in addition to the many other ways we have helped our customers whose travel has been affected this week, including things like: providing vouchers for hotels and meals, offering carts of snacks and beverages, and providing customers future travel credits and miles.”

Interestingly, United isn’t suggesting it will reimburse all affected customers for costs incurred during the meltdown, as Southwest did after a similar mess at Christmas.

“This has been one of the most operationally challenging weeks I have experienced in my entire career,” Kirby wrote to employees in a memo first reported by CNBC.

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