UAL Ottawa Airport Security Breach…WOW!

Last night I was boarding a UAL flight from Ottawa to Chicago and then on to LA to see a client. Pretty routine stuff…or so I thought.

Started the process at home with on line check in around 8am that morning. Selected my seats, upgraded to United Economy Plus (yeah) printed out the 2 passes and left the house at 3:30 for a 5:19 flight. Checked bags, cleared security, cleared customs (thank you e-1 visa) and boarded on time to my seat in the very last row 🙁 18C.

5 minutes later a gentleman approached me in the isle also with seat 18C on his boarding pass, so the flight attendant took our boarding cards to the gate agent to sort out the confusion. What happened next was unbelievable to me…. the flight attendant arrived back and announced that both boarding cards were in my name and that Mr Fra…..(close to Francis but not close enough to make me feel any safer) had been checked in as me….even though I had already been checked in!

At first it seemed like a simple mistake until I realized what it actually took  for him to get on the plane with my boarding pass

1) The check-in agent had to review his passport on check in and verify it against the ticket. She did she not notice the names were different nor that I had already checked in. Colleen Margaret is an odd name for a guy don’t you think?

2) The security check before customs and security verifies ID and tickets (again no notice that the names were different nor that he was not she)

3) Security verifies ID and tickets (ditto as above)

4) US customs officials (and this is the scary one) look at your tickets, your passport and your customs form. They ask you questions and look at enough data for long enough to surely notice that the names are not the same NOR that he was not a she. Not in this care.

5) The gate agent checks ID and tickets.

None of these 5 security checks noticed that HIS ticket was in the name of Ms Colleen Margaret Francis, nor that it matched is ID.CRAZY! Now… the good news for him and I is that we both got our seats and arrived in Chicago.  The bad news for all of us is clearlyno one is paying close enough attention to who is really getting on planes. Sheesh, and the American Government blames the Canadian boarder for being fast and lose…..

The sales lesson for all of you is this: Are you paying attention? Are you managing the details? Are you serving your client base with the highest integrity?

Safe in Costa Mesa and looking forward to an uneventful flight home!


2 responses to “UAL Ottawa Airport Security Breach…WOW!

  1. im sorry to hear that bad experience but there is more to that. im a dissatisfied customer too of united express but i did my research to this and united express is run by a ground handler in ottawa…i was looking at the employees of it they are all young roughly the age of their employees are 18 to 24 years old…i tried asking other airlines with regards to united airlines and i heard they are mis treated by their manager…work longer hours, minimal break and they are not even allowed to sit down? what the hell is that? these kids didnt complaint im pretty sure cause they are straight out of high school or college and just paying off their student loan thats why they dont complain…i told myself not flying united again but with there excellent flight time im a repeat customer, tried to observe their operation and i see a lot of running of their agents and i cant believe that they are not allowed to sit down. i actually ask them and the agent told me that the station manager remove their seats. poor kids they are treated as slaves! no wonder they make mistakes and gives poor customer service. i love flying United Airlines and this really put a bad reputation to them.

  2. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for your comment. To be fair….in this case United Express was only 2/5 of the problem and then did an amazing job fixing it. What concerned me more than the airlines was airport security and US customs! I was shocked that the US boarder control did not notice that the gentleman had a passport and a ticket in a different name! Shocking! and Scarey!! Its no suprise to me that the airline staff is over run with work and understaffed. Its too bad for all of them. Like you I have had great service on United. It’s too bad their partner airlines don’t always live up to the same standard.

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