Having a bad day on United? Flight attendants can now give you free food and drink

United flight attendants can offer you free drinks if you have received poor customer service. Photo: United Airlines. 

United flight attendants can offer you free drinks if you have received poor customer service. Photo: United Airlines. 

Having a bad flight on United Airlines? Look for flight attendants to soon make your day a little better. 

In another sign United is taking customer service seriously, the carrier has authorized flight attendants to give free alcoholic drinks and food to passengers who have received poor service. 

In the past, United's policy on this was not so clear. Some flight attendants would find a way to get you free stuff if things went wrong with your itinerary, while others would not. Now, United tells flight attendants to use "good judgment."

"We are removing the ambiguity in our customer recovery policies," United told flight attendants earlier this month. "Specifically, we've clarified that you can offer complimentary alcoholic beverages or Choice Menu items in certain situations of customer disservice."

Flight attendants want to be empowered to do more, and United told them it is listening. It will be interesting to see what else United permits flight attendants to do for customers. Flight attendants are now carrying iPhone 6 plus phones, so they have much more information on customers than before.  If you're having bad day, they should know.

"In the second quarter of 2016, we'll bring you even more meaningful customer recovery options so you can resolve individual customer disservice right then and there, instead of deferring recovery to Customer Care," the airline said. 

Since former CEO Jeff Smisek resigned in September amid a federal investigation, United has been busy improving its customer service. This has been a priority of new CEO Oscar Munoz, though he had a heart attack in October and is on medical leave until the first quarter of next year. In his absence, executives have been busy implementing new initiatives. 

Among them:

Allowing airport service agents to compensate you up to $125 in travel credits during irregular operations. 

Switching to premium coffee from illy. 

Giving away small snacks on domestic coach flights. 

Free booze for 1K and Global Services members in United's frequent flier program. 

A new "surprise and delight" upgrade program for top frequent fliers. 


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