The bread and butter of a lot of my trips are vouchers, which I earned through bumps and inconveniences aboard. Those of us that do a lot of leisure travel really appreciate the out of pocket savings. For those not familiar with them, Skykits were blue forms that United had aboard. If a passenger was inconvenienced (for example no meal during a meal flight, broken reading light, broken footrest, broken audio, broken TV, etc.) they theoretically would have received one of these. Often FA’s “forgot” about them, so a simple reminder would usually net one. You filled them out with your information and chose between “miles” and “travel credits” (travel credits always being a much better deal). You then either gave them to the flight attendant to turn in or sent it to UA directly, and about two weeks later you’d get a voucher in the mail.
United was always very generous with the compensation, which was based on the status of the passenger. As a 1K I would get a $200 voucher whenever I had an issue domestically, and a $400 voucher everytime I had an issue internationally, regardless of my ticket price or the severity of the issue.
About a month ago rumors started popping up on FlyerTalk.com that Skykits would soon go electronic, which on the surface seems like a good thing, since it would make the process a lot faster. A flight attendant gives you a sheet of paper with a website and code on it, and you enter the information, the choice of compensation being instant. Unfortunately, it’s not so pretty. Instead of getting similar compensation, here are the new options:
4,000 bonus miles
1 500 mile ecert
10% off your next flight
Ouch, that’s basically cutting compensation by 75%, pretty pathetic! Even worse it seems that the same compensation is offered internationally, which is just about an 88% cut in compensation. Also, keep in mind that this is for 1K’s. A friend that’s a Premier on United flying HKG-LAX had an issue where the power for the seat was totally out (no reading light, no audio, no video, etc.), and was offered a $35 ecert, and that’s a 12 hour flight! Now UA may have been really generous before, but this really seems like the other extreme. While I haven’t had an issue since the new online Skykits are being used, I’ll be curious to experience it, and probably take up my issues with customer relations instead.