United Airlines is getting on EVERYONE’S nerves these days, huh? First, they threw a lawsuit at a 22-year-old for showing travelers how to access cheaper fares. Now, apparently they’re in the business of making monks angry. Yes, contemplative, quiet, and harmless MONKS! Can’t you go to hell for that or something?
Using a round-trip United Airlines ticket bought through his monastery, Brother John Baptist of the Monastery of Christ flew to Malawi to visit his sick mother. He decided to extend his stay a few more weeks, so he went ahead and notified his monastery so that they could contact United and make the necessary changes for his return flight. This is when things started to go south real quickly:
A monk at the monastery, Brother Noah, called United and said he was told that the company never received payment for the ticket. This sounded insane, given that Brother John Baptist had already used the outbound portion of the itinerary. United’s rep then said something a little contradictory: Brother John Baptist actually had credit for a return flight, but he could not use this credit because of suspicion that the original transaction was fraudulent.
Seriously, somebody actually thought these monks were involved in something fraudulent:
The best idea, the rep suggested, was for the monastery’s leader, Abbot Philip, to visit the United desk at the airport in Albuquerque, a three-hour drive away.
Brother Noah asked for a supervisor.
“I spoke to a Mark,” Brother Noah told the Haggler. “He took full responsibility and said that he was reissuing the ticket. He said we’d receive it via email. We waited two hours. It never came.”
Still with his patience intact, Brother Noah continued to pursue the situation…but to no avail:
Brother Noah called again and provided the original confirmation number, passenger name and so on. The customer service rep couldn’t find it. So he asked again for a supervisor.
“This was the most frustrating call of the day,” Brother Noah said. “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 Mark. I really struggled to remain calm and charitable. My monastic life is about staying peaceful in all circumstances. I failed during this call.”
And that’s when he finally lost it and exploded with anger — well, the monk version of anger:
“I said to her something like: ‘Thank you for speaking. God bless you. I will pray for you. But you have not been helpful.’ ”
Whoa, Brother Noah! Dial back the rage there, fella. You’re going to pop a vein. When the Haggler noted that this outburst didn’t really sound like an outburst, Brother Noah laughed and then elaborated:
“It was my tone of voice,” he said. “I know that it manifested anger.”
Having made one of their own livid, the monastery figured it was time to stop playing nice and bring out the big guns: the Internet. They posted an open letter on their website, including a rebuttal, detailing the whole mess and called upon people for help.
Lo and behold, the fine folk of the World Wide Web were able to come to the monks’ rescue. Specifically, one commenter “connected the monastery to a person with clout at United”, and soon Brother John Baptist had his ticket corrected.
The reason for the ticketing disaster? According to United, a third-party fraudulent detection company that was far too trigger-happy.