Monday, February 18, 2008

United Airlines Hates its Coach Passengers
Part II

An involuntary return to the point of departure is, without doubt the most disturbing of all journeys.
Iain Sinclair, author

I will never fly United Airlines again. Granted my protest will have little effect since I don’t travel much if I can avoid it, but I would rather travel by mule or llama with a Sherpa than endure the confusion, apathetic service, and general disregard for the poor palooka who has to travel coach class on United.

My flight took off before either of my co-worker’s flights, but they both made it home on Tuesday night/Wednesday Morning because they were on America Airlines. Our plane waited for deicing, then taxied out to the tarmac to sit for some length of time, which required we go back in, get deiced again, then refueled, then canceled because the crew had gone over their shift time and United had just changed the flight manual not allowing the planes to fly in ice pellets; I am guessing that means hail, but who knows.

I waited over an hour for the luggage to come off the plane, waited in the very cold night for a taxi and then made it to the hotel just before 11 p.m. Now remember, my journey to the airport started at 2:30 p.m. I checked into the hotel and checked out at 3:45 a.m. to get the airport for a 6:30 a.m. flight.

I stood in line to check my luggage and while waiting I confirmed my reservation that was made the minute the flight was canceled. I was horrified that I was assigned a center seat. United employees were not clocked in yet, so they sat around listening to iPods and ignoring the growing line of passengers, which bordered on the absurd.
(Agents hard at work)

I eventually checked my bag and asked to move, even argued that my seat yesterday was not the center sit, but all to no avail. I offered to pay for an upgrade, but I was quoted a price of $1,800. The attendant behind the counter could care less; she’d heard it all before. I boarded the plane and the stewardess asked how I was this morning. So, I told her in no uncertain terms how I was and what I thought of the airline. As we were walking toward the back of the plane into the steerage section, an older gentleman who had heard my exchange, turned and said, “I bet she was glad she asked that question this morning.”

“Someone has to tell them that they are running this airline using the same strategy as American auto companies,” I replied not so kindly.

I am 6-1, 207 pounds and it turns out the two guys sitting next me were just as tall. For six hours the three of us did our best to give the other some room. Yet, when the window seat gentleman had to use the restroom the aisle seat man and I had to unfasten our seatbelts and move up and down the rows until Mr. window seat returned.

The flight did eventually end and I was able to get home. I can only hope the executives of United or their families’ will some day have to fly this airline from the back of the plane. Better yet, it would be nice to regulate airlines again, because the treatment we unfortunate many who have to fly coach are treated is worse than prisoners at Guantánamo, or so I've read.

4 comments:

Brian said...

Amtrak is the answer for me, or driving. Amy refuses to fly anymore, and I just feel like it isn't worth the aggravation, and it doesn't matter which airline you're talking about.

The Misanthrope said...

Hi Brian, the airlines have made travel simply miserable. On the other hand, my train experience to San Diego was very pleasant.

feefifoto said...

Sorry about your abominable flight. If it's any consolation, American Airlines is no better. I'd fly Southwest anywhere however. Every time I fly Southwest I wonder why I don't fly them every time. There's a lot more to traveling than reserved seating.

Chase said...

I've never flown United but I can tell you that I have flown Delta, Northwest, US Airways. The truth really is they have no interest in providing a high level of customer service to Coach class. First Class is still the place to be, I always enjoy it and I don't pay for it directly. I have an American Express card...I do all my shopping and pay all of my bills with it...including my car payment...at the end of the month I pay it off. It is remarkable and I do mean remarkable how many skymiles I have...they acrue so fast. I tell everyone this. People are so skeptical about it, they fear they will live on credit. I don't spend anymore than I would be, I just use one form of payment. First class has better service, nicer smiles, better seats, a shorter security check point, and a real meal if the flight is more than two hours! And, of course, i'm always a fan of anyplace that I can drink for free before noon and not be judged.