thoughts in my own, personal opinion
eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD
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A Day In The Life Of United
I recently read a blog about the movie Gotti. The movie
is apparently so bad that an entertainment writer, Mike Ryan,
had to see it for himself, and kept a running diary about his experiences and
feelings as it progressed.
blog inspired me to take a closer look at a typical day in the life of a United flyer, documenting the “friendly skies” experience of its business travelers. My
recent Monday mid-day business trip from Newark to Asheville, NC, seemed to be
the perfect ‘average, nothing special’ opportunity to do this. Below are my notes from the day – most of
which were posted live on Twitter. You
can judge for yourself how bad the experience was.
– Arrive at EWR for my 2:17 flight. I
always leave plenty of time before a flight (2 hours) in case there is a
computer or security glitch. 90% of the
time it is a wasted effort, 10% of the time it saves your neck.
– Through security very quickly, no issues or hassles today at the Pre-Check
line. One out of ten times they want to
pull everything out of my briefcase. Not
today thankfully. I will now look for a
United Club where I can settle in and get some work done. I walk by the one that would have been
closest to my gate and see this:
– arrive at the United “pop-up club” near gate
C127. The fresh food it has available is
… bananas. It has packaged crackers (but
nothing to put on them) Nacho Cheese Doritos (no thanks, I’m not 18 anymore and
don’t love the feelings the next morning after eating those) and packaged
cookies. I get a can of Diet Coke out of
the fridge and sit to get some work done.
(They also have Milano cookies there – harking back to a much nicer,
long gone time of club experiences…)
– l leave the club to head to the nearby gate (C120) I take a seat near the
group one line and begin a business call with my phone and headset.
– The gate agent says to those already starting to line up to board “This plane
has been reassigned to go to Tampa. The
Asheville flight is now flying out of C105.”
The typical scrum to get out of line and run to the other gate begins.
– Formal notice of the gate change comes in
– I and about three dozen others arrive at gate C105 and line-up to board. Thankfully the plane is there and the flight crew is there waiting to
board as well. There is, however, no
gate agent at any of the desks.
– I speak with the flight’s captain – very nice guy – he also has no idea why
there are no agents there to let anyone on the plane. (He has been answering the gate telephone as
he felt that someone had to.) He said
that he’s been told “parts plus one”
meaning that there might be a one hour delay after some needed replacement
parts arrive, but that makes no sense to him as that’s why we probably changed
to a new plane/gate. He doesn’t
understand why we’d be swapped to a broken plane. Nothing makes sense to any of us…and no delay
has been announced, posted, nor transmitted as a notice on the United app.
– Nothing has improved, but as I tweet the experience the people at United’s
contact center get involved in the discussion.
– The flight is finally posted as “delayed.”
The reason posted? “Operational
Difficulties.” Still no gate agents.
– 23 minutes past the posted boarding time and an agent finally shows up – BUT
it’s an agent assigned to the next flight out of the gate – heading to Chicago.
– As is inevitable, one of my Twitter followers asks me why I don’t switch to
another airline. I again explain that
the four major US airlines now have virtual monopolies at most US airports. The only way to switch to another airline for
most of us is to move. I’ve written about
– Amazingly, little change. The agent
has been told he was reassigned to this flight, but he has still not announced
anything. He lets the crew board.
– Most of the passengers have remained lined-up to board for about 90 minutes
now. No announcements at all. I walk up to our silent agent and him what
the heck is going on.
– We finally have an announcement from the gate agent that they are working on
a “maintenance issue” on the plane, but we’re going to be allowed to board
– I’ve finally boarded the flight.
– We finally arrive at Asheville about two hours late. Never any explanation of or apology for why
we had no agent, why there was a mechanical that wasn’t appropriately filed as
the reason for the delay, why no one ever announced anything to those in line
for two hours.
the following day – United sends me a
survey link asking for feedback on my experience. All the incompetence, and the tweets and
discussions about them are apparently not recorded anywhere in their
system. The automated “send a survey to
get comments we won’t ever read” is pushed-out.
No apology, no follow-up to complaints, no acknowledgement of the
completely avoidable issues nor lack of communication. We cattle only deserve the automated surveys.
of the issues documented above egregious – not really, the delay was only a
couple of hours and it occurred on a day when I didn’t happen to have any
appointments upon arrival (this time.)
But it does show the systematic incompetence on the part of United, and
the lack of empathy or even acknowledgement of treating the passengers – their
customers – like cattle, shows an engrained distain for the flying public.
This article was written by David Danto and
contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing
fair use statutes.