United Airlines Must Die! (Part 1)

Living as I do, here in ‘Sodom by the Sea’, United Airlines is a necessary evil. Oh, I’ve tried to get away from this evil empire of the air. But the fact that they’ve got a lock on about 50% of SFO’s gates, the fact that for non-stop, coast-to-coast travel from the Bay Area they are just about the only game in town, along with a whole slew of unused frequent flyer miles, has made my departure almost impossible.

And so it was, for a recent trip to Boston, that I found myself pondering once again how an airline offering such abysmal service manages to stay in business. (Perhaps we could liquidate all of United’s assets and give the money to GM? Oh sure…only in the fevered dreams I had on a plane heated to the point where I could have broiled sausages on my filthy tray table.) But I digress…

What is United’s biggest problem? I’d say open contempt for their customers. My connecting flight from Chicago to Boston was not only canceled without an explanation, but the crew, waiting in the boarding area, didn’t even get the word from their employer until after the flight disappeared from the departure boards. Was it weather? Nope…both coasts had great weather that day. Was it mechanical? Perhaps, but we’ll never know. More likely it was the fact that flight was only 50% full, and United could save few petrol dollars by massively inconveniencing 80 passengers.

So…it was off to ‘Customer Service’ we went for the continuation of our miserable journey. Stay tuned tomorrow for lessons in how this arrogant company has managed to completely disconnect from angry customers.

Read Part 2

7 thoughts on “United Airlines Must Die! (Part 1)”

  1. Many companies in the service business (including the company I work for) have decided that saving money is optimal over providing the actual service they went into business to provide. Many exploit the absence of real competition to foist near monopolistic treatment on customers who years ago they would have cherished. Complaints do no good, if revenue fails, they merely let more employees go, adding to the increasingly poor service they offer for your increasingly worthless dollar.

  2. This is why I consider my current state of financial disaster an excuse for not flying anywhere. “Sorry Auntie, we can’t visit you in Boca this year. Or ever, barring a lottery win.” When life hands you a lemon…

    I’d rather sit in the most miserable traffic jam than be trapped in an airport with no control over when or if I ever get to leave. And even leaving the gate (as in when your flight is moved to a gate several miles away from where it was originally scheduled to leave) triggers a whole new adventure in airport security. Not that either is exactly fun.

  3. Lew… Wouldn’t it be something if some company came to the astounding conclusion that, by treating customers well, they might actually make more money. I have to say that after recent trips to West Texas on Southwest, I may be sold on going with the smaller carriers.

    Zenyenta… Don’t agree completely about the traffic jam comparison. (Nothing, in my humble opinion, is worse than traffic.) You can’t work/read/whatever when you’re in traffic. Hell…most airports even have WiFi these days (critical when you’re in my biz). Nonetheless, I totally get where you’re coming from. When…oh when (!?)…am I going to be able to travel cross country on a high-speed train?

  4. I used to fly United extensively a few years back when I used to travel to Asia for business. I’m not sure if it’s just their domestic operation that has this problem or if they’re service has slipped so dramatically, but they were okay when I flew them. But as a matter of full disclosure, my company flew us business class on international trips, which makes a world of difference. However, if you’re coming from SF to the East Coast, you may want to check out JetBlue. They’re no frills, but my experience with their air crews has always been good, and with TV in every seat, it makes the flight time seem much faster.

  5. Flying just sucks. I can’t think of any airline that’s better or worse than the others; but that’s because I fly so infrequently. Tiny seats so they pack people in like sardines, flights being delayed or canceled with no reason and no accountability, the list is endless.

    The last time I flew anywhere was 2-1/2 years ago when we went to Hawaii. We reserved months in advance, but all we could get was a flight from Seattle to Honolulu via Salt Lake City. What should be a 3-hour flight turned into two flights (plus a long wait between flights) totaling 8 hours.

  6. Spartacus… I’m sure that business class is still a whole different matter from economy. Haven’t had a chance to try JetBlue yet, but I have to say that Southwest (not for coast-to-coast but to elsewhere) and Virgin America are definitely far superior to United and American. I’ll talk about it in another post, but United’s problem is that I have a miserable experience literally ever other trip.

    Tom… I unfortunately have to fly 4 or 5 times a year, and I really wish I could take trains instead.

  7. Don’t worry guy. Liquidation is the plan, my man. You’ll love flying Continental much better that United. Lufthansa also want s United gone. They are disgusted with the poor performance.

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