Tuesday, May 20, 2008

United Airlines--Are You Listening?

The service industry ain't what it used to be...

This morning, my friend John sent me the link to a story about poor customer service on United Airlines:

Not-So-Happy Flying

Last week, I wasn't so happy with United Airlines myself. After two phone calls trying to get them to load a subtitled movie into the plane, I learned that I was going to have to create a new law to get the airlines to comply:

Dreaming of Accessible Airline Movies

Closed Captioning on the Airlines--We'll Need a New Law

But let's talk about service.

On the flight to Oahu, we were surprised to discover that there wasn't going to be any meal on the flight. We just assumed that on long flights, something would be served. We settled for five dollar boxes of assorted snacks.

Did I mention how crowded the plane was? Not only were we packed together like sardines, but there literally was no room for me to work on my sister's laptop--I couldn't open it all the way and had to squint to see the angled screen. They built that plane to squeeze in the most people they could.

The service on the way to Oahu was a heck of a lot better than on the way back. On the way back, we were served... one drink. The entire eight hours. This was in contrast to our arrival flight, where the staff came around several times to offer water and directed us to the back to get other drinks. (How about running that service cart twice on long trips?)

When I walked in the back to inquire about water, three of the staff were talking and I stood there for a minute before they acknowledged me and I asked for water. The staff person scooped up half-melted ice and poured in warm water.

Lovely. Just lovely.

I couldn't wait to touch down.

Have you had similar flight experiences? Share your story in the comments.


Bryen said...

Heh. Apparently common sense is very expensive for Airlines and so they can't cover such costs in this day and age of tight budgets. Have a flight attendant smile? Oooh, that'll cost five bucks. Actually respond to you when you're waiting for attention? Ooh, that's at least $7.50!

I had my own boneheaded experience on Delta Airlines a couple of months ago. On their website, they actually have a checkbox to indicate you are deaf, which I checked.

The morning of the flight, I got a call on my cellphone by Delta's automated computer service (not a human caller) informing me that my flight had been cancelled and I was being rescheduled to another flight at such and such time.

Wait a minute. They have it in their records that I'm Deaf, and they CALL me via voice?!?

But see, that would have been common sense, and you know, that costs at LEAST 14.95.

Laurie said...

Amen, Sister! I, too, am flying (Delta) this week and am frustrated by the lack of service and accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing. It has been a thorn in my side for quite some time and I would like to do something about it. I actually fly with my "ears" turned off because the sound of the airplane is not something I want to hear constantly and cannot make out anything on the loudspeakers, etc.

I cannot enjoy watching movies, especially when I fly cross country or overseas because of the lack of close captioning. I've been told that the TV's in the BACK of the planes have captioning but haven't had the opportunity to check that out. Who wants to sit in the back of the plane anyway?

Gary A. Fitts said...

Go to this website, sath.org and contact them to complaint why the airlines don't provide captioned movies on their flights if they are partners by being committed to being accessible to all their consumers.

Anonymous said...

Most US airlines stopped serving meals about a year ago due to escalating costs and I found out the hard way when I flew from SC to SF for a conference. Nowadays, restaurants in airports are selling meals in boxes to take with you to the plane (which are far better than what they used to serve on the plane, IMO!) I flew to Hawai'i two weeks ago for my stepdad's funeral and they didn't serve meals on the flight either, but I did remember to buy a meal in a box from one of the airport restaurants. Your ticket receipt can tell you whether meals would be served or not during the flight. There is a website called http://www.untied.com (note the spelling!) where people (both passengers and employees!) can post their rants against United Airlines.


John said...

Ceo's decided that it adding CC adds too much weight on the TV Screen when it's showing CC's therefore adding fuel costs!! Sooo much cheaper without the added weight of CC.

Anonymous said...

Sigh... Guess that's another one for Howard's "in-box"... LMK

Kikilia said...

My aunt flew United from Denver to Chicago last year. While in Chicago she noticed 2 young boys traveling alone.

Both boys were Asian. However, one spoke fluent English (American) and one did not (Chinese).

United try to put the boys on the wrong flights because nobody bothered to look at their 'tags' or info.

The boy who spoke English became rather loud, yelling that he was flying to South Bend to see his Dad and not Taiwan.

They actually had to get the poor boy going to Taiwan off the plane to SB and put him on the correct flight since they had tried to put the American boy on the flight out of country.

Thank goodness that boy was old enough to through a fit. Can you imagine what would have happened when the Chinese boy landed in SB and the American boy ended up someplace in Europe heading to Taiwan?

I haven't flown in years and don't plan on starting.... figure I'll try the train instead. I really wish train travel would make a huge comeback in this country.

Jodi said...

Ahhhhhhhhh Karen my love, you have touched the subject near and dear to my heart,, I travel transatlantic once or twice a year with my partner,, I am an American deafie living in the Netherlands, The cost of tickets have skyrocketed since I arrived in the Netherlands in 2001 ( I arrived 3 weeks after 7/11)
Anyway we always start shopping for tickets on line 3-4 months prior our trip,, and check out airlines etc, My partner is verrrrrry long legged and is 6'3" he requires a bit of leg room or at least the aisle seat..
We flew Sabena airlines ( no longer in biz,, went bust after 7/11) it was a Belgium airline, it was cheap ,, nice comfy seats, plenty of food and they give u loads to drink ..then we flew QWAIT air ( yep u read it right ) it was dirt cheap it flew non stop from Amsterdam to Chicago ,, we flew with them 2 years,, but it was stinky.. the food was pure veg ( if u are a meat lover forget getting meat on this plane ) no booze served on this plane either,, leg room was plentiful,, the attendants were a mixed bag ( partner said they spoke in so many languages he gave up trying to pin point the nationalities of each one )
Then Qwait stopped flying to Amsterdam,, we ended up on United,, yikes karen yes u are right the seats are horrible,, my poor partner looked like a clown in a teeny tiny car even with aisle seats it was horribly uncomfortable, CC FORGET THAT,, we did ask,, they said well we USED to have something like it for the German and French Nationals,,I was like huh??? So the last two flighs have been thru KLM ( Royal Dutch airlines ) they are expensive and the food sux and yes CC for the Germans nothing in English,, so my partner bought me a travel dvd player,, problem is the battery life is only good for one movie,, sighhhh ,, beggers can not be choosers,,
This year ((gulp)) we are flying US AIR,, my g/f just used it and said it was OK,, I need to lean on her and ask her what OK means..
this year we are bringing our lap top and our dvd player,, so at least I will have something to watch,, when we arrive to philly at least we can re charge the batteries in both the dvd player and the lap top.
Oh yes,,,,,,, since we are always in the USA for 6 weeks, we usually take 2 suitcases apiece and a carry on ,, well we were told we were only allowed one suitcase each,, yikes.. I know my partner is secretly jumping for joy ,, but he also knows I love bringing back loads of American goodies ,,
Oh some one said the CC machine costs too much,,, hmmm why not just use a DVD player and a dvd for movies,, gee its lighter and the dvds don't weigh much oh well what do I know,,
And yes the cost of airline tickets have gone up at least 47% since 1999 .. they padded an extra 120 euros in taxes per passenger for fuel taxes alone,, sighhhhhhhhh
Jodi in Holland

Henry Kisor said...

Karen and all: All these comments are poster children for the command: Take the Train!

Traveling via rail, even on Amtrak, is a pleasant and civilized way to get from one point to another. You can get up and walk around the train, visit the lounge car and have a snack, or lunch in the dining car, etc.

So what if it takes eight times as long to get anywhere by train as it does to fly? You have eight times the pleasure.

Marie said...

Interesting... I'm Australian and don't fly much. Earlier this year I took a domestic flight with Qantas and was pleasantly surprised to find that both their safety video and the in-flight movie were captioned. I'm not sure if this is the case for all Australian airlines and I didn't notice if this was the case on any of my international flights with Qantas... but I was pretty pleased, even if I did fall asleep instead of watching the movie!

Growing Up Deaf in a Hearing World said...

Hi. Just two weeks ago I flew first class from Detroit to Rome, Italy on Delta. The flight attendant going there told me which movie was captioned as first class seats have individual TVs. Discovered it was actually a French movie subtitled in English but it was something to do during the 9 hr flight. On way home I went through all the movie choices to find foreign movies that were subtitled in English. I guess I watched 1 Korean and 2 Japanese movies during that flight. LOL! But agree it would be very nice if ALL the movies were CC and I didn't have to search so hard!