Tag Archives: United Airlines

To Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Airlines

TO: Jeff Smisek, CEO United Airlines

FROM: Everett Maroon, Mileage Plus Member XXXXXXX

DATE: 9/4/2012

RE: Series of poor service incidents from UA Staff

Please let me begin by saying that I appreciate the challenges present for commercial air carriers in the United States today. Your recent merger announcement with Continental is of course predicated in part on finding efficiencies in both business models and improving the destinations and flight coverage for passengers overall. I can’t imagine what pressure your business must be under regarding the logisitics of such a large merger of corporate climates, staff, benefits packages, strategies for future development, and heck, the terrible cost of jet fuel these days.

Because of these oft-reported limitations and tensions, I have been willing to put up with a certain level and number of inconveniences as a frequent traveler–the disappearance of the in-flight meal (they weren’t very good anyway), and later, of the small bag of pretzels, the addition of checked bag fees, and the changing, increasingly invasive security process, which I understand is not under the control of the airlines. Along with these shifts I’ve seen consequences for how I travel–I head to the airport much earlier than before, I plan for snacks ahead of time, I bring only certain bags that are within weight limits or will fit in such-and-such an overhead compartment. I have rejiggered my traveling strategy because now I have a 1-year-old child, and I acknowledge that my customer experience expectations have evolved because of all of these changes from the airlines, the world we live in, and my personal life. Read More…

Back in the high life again

The airline industry is just not what it used to be. I know I’m not saying anything people don’t already know, but reading headlines about paying for each checked bag and not getting a tiny package of two mini-pretzels anymore is also not the same as living with the changes.

Take overhead containers on the planes themselves. There’s just no way to get your overnight bag in them, because everyone else’s overnight bags are already stuffed into them. I bet you could fit an olympic-sized swimming pool in the cargo areas at this point because all of our crap is sitting over our heads. Anything not to pay another $15 for a trip in a flying gas can.

I also want to ask: how much are the airlines saving on the peanuts and pretzels? Okay, okay, the answer is out there — $650,000. This multi-billion dollar industry is hurting, I understand, but when the flights are packed together and you’re hobbling through an airport on one bad leg and one that sounds like a bowl of Rice Crispies, with no time to get even the most depressing burger from Burger King Express (isn’t it already a scaled-down fast food restaurant? what the hell does “express” mean?), a bag of a few pretzels for your 5-hour flight is suddenly critically important. And sure, I could spend $9 on a cup of sulfurized fruit, yogurt, and granola, but the 10 hours of feeling stupid for paying top dollar for crap food doesn’t seem worth it.

After oversleeping past my 3:30 a.m. wake up, I groggily looked at my cell phone and screamed silently as I saw it was now 5:37. My flight was leaving Dulles Airport, site of the personally infamous 2005 Big Toe Mishap, 50 miles away from where I was. I cursed, stumbled to the computer and looked up the Airline’s customer service line. After 45 minutes of trying to explain I wanted to rebook my flight, I was told I had to go to the airport. Note to United Airlines: please redo your “help” protocol so you tell customers this information in the first 5 minutes and not the 45th!

I hopped in the rental car, along with the rest of the Beltway early morning rush hour traffic, and eventually I got to Dulles. I was happy to get on the plane, not so happy for the lack of leg room, and really not happy with my seatmate to the right. Seatmate to the Right had obviously showered not in water, as I hear is standard (see last post), but in tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil. She smelled like she’d screwed a koala, seriously, or like she was taking the best-defense-is-a-good-offense approach to the whole anti-perfume movement. I couldn’t even look out the window because putting my nostrils two inches closer to her body made me overwhelmed with the powerfully bad smell. It was like sitting next to an Aveda store after an earthquake. That flight was 5 and a half hours, people. Five and a half hours of TEA TREE OIL. And just to note — there is no bloody point to huffing tea tree oil, unless you want a bad headache in the middle of your forehead. So boys and girls, just say no to tea tree oil huffing, mkay?

My flight from Seattle to Spokane was less perfumatic, more turbulent. We had a flight attendant who had clearly previously been a performer at Cirque du Soleil, for she had amazing balance and control as the propellor plane dipped and weaved and bounced like it was Oscar de la Hoya in a fight. I could tell we were close to Walla Walla because

1. at 23,000 feet you can practically read the license plates on the cars below

2. I could almost smell the Bad Broccoli Plant

3. the wheat fields began appearing, like such:


wheat fields

wheat fields

Living in Washington for 8 weeks, it was almost familiar, though not really. But now I’m home, olfactory senses intact, big toe unbroken, and back in the arms of my honey.

Next post: getting through the Dulles Airport is a lot harder than it would seem to be.

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