May 012007

The Very Unfriendly Skies of United

The Very Unfriendly Skies of United

The 6 a.m. flight from LaGuardia to Denver is unpleasant to begin with, but the idiots who set customer-facing policies at United seem to have found a new way of making it even less pleasant.

I’ve long-hated United’s “Economy Plus” seating, which gives the first 5-10 rows of coach a huge amount of leg room at the expense of all the other rows in coach.  American, by contrast, has more leg room in all rows of coach, so I can actually work in any seat on an American plane, laptop and all.  On United, the seats in the majority of coach are almost unworkable.

United used to just automatically put you in Economy Plus if you were a frequent flier with status.  But now United is taking Economy Plus to a new level — they’re automatically NOT putting you in Economy Plus and then charging more for it on the spot.  You can move yourself into Economy Plus for free online ahead of time, assuming there are open seats in it.  So really, the new policy is just designed to hold a gun to customers’ heads at the airport.

This morning’s flight is a prime example of how not to treat your customers.  It’s 6 a.m., and coach is maybe — maybe — half full.  And the announcement comes on that United’s new policy is that you are forbidden to move seats into Economy Plus after takeoff, even if there are open seats (which there are).  You can only do that if you pay $44, and a United representative would be happy to take that money at any time.

My colleague Angela had the best line on this situation — it’s as if United has put up an invisible electric fence in the middle of coach.  Whether or not there’s a ringing and a shock, it certainly feels like United is treating its customers like dogs.  They now join my customer service Hall of Shame along with Verizon (the anchor tenant) and Fedex/Kinko’s.

Filed under: Business

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  • http://www.subscribermail.com Jordan Ayan

    This rings so true. For another recent United nightmare and perspective, check out a my recent post at http://jordanayan.typepad.com/email_marketing/2007/03/it_doesnt_matte.htm .

    Jordan

  • Holly

    Agreed, someone finally said it. No wonder . . .

  • http://www.cyhassociates.com Christine

    I am only 5’5″ and pre-pregnancy was 128 lbs and *I* found United seats absolutely miserable. Now I can hardly stand them and make every effort to fly on another airline so that I can breathe without someone’s hair six inches from my face (since the person in front of me always leans her seat back).

    Also, the last time we flew United, the horrible customer service at the ticket lines would have made us miss our flight (even though we were at the airport two hours early!) except the flight itself was late. Hmm, not quite a silver lining on that cloud.

    Fly Midwest Airlines any chance you can get! So comfortable, inexpensive, and plenty of wiggle room. I book my flights month in advance now so as to get comfortable seats on a good airline–for the same price as United.

  • Aaron

    At least United doesn’t charge more for aisle seats, as my fav airline, Northwest Airlines, now does.

  • http://thewealthsystem.blogspot.com/ Susan Puckett

    I have never witnessed such rude and plain nasty “service” as I did when I flew from Orange County last week. Customer “service” in Denver with 100′s stranded left a 14 year old alone no water, food, and to sleep alone in the airport, as did the rest of us. See my blog for full story.

  • http://thewealthsystem.blogspot.com/ Susan Puckett

    I have never witnessed such rude and plain nasty “service” as I did when I flew from Orange County last week. Customer “service” in Denver with 100′s stranded left a 14 year old alone no water, food, and to sleep alone in the airport, as did the rest of us. See my blog for full story.

  • http://thewealthsystem.blogspot.com/ Susan Puckett

    I have never witnessed such rude and plain nasty “service” as I did when I flew from Orange County last week. Customer “service” in Denver with 100′s stranded left a 14 year old alone no water, food, and to sleep alone in the airport, as did the rest of us. See my blog for full story.

  • Sally

    I also had a Terrible exspirience with United .I have been flying with them for so many years but I WILL change to another Airline with my next flight .I am disabled and the Airline reserves seats for diabled people .Used to be you sit up front ,when in a wheelchair.I am not in one but need help when something happens do to being deaf!
    A Lady entered the plane at Dullas Airport ,Dc she was in a wheelchair and not able to use her legs at all to walk .The Stewardesses and Stewards asked if help was needet .The ladies Husband replied “YES”

    None of the Airline Staff helped at all and on top of that the lady had to swing herself between to seats to the “BACK” of the plane .
    How horrible that was for that Lady needless to say .not to mention for those who witnessed it like myself and many others .
    Also very hard to swing a body holding on to the topcorner of the seats all the way to the back of the plane to ones seat .
    The lady should have been able to sit all the waay at the front.
    United is really going down a lot.Plus when you book ahaid and then HAVE to change they not only charge changing fees NO also the difference between the flight.BUT mind you it reads this NOwhere on your papers that this will happen .When I complaint they said ..thats how it is .The people did the right thing.
    Wonder if they did the right thing when NOT helping the Handycapt
    also?

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