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  • Flight Report: Flew United, Arrived AND Lived!

    IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER- This is not a BAD an experience, nor a GREAT one...in fact, it's very TYPICAL.

    That being said, there's some examples of bad customer service and some examples of good customer service.

    3BS was booked on a 3:30 flight to Newark (arriving 7:00 PM) then international, departing at 10:30 PM.

    I do my part as a good customer and arrive a full 2.5 hours early.

    Agent checks me in, but then says, ‘there’s traffic delays going into Newark, we have a plane leaving in about 15 minutes that you should get on for free, I don’t want to hold you up typing here- get down to the gate ASAP and have the gate agent put you on this plane so you are assured to make your connection.” (OK, this guy is VERY COOL....KUDOS!)

    The gate agent grabs my boarding pass before I can say much and it beeps that I’m not on the flight. “The agent at the counter said I should ask you to put me on this flight because there are delays going into Newark”

    Sure, that will be $75.00.

    Um no, the guy told me you would put me on free.

    It doesn’t matter what the man upstairs said. I just can’t do that I have to explain this if I gave you free stand by. Really? You know, a lot of other airlines will do that when there are delays…they do that so people don’t miss their connections.

    Sorry, I’m not responsible for flight delays.

    I walk away and make it 10 feet.

    “Ok, sir, I’ll do it this once…you know, I don’t appreciate hearing what other people will do.

    I told the lady thanks and that I owed her one.

    “Really? I’ll remember that”

    (All of the bolded stuff are things that I don't think you aren’t really supposed to say...and which convey a somewhat crappy attitude towards customer service).

    She tells me to gate check my suitcase (ERJ 170)…I set my bag down by the boarding ramp external door and the FA nicely yells and waves, ‘no, bring it on board, there’s room in the back’…I read where my seat is, and the FA says, Just sit in the closest open seat by your bag. (The plane seemed to be roughly 80% full- so window vs asile was all my choice...two seats to myself, and I guess their only failure was to not having attractive, lonely members of the opposite sex to sit next to). (Kudos to FAs)

    So, two United employees go the extra yard to help a passenger.

    But one United employee makes a big deal that it somehow hurts her to help a passenger to get where he paid money to go…at no cost to United…and I don’t know that I need to hear how much I hurt her…Yeah, she had to type a bit…And yeah, I should have said thanks (Oh yeah, I did say thanks).

    And it’s almost as though it was assumed I was lying and / or it means nothing that the check in agent said one thing, we have no responsibility to be consistent, or to understand ‘standby-with-delays’ that most carries do…oh, and how about the ironing that she ACTUALLY COULD get me on free even though she first said she couldn’t…truth is she didn’t want to (not that some manager-bean-counter might not scrutinize her for it).

    I should stop my griping, because I got on- still the gal’s attitude kind of sucked. I don’t care what you were told, I don’t care that there’s delays, I don’t care that the plane is 20% empty, I don’t care that you got here way early...and I half think you are lying to me.

    Now, I’m also going to be politically incorrect. This person was non-US. I wonder how much of the decline in airline service is non-US employees from harsher cultures. “I be good gate agent…I do exactly what teacher teach me…you want standby…you pay 75-dollar.” (And before I am accused of racism, I can think of a whole lot of DIFFERENT countries and DIFFERENT ethnicities where they just don’t have ‘Southern hospitality’. If there is an identifiable accent depicted above, it in fact is not the accent of the gal who boarded me.
    This is a whole other "branch topic" if you will...and penalty on 3BS for being non PC...but conversely cue Seinfeld's "soup Nazi" and a bunch of other comedic examples...and....)

    Finally, no good deed goes unpunished:
    1) My original flight arrived on time.
    2) My connection was delayed 4.5 hours to 2:30 AM…YIKES! (Thanks United)
    3) Boarding story to be told later...Let me just say that International New Yorkers can be quite the asses- and no significant fouls on the Gate agents on that one- as much as you can see how they can't have the Emirates First Class FA type of attitude.

    Man, do I love flying.
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by 3WE View Post
      IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER- This is not a BAD an experience, nor a GREAT one...in fact, it's very TYPICAL.
      .....
      Man, do I love flying.
      This is what I'm talking about. It shouldn't come down to the randomness of the person's mental state. These people should be trained to a) help the customer whenever possible and practical and b) resolve conflicts without escalating them whenever possible. Instead we have very poor training, mostly teaching them to defend the company against losses and to keep the revenue flowing.

      On the P/C issue, it's not a race thing; it's a culture thing, and YES, certain cultures do not have that Southern (or Northern) tradition of friendly hospitality. But the airline can teach them THE AIRLINE CULTURE instead, which can be just as friendly and helpful. That is what airlines like Emirates do very well (they have a LOT of Asian and other 'non-Southern' personnel). The proof that this can be done is there. The will isn't.

      The problem resides in the individual. The airline is to blame for this.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by 3WE View Post
        https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/c727e28...ccused-of.html

        Does someone need to start a table of airline, brief description and date on these....
        American Airlines further explained that the women were never charged for their upgrade in the first place, and were booked in first-class as a courtesy after their earlier flight had been canceled. The reason Baldwin was downgraded, according to the spokesperson, is simply because Novack’s upgrade was processed into the computer first. Had it been the other way around, Baldwin’s seat would have remained in first-class.
        (this message is not too short either %&*@#)

        --- Judge what is said by the merits of what is said, not by the credentials of who said it. ---
        --- Defend what you say with arguments, not by imposing your credentials ---

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Evan View Post
          This is what I'm talking about. It shouldn't come down to the randomness of the person's mental state. These people should be trained to a) help the customer whenever possible and practical and b) resolve conflicts without escalating them whenever possible. Instead we have very poor training, mostly teaching them to defend the company against losses and to keep the revenue flowing.

          On the P/C issue, it's not a race thing; it's a culture thing, and YES, certain cultures do not have that Southern (or Northern) tradition of friendly hospitality. But the airline can teach them THE AIRLINE CULTURE instead, which can be just as friendly and helpful. That is what airlines like Emirates do very well (they have a LOT of Asian and other 'non-Southern' personnel). The proof that this can be done is there. The will isn't.

          The problem resides in the individual. The airline is to blame for this.
          This sounds so much like Moments of Truth (the book I mentioned before). Whatever happened to SAS anyway?

          --- Judge what is said by the merits of what is said, not by the credentials of who said it. ---
          --- Defend what you say with arguments, not by imposing your credentials ---

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Evan View Post
            On the P/C issue, it's not a race thing; it's a culture thing, and YES, certain cultures do not have that Southern (or Northern) tradition of friendly hospitality. But the airline can teach them THE AIRLINE CULTURE instead, which can be just as friendly and helpful. That is what airlines like Emirates do very well (they have a LOT of Asian and other 'non-Southern' personnel). The proof that this can be done is there. The will isn't.

            The problem resides in the individual. The airline is to blame for this.
            Not that your point is invalid, but the way EK (et al) treats their Premium customers and the way they treat cattle class are two very different things. Just something to keep in mind.

            Comment


            • Today's Incident

              Passenger strandings...no food...crazy safety policies cited regarding pizza delivery.

              https://www.yahoo.com/news/stranded-...130701820.html

              While this involves extremely low-altitude operations, I am sure it is FULL of crazy AND INTERESTING compare/contrast/parallel...employee/customer...common-sense/litigation-avoidance...policy/employee attitude/contractual obligations/customer attitude aspects...

              And not so sure it will beat the airlines at all except in the realm of seat pitch and seat belt usage.
              Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

              Comment


              • Boarding from New York to Country lacking the Southern Hospitality Culture.

                The background is that the flight was delayed 4 hours- and thus everyone was all tired and PO’d- AND it was 2:00 AM and the Newark-no-so-efficient wheel-chair-pusher-department (run by the airport and not the airline) wasn’t operating at top efficiency.

                For starters, one dude shoves to the front of the line- past the 'wait here' line and stands immediately next to the check in scanner…I SWEAR he charged and snuck past the agents when they weren’t looking (I know that’s probably false…as they check in/body count/suitcase reconciliation is key)

                There was a line of about five wheel chair folks to be pre-boarded…When they started boarding First Class, the wheel chair people were very much agitated…some bickering with the agents…The agents state: “Procedures require an official wheel chair pusher (NOT a family member nor gate agent)…But they were somewhat AWOL….SO…agents start boarding Children…but the wheel chair folks form what seemed like a semi-intentional blockade….So kidde folks are yelling at wheel chair folks…

                Gate agent shouts: PLEASE FOLKS….EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET ON…WE WILL LEAVE NO ONE…PLEASE RELAX!!!!! (The comment is largely unheeded.) (Hey, wow, the gate agent is saying something truthful- no not doubling over backwards for ‘the customer is always right’ NOR being an ass...BUT doing something that’s basically ethical and correct).

                Nevertheless, this continues for 10 min with much entertainment- a crazy and agitated very old dude tries to get up and walk…since he’s tired of waiting for the wheel chair pusher…he makes it three steps and starts to make HUGE wobbles...agents grab him for physical support….more yelling…..disgruntled family member of the old man yells at gate people, ‘IF HE HAS A HEART ATTACK, IT’S YOUR FAULT!’.

                Kudos to United…security was NOT called and no one was denied boarding…even though I think they COULD have played that card or escalated things without really being “the ass that started it”. There was some inconsistency with the gate agents- they were even debating with each other on how to handle things (that’s bad- but hey anyone know how hard it is to “hire the right people, train them and retain them”.) (I’m guessing Evan’s hiring experience is right up there with his flying experience AND his car-driving experience).

                Bottom line: As ATL crew stated several posts back (and paraphrasing). “There are lots of messed up folks with airlines AND airline customers.” This one goes on the crazy customer scorecard! Airline employees get an atta-boy.

                PS: The agents were not WASouthernPs
                Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by 3WE View Post
                  This one goes on the crazy customer scorecard! Airline employees get an atta-boy.
                  Are you sure about that? Did the gate agents tell the wheelchair folk WHY the attendents were AWOL after a four-hour delay? Did they get on the phone and make every effort to find out? Or did they just assume that 'it's not my job' attitude and tell everyone to wait, expecting very delayed passengers to accept further delays without any explanation other than, hey, relax, it's out of our hands?

                  Which is better?

                  "PLEASE FOLKS….EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET ON…WE WILL LEAVE NO ONE…PLEASE RELAX!!!!!"

                  -or-

                  "Were very sorry for the delay folks but we're waiting for the airport wheelchair attendents at the moment. They were supposed to be here. We've called them, they're aware of the urgency and they will be here shortly to start our boarding process. Airport regulations prevent us from boarding until they arrive so we're going to need your your patience and understanding just a bit longer. We realize that you're frustrated by this unexpected delay and I assure you we are doing everything we can right now to get things moving. In the meantime please relax, everyone is going to get on board and no one will be left behind. It should just be a few more minutes. etc. etc. etc."

                  One is amateur hour, the product of poor training, over-stressed employees, a lack of information infrastructure, operating on the edge of anarchy, poor resource management and rot at the top.

                  The other is professionalism and hospitality. Keep talking to your customers and providing them with information. It tends to calm people's frustrations... for a bit...

                  Yes, there will always be idiots and trash to deal with. That is unfortunately part of any customer-facing job description. If you can't reason with them and they get aggressive, then I think it's ok to call in the stormtroopers.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Evan View Post
                    Are you sure about that? Did the gate agents tell the wheelchair folk WHY the attendents were AWOL after a four-hour delay? Did they get on the phone and make every effort to find out? Or did they just assume that 'it's not my job' attitude and tell everyone to wait, expecting very delayed passengers to accept further delays without any explanation other than, hey, relax, it's out of our hands?
                    Here we have it...what 'the press writes' about the incident versus what actually happens, and how we interpret what is written based on our notions, biases and views.

                    United now has multiple cattle chutes and I wound up being very close to the front of the Group 4 line...giving me great, short distance views and clear voice communication from the ticket scanner podiums, the preboard line and the agents in action.

                    -In fact the gate agents DID call the wheel-chair-pilots THREE times along with making pages AND communicating to the wheel chair passengers.

                    -In fact, the gate agents DID say nice things to the wheel chair people.

                    -In fact, the wheel chair pushers were called in advance, but showed up 10 min late.

                    -Acknowledged- No, the agents did not know why or where the pusher were- again cue up an airport overwhelmingly staffed by more recently-immigrated peoples, still engaged in their other-than-WASouthernP cultures...in a perfect world, their iPhone Uber-Wheel-Chair-Pusher app would be showing the GPS track, estimated arrival time, name and photo of the wheel-chair pusher.

                    The agents DID state that 'wheel chair pushers are on the way' and stated that they 'would be there shortly' and that the wheel chair people would not be left...all in a nice friendly, reassuring voice, that the agents want nothing other than a smooth, happy boarding and a great flight for the customers...

                    -It's also a fact that loading up a 777 takes all of 0.75 to 1 hours- so it's logical to put some folks on and make the wheel chair folks wait a few minutes.

                    -The wheel chair people were the ones agitated and bordering out of control. Somehow, 20 people with munchkins taking their ASSIGNED seats on a 777 BEFORE the 5 wheel chair people is going to cause them to miss the flight and be unable to get to their ASSIGNED seats...It was borderline physical- and grabbing the guy as he wobbled was ripe for who knows what.

                    The "PLEASE FOLKS...EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET ON...WE WILL LEAVE NO ONE...PLEASE RELAX!!!!!" came AFTER much nice, proper-procedure discussion...and after a bunch of borderline non-compliance by the passengers.


                    ...the wheel chair passengers were getting just rowdy enough that a foul-mood agent would be within normal standards to call security...

                    It's just important to have the body cam running- because you never know if the reporter covering the story is going to be Evan from the Black and White Press, or 3BS from the Gray-Area Journal.
                    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

                    Comment


                    • ...by the way...full, red-blooded, here-for-multi-generation New Yorker Americans also tend to be significantly deficient in WASouthernP culture, as compared to the big-city-nasty-screw-them-before-they-screw-you urban culture where they excel.
                      Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by 3WE View Post
                        and how we interpret what is written based on our notions, biases and views.
                        Or rather how we ask for more information and fact check a story for clarity, that old-timey tradition. You DID leave that part out, so I had to ask.

                        Still, the gate agent ultimately yelled at the paying customers in wheelchairs, according to YOU. Did they deserve that? Was that 'atta-boy' behavior?

                        Or was it insensitivity? It might occur to a grey area journalist that adult people who must be lifted into their seats would rather not have an audience for that.

                        I agree that people need to compromise and be more understanding in a situation like that but I also image it can be quite hard to accept humiliation due to the negligence of a broken for-profit air travel industry...

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Evan View Post
                          Still, the gate agent ultimately yelled at the paying customers in wheelchairs, according to YOU. Did they deserve that? Was that 'atta-boy' behavior?
                          1. Serious mental block Evan.

                          Read slowly as I re-state all of this for your tightly closed and amazingly biased mind.

                          -The agents were polite the whole time, and quiet and friendly until the crowd was getting a bit out of control.

                          -The wheel chair people were loud (no shame issues) and very non compliant to reasonable, rightful and nicely-made requests.

                          -The wheel chair people were non compliant to reasonable requests, asked nicely. My opinion only, but I think the agents would have been within good practice to have called security and deny boarding for non compliant behavior.

                          2. I bet a beer that you have never worked with the public in a customer service role. If you had, you would understand that the agents put up with a lot of nasty $hit, not of their doing... yet maintain their composure AND calmly persevere to get the nutjobs AND the 295 other people to their seats on a 777-LR... Atta boy deserved! (The previous symbol is called an exclamation point and is used for emphasis)
                          Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by 3WE View Post

                            -The agents were polite the whole time, and quiet and friendly until the crowd was getting a bit out of control. Acknowledged

                            -The wheel chair people were loud (no shame issues) and very non compliant to reasonable, rightful and nicely-made requests. Acknowledged

                            -The wheel chair people were non compliant to reasonable requests, asked nicely. Acknowledged

                            My opinion only, but I think the agents would have been within good practice to have called security and deny boarding for non compliant behavior. Agreed

                            2. I bet a beer that you have never worked with the public in a customer service role. I have. I would sooner starve then do it again.

                            If you had, you would understand that the agents put up with a lot of nasty $hit, not of their doing... yet maintain their composure AND calmly persevere to get the nutjobs AND the 295 other people to their seats on a 777-LR... Atta boy deserved! (The previous symbol is called an exclamation point and is used for emphasis) If that were true but...

                            Gate agent shouts: PLEASE FOLKS….EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET ON…WE WILL LEAVE NO ONE…PLEASE RELAX!!!!!
                            Is still short of 'atta boy'. Not that I don't sympathize with them. Not that I don't understand why they failed to maintain their composure AND calmly persevere. Not that I blame them, because I don't. It's not their fault that they aren't trained better to deal with these situtations. And it's not their fault they have to deal with these situations in the first place. But dealing with people and situations like this is the job description. Doing it professionally is the job requirement. As I said before...

                            The problem resides in the individuals. The airline industry is to blame for this.

                            (And relative to that industry, I would probably give these agents a 8/10).

                            Comment


                            • I note two things:

                              1:
                              Originally posted by Evan View Post
                              Is still short of 'atta boy'.
                              2: No response to the question if you have ever worked in a customer service position.

                              With that, I flame you for being pretty damn judgmental of folks who maintained their composure while dealing with a very nasty crowd of people. I was there and witnessed their proper adherence to procedure and that they maintained their composure (during and after the announcement they yelled)...even while grabbing a 'charging/failing/and falling' old man'...(at which point they were suddenly responsible for the health and well being of a medically compromised person IN ADDITION to getting him on the plane).

                              Yet you sit at the keyboard and refuse them a simple atta boy. Try working the drive up window at McDonalds...the return desk at Wal Mart...get a job waiting tables...something other than sitting around predominately criticizing pilots and employees from your keyboard.

                              Edit- by the way- while I have partially sided with you in the bashing of airline management...as to the poor stiffs who have to deliver the crappy policies AND deal with nutjobs wanting to charge the boarding bridge and who deal with the lying cheating wheel chair folks (that Tee Vee mentions) as well as the crazy old guy who truly can't walk who's sooooooo concerned he tries to walk on against nicely delivered statements that the pushers are on the way and that he will NOT be left...

                              ...Pretty shitty of you to not give the front-line peons an atta boy- especially when they did things correctly in this case and got crappy treatment from the customers as thanks.
                              Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

                              Comment


                              • as one that travels more than most of y'all, i'm gonna go on a rant about wheelchairs, airports and boarding. i'm sick and effin tired of seeing droves of people in wheel chairs delaying boarding, cutting lines etc. 98% of the people in wheel chairs do not need them. take my 80 year old mom: she asks for a wheel chair only up to the gate since walking a mile is a bit difficult for her. however, she refuses to be counted among the abusers that walk just fine but abuse the process by demanding pre-boarding as "wheel chair pax." it's so effin bad in miami, that if a person asks for a wheel chair they get to board first EVEN IF THEY CARRY THEIR OWN BAGS AND WALK ON BOARD. and no, i aint whining about not boarding first as first or biz class. it's about abusing the system and creating delays and chaos. all the rest of the herd sees a few people boarding and they all bumrush the gate area. i swear i would curse them all out if i were a gate agent.

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