Wednesday, March 11, 2015

United Airlines’ Lack of Customer Appreciation

A businesswoman's job description can be summed up in 5 words: We need you in (insert city name) tomorrow. Their whole career is based on traveling and getting to the destination within the allotted days.

Millions of dollars depend on the trips they make and if they am unable to get on that plane at the right day and time, then their company can kiss goodbye to millions of dollars in revenue.

So, when an airline like United double books a seat and then tells a traveler that they have to miss the flight and will be reassigned to the next available flight in 6 hours, that might upset me. Nor am I skipping for joy for getting a refund or plane voucher. What good will a voucher do for the meetings that were missed that day?
If anyone wonders why United Airlines is not doing well it is because flying has been made such an unpleasant and degrading experience.
Everyone has at least one experience of bad customer service from the airline industry. Sadly, the problems travelers face only get worse, not better. United Airlines has been making small changes over long periods of times that most changes have not gone unnoticed by customers.

A few examples of ways United Airlines made traveling go from great to bad:

Additional fees
United Airlines has created additional charges for any changes you might need to make to your flight whether it be changing days, changing seats, checking a bag, and even wanting a snack.

No more leg room
My knees are crushed by the seat in front of me. Reclining seats are of the past. In fact the lack of leg room is airline customers #1 complaint! The seats used to recline quite a bit with a push of a button, nowadays, the seat shifts to lean back. Causing your legs to lose more of its already cramped leg space.

Poor experience
United Airlines along with other airline companies have banned together to figure ways to make a person’s traveling experience as limited as possible, stripping away every enjoyment of flying leaving the user with only the basics at 30,000 feet.

Here is one such United Airlines complaint involving a recent traveler headed to LAX.
I was en route via United Airlines to New Orleans from Los Angeles, via a layover in Houston. I was already settled when a couple rudely stated ,"You're in our seats!" I took out my boarding pass and sure enough I'm in the correct seat. The United Airlines flight attendant then took my ticket without thinking twice and proceeded to have my boarding pass reprinted, so that I was reassigned a new seat. He didn't even apologize or even introduce himself!
Why would the United believe that this would be the best approach to handling that specific situation? I believe that one of the greatest tragedies that United removed from their service is the quality of the customer care department. Nothing grates a person more than being treated with disrespect while said person is paying for services rendered.

What happened to the old adage “the customer is always right”?

Here is a suggestion that I leave to you, United Airlines: Keep in mind that the customer is not comfortable, feeling as if they are taken care of, or that their needs are met. The airlines industry has stripped consumers of comfort, therefore, a smiling, friendly flight attendant can make all the difference between a positive review and a letter headed to the complaint department.

In the example above, the United Airlines flight attendant should have:
  • Talked to both the couple and the person leaving the complaint. The male flight attendant should have then taken all of the tickets to verify that, indeed, the seat has been double booked.
  • Then the attendant should have nicely asked the person to move to another seat, hopefully putting that person in a seat upgrade like an exit row or even first class.
  • Guaranteed, if the person was talked to as an actual person and made to feel as valued as a customer, this United Airlines complaint would not exist. 
Since United has failed to make customers feel valued and appreciated, then maybe we should take the advice of Andy Rooney. Let’s make a statement to the airlines just to get their attention. We’ll pick a week next year and we’ll all agree not to go anywhere for seven days.

Sadly, I do not see that happening in the foreseeable future, but I like the idea the more I travel. However, I do believe that we, as consumers, need to demand our comfort, luxury, and enjoyment of travel to be on the forefront of all airlines, not just United.