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We Deserve Good Service

Delays are unfortunately a way of life when it comes to airline travel. When I learned my flight from Chicago to Washington D.C. would be delayed recently due to an electrical problem with the plane, immediately following disappointment my emotion was grateful…since I surely didn’t want to fly on a plane that isn’t mechanically sound.

My attitude soon turned sour, however, and it wasn’t because of the delay, but how the United Airlines crew handled it. Instead of letting us know what was going on and being empathetic, they were non-communicative and at one point, surly.

We were supposed to leave O’Hare at 4 p.m. We were told an hour after the scheduled departure time that we’d finally be able to board the plane. This announcement was made after more than 45 minutes of silence.

We boarded the plane, and right after the last person had settled in, were told the electrical problem wasn’t fixed after all, so we’d need to deplane and go to another gate, where a plane was waiting to take us to D.C. We scrambled to collect our already-stowed belongings and walk to the new gate, only to be greeted with silence once again.

Ten minutes went by, then 20, and about a half hour after leaving our grounded plane, our crew finally arrived at the gate, where we passengers were, to say the least, restless. We boarded a second time, and once we’d all sat down, were told we’d have to wait for the plane to be supplied.

 I believe if asked to vote, we’d have gladly taken off without pretzels and sodas…but we weren’t given that chance. We sat there. A maintenance guide boarded the plane and headed toward the back. Everyone wondered what was going on, but I was the only one to ask a passing flight attendant, who snapped at me, “we’re waiting for supplies.”

 Her attitude was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. That, and the fact that once we did get underway, nothing was offered in the form of an apology; the crew was totally unfeeling.

This may be one reason the passengers’ bill of rights was so important. [youtube][/youtube]

We finally made it to our nation’s capital more than two hours after our scheduled arrival time. I know I wasn’t the only passenger who was dismayed over the way we were treated, but I don’t know how many others wrote United to express their dismay.

I received an apologetic reply along with an electronic certificate for $150 off a full fare ticket. Will I use it? Maybe…only if the price is right, since I seldom purchase full fare seats.

The sad thing is it wouldn’t have taken much from the flight crew to make me feel OK, despite the delay. On my way home, we circled Denver for a long time due to bad weather, but the crew kept us up-to-date on what was going on and apologized…even though they could do nothing about the situation. My connection home was also delayed, yet that crew noted they would get us there as fast as they could and when we finally landed, almost an hour late, they made a joke of it, welcoming us to San Diego “three days later.”

The moral to all this is twofold: airline passengers deserve good service, especially when delays occur, and it does pay to let the airline know when you feel you’ve been treated poorly. If we don’t tell them, how will they know?