Wednesday, July 9, 2008

F#@! You, Ted

That's the title Miles instructed me to slap on this post. Boy is he steamed.

Miles had to go to Madison, Wis., for a work-related computer training program this week, returning tonight after a Madison-Denver-Vegas trip on United's Ted service. It was enough that he and his colleagues had to haul a few miles from one gate to the next in Denver's obnoxiously huge airport to make their connection, but then the plane was, of course, delayed. It seemed they were missing the pilot. That particular complication has happened to us at least thrice this summer.

So United decided to board the passengers a half-hour after the scheduled departure time and everyone thinks they're on their way. But they're not. Once boarded, the passengers hear an announcement that the pilot's en route, will be there "as soon as he can," blah blah blah. So they boarded these people knowing they still had nobody to fly the machine. Anyone have any explanation as to why?

But here's the kicker. There are rows and rows of empty seats, the so-called Economy Plus seats. Almost entirely empty. And the loser-Economy passengers are crammed in. But a flight attendant comes on the PA to inform the loser-Economy passengers that, despite the half-full status of the plane and all those lovely, roomy empty seats before them, passengers are NOT permitted to spread out into the special seats.

So they sat empty. And the airline made no money off them at all. But dozens of passengers, who were at least an hour delayed and trapped on the aircraft because of United's inability to schedule its own staff, were even more offended and aggravated. They were cheek-to-cheek and they clearly didn't need to be.

Doesn't air travel these days just suck?


Anonymous said...

Re the empty seats, so?

They're there for people who pay to upgrade to them or have put up with exactly the type of junk that you were just complaining about for A LONG TIME and have earned the right to sit in those seats. It actually drives me CRAZY when *I'm* all crazy in my economy plus seat and some schmuck from the back (usually some novice traveller) decides to move up into the seat next to me that was purposely left empty for ME, a frequent traveler, by the airline.

So there's my rant. :-)

Anonymous said...

Yep - it does suck. I avoid it all costs. I recently drove to Chicago (6 hrs) twice in two weeks just to avoid having to fly. I also beat my co-workers home both weeks due to delays. The major airlines operate with such arrogance these days (charging extra from everything from a window seat to checking a single bag) and even when problems result of their own doing, the best you will get is a shrug of the shoulders. - Walter

brownbag said...

There are various metrics that airlines are tracked on by the FAA. One of those is how often the flight leaves and arrives on time. Also, how late. If you are on a flight that pushes off from the gate on time and sits on the runway for an hour, it left on time. If you checked flight schedules from a couple years ago, you would find that most flights are now 30-60 minutes longer than they used to be. By padding the times, they are "on time" more often. It may not count this time, but every minute waiting for people to load after the pilot arrives hurts their stats with the FAA.
It does seem to be a shame that people can't move to the better coach seats after they are empty, but they've never allowed people to wander up to first class and take empty seats either. I do have to agree with the anonymous person above. I will pick a premium seat where there is nobody next to me because I don't want to sit next to someone. I fly almost every week, and whether I "deserve" it, or not, It does help make up for the misery I put up with that goes far beyond anyone who only flys a few times a year. I'm taking a quick break from work in Amstelveen Netherlands to type this while I dread the 14 hours of flying to get home Saturday. In a couple weeks I'll be back doing it again. In some respects, A trip a month to Europe this year, beats the three trips a month to the East coast from SLC I did last year. I feel your pain, but there's plenty of us working stiffs that have a hard time working up too much sympathy. Most of those in the nicer seats had to experience a lot of pain to get there.

Anonymous said...

Could be worse, no in flight entertainment via the tiny little screens and bad audio on US Air:

Guess we'll have to put up with amorous couples flying into Vegas on a Friday night.

Ray said...

Air travel sucks, but United and their brain-dead idea "Ted" (thought they could compete with Southwest by having cutesy branding, not reliable low cost service), remains the worst-of-breed in the domestic airlines department. On those rare cases when United is cheaper, you're far better paying a the $40 or $50 more for AmericaWest/USAirways, or Southwest, or Virgin America (my favorite). United's management suffer from severe "head-in-ass" syndrome, and have pillaged vast sums from the company while vigorously screwing over their employees. That experience is reflected in the surliness and overall air of disdain for the customer, and the glee with which they nickel and dime everyone. Avoid them at all costs! (And this from someone with a quarter million frequent flier points on that sorry airline!)