Well, I’m back from Mexico, and looking forward to a busy and HOPEFULLY prosperous 2007. But, as a diversion, let me just share with you my experience with US Airways/America West. (Hint. Fly with another airline, unless you relate with the Griswold family in Christmas Vacation and prefer that type of vacation.)
This was my letter to them. I probably would have just sent it to THEM, and given them a chance to RESPOND, but their stupid CONTACT form would not take it, because it had too many characters. Perhaps in the future they will have an alternate available for people who don’t want to say, “Hey, nice job, you guys rock.” You can’t sum some things up in 2000 characters. Yeah, yeah, I know I have a contact form, too, but that’s because people like to send me emails that say things like, “I think I’ll kidnap you until you see things my way.” I am trying to lodge a legitimate complaint to a BIG company. Oh well. I’ll just post it here instead. I was kind enough to send their contact form the link.
Dear Friends at US Airways/America West:
My family and I just took a trip to Cancun, Mexico. I booked the trip with Funjet, so they arranged our air travel. I probably would not have picked your company, mainly because it was a connecting flight. But I figured it couldn’t be too bad. I was wrong.
We flew out from Salt Lake City on Friday, December 22. Our flight number 2874 wasn’t too bad, except for the extremely rude behavior of ALL the flight staff. The attendants were snappy, short, and very, very unhelpful to anyone who needed anything. It was the first time I’ve EVER seen this on an airline. Any airline. I mean, there are one or two rude people in ANY industry, but an entire plane full? My oldest kept whispering to me, “Mom, these people are not nice.” She was right.
We had some trouble in Phoenix because the Jetway was stuck and wouldn’t attach to the door, and whenever someone asked about their fear of missing the connecting flight, the attendant would snap, “I have no way to know if you will miss your flight. We have dozens of flights. If you miss it, we’ll put you on another.” He reminded me of that guy on the old Airplane movie: you know, the one named Johnny who unplugs the lights to the runway and then says, “just kidding”? It’s like they CLONED Johnny and the units are all working at US Airways. “Missing Grandma’s funeral? Too bad! We have dozens of flights! So you’re an hour late. Ya think she’s going to know? Just kidding!”
While I REALIZE that this is the reality (late flights, delays, unavoidable errors, people unplugging the runway lights…er…), service is about SERVING people, and soothing frayed nerves. “We’ll do the best we can to help you when we get there,” would have been an appropriate answer. It would have been a BLATANT LIE, but still, it would have been nicer. There was none of that going on here.
We sat in the plane and twiddled our thumbs, people getting antsier and antsier, and after about a 30-minute delay, and just as they were prepared to have us WALK DOWN THE STAIRS, they got the jetway functioning. Glory be, that we might have to WALK DOWN SOME STAIRS and outside into the dangerous atmosphere of Phoenix! Who knew they even PUT stairs on airplanes?? Can you believe it? Folks, I’ve flown into some tiny airports, and those planes have stairs, and they DO allow you to walk down them and into the terminals. Sheesh.
We were fortunate, because we had plenty of time (our layover was longer) to make our Cancun flight, 315. In fact, we had MORE than enough time because there were so many late flights we sat on the RUNWAY for an hour waiting for people whose connecting flights were late. This was annoying at first, but we later discovered just why this was necessary. Keep reading.
Luckily, we fed the children before we got on board, because we discovered this FOUR HOUR FLIGHT consists of ONE beverage service and a tiny bag of pretzels. You can buy food–awful food–for $5. And there is a very limited amount. You get one drink, some water, and a bag of “snacks” that wouldn’t be “enough for a mouse.”
It was a relief to get to Cancun, where our resort was a delight, the people kind, and the service excellent. I figured the trip back would be better. It was not. In fact, it was much worse.
Our flight was delayed an hour in Mexico (Flight 316, Friday, December 29), so we sat in the airport and twiddled our thumbs. We had fed the kids at the hotel, in anticipation of the fact there wasn’t much on the plane, but the delay made sure they were hungry again before the flight was over. “Don’t worry, we’ll get some food before we get on the plane in Phoenix,” I told them. No such luck. Even though our flight had been delayed (for reasons we were not told), the pilot said we made up time in the air. No matter. We pulled up in Phoenix to discover we could not deplane, as “someone was in in our jetway.” Interesting. We sat on the plane and watched the time tick away. Since we had to reclaim our baggage, go through CUSTOMS and IMMIGRATION, and recheck our bags, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Cancun of us making our connecting flight. After a very stressful time going through immigration, customs, rechecking our baggage and going BACK through airport security, we ran from one terminal to the next and discovered that we HAD made our flight…. The snowball lived! God Bless Cancun…. Of course it was only because there again were so many late flights that they were purposely waiting. There had been NO time to stop and feed our kids, as we were RUNNING just to get on the plane! So they had to subsist on a little bag of pretzels, and the attendant woudn’t even give them another when I asked.
I’ve never been so glad to get off an airplane in my life.
I realize that ALL AIRLINES have flights that are delayed, that it’s a busy time of year, and that sometimes there really IS nothing a flight attendant can do. The difference, though, is HOW you address the problem. The problem is:
1. Your staff is poorly trained or not properly hired. They sure don’t seem happy with their jobs. They are short with people, rude, and act as though they are bored with their job. Serving people is not a fun thing. This I know. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve flown on Delta. I’ve flown on American Airlines. I’ve flown on Jet Blue. I’ve flown on Southwest, and more than a few others I can’t remember. I have NEVER seen such rude, incompetent attendants, and it was the same on ALL FOUR FLIGHTS. Cloning Johnny has not worked for you. I’d try something else.
2. You are cutting corners SO far that soon there will be no paper left to cut. Have you ever made a paper snowflake, and discovered you cut the corners just one too many times and all you have is a big hole? That is what is HAPPENING here, people. Even Southwest gives people a damned cookie! I’ve never heard of ONE beverage service on a FOUR HOUR FLIGHT. That is just stupid. There is also no advance warning of this, or I would have stocked up. If I ever must get on this wretched airline again, I will be the one with the rolling cooler, dispensing food to the poor unfortunate travelers with me.
3. The planes seemed in disrepair, with headphone jacks not working and lavatories not shutting properly. Is this what is causing all the delays? Is it something more serious? I kept wondering about an airline that couldn’t fix a lavatory door to keep it shut. What the hell is going on in the engine?
Truly and honestly, the biggest complaint I had was the way we were treated by the attendants. I am a patient person, and I will put up with a lot, but this went too far, and it was the SAME on every flight. Four flights. All delayed. All late. All with rude attendants. And I don’t mind getting my children food from the airport before we get on the plane. If you don’t charge me astronomical prices for a ticket, WHICH YOU DID. And my kids had to go hungry? You couldn’t give them TWO Sprites? Please. We had to pull over in a gas station and buy them hotdogs before we could get home—AT ELEVEN AT NIGHT.
The kicker was the man standing there in the air terminal, trying to get me to sign up for some sort of PROMOTIONAL thing your airline has, as I’m running (literally!!!) to try to get on my flight to Salt Lake City, which is about to depart without me! That was funny.
You won’t be signing me up for that one!