Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I guess Nancy doesn't work at United Airlines anymore...


I am old enough to remember when this ad originally aired...

I'm sure by now, everyone's heard about the doctor who was involuntarily bumped from a United Airlines flight originating in Chicago and headed to Louisville, Kentucky.  For those who have been living under a rock, here's the quick and dirty lowdown.

Sunday night, a video circulated showing a man being roughly removed from his seat and literally dragged down the aisle.  David Dao, a physician who needed to get back to Louisville to tend to his patients, was the unlucky and unwilling draftee when United needed extra seats for staff members who needed to get to Louisville to work a flight.  Although United had offered $400 and then $800 to volunteers, no one was willing to give up their seat.  So the doctor's name was drawn at random.  When he balked at deplaning, he was forcibly ejected by airport security.  Other passengers filmed Dao, whose face was bloodied as he was violently removed.  United Airlines ended up looking like absolute shit.

This morning, I read another article about how shabbily United treats its customers.  Geoff Fearns, needed to fly from Hawaii to Los Angeles last week.  He purchased a last minute first class ticket and was enjoying a glass of orange juice when he was told he'd need to get off the plane.  It seemed that the aircraft he was sitting on had mechanical problems and United needed to switch it with a smaller plane that had fewer first class seats.  Another customer, one with higher "status" than Fearns, had shown up at the last minute and United wanted to give the other customer priority.

Fearns was apparently told that if they had to, they'd put him in handcuffs to get him off the flight.  Finally, what ended up happening was Fearns was seated in economy class in a middle seat between a married couple who happened to be engaged in a nasty squabble.  The couple argued the whole way across the Pacific Ocean.

When Fearns got back home, he consulted his lawyer and then sent a letter to United requesting a full refund and a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice.  United responded by denying him the refund and the donation.  They offered to refund the difference in price between the cost of the first class and economy ticket and a $500 credit toward another flight.  Fearns, who happens to be a wealthy man, is considering suing.  Frankly, I hope he does.  And no... he won't be flying the friendly skies anymore on United.

It's so funny to watch the ad above and remember when it used to be on TV.  "Nancy" is so dedicated to her job and ready to take care of everyone, making sure they're happy and comfortable.  Even if it's just an ad, the emphasis is on providing good service.  Now, it's more about being cheap.  It's amazing to see how far down the customer service spiral United and other airlines have gone.  It's pathetic.

Edited to add...  It figures that right after I post this article, this news comes out about Dr. Dao.  Apparently, he was convicted of trading drugs for sex.  In 2005, he lost his medical license, but had it reinstated in 2015 so he could work part time.  And, evidently, the married doctor from Vietnam makes a good living gambling.  But even if all of that's true, the way United handled this incident was still pretty piss poor customer service.  What happened to Dao and Fearns could happen to anyone.    

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