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Archive for June, 2009

United Airlines Needs Customer Service Lessons

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 20, 2009


United Terminal at O'Hare

United Terminal at O'Hare

This has got to be the height of how not to treat a customer. My daughters Mother-in-law purchased 2 round trip tickets for my daughter and her husband for their honeymoon. They were headed to Rome, Italy from Chicago. The best fare and connections were through Toronto on Air Canada. The entire itinerary was on Air Canada except for the first leg of the trip which was from Chicago to Toronto. This leg was a code share flight with United Airlines. That means that United Airlines operated the flight, but the ticket showed an Air Canada flight number but also said “Flight Operated by United Airlines.”

The tickets were purchased about 4 months ago. During that time, United Airlines had a major schedule change and canceled a large number of flights. One of those flights  was the Air Canada code share flight that my kids were on. Now you would think that United would have let us know that the flight was canceled. That would have been the proper thing to do, but remember, this is United, an Airline that does not know what the words “Customer Service” means.

So let’s jump ahead to the night before the flight. I ask my daughter what the flight number was so I can check the times and maybe even get them checked in and get a boarding pass. She gives me her itinerary and I proceeded to look up her flights, but I could not find her first flight number. So I checked all the flight from Chicago to Toronto and I found that her flight did not exist anymore. So I tried to check her in on the United website. But it was not able to check them in as the website said that they did not have a flight from Chicago to Toronto. Now I am really worried. So we call Air Canada. They tell me that they have rebooked them on a United flight to Toronto at 110PM. So I felt a little better, but I still didn’t trust United. So I  called United Airlines Reservations. By the time we got to a real person I was very nervous. I gave the United reservation agent the reservation number and I was told the flight was an Air Canada flight. I told the agent, “No it is your flight, because it is a 737 aircraft and Air Canada does not have any 737’s. The agents argued with me for a few minutes, but then agreed with me that it was a United flight. I hung up, but I still was not feeling very good about this, as it was still not showing the flight correctly in the United reservation system.

The No Customer Service Gate Check In

The No Customer Service Gate Check In

Fast forward to the next day. My kids arrive at O’Hare Airport at 11AM for the 1;10PM Flight. They get in the International check in line and they wait, and wait and wait. After 50 minutes in line, they get to the kiosk and try to check in. But my fears come true and it will not let them check in. It says on the screen “Cannot complete check in, Please see agent.” So they turn around and grab an agent and she tells them they have to go and stand in yet another line to see an agent. They have now been at the airport for 1 hour trying to check in. The next line has at least 40 people in it and only one agent working the line. It takes them 40 minutes to get to the agent. Once they get to the agent, they are told  by the agent “You are too late, I cannot check you in, there is only 20 minutes before flight time. Go to Air Canada, it’s their ticket.” Can you believe that! And she was rude on top of it. They told her that they have been waiting almost 2 hours in LINE! There was no response from the agent. So they gathered up their luggage and  walked from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, which is a long haul.

The Air Canada Agent they finally checked in with could not have been nicer to my Daughter and Son In Law. She could not believe that United treated them so poorly. She apologized and booked them on an Air Canada flight at 2PM and up graded them to First Class. This is the sign of a Class Airline. United can learn a lot about customer service from the Ticket Agent at Air Canada. Because if you don’t treat your customers with respect, then you won’t have any customers. And if you don’t have any customers, you won’t have an airline. Just some food for thought United!

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Grand Hyatt NY Gets An “F” For Accommodations!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 6, 2009


 

Grand Hyatt Hotel New York City

Grand Hyatt Hotel New York City

I just returned from a business trip to New York where I gave a presentation to a group of travel industry professionals. The conference went well, but that is not my reason for writing this. The problem was with the Hotel.

The conference hotel was the Grand Hyatt in New York City. This is a very large business hotel located right next to Grand Central Station on 42nd street. I was excited about staying at the hotel as I really enjoy the Hyatt brand. 

 

I arrived at 1250AM in stead of 1030PM as my flight was late from Chicago due to weather in the New York area. So I am now very tired, somewhat wet as it has been pouring rain for the entire trip from Newark Airport to the Grand Hyatt Hotel and I had to wade through the rain to get to the Super Shuttle Bus. I walk into the lobby of the Grand Hyatt and proceed to the Registration Desk. Now remember it is 1250AM on Thursday morning and there are at least 12 people waiting in line to check in. Now that would not be so bad, but there is only one desk clerk handling the check in and to add insult to injury, there are approximately 15 self service check-in kiosk that all say “OUT OF SERVICE – SEE DESK CLERK TO CHECK IN.” So now I am very tired, I have a bad headache and I am standing in a line that is not moving at all. 

 

20 minutes later I make it up to the desk clerk. I give him my name and my reservation number. He types it into the computer and then I see that look on his face that I have seen to many times before. You know the look of bad news at 115 in the morning. So he tells me that the room I reserved was not available. My heart dropped! I said you have to give me a room. He tells me that he has a queen size smoking room. I said to myself, “how bad could a smoking room be?” So I say to the desk clerk, I just need a room to sleep in, I will take the room. 

 

So he gives me the key card and I proceed to the 15th floor room I was assigned. I get to the room and open the door and walk in and then it hit me. This room REAKED of smoke! Oh did it stink, it just knocked you over. It smelled like someone chain smoked no-stop for a week! But again, I was so tired and I had this terrible headache and I just needed so sleep. So I climbed into the bed and fell asleep. 

 

When I woke up, I really look around the room for the first time. The window shade was all stained and looked as if someone threw a cup of coffee on it. The lights on the night stands did not work properly. The Desk lamp shade was broken and had a hole in it.  There was a floor lamp that was leaning over like someone bent the base.  And the final straw, the wifi in the room did not work.

 

I walked into the bathroom to take a shower. The bathroom look pretty good, so I get into the shower, close the curtain and turned on the water. I adjusted the temperature and then the tub started to fill up. Ok, so the drain was running slow. I hit the shower button and the shower turned on. It started to spray nicely around the curtain and on to the floor. I could not get a good flow onto me, but it did a great job of making a puddle on the floor of the bathroom, which I could not stop.

 

I was really frustrated by this time. I got out of the shower and threw two towels on the floor to soak up the water. I then dried myself off with a third towel, at least they gave me 4 towels and they were not the usual fluffy Hyatt towels, they were very scratchy and thin towels.

 

The service was just fair throughout the hotel. The public areas were very nice, but the service was poor at best. I stay in lots of hotel rooms during the year and this was a stay that I want to forget. I cannot recommend the Grand Hyatt in New York until they do something to improve the quality control of the rooms and the attitude of the staff.

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