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Posts Tagged ‘flying’

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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No Free Pillows for YOU! On Jet Blue..

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 4, 2008


 

Jet Blue aircraft on taxi

Jet Blue aircraft on taxi

Well, here is the next thing that an airline has found to charge the traveling public for. Pillows and blankets, that’s right,  Jet Blue is selling a pillow-blanket kit for $7 on flights of 2 hours or more. What will those marketing geniuses come up with next!

Now there is an upside to this. There has been a lot of talk about how airline pillows and blankets on the aircrafts harbor all types of germs. So with this sealed pillow-blanket kit, it is a one use deal and it is made from MicronOne fabric which blocks all micro-toxins larger than one micron in size, such as dust mites, mold spores, pollen and pet dander. Oh, and you can take it home with you and bring it on your next flight.

So, if you don’t want to pay $7 for a pillow and blanket, you will have to bring your own from now on on Jet Blue. I am still waiting for the airlines to charge fifty cents to use the toilet!

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Open Letter to United Airlines CEO on Checked Baggage

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 18, 2008


                                                                            I sent this letter to Glenn Tilton, President and CEO of United Airlines. I guess the Airlines just don’t get it!Flying over America

Dear Mr. Tilton,

I am a loyal fan of United Airlines. I just completed a wonderful flight from Seattle to Chicago on United. Everyone from the gate agent in Seattle to the flight crew on the aircraft, were just great. It was the best flying experience I have had in months and I want to thank you for that.

And now for the main reason for this letter. I just received an email regarding United’s new baggage policy. I have to tell you that I am appalled. This is no way to run an airline. I have been in the travel industry for 37 years and I am currently a consultant to the travel industry. I wrote a piece on American’s $15 baggage charge where I questioned the policy and wondered if in fact the management at American were trying to put the airline in bankruptcy. The cold hard fact is $15 for a checked bag is a way to nickel and dime your customers away from your airline. This does not address the real problem, which is the escalating cost of running an airline. Fuel is now a major concern, but $15 per bag is not the answer. You have to price your product correctly. Charge your passenger what it costs to transport them from point A to point B and include the costs associated with that transportation, which includes at least one checked bag. You understand that you are forcing more and more people to carry on more luggage. A carryon suitcase clobbered me 2 weeks ago by a passenger that did not want to check her bag. She hoisted it up into the overhead and then it fell out and hit me in the head. With this additional carryon luggage, the boarding process will be slowed and there will be gate delays. It just does not make sense.

 I will give you some free advice. Don’t implement your $15 baggage charge, just raise your fares to cover your costs and make a profit. You will then have a profitable airline and you will have happy passengers, happy employees and happy investors. People will pay the price for a “Great Product” so make your airline a great airline by delivering a great customer experience. Try it, it works.  If you don’t, you will drive your customers away from your airline and then everyone loses.

I really hope that you, Mr. Tilton reads this letter and not one of your assistants because I would like to hear back from you, as you are the driving force behind this airline. Looking forward to your reply.

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