Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Friendly Skies?

The sun was out today in San Francisco and I got to walk along Market Street to and from my meeting.

I never did make it a point to check and see what time my flight home to LAX was scheduled for. Instead I just spent time chattin' away on the telephone. And when I went to check-in at the electronic kiosk I learned I was about 5 minutes too late.

The United computer said I could get on the next flight and either pay $25 for a confirmed reservation or fly standby for no charge. I figured I had already paid enough for my ticket (including a change fee for when my trip was extended) and declined their offer to spend another $25.

The next flight was only about an hour later so I figured I could still make it to the meeting in Los Angeles I was trying to attend.

When I arrived at the gate the attendants already had a serious, negative attitude. They made an announcement that if you were flying standby you'd have to check your carry-on luggage. How ridiculous.

Of course, I was too stupid to do what the other standby passengers did and NOT put the giant orange tag on my carry-on luggage. I watched as they all waltzed on carrying their bag. As I headed to the plane I got a terse, "Oh, you'll have to check that." My request to speak to a supervisor was rejected because she was too "busy." They suggested that instead of standing by on this flight I should get out of the jetway and take the flight I was originally scheduled on. My explanation that my originally scheduled flight left an hour ago and lacking a way-back machine I couldn't "take it" seemed beyond their comprehension.

I can't say that I'm proud of my meltdown in front of a hundred people lined up to get on the plane (all taking their carry-ons with them). But I stand by my recommendation that an airline barely emerging from bankruptcy should treat it's loyal customers better than I was being treated.

And when the "service" representative asked me how I would like it if she came to my place of business and "got all up in your face" about the job I was doing, I meant it when I said I would genuinely try to remedy the problem rather than offer false apologies because "that's the policy."

Naturally my Rage Against the Machine was pointless and I was left to sulk all the way to Row 21 and hope that my now-checked bag didn't "accidentally' not make it on the flight.

I had to wait an extra 20 minutes at LAX to claim my bag which, thankfully did show up.

And doesn't it just figure the meeting I was so concerned about getting home for was cancelled?

(Probably just as well I didn't know because I might have taken their offer to get off the flight and not check my bag just to prove some point.)

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