United started the Chinese year of the dog off with a bark.
Anecdotally, United agents seem to be friendlier than say, American agents. But that’s not saying much and the high-profile incidents at United keep on happening Rover and Rover again. Sorry guys, I’ll try to go easy on the puns 😉
The airline can market themselves as being flyer-friendly all they want, but if these are the friendly skies, I sure don’t want to fly on the unfriendly airlines!
-A French bulldog died on March 12 after a United flight attendant had the dog put into an overhead bin, where it likely suffocated. I still don’t understand why the passenger agreed to that plan and didn’t retrieve the dog during the flight, but perhaps they didn’t want to wind up ruff-housed like Dr. Dao?
Flight attendants have become the bullies of the sky as they go on power trips like this one. Who can forget when a Delta flight attendant told a passenger that “you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be put in foster care.”
I’ve traveled on 123 flights with ours kids and I’ve heard all kinds of far-fetched whoppers from flight attendants about where carseats can or can’t go. I’ve called out the nonsense when I’ve seen it, but I have been threatened with being escorted off the plane by police for daring to question why our airplane safe carseat would not be allowed in a paid seat on a flight. It doesn’t always work, but I have had captains overrule flight attendants on a power trip.
-On March 13 United sent a dog via cargo from Denver to Tokyo/NRT instead of Wichita/ICT with its owners. United wound up chartering a private jet to fly the dog back to Wichita. No word on whether the dog was named Toto, but one has to wonder if people told the dog that it wasn’t in Kansas anymore as often as people tell that to my Kansas native wife.
-On March 15 United flight 3996 was scheduled to leave from Newark gate A27 at 2:45pm to S. Louis. United flight 4091 was scheduled to leave from Newark gate A27 at 3:15pm to Akron. While the dog’s owners were on flight 4091, United managed to send the dog on flight 3996.
United realized their mistake halfway through the flight and diverted the S. Louis bound airplane to Akron to give the dog back to its owners. United then flew from Akron to S. Louis, delivering passengers there over 2 hours late. It’s pretty shocking that United would opt to divert a plane in that situation, but I suppose United felt that they just couldn’t afford any more bad press in the dog eat dog world of airline competition. Another dog delivered to the wrong airport would have made the headlines more than a diverted flight. To their credit, United gave refunds to everyone on the diverted flight.
That was more than United did for me when a dog without the proper paperwork caused AJK, myself, and other passengers to missconnect on the Island Hopper.
The incidents kept on dogging United until they finally suspended their pet cargo program on March 20.
8 years ago I was bemoaning the loss of my beloved Continental when they agreed to merge with United. I predicted that Cleveland would be dehubbed, clubs would start charging for alcohol, employees would be surly, and call centers would be offshored, all of which has come true. I started a thread on FlyerTalk asking “What Are You Not Looking Forward To At CoUniHound?” joking that Continental and United may as well merge with Greyhound. And you can definitely now say that the airline has gone to the dogs.
United will require all of its customer facing employees to undergo 4 hours of compassion training. There’s no doubt that employees from many airlines need that, but United is definitely up there.
But I still question what will be learned in a classroom setting on compassion?
If they really wanted to generate goodwill and teach their employees about compassion then United ought to send them to the Far East with airlines like ANA, JAL, and Singapore. The service on those airlines in coach is better than what US carriers can muster in first class. Maybe some of that will rub off on United employees. Just because they are “primarily there for safety” doesn’t mean they can’t provide service with a genuine smile as anyone in a customer facing position should.
Can you teach an old dog new tricks? What would you recommend to fix the service issues that plague the US airlines?