Tuesday, August 23, 2011

US Airways: A Review of Service


If US Airways could make flying a more miserable experience they would be banned by the Geneva Convention. If their employees could be less caring, less considerate, or more obnoxious, there would have to be very little training to get them there. I would suspect only their apparent ennui would deter them from setting some record they may actually already hold in indifference.
            Saturday, August 20, 2011, I was formed by a very bored woman my flight to Philadelphia and therefore my connecting flight to Charlotte and then Tallahassee had been cancelled. No remedy. No redress. No nothing. If I wanted I could rent a car, drive like hell to Philly, and hope, by some miracle that flight wasn’t downed. But I would have to pay for the rental and there was no recourse if I “missed” that flight, nor would I be given a refund for the cancelled flight. I could sleep on the floor if I wanted, pace the airport, panhandle for change, if I wanted, but as far as US Airways was concerned, my flight wouldn’t leave until the next morning, giving me ample time to consider driving next time.
            The next morning I boarded an ancient and cramped propeller plane that took off on time, which is to say that it took off on the same day I was supposed to fly. It was very much like being crammed into an elongated coffin with two fans stuck to the wings. My seat was nevt to the window and right outside one of the props buzzed like a hive of bees on meth. The permanent hearing damage aside, it wasn’t such a bad flight. We landed and some woman walked out of the terminal scratching one of her boobs with one hand and rubbing an eye with another. We had to wait until she secure a device to the prop but she was waving and yelling at a guy in a cart so we waited. Did she work for US Airways? It was a safe bet she did considering how she acted.
            The Airport in Philly is a nightmare. You get off the plane and then have to board a shuttle bus to be taken to some other part of the airport you cannot walk to because the terminals are more or less islands. The card reader didn’t work at the restaurant I tried to grab a meal, and although none of this is US Air’s fault, dealing with them made the ordeal infinitely worse. The plane to Charlotte was an enormous sardine can and I had a middle seat. I felt trapped. As it turns out, I was trapped. First, we had to let fifteen other flights take off before us. The time between those fifteen and my connecting flight dwindled. They frown upon people texting their families and friends to let everyone know how long we were being held on the tarmac and threatened to take my cell from me. In the meanwhile, time ticked on and we did not move. Having been cancelled once, I knew if I missed the connection I would be stuck for another night in Charlotte.
When we got down to me having about twenty minutes between flights the plane took off and needless to say, I wanted to get off that flying closet as soon as I could. It was not to be.
            When we landed there were those of us who literally had moments to spare. One guy tried to brush past the man in front of him, and the guy ahead of him, who was in no hurry at all, just stopped in the middle of the aisle and wouldn’t let him pass. The rest of us behind him were likewise trapped. The word “trapped” keeps popping up in a US Airways flight, doesn’t it just? So the guy is standing there, blocking the aisle, and the flight crew just stares and smiles like they could give a damn less if any of us ever catch another flight. The chorus of passengers turned inmates pleading with the man to release us turned ugly. I was ready to kill him, and finally, after we took a vote and decided to rush him, the man moved. The flight crew was totally indifferent to this.
            At Charlotte I literally ran for my next flight. They have these carts that are supposed to carry passengers to distant gates but the one I tried to board was moving slower than the people walking past us. The woman driving the machine stopped to scold late boarders so I ran. There were three or four of us darting through the crowd and suddenly we lost the woman in heels. She got blocked by two employee who were standing idle and it was me and the other bald guy running for our flight. Alas! He got blocked by a family walking side by side, and I was the last man running.

 RUN MIKE RUN!

With no time left on the clock, I got to my gate and breathlessly, tried to board the plane that wasn’t there. How much, I gasped, time will it take? “Go sit down” the gate guy with no name tag told me. I asked if I had time to grab a bite to eat. “You have time to go sit down” and then suddenly the other gate guy announced the gate had changed, but the plane would leave on time. So the whole cast of characters was on the run, and once there, there was a plane, but no flight crew.  Oddly, there were three or four US Airways employees waiting for the same flight. No one knew if or when we were going to fly. After running for fifteen minutes through a crowded terminal I was now reduced to waiting not for a plane, but for a pilot and a bunch of bored people to help him fly the damn thing. Once we boarded, the ambient temperature was somewhere around 90 degrees and it never got any cooler. At thirty thousand feet, it was a lot like riding on a dirt road.

At the end of the day I arrived at the Tallahassee Airport thirty-three hours after I had stepped into the airport in Scranton the day before. Considering how long it took to get there I had traveled at an average of thirty miles an hour. I could have driven the same distance in nineteen hours and saved a lot of time been comfortable, well fed, and not held hostage by a fellow passenger.

US Airways wants your money but they could give a damn less about you once you’ve forked it over. You are promised everything but they can cancel you, delay you, ignore you, treat you with contempt and where ever you’re going and when you get there is at the bottom of a long list of things they plan on doing. Once you buy a ticket from US Airways you sell your soul. They own you. You belong to them and if they want to treat you like lost baggage they can, and they will.

Take Another Flight!
Mike

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