After a hiatus of weeks, I am finally back with a revenge! We spent three weeks of vacation in California visiting family and relatives. The worst thing that could happen is end this with a bad experience on the plane. I have ranted this out on social media including Facebook and even Instagram so let me do this for the record on this blog.
Last day finally came, a day after my birthday, 28th March. At the airport, while checking in, I was told by the ground attendant that my seat will be separate from my wife and daughter. Well, that’s not good news. So I asked if she can arrange for us to be together. She said she cannot do anything about it. So I thought I’ll try to find a way when we get there and hopefully I could find a good soul willing to swap seats. So we got into the plain and there turned out to be a crazy situation awaiting us. We learned that we were all assigned to separate seats including my three-year-old daughter. What the heck! I did not bother to check that out when I was checking in but who would have expected this? I have not traveled so much with my family but most in my experience was that it was always common sense that we were assigned seats together. A three year old kid sitting beside a parent really makes sense.
Fortunately, I was able to arrange a swap with a gentleman so my wife and daughter could seat together. I did not bother to ask the other guy seated on the other side because it was obvious that he was not interested. I wanted to seat close to them for obvious reasons. I found a seat on the aisle still unoccupied and so I sat there hoping that no one will show up or at least I could ask to swap. While waiting, I talked to one stewardess and told her what happened and my intention to swap, her only comment was something like “Oh that’s the usual thing that happens every day”. She brushed off the incident casually and said I can wait and see if the passenger assigned to the seat will not show up. After some time, the person came assisted by another matured stewardess. So I asked if I could swap and explained what happened. Her reply was that I cannot do that. She said I could only swap if the person does not show up and that I cannot talk to the passenger to swap. What kind of crap is that? They were comfortable that I managed to swap a seat so my wife and daughter could seat together but they never offered any consolation. Now, I may be asking for more than the minimum, but can’t you at least be nice?
I wonder now what would have happened if we did not get to swap a seat for my wife in the first place!
Moving on, I shared this in the social media and was thankful for those who shared my story. One United Airlines staff picked it up from my Instagram post. Thanks for the comment but did not offer any other solution to move on with that. Lastly, I logged on to their website to report the issue and never even got an email acknowledgement of my complaint- which is odd because I would normally get this even from the most ordinary company or even government agencies.
Well, as I learned, some friends who fly using United Airlines have expressed that indeed this airline is the worst- and yet they do not have a choice because its routes seem to be the only convenient choices from america to Asia. Oh my, see how a monopoly could kill good customer service!
I missed my wife and daughter during that 12 hour trip from Los Angeles to Japan stopover. It was like missing them for weeks and months! I could only look at them from afar and would drop by once in a while. I would not have let the airplane take off if we were not together on our final destination trip back to Singapore. But the same ground attendant did it correctly for this flight.
So then, would I have a choice next time I fly? The lesson I learned here is never assume companies will provide good service. Next time I check in, I will give a dumb instruction: “Can you please make sure the three of us are seated together? You see, in our last flight with United Airlines, we were given seats apart from each other including my three year old daughter. “ Seriously. This is something I have always taken for granted. Now don’t wait for your turn. Remember this and you’ll be forever grateful to me!
Update: On 26 April 2012, I received an email from their Customer Care undersigned by Martin Hand (Senior Vice President, Customer Experience) apologizing for not replying immediately and explaining that the United and Continental merger caused some trouble in their systems. Strange that this email came just days after I published this post. They said that they have documented my complaint and promised to send an electronic travel voucher as token of appreciation for the feedback. Thank you, United for the gesture. Surely I had to write this on my blog to reach you.
Now, I have this song in my head: “A man can tell a thousand lies; I’ve learned my lesson well; Hope I live to tell the secret I have learned till then; it will burn inside of me…” (Live to Tell, Madonna).
Coming up next… Bring The Right Baggage Going to US