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Old Jun 16, 2010, 4:11 PM
rgray rgray is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1
Thumbs down Poor all round service - from check-in to in-flight service

We recently flew roundtrip with United from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. In our party was 4 adults and 3 children (ages 5 through 9). Weeks prior to departure we selected out seats such that each child was seated next to at least one adult in our party, and reconfirmed these seat selections the day before departure. Additionally, we had selected specific meals (low calorie option for the adults, childs meal for the kids) and again confirmed this personally with the airline prior to departure.

When checking in with United we found that the gate agents had re-assigned our seats, moving two our our adults to other sections of the plane (no upgrades, still economy, but moved). When we requested details on why the change had been made and requested it be switched, the gate agent with no facial expression or emotion, and while maintaining a conversation with another person, re-assigned our party and handed us new boarding passes. To our surprise and disgust, we found the three kids spread throughout the plane, seated next to complete strangers, rows from the nearest family member adult. Their response was the seats are how they are and the kids will be fine on their own. A 5 year old, fine on his own? I'm sorry, there's a lot of freaks in this world and I'm not putting my 5 year old on a plane seated next to someone I do not know. The TSA may screen passengers, but they don't screen them for a mollestation or any other such thing that's yet to be discovered by the authorities!!!

Thankfully, other passengers on the plane were kind enough to switch around so that our family could be mostly together with at least the kids safely with mom and dad. The flight attendants on the other hand went with the same thought process as the gate agents - the kids will be fine flying by themselves. UNLIKELY!

So then comes in-flight service. Rude, obnoxious, and almost like we were an inconvenience to their social hour. $10,000 in fares. I expect at least a smile. The correct meal would be good, and a drink from time to time. Food? ahh food... remember those special meals? Not a single one of them was right, and not because we switched seats. They simply didn't have them on the plane. And kids meals? Apparently, while United - by default - carries kids meals for all children on the flight, did not have enough for our kids. Ever seen a kid eat some mystery meat? Ever seen an adult eat it? So, the kids had snacks we brought with us, which were hardly enough for the flight time. Another failure. United's in-flight peoples view "you're in economy, what do you expect?" word for word almost!

The return flight was not any better! none at all!

Long story short - I tried United for the trans-pacific flight back in 2001 and swore then that I would never fly them again. I have flown Qantas (amazing in-flight service and amenities - they make you feel human; feel welcome; feel valued... food is great, entertainment second to none, service impeccable!) since that time (I fly from the US to Australia on a fairly regular basis) until this year when we decided to give United a try because their schedule worked slightly better for us. NEVER AGAIN.

I have written a formal letter of complaint to United and have never heard back from them. I guess they're just maintaining the status quo. Sweep it under the carpet. Who cares. United - you've lost my business domestically and internationally.
Old Jun 17, 2010, 7:01 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

The key lesson here: When flying internationally, it is almost NEVER the right choice to select the US based carrier for the journey. The standards of US based airlines has fallen so low, and the attitude of the staff is so poor that almost every other airline in the world beats them. This is not just a subjective judgement. The largest survey of passenger airline experience, published annually by Skytrax, has documented the demise of US based airlines over the last 10 years.

The issue of children being separated from parents has been discussed at length on this forum before. Sooner or later a child will be sexually molested by a stranger. To force a 5 year old onto a complete stranger for a long haul flight is outrageous... both for the child and the poor stranger. It is also potentially very dangerous. In an emergency evacuation, you are likely to impede your and others exit as parents frantically try to find their child. In a decompression, who takes care of the children?

The deregulation of the airlines has failed. They have no moral compass. They think that their schedules, money making opportunities and operations are more important than the needs of their passengers. It won't change until they are re-regulated AND the markets are opened up to allow competition.

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