Monthly Archives: June 2005

I hate United

I think I am finally done flying United. They had exactly 2 people checking people in this morning when I arrived at Newark, over an hour before my flight. I waited on line to check my bags, along with an increasingly agitated mob, until it was clear that a) I wasn’t going to make my flight and b) no one was going to do anything about it (no one was going through and prioritizing flights that were just about to leave, they sometimes do). Then I repacked as much of the stuff as I could from my Playstation duffle (the one from the Sony party in 2002, I think) into my rollaboard bag and threw the PS bag and its marginally expendable contents in the direction of the bitter, angry United employees and ran like hell towards the massive security line. I have no idea what I left behind in the bag.

We’ll skip the part where I tried to reach into the security x-ray conveyor machine to retrieve my backpack, which was sitting upstream on the done side of the x-ray, taunting me with the knowledge that it was possible that I could see my little girl and husband today. If you’re ever tempted to reach into the little metal tunnel, here’s some advice: Don’t.

I made the flight, only to freeze the whole way home. There are about 5 blankets on the whole aircraft, and despite numerous requests to turn it down, the AC continues to pump aggressively out of every vent. They also charge $10 for breakfast now, which I always thought was a somewhat reasonable strategy for increasing revenues, but it’s handled so poorly (they don’t have change for anyone, for example) that it becomes another opportunity for the flight attendants to snap at the passengers and generally provide a negative interaction..

I’m going to actively try to use up all our mileage plus miles and start over with another airline. I liked Jet Blue a lot the one time I flew it and the prices are good, of course. But they don’t go everywhere. If anyone actually has a preference for an airline, do share.

It’s not just the insanity and the inconvenience and blatant disregard for their customers. At some point you just feel stupid continuing to support an enterprise which has so clearly and hopelessly lost its bearings. And the employees are suffering much worse than the passengers, at least in the big picture. Defaulting on the employee pensions while paying other debts – it just drives you crazy to hear that except that it was perfectly legal, so in that sense it’s the rational thing to do. I read somewhere that one of the reasons JetBlue is kicking United’s ass is that, as a new company, it pays dramatically less in things like employee benefits, because its employees have far less tenure; there may have been something about more favorable contracts with the unions as well. So if I switch to JetBlue as a customer, and hopefully contribute to the eventual bankruptcy of United, those United employees who aren’t able to retire may be able to get jobs at JetBlue, but not without a significant hit to their retirement and finances. I wonder if they’ll be less bitter.

If anyone has an old Playstation duffle they don’t want anymore, I’ll take it. I liked how the sides were really rigid and it was easy to get stuff in and out of it.