Airlines these days are notorious for nickeling and diming their customers, but as far as I am concerned, this week United really outperformed their competition. I don't think anything new happened here, but this was my first opportunity to experience their lousy service in its full glory. You see, I recently lost my Premier status on Star Alliance.
I am traveling on the East Coast this week, and while checking for my flight in San Francisco yesterday, I used the self-service check-in machines at the airport. Thinking I could simply grab my boarding card and walk away, I had a nasty little surprise waiting. United - holding me hostage to the little cardboard ticket I needed from their machine - started pitching me all sorts of upgrades. One at a time.
Do you want more leg-room (5 inches worth) for $49? No.
OK, but do you want to upgrade to first class for $199? No.
OK, but would you like to sign-up for double miles rewards for as little as $149? No. I just want my freaking boarding card so I can walk away and buy a newspaper and a snack before I have to board your crowded, smelly plane on which I will be served no food for 6 hours.
Oh, don't worry sir, you're in luck. Your flight is delayed. Right now it's showing 15 minutes late, but by the time you'll actually take off it will be 3 hours behind schedule. However, as a personal service to our valued customers, and to make sure you get a little bit of exercise before your long flight, we're going to change gates for you three separate times. Oh, goody.
Well, never mind me. I am a veteran business traveler and I am used to taking crap from airlines. When it became clear that our flight would be 3 hours delayed, the gate agent came on the speaker and with only a hint of irony said "those of you who were going to connect in DC will be missing their continuing flights. The good news is that the DC area has over 1000 hotels, and United will put you up for the night". I kid you not.
I hate United.
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