Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Worst Airline in The World (Not Just the US)

This post is not merely a rant, nor is it slanderous, but rather it is a report of a horrible experience with US Airways. I will post the actual email sent to US Air and Travelocity's customer service email addresses, along with their responses. This is an honest complaint as well as a "BUYER BEWARE" alert! The copied contact form submissions are a little lengthy because we wanted to make sure the actual events were expressed as clearly as possible.

So it goes ...

The Original Customer Relations Email:
I am writing this letter to you, not as a gimmick to receive free vouchers or whatever it may be, but rather to inform you of a horrible experience that myself and three other individuals in my traveling party were subjected to as a result of booking our flights with US Air. Our
horrid experience began as soon as we checked our bags with the attendant inside Terminal A of Bush IAH in Houston, Texas on Thursday April 2, 2009.

As anticipated, there was a charge for our checked baggage (which is a common practice amongst airline carriers now). Call me crazy, however, I feel as though if I am going to pay $30.00 for two pieces of luggage to travel with me, the checked bag handling process sure as heck better exceed any of my previous notions of care under the old system (of not paying). Unfortunately this was not the case. I watched in disbelief as the clerk launched my bags from the check-in station face down onto the conveyor belt with little (actually no) regard for my belongings that I just paid $30 for on top of my ticket price. It is not that I had anything fragile packed away, it was just the fact that my property was being abused for no reason what so ever.

Being that we were going on vacation, we all shrugged the situation off and headed toward our departure gate. Upon glancing at our boarding passes, we were shocked to see that for both our departing flight into Phoenix and our connection into Honolulu all of our seating assignments had been changed from what we booked on Travelocity. [This subject will be revisited in detail shortly] So again we shrugged the situation off in the hopes or putting these inconveniences behind us.

Due to adverse weather in Houston that morning, we were delayed over 1 hour once we boarded the plane before takeoff [This of course is not being blamed on anyone, simply being added for a better understanding of the situation]. Since we only had a small window of time between flights (Houston to Phoenix and Phoenix to Honolulu) my girlfriend and I decided to page one of the flight attendants while we were still parked on the runway waiting in line to take off. We wanted to inquire about any connection info or later flights into Honolulu - Not a strange request of information I figured. Unfortunately, rather than receiving answers to our questions (or even getting to ask them) the young lady (all in one motion) turned off the service page light above our heads and simply said "We don't know anything about that yet" as she walked away. Need I remind you, I did not even ask a question! She simply saw that my girlfriend and I were frantically viewing our itinerary.

Well, thankfully, we did make it to our connecting flight simply because we all sprinted across the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport just minutes before the aircraft door was sealed (other people from our flight from Houston were not as fortunate). This time our seats were 30 rows behind where we initially selected upon booking! Not to mention that our group was completely separated. Oh well, on with the trip we figured.

Now, at this point (before our departure to Honolulu) we had already been up and traveling for over 4 hours off and on, and the flight to Honolulu would total out our travel time at over 10 hours. Naturally, at some point during a 10 hour span, one would eat. So, we planned on eating a light lunch on the plane during the flight to Honolulu (Since two meal choices and a snack choice were to be offered on the flight as advertised by both the flight attendant and the US Air Magazine). Bad decision! Being that my girlfriend and I were in row 30 (instead of row 5) of the Boeing 757-200 craft we eagerly anticipated our turn for the attendants to take our meal request. Much to our dismay, upon reaching row 24 the attendant with the (most sarcastic grin I have ever seen in my life) exclaimed, "Sorry, we are out of food!" as she (without hesitation) walked the cart to the back of the craft. I honestly thought the rear of the plane was going to revolt. Imagine that over 12 rows or people did not even get the option to eat! That's 12 rows at 6 people per row, 72 people! Wow, is that even possible? Even people that did get to enjoy a meal (our friends who we were supposed to be seated next to in the front) suffered from US Air's horrible service. They had to hold onto their trash for over three hours! When they asked an attendant to remove it so they could put their tray-table up, they were snapped with, "You're going to have to wait.", as the attendant kept walking past.

The airline industry is said to be struggling to stay afloat. I, having not worked in this particular industry, am simply speculating that the in-flight meals turn a profit - At $7 or $5 a pop, they would have to. Well just imagine that 2/3 of the people that did not get to eat were planning on it (like myself) that would roughly bring in an additional $332 of sales for that flight alone. Not to mention, satisfy the hunger of people traveling in your crafts. Shouldn't the flight attendant have
been trained or have enough wherewithal to genuinely apologize and offer an alternative, maybe an additional soda or something rather than just disappear?

Well, we finally make it to Hawaii and had a great time, all the while dreading having to travel with US Air on the return flight. So, Sunday April 5, 2009 we make it out to the airport expecting the worst.

Sure as the sun rises, we got it again! This time our travel group's seating arrangements were so screwed up, at times on our trip home we wouldn't even be sitting with our significant others! (Did I fail to mention we booked and reserved our seats over 2 months in advance?) So, naturally at the check-in kiosk we attempt to change our seats using the interactive flight manifest, so that we could at least be in the same vicinity of each other. Now please explain to me why some seats in the
coach section of the plane cost an additional $25 or $10 to occupy? Is it just a gimmick to get some fast cash? I already explained how you can do it legitimately through food sales or is the state of your company so bad you need to squeeze your customers in every direction possible for their hard-earned money? [Honestly, I still don't know why those seats cost more, even the attendant couldn't tell me.]

We attempted to ask the check-in clerk if there was any way to waive those fees so we could sit next to each other, and as expected, she was of no use. In fact she argued with us that this whole situation was our fault for booking online and attempted to downplay the whole situation.

Well thinking back, she was right about something, this entire situation actually was our fault, we were the ones that selected US Air in the first place.

I'm sure you can imagine the rest. Thankfully we made it home to Houston and our luggage made it too. I have no grievances with the pilots or complaints about the act of flying, except to mention that each time we boarded one of the dilapidated vessels operated by US Air I was not only horrified to see that it was left rancid and filthy from the flight before us, but also amazed that the craft could actually fly. I kid you not when I say that the craft which carried us from Honolulu to Phoenix had a hole in the cabin veneer the size of a golf ball and two others just like it covered with painted duct tape on row 14 by seat F! If that was the inside of the plane that people can actually see, I would hate to see what is not in view.

In an effort to keep this letter to a tolerable minimum, I will allow you fill in the blanks as far as how my travel experiences with US Air were. I seriously hope to never fly with you again (as do the other 3 members of our group). Sadistically enough, I genuinely hope that others will follow suit until you learn to value and respect the individuals that pay your bills - or simply go out of business. In a day and age where people are restructuring their priorities in life and stretching their incomes, one would think a company such as this one would do everything possible to create loyal customers and really "wow" them with your service and care, yet you seem to do the exact opposite - But what do I know? Oddly enough, it did not seem to be just me or our group, as we witnessed other passengers demanding to speak with supervisors and watched as the customer service line inside of Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport grew and remained at over seventeen seemingly angry passengers in the course of an hour. We would have spoken with a US Air representative the morning of the 6th; however she yawned as we approached her and rolled her eyes, so I didn't even bother.

Like I stated earlier, I am not looking for anything and I would be surprised if this letter ever gets read other than an email server just sending me an auto-reply in the standard form, but who knows.

So there you have it. Hopefully you were able to read through the entire account so that you could form a clear picture of what we endured. He didn't even mention the part about how the steward of our return flight from Honolulu to Phoenix (the long one!) allowed two people to move forward from the rear to sit next to us (one beside each group) without asking if it was OK with us. Normally I wouldn't mind too much, and probably would have said "Sure." if he HAD asked, but he didn't, and the two individuals just happened to be rude and disrespectful. My first impression of the person moved to sit next to me was shattered by her slinging her sweaters and carry-on luggage (3 pieces!?) into the seat, hitting me in the arm several times, yet never bothering to say so much as "Hi," or "Sorry," before settling in and falling fast asleep. The male moved to sit next to our companions, had a very similar attitude but unfortunately enough for them, he had the added "benefit" of reeking of smoke, alcohol, and body odor. Of course, as he fell asleep, he naturally leaned towards them, and was a burden the entire flight.

Ah, it feels so good to get complaints off your chest and vent your frustrations, but I digress.

Travelocity was CC'd on the email for 3 reasons:
1) We used them to book the travel packages,
2) We figured they would want to know about and document US Airways' horrible service, possibly removing them from their search results, and
3) So that US Air might be moved towards an actual customer relation response, knowing that Travelocity would be watching.

The Results

Travelocity was the first to respond, and I don't have that actual email, but apparently they have issued my friend a $100 voucher for travel through their service for any time in the next 13 months. Not too shabby, or rather, a reasonable response from a company which didn't even really have any control over why we experienced what we did. So I would say I'm pleased with their return, and will probably use them again in the future when taking trips or booking vacations.


I DO have US Airways' reply, and it is just plain ridiculous! Here is the exact copy (with account info starred out) for your viewing and critiquing pleasure.

Response from US Airways Customer Relations Contact Form
From: Customer Relations
To: ******
Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2009 2:04:58 PM
Subject: US Airways Customer Relations - US-09******-049D4 - G1C

Dear Mr. ******:

Thank you for contacting Customer Relations at US Airways. We appreciate
hearing from our customers and having an opportunity to address their

Please accept my apology for the disappointing service you received. Our
customers deserve a pleasurable experience each and every time they fly
with us, and I am sorry this trip did not meet your expectations. Your
comments regarding our service are important and we appreciate you
taking the time to let us know.

We appreciate and value your business. We're working hard to earn your
continued patronage. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do so.


Joseph Gutierrez
US Airways Customer Relations
Corporate Office


As Charlie Brown would exclaim, "Good grief!" Are they serious? Is that all? It's completely devoid of emotion or any actual sense of appreciation or empathy. Maybe since my friend said he wasn't contacting them for vouchers, they decided they wouldn't even offer (or try to make good on the situation at all).

My email response to my friend ...
This part confuses me: "We appreciate and value your business. We're working hard to earn your continued patronage. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do so."

How are they appreciating and valuing your business? By solely responding? How are they working hard to earn your continued patronage? By simply responding? He's right about you giving them the opportunity, but it appears they have done NOTHING with it!

How expected!!!

... But I'll let you make your own decisions.

Save yourself heartache, stress, and pain by upgrading your travel experience and avoiding US Airways at all costs!

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