Friday, October 15, 2010

Why I don't want to fly US Airways again, part two

Apparently I'm not one to learn from my previous mistakes. Remember when I said I would never fly US Airways again? Yeah, well, I did it again. And it sucked. Again.

I had to fly to Philadelphia for work this week. It's sort of weird being a remote employee and I'm definitely conscious of trying to not seem to expensive. So when I looked online at the flights, I could fly American to Philly, but return flights on American were twice as expensive as on US Airways. So I went with the cheaper option. I know, my mistake.

I showed up for my return flight well in advance to find out I had no seat assignment. I swear they must find the mean ladies to work the US Airways counters from rejects from the DMV. I have rarely had such continued bad customer service and this from a person who really seems to court it somehow. I nicely asked several people who kept saying I had to get to the gate to figure it out. So I arrived about 4:45 for my 6:10 flight. There were four gate agents there, but they continued to chat with themselves. When I asked a question about my seat assignment, they looked up and left the gate. Without saying anythign. I know, right? Who does that?

Eventually at 5:10, I was able to get someone to talk to me.

"We're in an oversold situation. You may not be able to leave until tomorrow."
"Really? I have a confirmation."
"Doesn't matter. We're oversold. We're going to ask for volunteers."
"Oh. Do you need my information?"
"No. We'll find you if we want to."

I hung around and about 5:20, they asked for volunteers. A $300 travel voucher and a hotel room. Two people walked up. Clearly there were a lot more "oversold" seats than that. (I love that it's "we're in an oversold situation" implying no fault as opposed to "We oversold the flight.")

Anyhoo. I came back about 5:30 and eavesdropped as the guy in front of me went through the same thing.

"But you don't have any other flights going to Dallas?"
"What about connecting through another city? I really have to get home tonight to see my son."
"Hang on. Wait, there's a flight going to DC and then going to Dallas. It leaves now. Do you want it? It arrives at 10:05 p.m."
"Am I going to get on this flight?"
"I don't know. I don't know how many seats we need. You have to decide NOW."
"Um, I guess I'll take it."

I asked if I could do the same thing. She seemed skeptical but eventually looked it up.

"Yeah. Run over there."

So I ran over there and then waited for two minutes in the line to board for Las Vegas. Fortunately, I figured it out in time to convince the gate agent to let me on the plane. Phew! I still didn't have a seat assignment for Dallas, but my thought was if I got stuck in DC, at least I'd get to see my friends.

I got to DC. All the monitors were saying the wrong thing so I finally had to stop someone in the hallway to ask where the flight to Dallas was. The boards said 26. It was 23? I explained finally I needed a seat assignment and was stunned to get one. Yay! I was going home!

The rest of the trip was uneventful. The seats were actually nicer than expected, but man, the service they provide is just so, so awful. I really do intend to fly on anything else if given the chance.

Customer service is hard. It really is. Dealing with people who are stressed and frustrated is also hard. But if you don't want to do the job, don't do the job. Likewise, I think US Airways needs to rethink its gate agent approach. They're the face of the company and they're giving it a black eye.

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