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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:32 am   #1
 
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LAX Meltdown; Scary Situation, unbelievable agents...

I was on the flight 90 debacle yesterday at LAX; in my million+ miles with the airline, this was the first one where I was thisclose to calling 911 due to the situation getting out of hand.

Flight 90 is a 757-300 LAX-EWR that continues onto Tel Aviv on new metal in EWR. Inbound equipment was about 3 hours late due to mechanical issues...and after a few more hours of mechanical issues on the ground, they decided to ground the plane...and after an hour after that, they decided to use a 757-200 that was parked at LAX to run the flight. Total delay of about 6 hours. Throughout the process, there was a total lack of information or help from any agents (or on the phone with the Premiere hotline) and they handled the downgraded equipment absolutely horribly.

Rather than ask for volunteers for the packed -300 to come off the -200, they first randomly decided to involuntarily deny boarding to First Class passengers. I was one of the lucky victims, told I was being denied my 2nd row seat due to my status. "we would rather let someone who hasn't experienced united before a chance to fly in the BusinessFirst cabin than you" was the line I was fed, even though Ive been a CO top tiered elite for 20 years and was on a full first class ticket. I told them I wasn't going to budge unless they gave me $1k in involuntary denied boarding comp and refunded my $2040 lax-EWR fare. I was livid and somewhat calm and held firm to the idea I wasn't going to give up my seat. Others in the cabin folded though, especially passengers with mileage upgrades who got their miles refunded and got a $500 downgrade certificate. Because others folded or simply gave up, I was able to keep my seat.

Then the economy class mess: rather than tell the masses there was a downgrade and serious oversell and deal with displaced passengers in the 6 hour delay period, they had economy board...and if the gate scanner buzzed, you were denied boarding and put into a long line to be dealt with. Somewhere in that mess, they were asking for volunteers to come off for $300 travel certificate....to be re-accommodated on a flight that would get in Tuesday morning, nearly 3 days late.

This is where things got ugly: passengers and employees started yelling, pushing, and shoving, and the situation quickly got out of hand. Passengers were barking "welcome to the new United" while employees shouted back "this merger is your fault", "I just work here, this isn't my problem" , "I don't need to deal with this, if you have problems with United, I'll just go home." I really thought punches were going to start flying...but for whatever reason, they didn't.

Passengers who were seasoned enough to ask for food vouchers got a $10 one ...otherwise, they had set up bottles of water for people who got thirsty during the long mechanical delay.

All in all, the situation was handled poorly...and I was surprised at the employees that were venting more anger to the passengers, especially elites at the gate or passengers in the United Club, moreso than passengers expressing their frustration for being so late or misconnecting in EWR. New system or not, agents should be better equipped and informed to deal with mechanicals and equipment swaps. And while they may not be thrilled about the integration, they should not be taking it out on UA's most valuable/loyal passengers.
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Last edited by Weatherboy; Mar 19, 12 at 8:17 pm. Reason: Corrected typo with fare paid; was $2040, not $2400. Also corrected re-accom. flight to show Tue arrival instead of Wed.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:36 am   #2
 
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Wow! Sounds like it very poorly handled.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:40 am   #3
 
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The employee responses you have described should be taken as a danger sign by management.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:41 am   #4
 
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Crikey! Sorry you had to deal with such wanton disrespect. I hope someone gets around to posting Youtube footage.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:41 am   #5
 
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:41 am   #6
 
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Thumbs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weatherboy View Post

I was one of the lucky victims, told I was being denied my 2nd row seat due to my status. "we would rather let someone who hasn't experienced united before a chance to fly in the BusinessFirst cabin than you" was the line I was fed
A big

This is expected. sCO philosophy has been "all elites are equal".

In fact, kettles who pay $69 TOD upgrades are preferred over loyal 100K flyers.

Short term petty cash is more important than long term loyalty to SMI/J and his CO team.

Have people noticed that after 3/3, suddenly you see more inexperienced passengers in first class on planes that are elite heavy?
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:44 am   #7
 
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WOW!

Truly incredible. This management team, led by the all knowing team smisek really needs to learn how to lead. This labor system is getting out of control.

I know many here think things like him maintaining an office in Houston, not changing domains, and leaving CO logos around is petty. IMHO, however, it is contributing to this.

The executive team needs to come out and clearly demonstrate that the new airline is UNITED. There should be zero tolerance, for this behavior from pmco or pmua staff- PERIOD. I have heard complaints from both- some more vocal than others... it needs to stop.

We have had to deal with the penny pinching, but rude and abusive "service" will doom this airline.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:51 am   #8
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That's how they handled UA974 today at SFO. "There are going to be about 100 passengers who cannot be on this flight. If the BP scanner rejects your BP, you have to get out of the way and will not be on the flight."

No calls for volunteers; UC also was refusing to entertain proactive reroutes. "They will take care of rebooking at the gate."

GAs yelled a few times and several pax raised voices at perceived line-jumpers.

Not well handled at all, but not as bad as the OP's experience fortunately!
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:51 am   #9
 
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Incredible

What a terrible sequence of experiences, several of which would promote a lot of discussion on their own threads.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:53 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luvs2snowbordbut1kSEA View Post
WOW!

Truly incredible. This management team, led by the all knowing team smisek really needs to learn how to lead. This labor system is getting out of control.

I know many here think things like him maintaining an office in Houston, not changing domains, and leaving CO logos around is petty. IMHO, however, it is contributing to this.

The executive team needs to come out and clearly demonstrate that the new airline is UNITED. There should be zero tolerance, for this behavior from pmco or pmua staff- PERIOD. I have heard complaints from both- some more vocal than others... it needs to stop.

We have had to deal with the penny pinching, but rude and abusive "service" will doom this airline.
This sounds like an absolutely horrendous and outrageous incident and passengers were right to feel poorly treated.

On the other hand, I'm not really sure how much of a relation it has to the merger, as the route is a PMCO route and the agents and planes (at least the 753) all PMCO.

Now, it is certainly possible that emotions on all sides have been inflamed by the merger, but I'm not really sure that any operational issues were actually merger related.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:53 am   #11
 
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GS and/or paid First doesn't seem to matter any more.
Now I know how I ended up in coach on 3/3.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:53 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weatherboy View Post
I was on the flight 90 debacle yesterday at LAX; in my million+ miles with the airline, this was the first one where I was thisclose to calling 911 due to the situation getting out of hand.

Flight 90 is a 757-300 LAX-EWR that continues onto Tel Aviv on new metal in EWR. Inbound equipment was about 3 hours late due to mechanical issues...and after a few more hours of mechanical issues on the ground, they decided to ground the plane...and after an hour after that, they decided to use a 757-200 that was parked at LAX to run the flight. Total delay of about 6 hours. Throughout the process, there was a total lack of information or help from any agents (or on the phone with the Premiere hotline) and they handled the downgraded equipment absolutely horribly.

Rather than ask for volunteers for the packed -300 to come off the -200, they first randomly decided to involuntarily deny boarding to First Class passengers. I was one of the lucky victims, told I was being denied my 2nd row seat due to my status. "we would rather let someone who hasn't experienced united before a chance to fly in the BusinessFirst cabin than you" was the line I was fed, even though Ive been a CO top tiered elite for 20 years and was on a full first class ticket. I told them I wasn't going to budge unless they gave me $1k in involuntary denied boarding comp and refunded my $2400ish lax-EWR fare. I was livid and somewhat calm and held firm to the idea I wasn't going to give up my seat. Others in the cabin folded though, especially passengers with mileage upgrades who got their miles refunded and got a $500 downgrade certificate. Because others folded or simply gave up, I was able to keep my seat.

Then the economy class mess: rather than tell the masses there was a downgrade and serious oversell and deal with displaced passengers in the 6 hour delay period, they had economy board...and if the gate scanner buzzed, you were denied boarding and put into a long line to be dealt with. Somewhere in that mess, they were asking for volunteers to come off for $300 travel certificate....to be reaccomodated on a flight that would get in Wednesday morning, nearly 3 days late.

This is where things got ugly: passengers and employees started yelling, pushing, and shoving, and the situation quickly got out of hand. Passengers were barking "welcome to the new United" while employees shouted back "this merger is your fault", "I just work here, this isn't my problem" , "I don't need to deal with this, if you have problems with United, I'll just go home." I really thought punches were going to start flying...but for whatever reason, they didn't.

Passengers who were seasoned enough to ask for food vouchers got a $10 one ...otherwise, they had set up bottles of water for people who got thirsty during the long mechanical delay.

All in all, the situation was handled poorly...and I was surprised at the employees that were venting more anger to the passengers, especially elites at the gate or passengers in the United Club, moreso than passengers expressing their frustration for being so late or misconnecting in EWR. New system or not, agents should be better equipped and informed to deal with mechanicals and equipment swaps. And while they may not be thrilled about the integration, they should not be taking it out on UA's most valuable/loyal passengers.
Good situation report. I strongly believe if the airlines (or other businesses) field senior managers with decision making authority, the situations will be handled with least aggravation.

I suppose the employees here were stressed out as probably they were in the dark as much as th epaz ! The MANAGERS leave them in hte front to face the irate crowds.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:53 am   #13
 
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Absolutely shocking, but I guess it isn't totally unexpected.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:54 am   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weatherboy View Post
Rather than ask for volunteers for the packed -300 to come off the -200, they first randomly decided to involuntarily deny boarding to First Class passengers. I was one of the lucky victims, told I was being denied my 2nd row seat due to my status. "we would rather let someone who hasn't experienced united before a chance to fly in the BusinessFirst cabin than you" was the line I was fed, even though Ive been a CO top tiered elite for 20 years and was on a full first class ticket.
You have status, flying on a paid F ticket and were IDB off the plane altogether? On a domestic flight? Have I misunderstood?
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:58 am   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weatherboy View Post
Rather than ask for volunteers for the packed -300 to come off the -200, they first randomly decided to involuntarily deny boarding to First Class passengers. I was one of the lucky victims, told I was being denied my 2nd row seat due to my status. "we would rather let someone who hasn't experienced united before a chance to fly in the BusinessFirst cabin than you" was the line I was fed..."


I would ask if this is a joke or exaggeration, but even if you were joking or exaggerating I can't imagine any FTer would even think of coming up with something so outlandish.

I mean, did the GA's go temporarily insane? The absolute last thing you would do in this situation is start by IDBing F pax.

Wow.
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