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United Airlines

Blogger’s Twitter-Rant About United Airlines Earns Cheers (And a Few Jeers)

Blogger’s Twitter-Rant About United Airlines Earns Cheers (And a Few Jeers)
Jeff Edwards

The Points Guy Editor-at-Large Zach Honig took to social media to live-tweet a slew of complaints about a recent cross-country flight. While he earned plenty of attaboys from his followers, he also caught the ire of a few frequent flyers and at least one purported flight attendant.

The Points Guy’s Zach Honig had a few complaints about his recent United Airlines flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The popular travel blogger took issue with everything from the lack of a cocktail garnish to lax business class service and even the less-than-direct cross-country flight plan.

Honig live-tweeted his unsatisfactory experience to his 18,000 followers in real-time. While the play-by-play of his frustrations at 40,000 feet garnered plenty of “likes” and a few “amens,” in this one rare case, not everyone online was in agreement.

Doing his due diligence in the air, Honig noticed that his flight was taking a somewhat meandering route across the map while another United Airlines flight had that departed more than twenty minutes later from the same airport took a more direct course and would actually arrive at EWR minutes ahead of his flight. The travel writer quite reasonably crowdsourced this conundrum hoping his followers could get to the bottom of the issue.

Most of those who responded to the query offered quite reasonable theories about the discrepancy in flight plans. Possible theories revolved around the anticipated weather at the time the flight plan was filed, different equipment or possibly even a dramatically different weight and balance between the two aircraft. An early antagonist, however, offered a competing possibility. “The only idea I have is that it gives you something else to complain about,” the especially snarky commenter wrote.

The captain’s choice of a flight plan certainly wasn’t Honig’s only complaint about the flight. He offered photographic evidence that a flight attendant may have consumed a salad during boarding (though the sneakily taken cellphone picture of a fork and salad bowl in the galley likely wouldn’t be admissible in court). In any case, since the flight had already been delayed and the flight attendant was at least 6 hours away from the Famous Famiglia Pizza at EWR, it’s hard to understand why anyone would begrudge the airline employee a bit of lettuce prior to the coast-to-coast flight.

The travel writer also noted that he caught a cabin crew member that had left his headphones around his neck. “New uniform addition, @United?” the blogger groused sarcastically in a post.

Honig’s most serious issue seems to be about the crew’s carelessness as mixologists. His epic quest to obtain the newly available business class Old Fashioned will someday become the stuff of legend.

“First ‘premium domestic’ (biz) flight since @United started serving an Old Fashioned,” he explained. “I was looking forward to having one, so that’s what I asked for. Flight attendant promptly said ‘no,’ and when I asked why he insisted that ‘we don’t have that’ until I showed him the menu.”

The hero of our story then relates how he was forced to drop a scathing “Ohhh really?” to shame the flight attendant into bringing another delicious Old Fashioned. This time, Honig writes, he was careful to demand the accompanying candied orange peel garnish listed on the beverage menu.

“It’s missing the ‘candied orange peel skewer,'” Honig notes of his first Old Fashioned experience. “Figured they weren’t boarded, but I just spotted a FA eating them from the container in the galley. I feel like @United’s trolling me today.”

United Airlines wasn’t likely trolling the blogger, but a flight attendant by the handle of gianna1809 certainly would be soon. Although the commenter and staunch crew defender initially denied working for United Airlines, a fellow blogger later posted photographs supposedly showing her working in a UA cabin crew uniform.

The unhappy Twitter user and possible cabin crew member defended her colleague’s need to eat, reminding the travel writer that his flight might have been delayed or cancelled if the flight attendant had not chosen to eat a salad in the galley rather than demanding the proper meal break that she was entitled to. Then, things got personal. The antagonistic commenter suggested that all this to-do about a cocktail might be symptomatic of something other than poor customer service.

“Always the drunks causing the issues,” the sharp-tongued Twitter user wrote. “Free alcohol … they drink like camels.”

Of course, there were plenty of commenters who were quick to jump to Honig’s defense and relate their own United Airlines customer service horror stories. In some ways the insults from an irate airline employee help to make Honig’s point for him, but there were at least a few followers who seemed to think that taking photographs of a flight attendant’s dinner, policing crew member’s uniforms and raging about a cocktail garnish amounted to being just “plane petty.”

“Can we get the world’s smallest violin?” one Twitter follower wondered. “Seriously.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (15)

15 Comments

  1. jrpallante

    June 20, 2018 at 7:08 am

    This whiner does a disservice to TPG`s fine reputation. Will we see Honig`s name on a future DYKWIA thread? When somebody starts crying about the alcohol service, I immediately assume he already had too much at the lounge before takeoff. The tweets sound like the rants of a drunk.

  2. sddjd

    sddjd

    June 20, 2018 at 10:51 am

    gianna1809’s comments exemplify the attitude of the attendant in question and the airline’s disregard for poor service:

    “Food service is just a perk…they are trained safety professionals to evacuate customers in a burning crash…”

    Interesting, one wonders then why the job description isn’t “evacuation specialist”. United’s own job description reads as follows:

    ” the flight attendant serves passengers food and beverages and dispenses items for comfort and entertainment such as pillows, magazines and headsets”

    Just more steps towards FA’s on certain US carriers defending their refusal to perform their duties. With no incentives for good service and certainly none for poor service (even if gianna1809 is addressed by the airline his/her union will be quick to defend) we can look forward to more of the same.

  3. emcampbe

    June 20, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Sounds like a bunch of complaints over nothing. Flight Attendants aren’t allowed to eat prior to departure now? Imagine the complaints that would come if the FA didn’t eat, and then had to deal with a passenger like this.

    If a travel blogger (and truly, aren’t we all basically travel bloggers, these days?) wants to start building flight plans, I suggest they should probably become a pilot, including going through the immense amount of training to get there. I don’t think anyone wants laymen building flight plans (but if that does happen, I can guess who would be the first person to complain about that😊).

  4. CaliforniaSteve

    June 20, 2018 at 11:54 am

    It sounds like someone who was looking for reasons to be offended. Granted, United isn’t exactly the world’s best airline, but some of the “complaints” seem pretty nit-picking to me.

  5. KLBGO

    June 20, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    The poor travel blogger needs something to write about. Think about his followers… (that is probably fleeing atm).

  6. Lakeviewsteve

    June 20, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    I think the travel blogger did a great job. Those who desire bad service, lacky attendants, and dirty planes Fly the Friendly Skies of United.

  7. am1108

    June 20, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    UA deserves the coverage it gets, if they could only make the service more consistent and get rid of the surly and stuck-up FAs then it would be a better airline.

  8. psusaver

    June 21, 2018 at 4:19 am

    Sounds like an entitled business class traveler who thinks he has a private Gulfstream.

  9. paj9zo

    June 21, 2018 at 5:22 am

    Was the FA trying to grab a bite because the UA is understaffed, like other carriers, and was called late for the assignment? Was it THAT big of a deal? Was FA new and not fully qualified on the need for the orange peel for Mr. Whiner’s cocktail? Was his plane the same as the one with the other flight plan? Was the lading the same? How much time did he spend in the bar before boarding? I’m not the biggest fan of UA myself, but please get a life, Mr. Whiner.

  10. JamesLoughney

    June 21, 2018 at 5:56 am

    This blogger sounds a right pompous tosser. Like most people in the trade of blogging he does it because he is unable to secure a professional journalist/writer job, as they imply pesky qualities like ability, literacy, professionalism, objectivity and ethics, rather than mere competence at bullying from an electronic pulpit.

  11. Wright5469

    June 21, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I am pretty sure I was on that flight. I won’t defend the blogger, but i was definitely surprised by the FA with the headphones on when we boarded. And One of the them WAS eating when we boarded. The crew was a bit surly but nothing unusual. The pilot was VERY clear about the flight path-we were routed north in order to avoid WX over the midwest. He also said that conditions and flight plans change. Methinks someone was looking for something to whine about…..

  12. Gilthoniel4

    June 21, 2018 at 11:08 am

    I don’t work for the airline, nor do I think airline staff should be given a free pass for anything they do. That said, human beings should try, within reason, to be understanding of the work challenges of our fellow human beings. Every situation, no matter how clear cut it seems, has at least two sides. And not having been on the flight, I don’t know how accurate TPG’s report was. He reported seeing a FA eating the garnishes. Was that really what the FA was munching on or was it something else?

    Assuming TPG’s report was accurate, I offer the following:

    – FAs should not be eating in the galley during boarding, but a delayed departure may have made that the preferable choice. I don’t have a problem with that so long as the FA was discrete and did not in any way ignore his/her passengers.

    – FAs are not always properly briefed on changes in service standards. It is possible the FA was unaware of the new beverage offering. If this was the case, the FA should have courteously apologized for contradicting the passenger, thanked him for drawing it to the FA’s attention and filled the order. If the appropriate garnish was not available, for whatever reason, the FA should have apologized for that lack upon delivering the drink. I am not clear on the attitude or tone of the exchange, so I can’t judge if the FA behaved inappropriately, but TPG’s POV seems to have assumed the worst and may be judging the FA’s behavior accordingly. It is also not clear to me if the FA who took the drink order was the same FA whom the TPG allegedly observed eating the garnishes.

    -I suggest to sddjd that it is not relevant to compare the job description to the primary role of all FAs, which is in fact the safety of the passengers. A job description simply lists all the activities that comprise the job in question. It does not necessarily communicate the relative importance of those activities or the training provided. The job description components shared also did not represent the entire job description and are therefore potentially misleading.

    -I wonder if TPG would be patient with someone observing him over a 6-hour period and judging every behavior and reporting it to the world. I have no problem in holding those in a customer service role to high standards. I was in customer service roles for almost 20 years. But remember that the people you criticize are that -people. Can’t we all just get along?

  13. Ted_Li

    June 21, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Hong is really enjoying to argue/comment/complain about trivial every day, just producing irrelevant contents. I do check TPG website now and then (some posts from other editors are providing information) often, but I block Hong.

  14. akl_traveller

    June 22, 2018 at 1:10 am

    The complaining blogger showed remarkably poor breeding. Going out of one’s way to tattle on a flight attendant? What a petty, poisonous little man.

    Instead of narking, here’s what a proper person would do: seeing the headphones, one might make a jovial comment such as “What’s your listening pleasure today?” thus referencing the faux pas in a way that allows the attendant to light-heartedly realise their error and correct it.

  15. Cymbo

    June 23, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    A sense of entitlement and maybe a couple of minor mistakes, methinks this is scarcely worth a post. We have become so uncivil today, I think back to a gentler and more relaxed travel experience and unfortunately I’m pretty certain it won’t be returning!

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