The "check-in" about face

Old Jul 12, 11, 11:17 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Up in the air far too often.
Programs: Star Gold
Posts: 354
The "check-in" about face

I always thought some of the stories here were ridiculous about people waving their 1k cards, etc. But now I see why...

A couple weeks ago I was trying to get rebooked for IRROPS and the gate agent was being a total a-hole. I was polite, as always, but he kept on saying (at 4PM in a major hub with 4 more flights) stuff like "there is NO WAY you are getting out tonight" and a general unfriendly attitude, definitely bordering on hostility. I mentioned TWICE that I was premier executive, and it was on my boarding pass (also in computer???) I didn't mention it a third time, because, well, I assumed everybody else trying to get on the flight might be 1k in a hub to major airport segment.

The guy prints me some standby tickets and I was about to go to the gate where the next flight was... I was really, really dissatisfied with his attitude and service, and I also noticed my FF number was not anywhere. He had taken the next customer, but there was a lady standing next to him, who had not taken another customer yet.

I leaned over and pulled out my PremEx card for the FF number, and said "oh, can you also ensure my FF number is here."

She looks at it and says, "Oh, you are Premier?? You really should tell us that because it really helps in these kinds of situations."

*(*#(@*!?!??? I told him TWICE! I don't mumble.

She starts doing something and when the original guy was done with his next customer, he also helps out.

"Magically" I get on the next flight, in E+, and have confirmed window seat, and I get to my destination ok. Suddenly the original guy is all polite now too, calling me "sir" and smiling a bit.

Although this works out for me, this really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. "Polite" to elite customers and disparaging / rude to normal customers?? I look young, but I'm not that young... dressed in a jacket and tie... reservations made by American Express Business travel... very weird.

Even after I said several times I'm elite, and just assumed that they would look at the PREMIER on the BP or check the FF#?

These guys need a re-visit to customer service 101. This is not a culture I appreciate, even if I benefit from it.
cardiomd is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 11:49 am
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: DEN
Programs: UA MM 1K; AA MM Gold; HHonors Diamond
Posts: 15,702
Your experience corroborates what I have seen mentioned before on these boards: If you're elite (especially an upper-level elite) on UA they will take care of you, but woe be it to you should you lack status. May well explain UA's high (low?) placing in the "most hated" rankings. Heck, I have no complaints so far with UA, but I have that most coveted 1K status...
Bonehead is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 11:49 am
  #3  
In memoriam
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Seattle WA
Programs: Kimpton IC, Hyatt Diamond, Gold Marriott, Lifetime Platinum Starwood
Posts: 8,664
There is a simple solution - fly another airline. United has many people who are not going to provide you with great customer service. That's just a reality. Also, I have never said "I am 1K, PremEx. . ." or anything else when I am. It's just not necessary imo. Even though there are a lot of rude folks; I think that there are a lot of very nice/professional ones as well. I don't really care how they treat me as long as they get me on the flight when something goes wrong. It would be nice if everything was "unicorns and rainbows" but if that's your expectation I would srongly suggest you look for another airline - Southwest or JetBlue maybe?

Originally Posted by Bonehead View Post
Your experience corroborates what I have seen mentioned before on these boards: If you're elite (especially an upper-level elite) on UA they will take care of you, but woe be it to you should you lack status. May well explain UA's high (low?) placing in the "most hated" rankings. Heck, I have no complaints so far with UA, but I have that most coveted 1K status...
The most coveted is Global Services. . Those are the customers who they really care about.

Last edited by iluv2fly; Jul 12, 11 at 4:44 pm Reason: merge
ldsant is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 11:55 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: DEN
Programs: UA MM 1K; AA MM Gold; HHonors Diamond
Posts: 15,702
Originally Posted by ldsant View Post
The most coveted is Global Services. . Those are the customers who they really care about.
"Most" was used figuratively. By the way, suggesting that the OP fly WN based on his reaction to the rude, condescending agent strikes me as patronizing. There is no excuse for the agent's behavior. Chances are it isn't typical, but I don't know that because I have that much coveted 1K status
Bonehead is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 11:58 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 5,797
Not too surprised. I had to go to EWR early to fix the UA portion of my flight (SFO-HNL) with a seating issue.

I didn't know where to stand so I lined up in the normal line. I explained my situation to the agent and she said that there's nothing she could do. After some back and forth conversation (wasn't rude but borderline), I was about to leave when an agent standing before the counter looked at my boarding pass. She then handed the boarding pass to the person I was speaking to and told her I was a Premier Exec and "magically" they fixed the issue in 10 minutes (not exactly what I wanted but close enough).

She then apologized that we couldn't seat right next together in E+.

I was more or less dumbfounded by the change in attitude and thought it was a onetime thing. Apparently not.
edcho is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:01 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Greater DC
Programs: UA plus
Posts: 12,940
Originally Posted by edcho View Post
Not too surprised. I had to go to EWR early to fix the UA portion of my flight (SFO-HNL) with a seating issue.

I didn't know where to stand so I lined up in the normal line. I explained my situation to the agent and she said that there's nothing she could do. After some back and forth conversation (wasn't rude but borderline), I was about to leave when an agent standing before the counter looked at my boarding pass. She then handed the boarding pass to the person I was speaking to and told her I was a Premier Exec and "magically" they fixed the issue in 10 minutes (not exactly what I wanted but close enough).

She then apologized that we couldn't seat right next together in E+.

I was more or less dumbfounded by the change in attitude and thought it was a onetime thing. Apparently not.
Two sides to every story, could be you were just not communicating well and the agent didn't get what you needed. And if by regular line, you meant non-status, why would you do that?
GoingAway is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:03 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: LHR (sometimes CLE, SFO, BOS, LAX, SEA)
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 5,815
The way I read this is that you had a bad experience with an agent, which is a bummer, and then you talked to another agent and she helped you out.

This is pretty much par for the course at airport gates -- talking to as many people as you can until you get the help you need, can be super effective.

It's true that the thing that you said to the agent to get her to help you was "could you please ensure that my frequent flyer number is on this reservation?". I wouldn't think of your frequent flyer status as a magic card that gets you secret perks during irrops. Think of it more like a conversation-starter that might help the agent relate to you at an airline where agents have been asked to care about frequent flyer status.

Other things you could have tried that probably would have worked:

"Could you please double-check whether there are any confirmed seats available on flights from XXX-YYY today? I checked united.com and saw seats for sale..."

"Could you please double-check whether there are any confirmed seats available on flights from XXX-YYY today? I called United Customer Service, who said there were seats for sale and you could help me out..."

"Could you please double-check whether there are any confirmed seats available on flights from XXX-YYY today? I get SABRE on my phone, and it looks like today's UA578 is Y3 B3 M3 ... L3."

"Can you check whether I should have been confirmed on a flight instead of just being on the standby list? I think S*UAL/IRROPS has something to say about this, but I'm not sure, it's been a while..."

"If you have a moment, could you let me know whether there are any confirmed seats available on any flights to XXX today? I really need to see Grandma and these irrops are such a hassle!"

"Hi. (gentle smile)"
mherdeg is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:05 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 5,797
Originally Posted by GoingAway View Post
Two sides to every story, could be you were just not communicating well and the agent didn't get what you needed. And if by regular line, you meant non-status, why would you do that?
I just told her that I spoke to the reservation people over the phone and was told to come to the airport to get my seats changed (as OLCI on CO threw my UA seating assignments all over the place -- 2 all over in E+ and 1 in the middle, 1 in the back of the plane). I told her I was already checked in and that's when she said she couldn't do anything and to go to SFO to see if it could get changed.

Never flew UA before (atleast on the first leg of a flight). I was confused by all the lines, it was 5 AM too (not a morning person -- almost completely passed out in the AirTrain). I am still not happy about arriving at 5 AM for a 10:55 AM domestic flight just to fix seats.
edcho is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:14 pm
  #9  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Greater DC
Programs: UA plus
Posts: 12,940
Originally Posted by edcho View Post
I just told her that I spoke to the reservation people over the phone and was told to come to the airport to get my seats changed (as OLCI on CO threw my UA seating assignments all over the place -- 2 all over in E+ and 1 in the middle, 1 in the back of the plane). I told her I was already checked in and that's when she said she couldn't do anything and to go to SFO to see if it could get changed.

Never flew UA before (atleast on the first leg of a flight). I was confused by all the lines, it was 5 AM too (not a morning person -- almost completely passed out in the AirTrain). I am still not happy about arriving at 5 AM for a 10:55 AM domestic flight just to fix seats.
But you were in EWR for a segment out of SFO ... Of course they would pass the buck unless you explain more. Btw, why couldn't you just go line yourself to fix it post check in? Or use a chicken for the same?
GoingAway is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:17 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 5,797
Originally Posted by GoingAway View Post
But you were in EWR for a segment out of SFO ... Of course they would pass the buck unless you explain more. Btw, why couldn't you just go line yourself to fix it post check in? Or use a chicken for the same?
Atleast they could've brought up my reservation!

I tried changing it online (after check-in) but CO's site said I had to contact UA for seat changes. I tried changing it on UA's site but the seat changes would not hold (or get communicated back to CO when I reprinted the boarding passes). Called up UA directly and they said that it was under airport control and I had to go to UA at EWR or SFO to get the changes made (called twice to make sure).

Only 1 pax took a seat that I originally had so no huge loss (i took one for the team and sat in the middle seat).
edcho is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:24 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Chicago
Programs: AA EP, UA Gold-MM, UA 1K (former), GS (former),SPG LT Platinum, Hyatt Diamond, HH Diamond
Posts: 2,247
Originally Posted by Bonehead View Post
Your experience corroborates what I have seen mentioned before on these boards: If you're elite (especially an upper-level elite) on UA they will take care of you, but woe be it to you should you lack status. May well explain UA's high (low?) placing in the "most hated" rankings. Heck, I have no complaints so far with UA, but I have that most coveted 1K status...
If true, why is that such a bad thing? Why not take care of your better customers? I would be livid if I got stuck overnight coming back from a business trip when someone who bought the cheapest ticket for their once a year flight got taken care of first. You know they won't choose to fly UA next year just because of that (unless of course UA was the cheapest option).
neo_781 is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:39 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: San Francisco
Programs: AS MVP Gold, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 696
Originally Posted by neo_781 View Post
If true, why is that such a bad thing? Why not take care of your better customers? I would be livid if I got stuck overnight coming back from a business trip when someone who bought the cheapest ticket for their once a year flight got taken care of first. You know they won't choose to fly UA next year just because of that (unless of course UA was the cheapest option).
nobody is saying that they shouldn't take care of their elite customers, but its just the disparity between the elite and non-elite service that brings up all these issues. primarily, that the attitude and demeanor of agents has reported to have been downright rude and unhelpful to general members

sure, most of us on this forum are elites and don't see this happen unless we're mistaken as a GM, but there are going to be times when we are invariable some form of general member, whether its because we're flying on a different airline because of IRROPS, or even just getting a coffee at sbux. I'm sure if you got that type of treatment, you'd probably be just as furious
sfoactuary is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:44 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Programs: UA 1K MM, AAdvantage Plat, Marriott Platinum, HH Gold
Posts: 643
Taking better care of the elites doesn't mean the agents have to be rude to the non-status customers. This is definitely one area that UA need to improve on - consistency of customer service.
LA_Traveler is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:49 pm
  #14  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,098
It's exactly this kind of thing which taught me to deal on the phone with the elite cs phone service rather than speak to a GA or Ticket Agent. When I cannot do that, I go find a lounge dragon that can usually help out.

Besides, it's faster.
pinworm is offline  
Old Jul 12, 11, 12:50 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 5,797
Originally Posted by sfoactuary View Post
nobody is saying that they shouldn't take care of their elite customers, but its just the disparity between the elite and non-elite service that brings up all these issues. primarily, that the attitude and demeanor of agents has reported to have been downright rude and unhelpful to general members

sure, most of us on this forum are elites and don't see this happen unless we're mistaken as a GM, but there are going to be times when we are invariable some form of general member, whether its because we're flying on a different airline because of IRROPS, or even just getting a coffee at sbux. I'm sure if you got that type of treatment, you'd probably be just as furious
+1

I would be worried especially if i'm traveling with friends and family (esp a large group). If they got the bottom of the barrel treatment, I would instead book everyone else on a different airline and meet them there.
edcho is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: