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Would you complain about this treatment in J or just suck it up?

Would you complain about this treatment in J or just suck it up?

Old Jan 2, 18, 12:05 pm
  #1  
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Would you complain about this treatment in J or just suck it up?

I'm in J, spouse and kid in E+, international flight (8 hours). Spouse fell and hurt back a couple of days before flight. Board, explain, ask FA if itís ok for me to swap with spouse to have my J and me to sit with my kid in E+ since spouse is in pain with bad back and would benefit from the lie flat seat. FA consults with purser, both say yes, take your assigned seats now, switch after takeoff. Take seat, order meal as express dining to be served in four hours (have pre-discussed all this with spouse) since flightís already been delayed hours and we ate before getting on board. Make clear spouse will have express meal and I won't have any food/drinks because we're switching.

In other words, trying for minimal fuss, no extra work for FAs, no extra food or amenities involved and seat switch is for hurt back not whim.

Brief shenanigans before take off, when FA first asks if he can take the headphones (only one set on two seats) and then accidentally walks off with my BoseÖI wait a few minutes until he walks past again, then he returns them right away and takes the comp. set. Iím in A, no-oneís in B. Then, same FA comes over, hangs a Crew Rest sign on the seat, and gives me a lecture about how I wonít be alone and I mustnít put anything on the seat, like this small bag here, I start to say it isnít my bag, when the FA puts his fingers up to stop me talking over him, and carries on with his lecture. Hear him out and reply politely that it's not my bag and yes, I understand crew rest seat (avoid temptation to say this isnít my first rodeo in J buddy). Turns out another FA put bag there. No apology. Ask FA for gel pillow and seat pad (standard amenity now on Polaris but you need to ask for them, and ask early else they could go). FA says these are only loaded for flights over 12 hours. Explain my understanding is that it is the pjs that are 12+ hours, but the gel pillows and the mattress pads are loaded (I donít intend this to end up being a discussion of how poorly trained they are on Polaris offeringsÖ) and I get a gel pillow, not a pad. I heard FA asking colleague about gel pillows and being told where they where, and I heard that he didn't ask about a mattress pad. Because I'm aware they are doing me a favor by letting me switch with spouse, I let this go even though I am worrying that my spouseís bad back might be considerably helped by pad, and wondering if I can ask another FA who seems to not hate their job (have by now witnessed this FA seeming to enjoy telling other passenger they canít have something, so got the idea heís not one who enjoys his jobÖ.)

Seat belt sign goes off, I get up to switch, cross sides in the galley, see FA and politely say thanks and goodbye, only when I get through the curtain, E+ FAs are starting the service. They are at the first row. I explain I just want to switch with my spouse for my business seat because of a back injury. E+ FA tells me to return to my seat since itís a safety issue for them to move the cart backwards, and she will let me know when I can get down the aisle. Sheís not very polite about it either. Stand there like a lemon for a bit then return to my J seat, having to cross sides in the galley again, and getting bit of an eye roll from FA. Explain Iíll return to seat and switch when aisles are clear and he nods and says ďyou can only switch one time, you canít go backwards and forwards, we canít have the disruption for safety reasonsĒ Yes I say, we only want to switch once, I just can't get to the seat to do it now.

E+ FA doesnít come back and tell me when the aisle is clear. Normally, I would have asked Business FA to let me know, but I already anticipate how heíd view that request to do something ďextraĒ.

While I am waiting I decline drinks, nuts etc. so as not to cause any issues. Crew comes and sits in the B seat. Doesnít nod hello, fiddles with the entertainment stuff, sits up, sits back, goes to the bathroom, turns tv, lights on and off, then leaves, different crew member comes and has loud conversation with other pass (perhaps deadheading, sounded technical). Crew member spills water, some goes on me, FA obviously assumes itís my spillage. Finally, aisles clear and I am able to switch seats with my spouse who reports receiving no help, dirty look as though we are doing something wrong, another lecture from FA who says thatís it now, no more swapping (giving impression weíve been making multiple swaps), and no more commotion for safety reasons.

Spouse reclines to bed position and tries to sleep over the ups and downs in the B crew seat, which involves lights on and off and crew ups and downs/talks for hours. Spouse wakes up for meal at the time we agreed, waits a half an hour in case itís late, and then asks for it, explaining hit was ordered for the time I asked the FA to please bring the express meal service (nice fish), and FA says no, itís too late now, they will shortly be serving the pre-arrival food, itís not possible to get the express meal service, then serves spouse the pre-arrival food.

Ironically, I just had lunch with two colleagues who were asking me about UA vs others for international 2018 travel given all the negative reports, and I told them I thought UA was fine, just bad with PR, since things happen on all airlines. However, began to think about my last few flights and wonder if I am too accommodating.

(a) This FA was actually mean, not just unhelpful/unsympathetic - I had explained it was a back injury not a whim for a different seat (b) The E+ FA was equally rude and unhelpful (c) The meal should have been served. (d) The crew seat - Iíve never experienced it as a revolving noisy door without consideration for a paying seat mate who just wants to sleepÖ is any of this something to complain about or suck it up?

Thanks FT crowd for letting me source your wisdom as to whether this is worth complaining about.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:23 pm
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I would definitely give United feedback on this with specifics on the flight so they can identify the crew in question. It's one thing when someone is whiny and needy but from your account, you did everything you could to minimize the effect on the FAs and they just didn't appreciate it or perform as one would expect in Business Class.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:34 pm
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Only you can answer this question. If you feel upset over the incident and feel that you deserve an apology or more from someone at UA, then you should just write in. If you don't care, then don't bother. However typically, if you are upset enough about something to make a new thread about it, you should probably just write in.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:39 pm
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I don't know - ultimately you were able to do the swap - they could have said no right off the bat.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:39 pm
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I'm a bit surprised that they made you take assigned seats for takeoff. It would have made zero fuss if you had not even had to switch.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:48 pm
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Originally Posted by hughw View Post
I'm a bit surprised that they made you take assigned seats for takeoff. It would have made zero fuss if you had not even had to switch.
Ditto, When flying with +1 we don't always sit together in J. Normally SHE just takes my seat and as of yet not one word from a FA.

Last edited by Dublin_rfk; Jan 2, 18 at 1:02 pm
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:49 pm
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Originally Posted by hughw View Post
I'm a bit surprised that they made you take assigned seats for takeoff. It would have made zero fuss if you had not even had to switch.
Yes I was pretty tempted at one point to say hey, you're the ones who told us to swap after take off but I kept it polite.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:50 pm
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Interesting comments. Cabin crew sounded pretty unprofessional to me. But then, when i pay money, any amount of money, I do expect service with a smile. Cabin crews using flight safety as an excuse ito not do their jobs in a professional manner s becoming more and more common place.
I'd certainly write UAL.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by hughw View Post
I'm a bit surprised that they made you take assigned seats for takeoff. It would have made zero fuss if you had not even had to switch.
This. It's tangential to the issue at hand, but whenever doing a swap like that, never ask - just take each other's seats. Trying to switch mid-flight will always cause more hassle and dirty looks than any unexpected mismatches (male vs female name) against the manifest.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 12:53 pm
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My take:
  • First, don't talk in advance with the FA's about your seat switch -- just do it. If the J FA then asks your spouse why the name on the manifest is John when she is a Jane, spouse should simply answer that hubby is back in her seat in E+ because he is a nice guy (or because his back doesn't hurt and mine does). Spouse should then shut up and presume she is entitled to all features of J. At this point, it is unlikely that FA will say anything further, and that will be the end of the matter.
  • Second, in the unlikely event that FA complains about the switch, ask to speak with the purser. Rinse and repeat. There is no reason (that I know of) why John needs to start the flight in the J seat.
  • Third, be parsimonious with your requests. While there should be no issue with the gel pillow or bedding request, I think the ask for the Exec meal 4 hours into the flight is a bit much. Typically, these are served early in the flight for pax who want to sleep. This request, coupled with the bedding request was possibly interpreted as "get the bedding early so I can take it to the seat in E+ when I move back there, and delay the meal so I can eat the nuts and have a drink before my spouse comes up to J and has a full meal." Note, all of these possible friction points are eliminated if spouse simply sits in the J seat from the get-go.
  • Finally, this crew really seems to have been pissed off for some reason. Maybe it was the delay, maybe it was the sum of all of the demands coming from all of the delayed pax. Who know?. But they didn't act professionally. I would tell UA -- but just about the crew discourtesy issues and not about the seat switch issue.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by seenitall View Post
My take:
  • First, don't talk in advance with the FA's about your seat switch -- just do it....
^
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Old Jan 2, 18, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
I don't know - ultimately you were able to do the swap - they could have said no right off the bat.
And if they're going to spend the flight being pissy and passive aggressive about it, they should have said no.
But, as others said, why ask at all? Unless the seats are gender specific or first initial specific, who cares? Who would even know, unless they took an inordinate amount of attention to your family's boarding.

Last edited by rickg523; Jan 2, 18 at 1:06 pm
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Old Jan 2, 18, 1:14 pm
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I would definitely send in a shorter version of the story via snail mail. UA will send you a canned response and may kick you some miles. The FAs are protected by the union and will likely never even hear that there was a complaint.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 1:35 pm
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Next time just switch when you board. If/when the FA asks just tell them you swapped with yur spouse. That avoids all of the angst and unpleasantness you experienced.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 1:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
Next time just switch when you board. If/when the FA asks just tell them you swapped with yur spouse. That avoids all of the angst and unpleasantness you experienced.
This. Ask forgiveness, not permission.
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