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IAD to NRT in F - Appalling lack of service

IAD to NRT in F - Appalling lack of service

 
Old Dec 5, 09, 8:45 am
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IAD to NRT in F - Appalling lack of service

I recently flew from IAD to NRT in F and found the level of service just appalling --- and I do not have high expectations when flying UA F.

I will say that I found the ground experience at Dulles just wonderful, The flight takes off in the late morning when there are hardly any other flights leaving. An empty airport makes for a very pleasant experience! The fact that I had a Five Guys burger for breakfast at the airport was a rare and wonderful experience as well !!! The International First Class lounge at IAD was also wonderful as I've stated already in a different thread.

The aircraft was a refurbished 744 with the new first class seats. I was using an SWU to upgrade from paid business. Upon boarding, it was pretty strange to see the business class seats facing backwards --- had not seen that on an airplane before !!! The refurbishment has been revolutionary for business class but less so for first class.

The seat was fine - and an improvement on the previous version - but it had some issues. The location of the IFE control is in an akward position vis-a-vis the location for your beverage and I had to made numerous saves in order not to have the glass fly over me while I was getting the IFE controls.

And while AVOD, I was shocked about the poor and general lack of selection in entertainment options. What's the point of installing the hardware if you're not going to load it with lots of options.

But now to my reason for posting.

The crew on the flight was just horrible. They just could not have cared less about the passengers. No special greetings. They had taken the storage space in the F section for themselves --- I'm referring to the cupboard by the service island and the front closet. There was no asking elites for their preferred menu options. The food was horrible - they clearly had not heated the items correctly. There was a nice bottle of Chardonnay offered, but after one refill I was told that it was no longer available. Would not surprise me if the crew took the rest of the stock for themselves because I believe there was just one other persons in F who was drinking this and I find it hard to believe that UA would board just one bottle. The crew then disappeared for an extened period of time.

One of the flight attendants finally came by and offered water. She had a large bottle that she wanted to pour into the smaller bottles that had been distributed earlier. This demonstrates zero class. Could United not serve water in glasses, or board more smaller bottles of water. Having a flight attendant pouring from one bottle to another with lots of spillage is just something I did not expect to see in any First Class, even on United.


We landed in Tokyo and I was transferring to Seoul. The transit experience at Narita has always been very pleasant. This time, there were so many planes arriving at exactly the same time (including Contintental now) that clearing security reminded me more of immigration at the mid-field terminal at Dulles following all the European arrivials. The special prioroty lanes for F & C pax were gone.

Then boarded the flight to Seoul where the sandwich I had was literally frozen. I asked for it to be re-heated. Got it back semi-frozen with the explanation that they did not want to heat the side lettuce too much !!!

All in all, one of my worst experiences with United. The stories of service being immproved recently certainly did not apply to my flights.

Last edited by Braniff; Dec 5, 09 at 10:46 am
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Old Dec 5, 09, 8:58 am
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Originally Posted by Braniff View Post
One of the flight attendants finally came by and offered water. She had a large bottle that she wanted to poor into the smaller bottles that had been distributed earlier.
If you were complaining about them coming out with just plastic glasses (and not glass), I would have said whatever ...but to try and reuse a bottle that is clearly not designed to be refilled? And all the other stuff? I'd send in some feedback. Heck, I'd just copy and paste your post and send it on. Sorry to hear that happened to you.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by SeattleFlyerGuy View Post
If you were complaining about them coming out with just plastic glasses (and not glass), I would have said whatever ...but to try and reuse a bottle that is clearly not designed to be refilled? And all the other stuff? I'd send in some feedback. Heck, I'd just copy and paste your post and send it on. Sorry to hear that happened to you.
+1

It's really unfortunate when UA gets someone to actually pay for a premium class cabin and then performs like this.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 9:11 am
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I flew IAD-NRT a couple of weeks ago, and I agree with some of your assessment:

1. IFE control. I did spill a glass wine while trying to reach the control, and the storage space got wet due to the wine spill.

2. Food - the Japanese selection is identical to the C selection. What a letdown

3. FA were great, though! I think it is a hit and miss thing with IAD based crew.

4. Yes, I also note the lack of storage space on IAD-NRT and IAD-PEK (when it flies) in F and the front cabin of C. It seems the IAD crew are doing international trades while doing NRT/PEK.

5. IAD IFL is great and the timing of flight is also excellent.

6. My transit experience was great! NRT IFL was empty. I will try NH F lounge next week to compare.

Overall, the F meal selection is a big letdown for me. There is really no difference between the C and F meals other than the presentation, bigger bowl of salad and a small bowl of soup. Not sure whether the appertizers are the same.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 9:11 am
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Ridiculous attempt at "service" UA. I sometimes have awful and quirky service on long haul transpacs. I honestly believe some FA's have just been in the same job too long. Either that or maybe you got an absolute rookie crew. What takes the cake is refilling the water bottles. What a wierd/eccentric thing to do in the F cabin of a 744!

We have had many threads on it before, but I still believe that a manager/superior with actual disciplinary/reporting authority should be in the flight crew. I'm probably not using the right terms, but I know there is something to the FA union whereas a higher level with that authority is NOT in the crew. Sometimes it really shows.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 9:27 am
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Originally Posted by SeattleFlyerGuy View Post
If you were complaining about them coming out with just plastic glasses (and not glass), I would have said whatever ...but to try and reuse a bottle that is clearly not designed to be refilled? And all the other stuff? I'd send in some feedback. Heck, I'd just copy and paste your post and send it on. Sorry to hear that happened to you.

Originally Posted by Diplomatico View Post
+1

It's really unfortunate when UA gets someone to actually pay for a premium class cabin and then performs like this.


Thank you. I'm heartened to hear that other FTers finds this appalling behavior. I found this so incredible that I think I may for the first time send a complaint letter to UA.

Last edited by Braniff; Dec 5, 09 at 10:51 am
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Old Dec 5, 09, 10:00 am
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744 on IAD-NRT? Does that happen much?

I've only flown this route once, but it was a 777 -- assumed that was always the case.

OP -- I honestly laughed at loud at the mental image of an FA refilling water bottles. How insane.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by Braniff View Post
The special priority lanes for F & C pax were gone.
This is odd.. it was there the last time I went through and I haven't read on here about any changes to the priority security lane for transit pax at NRT.

Was it really gone or was it just so busy that lane had a lot of pax in them as well?

Sorry about the service.. it's always so disappointing when you get a crew that doesn't give a damn.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 10:33 am
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Originally Posted by hobo13 View Post
OP -- I honestly laughed at loud at the mental image of an FA refilling water bottles. How insane.
Same here...with a little turbulence thrown in to boot!!!

In all seriousness....This is an example of why when flying to SIN the last few years, I always fly through HKG vs NRT. I find that the IAD and ORD flights to NRT are consistently worse compared to routing through HKG. Granted, I have had disappointing experiences on both routes, but your story reminds me of mine on the NRT flights in the past.

Last edited by goingbananas; Dec 5, 09 at 10:45 am Reason: additional info
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Old Dec 5, 09, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by hobo13 View Post
744 on IAD-NRT? Does that happen much?

I've only flown this route once, but it was a 777 -- assumed that was always the case.

OP -- I honestly laughed at loud at the mental image of an FA refilling water bottles. How insane.

When they suspended IAD-PEK nonstop, they put a 744 on the IAD-NRT route with the flight number continuing to PEK.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 10:41 am
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I am not in the least surprised by the OP's comments. F service on UA is mostly very poor and always unpredictable. About 1/3 of the time, the FAs are great! 1/3 they are mediocre, doing just the bare minimum. But 1/3 of the time they are appalling. They are too often focused on themselves: reading magazines, talking to other FAs, doing their best to ignore passengers. And the attitude is too often that passengers are a bother.

I mostly fly SFO-FRA, one of the routes known for the worst FA experience. The main reason I see is that the most senior and often the most burnt out FAs get this route in F.

But do I blame the FAs? Not as much as I blame UA for very poor employee relations. The AFA is a large part of the problem, but UA's management has set a very very poor tone for how it treats employees.

Oh, and about refilling the bottles, that happened on my last 2 SFO-FRA flights in F as well. The FAs said only 1 bottle of water, and recommended rather than bringing me a new glass that they refill my old bottle. Tacky, indeed!!!
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Old Dec 5, 09, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by SEA1K4EVR View Post
This is odd.. it was there the last time I went through and I haven't read on here about any changes to the priority security lane for transit pax at NRT.

Was it really gone or was it just so busy that lane had a lot of pax in them as well?

Sorry about the service.. it's always so disappointing when you get a crew that doesn't give a damn.
NRT transfer security was a zoo when I was there (first time ever when I've seen that.) It may well be that they simply suspended the elite lane due to all the people. But I did look very carefully for it and it was not there.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 10:57 am
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Here is the lesson you learned: on a 767 or 747 save the SWU and stick with C. The delta between C and F on those planes is service. And this being UA you just can't count on it. The C seats are as comfortable as the F seats now so the only gain you get in F is the IFL. Not worth a SWU, imho.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 11:28 am
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E-mail it off to the CEO

Originally Posted by SeattleFlyerGuy View Post
If you were complaining about them coming out with just plastic glasses (and not glass), I would have said whatever ...but to try and reuse a bottle that is clearly not designed to be refilled? And all the other stuff? I'd send in some feedback. Heck, I'd just copy and paste your post and send it on. Sorry to hear that happened to you.
Originally Posted by Diplomatico View Post
+1

It's really unfortunate when UA gets someone to actually pay for a premium class cabin and then performs like this.
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Old Dec 5, 09, 11:33 am
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Originally Posted by Braniff View Post
The crew on the flight was just horrible. They just could not have cared less about the passengers. No special greetings. They had taken the storage space in the F section for themselves --- I'm referring to the cupboard by the service island and the front closet. There was no asking elites for their preferred menu options. The food was horrible - they clearly had not heated the items correctly. There was a nice bottle of Chardonnay offered, but after one refill I was told that it was no longer available. Would not surprise me if the crew took the rest of the stock for themselves because I believe there was just one other persons in F who was drinking this and I find it hard to believe that UA would board just one bottle. The crew then disappeared for an extened period of time.

One of the flight attendants finally came by and offered water. She had a large bottle that she wanted to pour into the smaller bottles that had been distributed earlier. This demonstrates zero class. Could United not serve water in glasses, or board more smaller bottles of water. Having a flight attendant pouring from one bottle to another with lots of spillage is just something I did not expect to see in any First Class, even on United.
I think your feedback is all very valid about the storage space, food quality, and service. Personal water bottles aren't designed to be refilled, and most crews replace them with glasses instead of refilling them. Providing this feedback can help UA refine its procedures (or board replacement personal bottles) to improve customer satisfaction.

FWIW I don't think what you experienced is typical of UA's International F product, which is why sending in feedback would be especially valued.
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