US Airways employees have already given up

Old Sep 27, 2004, 7:36 am
  #1  
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US Airways employees have already given up

First off, I'm not one to automatically rag on employees. As a two-time shop steward, including at a company that went Chapter 11, I know first-hand what the average US Airways employees are experiencing. Morale is rightfully in the Dumpster. But faced with a similar situation, I knew better than to take out my frustrations on customers.
Last week, my wife got bumped from an oversold flight from LGA to Ithaca. Incredibly, they offered two vouchers to anywhere in the Continental 48 and she grabbed them. Not bad, but for her two-hour delay, could they give her a courtesy pass to the club?
"Sorry, that's the one thing I can't do."
Sure you can, you just didn't want to be bothered.
Flash forward a few days later when I attempted to book a flight using the vouchers over the phone. A snippy agent offers to connect me to "that department" and lectured me that next time I should use the phone prompt (press 5) to book flights using vouchers. Who knew there was such a thing? I haven't booked a flight over the phone in years, and never with a voucher. Would it have been so much trouble for this agent to process my request. How busy was she at midnight?
Of course, when I tried the number after first being transferred to the wrong place, a recording said something to the effect of: "Due to the increase in call volume and adverse weather conditions, our agents are assisting other customers. Please try your call later." Click.
I tried this route another 10 times before I called reservations back and got someone to help me, although she wasn't that happy about it.
When I then attempted to transfer the vouchers in person at the NYC ticket office, the snot behind the counter first tried to hit me up for 10 bucks a ticket for processing. "All the airlines are doing it now."
Duh.
But...
"I know what you're going to say."
"How about letting me finish my sentence first?" I calmly replied as I told him about the inequity of charging a fee for a ticket that I had no choice but to process in person.
Instead, he told me he'd "put a notation in the record to cover himself." No fee, but no voucher as my wife's last name (different from mine) was on both, he said she'd have to be present to sign them over. Notwithstanding the fact that they're transferable, he claimed (I believe falsely) that the transfer needed to be done in person.
Even if he is right, it was startling to have to endure the attitude he exhibited, starting off combative and being gleefully confrontational; unncessary and unwelcome.
I only fly US Airways now when I'm forced to (i.e. my company's contract for shuttle flights). Since Chapter 11 smiles have disappeared. Sullen gate agents barely acknowledge your presence. Grunts instead of thank yous. No eye contact. I don't expect them to whistle while they work. But I do expect a modicum of respect, a minimum of courtesy and some indication that they are professionals who can still take pride in a job well done.
I know what the average airline employee is going through. As such, I go out of my way to be polite and patient. Despite their circumstances, it would not be asking much to have US Airways employees reciprocate. It is one of the most vital parts of their job after all. If not, they deserve what they may inevitably get.
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Old Sep 27, 2004, 7:48 am
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As I have said on numerous threads here, you cannot fix problems if your employees don't believe in you. It was the premise under which Bethune revived Continental after 6 CEO's in front of him went down in flames. On it's best day, Continental never enjoyed anything like the franchise USAirways has in the Eastern (and most populous) part of this country. It's reservations department never had any people with the quality of the senior folks in Winston-Salem, and it's pilot ranks were filled with low time strike breakers, some of whom had transitioned from nameless commuters to right seats in DC-10's, and were despised by their seatmates (who had to fly as a team). Nothing like the experienced people US has. They will study this one at Harvard.
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Old Sep 27, 2004, 8:13 am
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Originally Posted by murrayhill
no voucher as my wife's last name (different from mine) was on both, he said she'd have to be present to sign them over. Notwithstanding the fact that they're transferable, he claimed (I believe falsely) that the transfer needed to be done in person.
Even if he is right...
He is correct, the vouchers themselves are not transferable but you can effectively transfer them by ticketing under another's name.

My first wife did not take my name and to deal with that we each always carried a copy of our marriage license. Not 100% but often works - you might consider that. Fortunately my 2nd and current wife took my name so we don't have to deal with these sorts of issues.
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Old Sep 27, 2004, 5:51 pm
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A few thoughts:

Re. 2 vouchers, not a bad deal. ^^

Re. exchanging in person, my understanding is that they always had to be exchanged by the person named on the voucher. I didn't even know spouses/Sos were allowed to do it.

Re. the snot's attitude: sounds like par for the course in Manhattan... *ducks*

Re. Club pass, I've never ever heard of these being given to volunteers, even for an int'l or overnight bump. Gosh, for a 2 hour wait on LGA-ITH, I can almost seeing them denying a meal voucher, too.

Re. rebooking pax, I can truly beliebe they were overwhelmed. I was in CLT this weekend, and I saw a number of pax rerouted from MIA to CLT without a FIM for connecting flights. My hunch is they quickly boarded anyone they could in whatever seats were open to anywhere north, then left it up to airport/phone agents to smooth out things once pax were in the clear.

Re. booking by phone, my experience after many multiple tries is that only the domestic awards desk can book the voucher travel... regular res. cannot. I don't think the phone prompts specify "voucher reservations" but the agent directing you to the award desk (with limited hours) sounds about right. As far as agent attitude, again sounds like par for the course.

Re. fee for exchanging vouchers, I haven't used one since the fees started so I can't say if this is standard. I suppose you could maybe argue that the fee applies for purchased ticket, and exchange of a voucher isn't a purchase per se. Others would have more recent insights than I do.

Sorry you had such a combination of negative experiences but glad you were able to book/ticket eventually.
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Old Sep 27, 2004, 6:46 pm
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Unhappy

Much to my surprise there was a separate prompt for buying tickets using a voucher. But you had to press 5, which you might not wait around to do if you heard prompts for either domestic reservations or Dividend Miles awards beforehand. Still, in trying the voucher prompt over two days I was unsuccessful, and assumed I would be for the foreseeable future.
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Old Sep 27, 2004, 7:35 pm
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US Airways employees have already given up

I booked award travel last May to take the family to Cancun mid October. Needless to say there have been many flight changes/cancellations since then. I called last Sunday to try and make a more workable itinerary and found the CSR extremely pleasant. She went out of her way to make flight changes for 6 people on 2 different reservations. ^ She was unable to assign seats for 1 leg due to a glitch in the system and told me to call back Monday morning. I did call back and explained what the CSR told me Sunday night. The guy said "Give me a couple minutes and I'll see what I can do for you". It took about 5 minutes to fix things during which he came back to me twice to tell me he was still working on it. After fixing things he said "Sorry you had to call back". Call it luck or whatever you will, but 2 different CSR's on 2 different days and I couldn't of asked for any better service. While I'll agree there are definately some sour pusses out there, I don't agree that all US employees have already given up. Just my 2c worth.
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Old Sep 27, 2004, 7:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Viajero Joven
Re. 2 vouchers, not a bad deal.

Re. exchanging in person, my understanding is that they always had to be exchanged by the person named on the voucher. I didn't even know spouses/Sos were allowed to do it.
We got the same deal recently. 54 pax showed up for a 50-seat RJ. They asked for vols at one RTFC per pax, only got 2 vols and needed 4. My family of four were offered 8 RTFC's and reroute on NW. Since we were the last four to show up and had very little leverage (no seat assignmnts) we took the deal.

I specifically asked the CP desk if I needed to drag my wife and kids to the airport when it comes time to ticket, and they said no, I could do it for all 8 myself. We'll see when the time comes, YMMV!
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Old Sep 28, 2004, 3:05 pm
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Respectfully disagree

PHL-SFO on Friday was the best cabin service I've had in a long time. The f/a was ever-present and each time she went or down the aisle her head was sweeping side-to-side to see who might need her attention. I was sorry to hear she usually flies to SEA, a destination I do not frequent. Return SFO-PHL flight last night was better than the usual with a very friendly f/a.

From my perspective, no one was giving up!
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Old Sep 28, 2004, 4:35 pm
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Employees Shine...

I have flown ALOT in the past 2 weeks and I have found that none of the employees I have come in contact with have given up..to the contrary I have found the cabin service to be outstanding..especially on my transcon legs PHL-LAX Monday and back Thursday. I had the opportunity to chat with most of these crews and they genuinely appreciate the gestures of support they are receiving from their regular customers.

I offer my thanks and encouragement to them--they are truly showing they are the best every day, and ESPECIALLY under these dire circumstances.

So my best to all my friends at U....


Art
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Old Sep 28, 2004, 8:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Art234
I had the opportunity to chat with most of these crews and they genuinely appreciate the gestures of support they are receiving from their regular customers. ......offer my thanks and encouragement to them--they are truly showing they are the best every day, and ESPECIALLY under these dire circumstances.
Art
Ditto here as well. My CLT/DFW crew this week was GREAT. I had a chance to speak with all of them in the galley for about 10 minutes. They were PIT based and old Alleghany employees. Fooled me, they were so good I thought they were old PI folks
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Old Sep 28, 2004, 9:00 pm
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Simmer Down Now

Let me just say this:

Your attitude determines your altitude.

I have found that being demanding, pushy, mean spirited, impatient and use of any four-letter words with any Customer Service Agent at the airport, hotel etc will pretty much win you more frustration and the possibility of not getting what you might want.

On the other hand, if you carry yourself professionally and not EXPECT things, begin your conversation with Hello, Hi There, Good Day (as opposed to any sentence starting with "I") say thanks in a meaninful tone, use phrases like "would it be possible, is there a chance, can you see if" etc smile when speaking, be dressed appropriately, I can guarantee you (any of you) you will be treated well and maybe that agent will do something nice for you for being that one guest/customer/passenger that took the time to be NICE to them. It's worked wonders for me.

Watch a few episodes of that Airport Reality show with this in mind and you'll see how all of these "mean spirited" people are creating a frenzie for everyone to be downright nasty...and there's just no call for it.

In RE: US Airways, they're under alot of pressure to keep a positive image even though the media and press is focusing only on negative information. Imagine yourself in their shoes...they're doing a pretty darn good job with the hand they are dealt with. I have confidence they will make it through all of this.Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude
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Old Sep 29, 2004, 12:09 am
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One more here that has seen generally great service lately. I have done four transcons in the last two weeks. Last Saturday's morning PHL/SFO was particularly good. I wish I'd had one of the cards to commend the FA in first class. She was constantly in motion. The only flight out of sixteen that wasn't very good was the red-eye SFO/CLT Sunday night. The FA posted up front seemed clearly unhappy to be there, and didn't do much of anything during the flight (other than read and scowl). The ability to fake a pleasant demeanor is valuable, no matter how bad things are.
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Old Sep 29, 2004, 1:11 am
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I came across some info on US at thetravelinsider.info on some of the airline problems---was illuminating...

--------------------------------

...Let's look at just how ineptly US Airways has been operated. And because management is quick to blame fuel prices, let's look at the underlying numbers excluding fuel costs.

US Airways' cost per available seat mile, excluding fuel, in the first half of 2004 was 10c a mile. Compare this to a former dinosaur that transformed itself - America West. They paid 7.3c a mile. JetBlue pays 6.4c and Southwest pays 5.7c.

Now, the other thing that US Airways says is a problem is its high labor cost. So let's take out the labor costs. This means US Airways had a cost, excluding fuel and excluding labor of 5.8c a mile. America West's cost is 4.7c, JetBlue is 3.8c and Southwest is 2.7c.

Two conclusions :

First, if everyone at US Airways worked for free, the airline's operating costs are still higher than what Southwest pays, including Southwest paying full labor costs!!!

Second, if we exclude labor and fuel from all four airlines, and look at the remaining costs - which in a grossly oversimplified manner can be considered to partially represent how well the airline is managed, US' costs are 23% higher than America West, 53% higher than JetBlue, and more than double the costs at Southwest, its new head to head competitor.

Do you now see why the unions are reluctant to give more money back to management? No amount of giving back is going to solve the airline's problems, and as long as management blames high fuel and high labor costs.....
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Old Sep 29, 2004, 5:45 am
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Question Mom

Originally Posted by Robt760

On the other hand, if you carry yourself professionally and not EXPECT things, begin your conversation with Hello, Hi There, Good Day (as opposed to any sentence starting with "I") say thanks in a meaninful tone, use phrases like "would it be possible, is there a chance, can you see if" etc smile when speaking, be dressed appropriately, I can guarantee you (any of you) you will be treated well and maybe that agent will do something nice for you for being that one guest/customer/passenger that took the time to be NICE to them. It's worked wonders for me.
Mom? Is that you? Just kidding, as I agree with you completely and thoroughly.

(Not sure how chicagorich is contributing to the thread on attitude though.)
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Old Sep 29, 2004, 6:05 am
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To anyone who does not have a comment card and wishes to give a comment about a flight or a particular employee either call Consumer Affairs toll free at 866.523.5333 or you can do it on the US Airways website at http://www.usairways.com/dm/er1

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