Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kvetching From Sydney to LA

A Mid Air Rant:

Altitude: 38,653 ft
Time to dest: 0:34
Distance traveled: 7320 miles

After having flown long flights on British Airways and Qantas this trip,I can tell you, this United flight I've been on for the last 12 hours has been an absolute joke. Let's see...

Movies are shown in sequence, on a single cabin screen - so while the selection of movies was good, seeing them was a pain. I'm in Economy, so leg room is non-existent. I needed to squeeze my laptop in just so to even see part of it.

And then there are the parts of the flight out of United's control. Like the screaming infant sitting 4 seats away.

And don't get me started on these Kosher Meals, My heavens. It's like they intentionally make them inedible. Mid flight, I woke from my haze to find a meal in front of me. Upon breaking the seal, I found a damp tray of some grayish goo that I didn't have the stomach to even try. Our people need fewer doctors and lawyers and more chefs.

And then there's the whole tone of the service. Last night, at dinner, they came through and offered meals. My seatmate to the left (I'm in my preferred isle seat) didn't make her choice fast enough and the guy got frustrated and was ready to move on. It was like a scene from a refugee camp - don't act fast enough, go hungry. And breakfast hasn't been much better - she asked for water *and* tea and you'd think she wanted caviar with her breakfast.

There's a fine balance between efficiency and being overly short with your customers. They've drifted to the later.

This poor service issue is especially obvious when compared to Qantas or BA - where the whole tone was that of "what can we do to make your flight more pleasant?" versus the United way which comes across as "what can you do to make this flight easier for us?"

On the Qantas flight, they noticed Shira wasn't signed up for a veggie meal, yet she didn't want the meat breakfast. So, they proactively found her a veg option. That took someone paying attention, versus just getting through meal service quickly.

*** End Rant ***

Whew, I feel much better now. I hate spewing all this negativity, so I'll finish this note with a list of positive things about the flight:

- My laptop battery continues to shine - lasting longer than I did (3+ hrs, before I was exhausted)

- My G1's battery did great too, playing music for 5+ hours and still having battery life left to write this note

- I listened to a long recording I had of the Drone Zone, and it helped me to get a good number of hours of sleep (5ish, I think?), so I'm as rested as I'm going to be.

- So far, the flight has been safe and we look like we'll have an uneventful landing. And as my Mother-in-Law likes to say, any landing you can walk away from is a good one. I'll be glad to extend that notion to the whole flight.

- In 30 minutes, I'll be back on US soil!

To cap it off: America may be the leader in many things - air travel, I'm sorry to say, isn't one of them.

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