The Terrible Customer Service of Airlines in America: United’s horrible public relations nightmare is just the tip of an incberg

We’ve all heard by now about the Poker playing doctor who was dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago because the airline company had overbooked the flight. The policy is ridiculous, the mistakes made by everyone numerous, and the degrading condition of airline travel in the United States made embarrassingly clear.  For what we pay for an airline ticket, the airlines should be a lot more appreciative.  Instead, they have come to treat the experience—especially in the economy class—as a miserable endeavor.  And it was on full display for everyone to see.

Here’s the main problem, that doctor should never have even been flying from Chicago to Louisville—it would have been quicker to drive the distance. The only time I’d fly such a short flight would be a connecting flight after a much longer journey—which often occurs when traveling overseas.  When doing such a thing most flights arrive domestically in Charlotte, Chicago, or Detroit then you have to catch a transfer flight to your home destination.  But for just flying from one city to another within the United States such as from Chicago to Louisville—a car is much faster by the time you waste all your time with the TSA and the booking process.  Airlines have lost their way and become entirely too callous to the service of their passengers.  Flying now is like riding on a public bus—and that is just a miserable state of affairs for something that should be a luxury experience.  So if I were that doctor who was singled out to lose his seat on an overbooked flight which the airlines have a right to do unfortunately—I would have taken the money and rented a car—and just drove down to Louisville.  I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be stuck in Chicago one more night waiting for another flight the next day.  That is just a ridiculous waste of time.  It’s only a four to five-hour drive from Chicago to Louisville taking your time—so the people on that flight had options that were much better than the violence that eventually occurred.

And that’s what I would suggest that people do—just don’t fly unless you have to. When I need to travel overseas, there isn’t much choice but recently on a trip back from Europe I noticed that the British Airways flight crew was top-notch while the American Airlines crew just sucked.  They had bad attitudes and were miserable to deal with—and that comes from their labor unions and essentially the lack of competition that the airlines have enjoyed for half a century.  Well, those days are coming to an end, other transportation modes will be competing with the airlines soon and that will change things significantly—such as the upcoming Hyperloop.  But even while in Europe I watched the flight attendants union for British Airways protesting at Heathrow for better wages and benefits which looked terrible.  All the employees in the commercial air professions have a lot to relearn about customer service—because presently it is just terrible and that is the first problem that United had with their policy which failed so spectacularly in Chicago.

The other major issue is the authority that the TSA and the airlines now have over individual sanctity—which is a direct cause of over-reaction to terrorism. The United States response to terrorism after 9/11 was just wrong to become a bunch of scardy cats afraid of their own shadows.  What should have been done then is what Trump is doing now—single out the terrorist activities and throw aggression at them making them think twice about attacking us again.  Airline travel should be as easy as the air shuttle is at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati.  The air shuttle there flies people to New York, Chicago, and Charlotte at just a little bit over what a commercial flight costs—but the hassle is much less.  They are very respectful of your time and person at Lunken and that makes it a much more desirable option.  They still work for people’s business there and don’t take it for granted that you have to do what they say.

On another flight, recently from overseas a flight attendant who thought she had way too much power was harassing a young couple who were trying to keep their baby quiet with videos on their smart phone. It was working and the noise level was next to nothing.  But that didn’t stop the woman from telling the young parents that they needed to put head phones on the baby because open sounds were not allowed on the plane.  Their response was that what they were doing was quieter than a screaming baby.  The stewardess very nearly pressed the issue—which under the airline rules, she had the authority to do.  Luckily, she let the situation slide, but not before tempting the desire to throw her weight around—which was considerable as she was an obviously union protected monstrosity who could barely fit down the aisle of the plane.  Not a good image for the airline to begin with.  Obviously, the tendency toward customer service was missing—customers these days are treated as a nuisance when they fly.  They are practically raped before getting on the plane and once there you are at the mercy of questionable pilots and power-hungry stewardesses who are well into their 40s and miserable because they feel guilty leaving their families behind to fly around the world for a living.  I mean really, if I want my mom to serve me drinks I can go to her house—part of the flying experience should be to be pampered a bit and to get where you want to go with a bit of adventure and zeal to it.  Not misery and some menopausal deformity with hairs coming out of their noses pouring you a Coke on a bumpy plane.  It’s a lot more palatable to have an attractive female in her mid-twenties tell you to fasten your seatbelt than some angry relic from the baby boomer generation.  I’m just being honest.  For what we pay, airlines are not giving us customer service and the issue is not looks—it’s just respect for the whole experience.  Ugly people as employees are just the icing on the cake—airlines don’t even go that far as to care about such things.  They are too busy overbooking flights and ripping people off airplanes to cover their management inefficiencies while the TSA is pulling down the paints of little boys and checking them for bombs they know aren’t there.  But the little pedophile in them hope to find something—likely unrelated.

I hate flying these days unless it’s in first class. Even then, the last time I flew overseas on a United flight in the nice seats they gave me a gay guy as an attendant.  My ticket cost as much as a car and that was all they could give me?  I mean it’s not about sex, it’s about taste—it is much nicer to have an attractive woman passing you drinks on a psychological level and working around you while you are trying to sleep than the hairy arm of some guy who acts like he wants to molest you.  Even for women, a flight to Japan or to a destination in Europe that isn’t encumbered with a PC culture of old people is more pleasant with a 25-year-old women full of wonderful estrogen handing you food—purely from a sanitation point of view because they at least care about their appearance so you can deduce that they at least washed their hands. And if airlines can’t at least give you decent looking people to serve you, then they should just leave you alone.  But flying is extremely intrusive and personally violating so with the uncomfortable burdens of jet lag and time zone adjustments—these added problems are just not worth the experience.  So whenever possible, I find some other way to travel these days—and that’s the best way to correct the behavior.  Take money out of their pockets and they’ll have to adjust.

For passengers of that United flight where the guy was drug off screaming like a trapped raccoon, they all should have been taking a car to Louisville—because the distance just doesn’t justify the extreme hardship of flying. By the time most of those passengers arrived at the airport, checked their baggage, went through security, found their gate terminal in that large airport—they could almost have driven to Louisville from Chicago.  Then there is the time it takes to taxi out and take off and actually fly to Northern Kentucky along the Ohio River, which is very fast—but still part of the process.  But that’s not all, once you land, find your bags, get a car—you could have long been at your hotel if you had just driven the distance.  And if I were you dear reader, that’s what I’d start doing.  Don’t give those slugs at United your money for a terrible experience. Don’t reward terrible behavior.  If they can’t give you something special for your time and money—then don’t give them the money.  It’s that simple, and if everyone did that United Airlines and the rest of them would be forced to become more customer friendly.  And from my vantage point—that is long overdue.

Rich Hoffman


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