Please let me introduce you to my 85-year-old father, Dr. Marvin Speer. After losing four siblings, a best friend and his wife of 60 years in the past two years, he decided to take the trip to represent the elders at a family event. He is the only sibling of 8 alive and thus the journey to his nephew’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah was huge. It was important to everyone, but your airline. Yes, the folks that watched your horrible behavior from the moment we all off loaded the flight due to a broken air conditioner, right up to the point of me putting him in a cab to send him home so I could deal with the rest of the issues you created, were horrified. Your poor Continental staff stuck in Houston with your “new United culture” were thrown to the wolves again today. They were appalled by the time I finally cancelled the trip and told them what had happened and was still happening.
Let me make this quick and easy:
11:26 Flight to Raleigh, boarded and told no air-conditioning, need new plane.
11:40 Off load plane to an area with no chairs and little air. Many medically frail elderly folks, one mom with three small children. No Continental Staff to tell us where to go or what to do. Pilot tries to help.
12:05 Pilot tells us to go back to gate 4.
12:10 We go back to gate 4 and from this point until 2:30 I receive 9 emails from you. The first 6 say there is airport trouble even though it is maintenance on your part. The next 3 say maintenance and they all say we will depart at a certain time. No one is at the Customer Service area as there is a “shift change”. The “attendant” at gate 4 tells us she has been off duty since 2:00, but her replacement has not arrived.
At 2:30 an announcement is made that they are still working on the plane. I go back to customer service and try and change flights, but I am way too late for that. I ask for a full refund for Dad. They say they have put the request in, give me paper work, tell me to “work with Corporate”. And then they say Good Luck. I book myself on a flight the next day to represent the family.
At 2:45 it is down to baggage as instructed, and eventhough I explain I must have the luggage off the flight due to medial issues, they tell me I must go to baggage claim. Off I go with my 85 year old very disappointed father who says no matter what, I can not go through this again; I just did all I could do to go and be with the family. What did you want me to say to this man? Maybe, just maybe management is so wealthy, they do not deal with this, or they pay folks to “deal with” their elderly parents. No matter what my income has been or is, I can assure you, it WAS a gift to be able to take my Father to see such Joy.
Here we are at baggage which made maintenance a picnic. The woman at baggage explained she had to fill out paper, fax it somewhere, find someone to go to the plane and get the bags off. I asked if I could take dad home and come back since she assured me they would NOT consider delivering the bags to my home. She said NO, I had to be present to get the bags. I asked how long, she said a minimum hour wait and up to three hours. I said, my Dad is not feeling well and without going into detail suggested he could create a medical situation. She said, I will call an EMT. Now, how about that? I can assure you the ten people standing around, one of which was an attorney and asked for my business card, were as shocked as I was. Oh yes, the same people that saw an unattended elderly gentleman in a wheelchair stand up, fall down,bruise his right side, and finally a United desk person asked if he needed water or an EMT. Three people asked the United person to call for an EMT, and one never showed. Oh yes, I was feeling confident in your worry about the elderly. So, I put Dad in a cab and sent him home and not without some trepidation. I called my family and alerted them what was happening.
So you think I am done. Not even close, it is just 2:45 and now I wait. I watch folks that came after me get there bags and leave. over and over again. The gate attendant had their bags pulled, but not my gate attendant or my customer service folks that sent me to baggage. Finally, the baggage woman comes to let me know my bags are now en route to Raleigh. I was too dazed to even respond, so off to another baggage area where I was told my bags would return in the next few days and I would receive a call to go back to IAH to pick them up. Me: Does that mean I need a photo ID? You will not deliver them? Baggage: No we will not? Me: Can I pick my Father’s up? Baggage: You can try, but it is best you bring him with his ID.
I realize I now can not make the trip tomorrow as my luggage is gone for “at least 24 hours but based on experience it may be up to 48 hours due to the cancellations and crew issues today” says the frustrated baggage person. So back to customer service to get a refund on my ticket which of course also needs to be taken up with Corporate. The staff are so apologetic and feel my pain. Yes, I did get weepy when describing how much this had meant to Dad and my cousin. But, I also knew they dealt with many people just like me and the many that were in this line. I especially loved the sweet man that played baseball for Rice in 1966 and WAS on his way to watch them play in thE NCAA tournament. He lives about two hours out of town, so I guess I will see him when and if we get a call to go back for our bags. Yes, my confidence in even getting a call is fading.
No one could make this up. At 4:30 I leave IAH in a cab to fight the Houston traffic home. I find my Father so disappointed, call my cousin to try and explain, and fight back the tears as to how sad this situation really is. There was a time when Continental was the carrier we counted on to care. I flew them often as a Corporate Employee as well as business owner. I flew them for vacation and every family event. For the last two years I have watched t both traditional and social media bash United. And NOTHING has changed. I guess there is no need really, my guess is your Board of Directors and Management Team fly Charter. In fact, many of your Board members may own their own planes and not have to worry about seeing the lack of care I witnessed for the elderly, pregnant women, mom’s flying with kids, the blind man with the cane, the 91 year old Marine who fought in Okinawa that Dad tried to cheer up because he was going to miss his grandson’s graduation. No need for you to worry about any of these real life events. If you did, you would hate your United airline.
My guess is IF you had to be with the regular guys, you would not be too happy with the Corporation you lead. You ask us to “like” you on Facebook and “follow” you on Twitter and you ask us to DM you, which is smarter than the transparent public chat. here is a thought; How about you just quit asking us to follow and you lead so we can like you again. You know real servant leadership. Put on a pair of jeans, go undercover and fly three times next month. Be sure to take your parent to an important family function, like you kids wedding, or a graduation and manage their disappointment when United completely fails to maintain their planes or crew schedules. And then let us ALL know how that worked out for you. Thank you, just an unhappy customer. I am sure it is just me……or is it?
P.S. We all understand weather delays, but today was a sunny day when we started. Weather was not the delay factor.