Oh United

We will never travel with you again.
Let me count the ways …

  1. Cancelling our flight and putting us on another one with absolutely no notification (not to mention getting home even later after 30 hours of straight travelling).
  2. Seating us separately on the plane.  I really needed to lean on Mr. P’s shoulder and doze for that last flight.  However, I am a grown-up and can handle this.  I counted *at least* four kids between the ages of 5 and 12 who were split up from their family members traveling with them and seated separately.  That’s right, United thought fit to seat a 5 year old with complete strangers on a late evening flight.  One little boy was nearly in tears as his mother explained that she would be sitting about 10 rows further back and that he’d have to sit in between two strangers.  And don’t even get me started on the heartlessness of the passengers who allowed this to happen and didn’t volunteer to switch with her …
  3. Flight attendants who could care less.  On four United flights in 2 weeks, only one had crew who even vaguely cared about what they were doing.  On the last leg home, the man in the window seat of my row was viciously snapped at by the flight attendant when he had the temerity to ask for an actual tea bag with which to make the hot tea he’d requested from the refreshment trolley.
  4. No snacks on said refreshment trolley.  Really?  Too bad if you’d had a quick turnaround in Chicago and didn’t have enough time to eat or buy your own food (like the same man in the window seat).  Lucky I had a big bag of pretzels to share around.  The 12 year old next to me (also separated from his family) was starving and appreciative.
  5. Boarding idiocy.  Why don’t they board from the back to the front in economy like other sensible airlines do?  It really makes the whole process smoother.  Also, all the assholes in the front rows of economy can’t then take all the overhead lockers with their giant bags, leaving no room at all for later boarding passengers (see next point).
  6. The carry-on bag nightmare!  Personally, I prefer to travel without a large carry-on, but sometimes it’s necessary (at the end of a long, international trip, for instance).  Why should I be penalized, or even threatened with holding up the flight (I’m talking to you, idiot gate agent in Chicago), just because I’m further down the aircraft.  I shouldn’t have to go out of my way to organize gate-checking my (legal) carry-on bag just because your gate agents couldn’t organize their way out of a wet paper bag. Also, if you’re going to insist that passengers towards the rear of the aircraft must gate-check bags, you might want to limit the number of bags carried on by passengers in the front.  I counted one guy with *four* bags.
  7. Grooming.  Standards.  Think about it!  That creature that scared the crap out of me when she turned around from the drinks trolley might not be the image you want to present to the public.  Her home-Botoxed face, haggard expression, overly baked complexion and shonky hair extensions probably caused nightmares for those poor children already traumatized by sitting with strangers.

All these things were probably aggravated by jetlag and by the unenviable comparison to the truly delightful experience we had on Qantas both to and from Australia.  A grateful shout out to the lovely Sebastian on QF93 MEL-LAX coming home for impeccable service, great conversation and generosity.  The (first-class) pjs are great.  :)