Tuesday, September 4, 2012

15 Reasons why United Airlines Doesn't Suck.

From time to time I see blog posts that are just ridiculous.  Today I'd like to talk about this one: 15 Reasons Why Flying United Airlines Sucks.  Nomadic Matt (who claims he knows how to travel better, cheaper, and longer) put together a blog that states his opinion.

I recognize that I have had my bad days with United.  And they know about it.  But my bad days take into account the reality of being the world's largest airline.  I accept that United isn't going to be perfect 100% of the time.

 But I would like to reply with 15 (actual) reasons why flying United doesn't suck.

  1. Matt's first reason to not fly United was that "They lose children".  Read the article.  United was faced with something that shouldn't have ever been their fault.  Parents who, for some unknown reason, pay to have their kid shipped off to a camp that half way across the country.  They also pay a whopping $99 to have someone babysit.  The child was never lost.  She was just told to wait.  Read the article, Matt.  She was scared, which could be because her parents might should have accompanied her on her travels.  Here's the facts: Airlines are put in a bad position of being parents on a regular basis because parents aren't willing to be parents.  United was relying on another company to get the girl from point A to point B, but the other company failed.  Sure, could United have had someone take care of the girl?  Yes.  But don't exaggerate the story to get attention.
  2. Matt's second complaint, "They kick service dogs".  Once again, Matt, please read the story.  In both instances the dog startled a United employee.  I'm not sure about you, but my fight or flight instinct would have caused me to react with a kick as well.  Secondly, (and this goes for point #1), when one or two people mess up at a company, you don't blame the whole company, do you?  (I mean, apparently, you do.)  With some 86,000 employees, you might have one or two bad seeds. But what about all of the employees who go the extra mile every day?  How about Rick, from OKC, who takes the time to make sure all of his guests are properly taken care of?  Do you have anything to say about him, Matt?  
  3. Complaint #3, "They break guitars".  First of all, this was a great video.  I laughed a lot.  Secondly, in the video he said, "I should have flown with someone else, or gone by car."  Another airline wouldn't have helped.  But driving would be better.  The part about this video that makes me laugh so much is this: millions of views leads to money on YouTube.  I'd let United break my Taylor guitar and complain a whole bunch to make too.  
  4. Complaint #4 "United is so bad pilots will still tell you that they are a Continental crew. It’s their not-so-subtle way of telling you they aren’t part of this mess."  First thing, he's right.  Some former Continental crews did say that.  But if your job just changed, and your seniority and your routes and everything just changed.  Wouldn't you be a little taken back?  Not everyone can see the immediate good that will come from a change like this, and they fight back.  People don't like change.  However, the crews are really starting to come together.  Don't believe me?  Read about the Traveling Scarves and Ties on their Facebook Page.  United is really Uniting from the inside out.  
  5. Complaint #5 "United doesn’t respond to customer service requests on Twitter."  Alright, I agree.  United's Social Media team isn't as quick to reply as American or Southwest.  I'm not going to defend them here.  You win this round Matt.  
  6. Complaint #6 is about outsourced calls.  United has gotten better about their calls be routed to America.  I do understand the frustration here.  But, don't blame United, when you're too cheap to pay for Americans to do their jobs.
  7. Complaint #7 "Their planes are old and ugly. They keep talking about upgrades but at least American has a date for the arrival of their new planes. United does not."  Read a book, or a blog, or anything... November 4th.  787.  Plus a huge order of 737 MAXs.  
  8. Complaint #8 "They have the worst on-time status of all the airlines."  This statement is correct (since Matt couldn't take the time to back it with evidence: Find it here - This is a link to the Department of Transportation August 2012 Findings), but it lacks fact.  First of all, the DOT report I  referenced is still using data from June.  Just three months after a large change in systems for United.  This caused delays.  United has vastly improved in their systems and processes since June, and I think this is a completely unfair statement.  This also has to do with Airport locations and limitations based on hubs.  EWR, for example, has a number of problems because of a bad design, forcing United to be delayed when it's not their fault.  
  9. Complaint #9 "They lose the most bags."  Just wrong.  Look at page 31 of the same report.  They're actually in the middle of the bracket percentage wise.  And based on actual complaints, Southwest lost more total bags than United.
  10. Complaint #10 was about food.  Read it if you want.  But the reality is that Airlines are being squeezed into cutting corners due to the increased demand for low fares.  Basically, you get what you pay for.
  11. Complaint #11 was because Matt didn't get an upgrade.  Flights this year (for me): 65, upgrades: 45.  Most of the flights I didn't get upgraded on were because they were EMB145s or CRJ200s.  Also, don't expect to get bumped for no good reason on an international flight.  That's just common sense.
  12. Complaint #12 "Their in-flight service sucks and the flight attendants are pretty sour. (My guess? It’s a manifestation of the crappy corporate culture post-merger.)"  Let me start here: culture takes time.  You don't bake a cake by throwing the ingredients in a box and saying "why isn't my cake done?"  No, you have to mix and cook it.  And, if their flight attendants had to deal with Matt all day, I'd be sour too.  He can't seem to find one good thing in any situation.
  13. Reason #13 "Have I mentioned their planes are old and outdated?"  Okay, Matt, let me help you count.  Using the same argument twice, doesn't count as two problems.  But, let me remind that United is working hard to update their fleet, and that planes aren't exactly cheap.  And since you're still not willing pay for a flight, you might not get a new plane (except the new 787s and 737MAXs they ordered).
  14. Reason #14 "They have no Wi-Fi." Incorrect.  They didn't have wifi on your flight.  United has wifi on their P.S. flights, and they are working on adding it to their fleet.  Again, this takes time and money.  
  15. Reason #15 "Their flights cost more than their competitors…but with crappier service!"  You don't know how to search for flights, Matt.  I can usually get a cheaper flight on United than I can on Southwest.  But this goes back to the fact that you're not willing to pay for quality.  You want the world for the cost of jelly bean.  United has great crews and teams who work hard to get you where you're going.  Sure, even I have days when I'm fan of United.  Like when I wrote the post entitled Why I Hate the Airline I Love.  But, Matt, I understand that United is a business, and they're working through growing pains of a merger.  I am also willing to wait out the bad parts, knowing that something better is coming.  

So, Matt, I encourage you to try United again.  But I don't expect you to, and if you do, I don't expect you to go into it with an open mind.  

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?