Friday, July 17, 2009

First issue upon return: Airlines and airports


First of all, United sucks. I mean this in the most disparaging terms possible since the airline treats customers like they should be happy to be flying at all. Like the plane they own is somehow blessed in a way that is different than the competition. In reality, the experience was terrible.

The ticketing agents at both San Francisco and Dulles acted like they didn't have a clue what to do. That's after the 15 minutes we spent standing at the group tickets counter at San Francisco with nobody to help us. Calls for help were met with smirks. At Dulles, some older gentleman that was helping us screwed up our checked bags, screwed up our boarding passes, and then made the statement that "getting angry will only make him slow down". As if we were going anywhere to start with.

One wonders why a person needs to pay $60 extra to get the same legroom that JetBlue and Southwest give you for free. My wife and I paid for the upgrade because our original seats were in the very last row, seats on the Airbus 320 which are narrower and more cramped than any other on the plan. My wife and I are both over 6' and 'cramped' is not something we can do for five plus hours. The thing is, we spent nearly eight hours on a Southwest 737 and still had better seats than the "Economy Plus" seats on United's flight. Quite the joke. Oh, and expect to pay for everything on United. No food is free, not even peanuts. Checked bags are going to run $20, more per checked bag. Both JetBlue and Southwest give you one bag free. Snacks on both are also free. Because of all these annoyances, you hear the United flight attendants say "No." a whole lot. And that makes them more edgy, which makes me more edgy.

The only thing that United has going for it is "Channel 9", the aircraft/air traffic frequency that is available to the public on channel nine on the aircraft. But on the way back to San Francisco, the captain turned it off mid-flight. When I asked about it resuming, the flight attendant simply said, "Captain's discretion".

No more United for me. Jetblue and Southwest only from now on.

Speaking of miserable experiences, can anyone in the federal government fix the circus that's Dulles International airport? We were in the security line for nearly 45 minutes while only four of the dozen possible security gates were open. Then we watched TSA officials laugh and goof off while angry passengers scowled and sniped about needing to get to their planes. I've been through quite a few airports post-9/11, and Dulles was by far the worst I've dealt with.

There, negativity is gone. That was pretty much the only problem with a trip to the East Coast that was spectacular.

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