Dear US Airways,
I feel as though I am a good person. I literally teach underprivileged kids to read good and do other things good, too. I pick up litter when I see it. I carry bottles of cold water in my car to give to homeless people. I don’t watch “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”. I stopped eating meat for environmental reasons (and thusly confirmed my East Coast friends’ suspicions that I have fully immersed myself in Colorado hippy-dom). My question, therefore, is why do you, US Airways, so vehemently disagree with my self-assessment and wish to see me punished?
I listed my recent travel from Ithaca to Philadelphia as my complaint origin, but the story goes far, far back, many moons. Well, more like 2. 2 moon cycles. Did you know the moon has the same rotational and revolutionary period of 28 days? (Not related to my complaint, just thought I’d share some interesting celestial information.) In May, I had to very unfortunately fly to Boston for a funeral. It was quite lovely, thank you for asking, but a really emotional time, of course. My grandmother was a wonderful person; you would have liked her. I flew out of Providence, and had a connection god knows where (I used to know, but the lack of sleep that resulted from that night altered my brain chemistry to where I can no longer remember. Emotional pain and suffering: +2 points.) Our flight to Providence was delayed for some reason, resulting in us arriving at wherever we ended up - Chicago, maybe? - with 20 minutes to spare. Now, I am a [retired] marathoner. And by that, I mean that I have run 1 marathon total. I had some knee surgery (ACL, MCL, meniscus - my surgeon was wonderful; Dr. Motz, I highly recommend), but was still able to sprint with two bags to my connection to arrive with 8 minutes to spare. And be turned down. The gate agent dismissively told me that the flight was now closed. I wish I was exaggerating, but it very much seemed like the agent had a smirk, and was waiting for me to freak out.
One of the 8 limbs of the yogic path is the yamas, which are the self-disciplines; i.e. the “no-no”s. One of these is ahimsa, the rejection of violence, both physical and mental. I have never been very predisposed to violence, but at this moment I felt like the various times in the Harry Potter books in which He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named eye’s flash scarlet. I was running on about 4 hours of sleep, a lot of emotion, and the knowledge that I had to get back to Colorado to administer practical examinations for the end of the year with my kids. However, I consented to a scathing look (take THAT, gate agent) and went to customer service, along with the SEVEN others from my same flight. And herein lies my biggest issue with US Airways. Recently, either Benjamin Franklin or Steve Jobs invented the computer, and Al Gore the Internet. I know that you know who is on which flights, and who is connecting. I also know that you failed to even hold our seats until we arrived, and my sneaking suspicion is that you (a collective group of suited executives that I picture cackling) gave our seats to the standby list - with the KNOWLEDGE that the seven of us would then miss our flight. This, to me, shows an utter disregard not only for the customer, but for your own customer service agents in the airport, who then have to face the anger of those passengers. And as you know, hell hath no fury like a traveler scorned.
My particular gate agent was none-too-happy to see me, and informed me that my option was to fly out the following afternoon (it was now around 9 pm - and as you remember, I needed to teach children the following day; I had already missed two days of instruction for the funeral), to which I said I could not do that, and got a bit teary. Then, and this is the part that I still picture, the customer service rep rolled his eyes at me and walked away, sending another woman over instead. I do understand that my grandmother’s unexpected passing inconvenienced you, as well, but I assure you, I was feeling some emotion, too. The final resolution was to fly that night to the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, arrive at ~1 am, and then leave at 6 am for the Denver Airport, and then I would drive directly to school and teach the rest of that day.
Now, politics aside, I have nothing against George Bush Senior as a person. He kind of looks like a friendly Muppet. What I DO have a problem with is his airport’s sleeping arrangements. Now, I like dirtied carpet as much as the next person, but even with laying my softest clothes out and using my yoga jacket as a blanket, I still could not drown out the carpet cleaning (2 am), lightbulb replacements (3:15 am), and helpful reminders in English and Spanish to never allow others to leave my equipaje unattended (2, 2:15, 2:30, 2:45, 3, 3:15, 3:30, 3:45, 4, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45, 5, 5:15). Needless to say, I was a miserable, broken mess of a human being when I arrived at school the next day, having been awake and emotional for a solid 45 hours.
Fun sidenote: that was actually my first time flying US Airways! I might be going about this completely wrong; that may be your airline’s way of welcoming new customers, as it is guaranteed for one to have an unforgettable experience like that. If that is your aim, I humbly apologize. If this is not your aim and you would prefer a “customer” based approach, you may want to re-think your policies. I vowed that I would not complain as all companies have their off days, but that I would never fly US Airways again. Alas, our tangled webs wove themselves anew…
I had a flight booked on United (the prettier, less bitter sister of US Airways) from Ithaca to Newark, and then to Denver. Lo and behold, my flight was canceled because of plane damaged, and I was rebooked on US Airways. Okay, so we had a messy breakup the first time, but I’m a forgiver. I had a 50 minute connection in Philly with my new flight and then was to continue on to Denver from there.
Fast forward…we were slightly delayed and arrived in Philly with 25 minutes to spare. It’s a little-known fact that the Philly Airport has approximately 9,000 terminals, and the F Terminal is conveniently located on Ellis Island. After taking the shuttle to my new terminal, I ran (do I never learn?) along with ELEVEN - I REPEAT, ELEVEN - other passengers for our 6:10 flight, arriving at 6:00, while the plane was still loading. AND WE WERE DENIED. AGAIN. LITERALLY THE SAME THING HAPPENED. I HOPE MY USE OF CAPS LOCK REVEAL MY DEEP AND TRUE INDIGNATION AT THIS HORRIFIC OCCURRENCE.
Did US Airways have some torrid love affair with Standby customers, and think that the only way that you will win them back is by giving up seats of customers THAT YOU KNOW ARE GOING TO ARRIVE? Or is it some deep, unresolved childhood conflict with your customer service representatives? Do you want them to suffer? You know, wedgies work just as well.
I was deeply lucky enough this time to be booked on a different flight to Denver (albeit 3 hours later…), and some of my fellow passengers were lucky enough to also make it. But some did not. And your airline has now lost eleven customers.
Please, please, please consider changing your policies, US Airways. Right now they border on utter disrespect for customers and employees, and teeter on the side of pure, gleeful bullying. If you would like to to reward me for my inconvenience (x2…) and suggestion, I ask for nothing ridiculous like 14 trillion bonus miles. I do not even ask for eleventy billion. I would very much appreciate a travel voucher on United Airlines or miles from United Airlines. Although if you did give me US Airways miles or rewards, I suppose I could give them to someone really unkind who I want to see suffer. Just kidding. But seriously.