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Unfriendly Skies on 12.14.14 Please share and retweet

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on December 14, 2014

#UA Houston to Cancun, abusive flight attendant, good story of bad behavior, #thatsnowaytotreatpeople, #UAUnfriendlySkies, #utalktoyourmotherthatway, #whyflyingsucks, #icantquitflyingsoonenough

UA#1011 12.14.14 Unfriendly Skies Indeed

*NOTE:  This post has been updated

I’m on vacation in Mexico, it’s a beautiful day, and I’ve got a(someone else’s) story to tell anyway.

You see, I was having breakfast with my wife in our vacation beach town in Mexico this morning when I hear a terrible tale about a rude and abusive flight attendant on a United Airlines morning flight out of Houston this very day, December 14, 2014. Though the incident didn’t involve me or anyone I know personally, and has no real impact on my life (Did I mention, I’m on vacation?) other than confirming my decision to stop flying as soon as possible,  I think United Airline’s (UAL)  executives should know about this story of bad behavior on the part of their flight attendant and the flight attendant should be held to account.

So please, if after reading this story of injustice you also feel moved,  tweet it. Put it on your Facebook.  Ask your friends to do the same.  Let’s see if we can get United Airlines to care, and to actually do something about it. Help me spread the word about this one incident, and see if we can make a difference. Now, here’s the story:

An American named Bill who lives in Mexico part of the year and only flies 2 or 3 times a year, boarded his flight from Houston to Cancun this morning after paying to upgrade his seat to first class. He was assigned seat 3E, and boarded the flight.

He’s sitting in his seat (in a row he’s sat in before while traveling with his wife, so he’s really happy about it!), minding his own business, looking forward to getting back to Mexico and his wife. Not a care in the world. Flight attendant approaches.

She says (and this is how it was told to me), “You have to move to row 5.” “No,” he says. “This is my assigned seat.” She says, “You have to move because I’m telling you to do so.”   She gives him no other reason, doesn’t ask for his help, just starts pushing him around verbally.  He says he doesn’t want to move, he likes his seat and he paid for it. She says, “You used miles to upgrade, and I’m giving your seat to the passengers in row 5.  You will take their row.”  (The other passengers were already on board, and had assigned seats in row 5, the seats THEY paid for.  He says, “I did not use miles. I paid for the upgrade!” She says, “Either move, or get off the plane, those are your choices.”

Whut? Yep, she threatened him. Not once, but twice.  “I said, move or leave the plane, those are your choices, which will it be?”

Now, why would she treat him like that?   She could have been collaborative.  She could have been polite.  She could have made a request instead of a threat.  She could have told the other passengers there was nothing she could do.  He wasn’t behaving badly, wasn’t bothering anyone, played by their rules, paid for their upgrade.  I can think of only a few reasons, none of which really make sense.  Maybe they were friends of hers and she wanted to give them what they wanted.  Or maybe she didn’t like the color of his skin.  Or maybe she just needed to feel a little power today.  Whatever.  To my thinking, there really is no excuse.  And while this kind of bad behavior is good for my book sales of “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand,” it’s bad for business.  I have friends who are flight attendants.  I’m sure they will find this as disturbing and inexcusable as I do.  And yeah, he moved.

For me, this is yet another reminder of why I keep reducing my travel schedule. Instead of enjoying flying and booking more flights, I’m trying to eliminate air travel from my life as much as possible. Because I can’t stand how degrading it’s become. This flight attendant humiliated a passenger in first class. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. It’s just not fun to fly anymore. Maybe because I’m a frequent flyer, I hear more horror stories about UAL than any other airline. Or maybe they really are as bad as I think they’ve become. But I remember when flight attendants knew that the customer was the purpose of their work. This flight attendant abused her customer, plain and simple. She knows she has the power to ruin his life. And she is quite willing to do so. That’s a good strategy for alienating and losing customers. That is not a good strategy to keep people flying.

I’m a million miler on United Airlines, and for many years thought of them as MY airline.  Those days are gone.  I can’t quit flying soon enough.  It’s the sole reason I’m retiring in a couple of years, I just can’t stand being a first hand witness to the devolution of a great industry.   I hope that you will read and share this story. I hope that United Airlines looks into this, finds out the name of that flight attendant and makes her apologize to a very sweet man who did not deserve this. But will that happen? I pretty much doubt it. So hey, executives at United Airlines, do you care that these kinds of stories get told and passed along, staining your reputation with the ugly truth of the way you treat people? Do you care at all anymore about your reputation with the flying public? Or are you as unfriendly as this story makes you appear?

That flight attendant needs to know that she didn’t get away with this in the dark, that others now know what she did.  The airline owes this gentleman and his wife an apology, or they’ve lost the business, plus the business  of others who have had just enough of it.

And for you, dear reader, I invite you post your own stories in the comments section if you like. Particularly if they involve United Airlines (UA).   #thatsnowaytotreatpeople, #UAUnfriendlySkies

Be well,

Rick

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