In-Flight Service

We all know that airlines treat us like crap and don’t actually care about our comfort or making sure we have a cozy trip. First they took away the free in-flight meals. Then they took away being able to check two bags free. Then they took away being able to check one bag free. Now, I hear they’re even charging for water and the little bags of pretzels. On many flights they don’t even have an in-flight service at all. They’re just loading us into a flying metal pen, shooting us into the sky, taking as much money as possible, and giving us a swift kick in the rear when we leave just knowing we have to come back eventually.

That all said, this latest news story takes the cruelty of airline hospitality to unbelievable heights (bad pun, I know, I apologize). If you can, read this news item here. If you don’t have the time, the title sums it up pretty well (take heed before clicking the link): Family Forced to Sit in Vomit on United Flight. Yes, you read that correctly.

All I can say is YUCK.

A family boards a plane, finds their seats, then realizes (as they put their bags in it and then running their hands through it…because placing their bags in it wasn’t gross enough) that there was someone else’s vomit already occupying their space. How much did the airline care? Whatever the smallest amount possible is, that’s how much they cared.

To make matters worse, the wife suffers from mysophobia, which is a fear of germs.  Can you imagine!? I’m sure she wasn’t expecting the plane to be pristine when she boarded, but I’m sure she had a very reasonable expectation of a clean seating area for her and her family…one that was at the least vomit-free.

Instead of, oh I don’t know, cleaning the seat or maybe bumping the family to first class or offering to reimburse them for their tickets or somehow fixing the situation in a manner that was proportional to the gross violation they stuck the family with, here’s what United did:

“United offered the family two unsatisfactory alternatives—fly out the next day or stay in their seats. Since Shirley’s wife, who works at the Food and Drug Administration, had to be at work that Monday, the family opted to stay put and were given trash bags with which to wrap their soiled luggage.”

DOUBLE YUCK. Which of course doesn’t even begin to describe it. Add a few colorful expletives in the middle there and you get the picture of what my face looked like when I was reading this article.

As bad as it was to READ about this experience, can you imagine LIVING it!?  Forced to sit in the wet spot of someone else’s throw-up!?  To have that smell in one’s nostrils for the entire flight. To have one’s bag marinating in this puddle of bile.  If this story were about me, I can guarantee you there would’ve been a hell of a lot more “stuff” there than they originally found.

In the end United’s “gesture of goodwill” to the family amounted to a $150 flight voucher for each family member. Oh great, barely any real discount for the same airline so I can maybe have a repeat experience.

Good job, United!  You truly do win the “we simply don’t care about you” award. It was a disgusting situation but an even more disgusting display of customer service.

15 thoughts on “In-Flight Service

  1. That is a grim story. In the UK we have Ryanair. Its Chief Executive once said – “The problem with aviation is that for 50 years it’s been populated by people who think it’s this wondrous sexual experience; that it’s like James Bond and wonderful and we’ll all be flying first class when really it’s just a bloody bus with wings.” This man was responsible for making flying a very unpleasant experience. Interestingly he has been forced to rethink his business model because rivals Easyjet have started to improve customer service and its business and financial results have improved as a consequence.

    • Well he sounds like he has the marketing end under control! Calling his flights “a bloody bus with wings.” Who wouldn’t want to fly THAT airline!? LOL No wonder the other airlines are giving him a run for his money!

  2. wow – that does sound horrible – and a story that made big news over here recently was related to an autistic teen being asked to get off the flight – they even turned the plane around.

    • Was that the incident over the flight attendant refusing to heat up food? And the teen hadn’t even done anything to disturb the flight? The flight attendant simply overreacted to what the mother had said the teen might do if upset. (at least that’s what I read) If so — I heard about that one. It’s ridiculous what is happening on airlines these days.

      • yes, I think that is the one! But I heard that the cabin door locked and the pilots went into a new “red alert” mode and so it was more of this heightened security protocol – and well – it sounded like a decent defense. – but when I saw the story – my heart ached for the girl and family – and I guess she was all better after the meal – it was a physical thing – hm.
        and your post here really does touch upon the many changes going on – and feel so bad that they had to sit in vomit. ulk.
        side note – when I ride the indoor bike I like to watch this show called Air Disasters – I guess it has been a round for a while – but I just heard of it this spring – and it is so well done. amazing actually – and they show the investigative side to some of the plane accidents – but it is not all gloomy – more of the sharp detective work and then the stupidity or error that led to the crash. so many cool lessons come out of it – like one place had a “culture” of sloppiness – and this led to a sloppy repair one day – and well – so many little teaching lessons from some shows – like that one – about the need to be more on top of things with safety and stuff….

  3. More disgusting than I can even imagine. United acted cruelly and in an unprofessional manner manner and there should be some kind of “airline board to handle things like this.” Terrible. This should hurt their rep, that’s for sure.

  4. Ew. Ew. Ew. We don’t have enough choices. There’s been too much major airline consolidation. Competition makes for better service. Ew. Ew. Ew.

  5. This is what happens to once-respectable professions when only ex-fraternity pricks and ex-sorority cunts are allowed to start “taking charge” of everything, when “merit” is based solely on academic credentials, on having “respectable” backgrounds, and on “exhibiting high levels of ‘social skills'”.
    With overprivileged high-status types from sheltered backgrounds running everything it all becomes about “How can we and our company benefit the most from our ventures?”

  6. And, best of all, the price of airlines tickets has been going up as service as declined. Talk about a great business model. It’s as though the airlines *want* to go out of business, but don’t have the guts to say, “Hey, this isn’t for us.” Instead, they make fliers so miserable that many think twice before undergoing such an ordeal again.

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