Is United Airlines trying to run its business into the ground by delivering the worst service possible? If they really don’t give a hoot about customers, why not just pack it up and sell the assets? I’ve been out promoting my book and emphasizing that ultimately the only marketing strategy that really matters is delivering a great service or product experience. To get from place to place I’ve been flying United, for no good reason other than I always do especially going coast to coast. Plus I have Premier status. (Or use to.)
But Monday was an all time low between me and United.
I got on Flight 161 from Boston to Los Angeles at 8 a.m. only to find left over Heineken cans, used tissue paper and sticky, smelly cups stuffed into my seat pocket. The seat was loaded with crumbs. There were no pillows or blankets This was the first flight out for the day — couldn’t United find anyone to clean the plane over night?
The attendant played the safety video. But the video didn’t run correctly so we had to wait for it to play again before moving out of the gate.
But, alas, it looked like one of the monitors was broken and couldn’t be fixed. “Please pay attention to the other monitors.”
When I used the lavatory the seat fell off. I looked above the seat area and there was masking tape holding the unit together. Really. Sure it was the wide, industrial steel-colored tape, but tape nonetheless. It looked like someone fell off their meds or had too many nips and violently trashed the place.
Leaving the lavatory I noticed paper towels strewn in the aisle. I went to the aft cabin to tell the flight attendants about the toilet seat and masking tape, but had to wait awhile before they acknowledged me. They were talking about their weekend social plans. (And the doctor’s appointment for skin cancer screening, and…)
They shrugged their shoulders when I told them about the lavatory. They knew about it, but dismissed it. Walking back I wondered if the attendants had noticed the trash on the floor. Surely, if they did one of them would pick it up?
The second thing United did to make me hate them was to downgrade my longstanding Premier flight status because I used miles to upgrade on a flight back from California. This meant that in addition to sitting in a filthy plane I now also had to sit in the back with the seats that have no legroom. I understand rules — miles drop below a certain level you lose the membership. But this math is madness. I fly so much for business that I am a customer United shouldn’t want to lose. Their marketing analytics should look at the bigger picture about my travel behavior, yes?
In a recent United press release Dennis Cary, United’s senior vice president- Marketing, is quoted as saying, “United is committed to being the best choice for customers who crave comfort while traveling for business or pleasure.” Oh puhlease Dennis. If you were committed to comfort you’d at least make sure the planes are clean.
Well it’s over for me and United. If you see any United advertising or marketing, know that the money is a waste. They’d be better just tossing bags of money off a plane. If the service experience stinks (in this case quite literally), no advertising will do a lick of good.