Passengers are powerless

Another week, another horror story about customer service on airlines. This time it’s about a woman who says she was told by United Airlines cabin crew to urinate in a cup.

(united.com)

Of course, there are different ways to interpret the story, but it does — once again — highlight an important issue: exactly how much control airline crew have over their passengers.

Continue reading Passengers are powerless

You only live twice

(United/Chase)

Many years ago, a colleague of mine was proudly showing me her lifetime membership card for Ansett Airlines’ Golden Wing business lounge.

Less than a year later, the Australian airline went bust and the offer was rendered worthless. Well, thanks to United Airlines — which has become the gift that keeps giving for cynical travel writers — I’ve now encountered something that tops that in the disappointment stakes.

Continue reading You only live twice

The really friendly skies

Just about everybody on the internet knows about the incident involving an overbooked United Airlines flight. Here’s an editorial I wrote for Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper, noting that United is one of the American airlines trying to limit the operations of carriers from the Arabian Gulf in the US. Dubai-based Emirates airline has made a similar point in this video:

PS: If you think the Chicago incident was a one-off, read this. A first-class passenger was threatened with being handcuffed if he didn’t get off a plane to allow somebody more important to fly. No wonder United is worried about competition. It really sucks. Rather than defend the indefensible, big boss Oscar Munoz should resign and let somebody else take over.

Update: according to this legal opinion, United had no right to take a passenger off a plane in this manner.

Overhead locker debate

Airlines, both budget and full-fare, are always looking at new ways to make revenue. Once-free services, including snacks, drinks and seat allocations, now carry a charge on some airlines.

(unitedairlines.com)

But how far should they be allowed to go? That’s the question one US senator is asking after two airlines indicated that they would be charging for access to overhead lockers.

Continue reading Overhead locker debate