Monday, July 15, 2013
What Happened to Flying the Friendly Skies?
This was my first time flying United Airlines, as I am very partial to Delta, for their consistency, comfort, and customer service. This was also the first time I paid extra for the seats with more leg room $75.00 for both flights, and paid $225 for a checked bag, about as much as this one way flight. The checked bag is another story entirely, yes 81 pounds of stuff. My first flight was a United Airlines Express flight from Savannah, Ga. to Chicago, Illinois where I would transfer to 737 in route to San Francisco. The flight was on a much smaller plane, even though it was compact it was comfortable. There were two stewards on this flight that must have flunked out of the same customer service basics class, because they were without a doubt the rudest and most condescending stewards that I have ever encountered with any airline. I felt like I was wearing a sign or exuded something that deemed me their next victim. They appeared to be like prison guards on the mental ward. It was awful. Before boarding the flight, it was being announced that the flight was overbooked and they were giving anyone $300 along with a later flight that were willing to give up their seat. They were also asking if some passengers were willing to check in their carry-on bag, as they didn't have the space. Well I never check my carry on bag because it is packed to capacity with camera equipment, and not packed in a way that would insure its not being returned to me in a million pieces. In light of the way that I would be treated, there was no doubt in my mind that they would destroy my bag and its contents. When it was my turn to board the flight, I gave the lady my boarding pass; she didn't say anything to me she just checked me in and handed me a green ticket that is used to check a bag at the gate. Now I am assuming that she is giving me the option, because my bag is within the regulated size. As soon as I step through the door of the plane, the steward barked out, "Mam, you are going to have to check that bag." I told him that I could not check it because it was filled with camera equipment that was not packed in a way that would with stand the jarring under a plane. He again barked, "Well it is regulations that you check it, you can't put it on the plane." I then told him that it met regulations." I do understand that some of these planes are smaller and the overhead compartments will not accommodate even the regulated size carry on. Since I was sitting immediately behind first class, in the third row, I spotted a large space under the seat in front of the passenger that was in the second row and diagonally positioned from my seat. I asked the lady if she would mind my pushing my bag under the seat in front of her, as I spotted a medium size day pack on the floor by her feet, assuming it was hers and knowing that both bags would fit if necessary. At first she resisted, and I said thanks anyway, and she then noticed the stewards's treatment of me and reconsidered. So I was able to put this bag under a seat in first class. This same steward addressed the lady at this time, by saying, " Mam you don't have to allow her to put her bag there if you don't want to." She just ignored his statement and reached for my bag. It was like he was annoyed that I had the audacity to ask a first class patron to help me solve this problem, since he was not willing to help me solve the problem. But before I could get the bag over to the other side of the isle, as people were still, boarding the plane, the other steward came up from the rear of the plane and he barked out from about 6 rows back, "you are going to have to check that bag, because it will not fit in the overhead compartments. I told him that it was already taken care of, and he repeated himself again, as if that was necessary. So now that bag is secure, but now there is the issue of my shoulder carry on bag. Since I am in a seat of which I paid extra , to get the extra leg room; there is a partial partition in front of it as opposed to a seat where I could place this second shoulder bad. This shoulder bag is much like a large purse, and also filled with camera equipment. Due to this partial partition, there was no place to put this bag under the seat in front of me, so the good steward made me change seats. Worn out from all of the banter, I started to move to two open seats about two rows back. Just as I was moved into these seats, positioning myself to sit down and put the bag under the seat in front of me, the other steward, once again emerging from the rear of the plane, barks, you are not going to be able to sit there, these people are moving to those seats. I told him that the other steward instructed me to sit there, and he again told me that I was going to have to move. Again I was forced to move back further. So of course I moved, because this is getting totally ridiculous. Once we were in the air, I figured there would be nothing that they could do to me, but I was wrong. As I was asleep, this same steward that normally came up from the rear, came from the front this time, and hit the top of my seat, which woke me up. This guy had walked up and down that tiny isle at least 20 times prior, and always kept his hands up high, but not this time. I had a hard time believing that just happened. Little did I know, they were not finished with me yet. When it was about time to land, I had the 14" laptop which was in a zippered case and my tablet in my lap. I had to take the laptop out for the first bag to fit under the seat in front of the lady in first class. So the rear approaching steward told me that I had to put those two items in the bag under the seat in front of me or hand them to him to be put in the over heard compartment. I told him that I would put them in my bag under the chair. Well I guess he got a bit upset because he knelt beside my chair as he started to tell me that he didn't have time to play with me. I was mortified when he said that, and I told him that I was an adult and had no intentions of playing with him or anyone else for that matter. He then said, "let me explain something to you", then I said, "the best thing for you to do is to get out of my face." At that point I turned my head, he got up and walked toward the front of the plane while looking at me over his right shoulder with a fiendish smirk on his face. I really could not believe any of this was happening. As soon as the plane alighted and the seat belt sign went off, I stood up because I was quite anxious to get off of this flight. About an hour later I was boarding another United flight but happily it was much bigger and more of a crew, with real customer service skills. I told one of the young stewards on this flight briefly what happened on the last flight and of course he apologized. When they were passing out drinks, he actually gave me a bottle of white wine for my troubles. Finally, we are about to descend into San Francisco. I am looking out of my window and was fascinated about how everything on the ground below me seems to be on a grid; like a puzzle, a perfect puzzle. I have said before that I am going to research why it looks that way. I also saw miles of dessert sand. It was a beautiful sight, even more beautiful to me, because it means this journey has come to an end. Well it is not over yet, because after an hour of waiting for my expensively checked bag, I discovered that it is still in Chicago. So I make my claim and finally go on to get my shuttle, they will bring my bag out to me tomorrow. Yes I do have two carry-on bags, but there is nothing in them but camera equipment, my passport, and my wallet. I am sure I will survive. Happy Fourth of July to Me!