Will The Real United Airlines (UA) Please Stand UP

Recently, I used UA for business travel to the East Coast (EC) from the West Coast (WC). On the outbound fight, there was to have been a connection in Houston (IAH) with travel on to the EC from there. Unfortunately, those passengers and I attempting a very usual endeavor, were bound up for 9 hours in the Houston AP, while UA attempted to “fix” the plane – apparently a minor malfunction. I’m told that this is called “on-line” maintenance – where the airline keeps the plane “functioning” while they conduct maintenance/repair. And that this often happens at the “hubs,” which Houston happens to be. UA customers take note, when making your future bookings! I suspect the idea was that passengers would “fan out” through the AP, shop, partake of restaurant food, buy magazines, books, etc etc. Since we were getting “updates” every 30 minutes (which, each time, basically said that they “knew nothing” and would update us . . . in 30 minutes), I elected to stick close to the gate for most of that time. Passengers kept suggesting that they switch the nonfunctioning plane out for one that did function – this, of course, fell on deaf ears. The one time that I ventured forth (about 7 hours into the ordeal), and checked into the United Club, I asked the women at the desk to check on status of this flight (I make this point to indicate that they, therefore, knew that I was one of the stranded passengers. After saying they’d get an update, “when they could,” one of the women proclaimed that the Club was closing in 15 minutes! My comment, of course, was “Wow, United is providing all sorts of quality service tonight!” They were absolutely unresponsive/unconcerned. To end this part of the saga, the company finally did bring in a different plane and, 9 hours later, flew us to our destination – arriving at 2:30am. I’ve been asked to give my thoughts on the quality of the Company’s service – I’ll let you tell me how I should respond!
Now, to the second part of the UA story. On the day of the return trip (EC to WC), I awakened with a knee that was experiencing tendon difficulties (too long pounding the concourse in Houston!) that necessitated my purchasing a knee brace (no history of knee problems in my past!). When I checked in at IAD, I once again entered the United Club and asked the women at the desk if they could find someone in First Class (I always fly First Class because of the business connection advantage) that had an isle seat, as I didn’t think I could manage the window seat this time – the knee couldn’t be bent. The UA Club employee (whose name was Veronica – “Ronnie”) took my plight to heart and called the gate agent to ask Becky to see if she could track someone down who might be wiling to switch. When I arrived at the gate, Becky was “on it,” asking for R Xxxx to report to the podium. By the time I boarded, R Xxxx still had not appeared, so I hobbled over to the window seat. However, Becky “got her man,” and when R boarded the plane, he said, “I understand that you’d like to switch seats” – an offer that i gratefully accepted! So, to Ronnie and Becky: You are definitely my heroines! And, by your kind actions, you almost redeemed your company’s horrendous customer service record!

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