As United flight 453 taxied to gate C93 at Newark Liberty International Airport, the pilot made a curious statement. “I want ask each and every passenger a favor,” he said. 'I'd like you to personally thank our fine flight attendants for their hard work as you de-plane.”
I laughed out loud at the audacity and absurdity of the statement. To begin with, we passengers are paying customers. The pilot and flight attendants should be thanking us. Second, the on-board service was fair, but certainly not exemplary. Third, and most important of all, United has routinely disappointed me with its horrific service.
And, according to a recently published report,I'm not alone. The annual Airline Quality Rankings by Wichita State University and Purdue University says airline passengers are more frustrated than ever. “If it's an uneventful experience that's about the best you can hope for,” said Dean Hadley, one of the study's authors.
And, guess what airline led the nation with the MOST registered complaints in 2012? Yup, good ol' United logged a total of 11,495 complaints. That's the population of my home town, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Imagine having an entire town hate you?
United's management should muzzle its flight crew and tell them not to further enrage passengers by making absurd comments such as the one uttered by flight 453's skipper. His ill-timed remarks would be similar to Jets Coach Rex Ryan asking fans to thank each, and every, player and coach of last year's abysmal 6-10 squad. Why ask for trouble?
Just yesterday, I counseled a worried CEO that a proactive PR campaign wouldn't turn around his organization's image. “Your product is broken,” I said, “and you need to fix that before you can launch any semblance of a positive PR campaign.”
United needs to do the same thing. Stop chest-thumping and start fixing the problems.
Since acquiring Continental Airlines, the carrier has been running ads proclaiming, 'It's not who's merged that counts. It's what's about to emerge.' I can tell you what's emerged: chaos. And, 11,495 other United passengers agree with me.
So, I'm not about to thank ANY United pilot, flight attendant, gate attendant, mechanic or reservation clerk until, and unless, they fix what's broken.
Oh, and do me a favor after you read this: post your horror story about flying in general, and enduring United's oh-so-unfriendly skies in particular. And, if you should feel like thanking me on your way out, go ahead.