The Spoiler

Few things infuriate me more than brands who promise one thing in their messaging and then provide a very different, often abysmal, end user experience.

unfriessssssssssssnd1Coca-Cola, for example, promises happiness. But, their empty-calorie drinks only expand Americans’ waistlines while the sugary liquid rots away our teeth.

There are many other brands who do the same thing (either hoping their upbeat words will somehow entice people to forgive their lousy service or, perhaps, simply not caring one way or the other).

No business, though, can match United Airlines for the sheer hubris of their message (‘Fly the friendly skies’) or the fresh hell of their actual service.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaIMG-20140402-00056I’m writing this in the midst of a typical United Airlines Twilight Zone episode.

United Flight 1271 from Las Vegas to Newark was scheduled to depart yesterday morning at 10:57 am (PDT) and arrive at 7:01pm (EDT).  “That’s a surprisingly quick three-hour, 51-minute trip,” our enthusiastic captain informed us as we buckled up.

And, then, as sure as lost wages in Las Vegas, the captain spoke again: “Ah, ladies and gentlemen, as I’m sure you can appreciate United Airlines employs some of the finest flight mechanics in the world. Well, one of these eagle eyes just spotted something amiss in the cockpit. So, please pack up your belongings and de-plane. We’ll keep you posted. Oh, and thanks again for choosing United as your carrier.”

And, so we de-planed. And, we sat. And sat. And sat.

Finally, a gate attendant announced, “Well, the mechanics have found the problem. It’s a part problem. But the problem with the part problem is, well, we don’t have any extra parts here in Las Vegas. So, we’re checking ALL of our hubs to see if they have the problem part. Once we determine that they do have it, why we’ll put it on the first available flight headed this way. Oh, and once it does arrive, we figure the mechanics will need two hours to install it. We do thank you for your patience AND for flying the friendly skies.”

Trust me. Had I been holding that missing part at that precise moment, I would have whipped it right at the gate attendant’s head.

Instead, I continued to sit.

As I fiddled my thumbs, I thought of a new, unique and memorable nickname for United: ‘The Spoiler.’

United: ‘Give us the opportunity, and we WILL spoil your business trip or vacation. Give us the opportunity, and we WILL spoil your day, your week, your month or even your year.”

United: ‘The Spoiler.’

8 thoughts on “The Spoiler

  1. Love the Delta advice and the tagline. Here’s another one: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Especially United Airlines flights.”

  2. I just thought of a new tagline for United: Everybody Leaves Las Vegas — Except Us!

  3. My wife and I both have over 60K miles with United. We’ve thought of using them for the annual Thanksgiving trip to San Diego. Although our luck w/United has been reasonable, my daughter will be 3 then. Those flights could be akin to Dante’s Circle of Hell.

    Will Delta really take the miles?

  4. Hi Steve Wherever You Are:
    Just think of your experience as United’s way of helping you have extra time to win a fortune in Vegas.
    Then you can get your own plane or be a NetJets member.
    It’s all part of a bigger plan.
    Or, with your adventuresome spirit, the world of general aviation should have great appeal. You would be a prime candidate for a Baron.
    Hope you make it home eventually.

  5. Would that I could, savings executive. I fly in, and out, of Newark and, as you know, United dominates the damn airport. So, the options are limited. It’s the aerial version of New Jersey Transit; a veritable monopoly.

    • I used to only fly from Newark but ended up being “forced” to use LGA last year for one flight due to a last minute trip. Price from EWR was 1200, price from LGA was 300. And thus far the delta/LGA experience has been pretty good! The terminal has limited options but I spend minimal time there and so the actual trip portion has been great. Look into flying delta- I also heard that if delta wants your business they will transfer your status from united from day 1.

  6. on the flip side, i have been flying delta as of late and its been pretty much like clockwork. todays 9 am from FLL has a 12:01 arrival time. we were in the air at 9:01 and are expected to be at the gate by 11:33. maybe its time you try other airlines???