April 12th, 2010



Okay, I am just absolutely stunned by this.

Disabled LJer evilpuppy is mistreated by United Airlines, which consistently drags its feet on supplying a requested wheelchair (I'm guessing she only has to use one in physically strenuous situations, like traveling, and therefore doesn't have one of her own on hand?) and is generally assy about helping her get around, because she's not elderly and doesn't "look" disabled? I don't even know. But okay. That's pretty bad. Then she gets on the plane and is told by a flight attendant that they can't help her getting her carry-on to the overhead compartment. I'm being told on Twitter that there's an issue of attendants not getting worker's comp if they injure themselves assisting passengers with luggage, which is ludicrous, but believably ludicrous. But if that's the case, SAY SO. "I'm really sorry, but we're not allowed to help with that." Instead, one of the most bizarre customer service policies I have ever heard is laid down:

I asked her how I was supposed to get my luggage stowed and her answer was: "You'll just have to wait for someone from your row to come back here and ask them to give you a hand." When I asked what would happen if no one would, her response to me was: "Well, normally a passenger is around to overhear something like this and they'll offer to help with it on their own. You'll just have to ask someone when they get back here." Then she turned back around and went up to the front seats where she waited to "assist" other passengers.

By contrast, here's what a stranger who isn't even PAID OR EMPLOYED to "attend" anyone does:

Finally, it was too much and I dropped my suitcase down into the aisle to stop the flow and ask one of the men passing me for help before he went looking for his seat. As he was lifting it, he asked me if I was all right and I told him about my injury. He apologized profusely for my condition and tried to make me feel better by assuring me [her disability/injury] would be okay eventually. I doubt either of us believed it, but at that point, it was nice to hear that, even from a total stranger. [...] When we landed, the gentleman who'd helped me before actually called up to me from two rows back that he'd pull my carry-on down when he reached my row. I thanked him again for being so much help and he again tried to make me feel better by hoping I'd recover from my injury soon.

That's... wow. So she's treated so rudely and in so much pain that she goes to the United Airlines counter to complain. And then... there's Dina.

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Hey! You know who has a website? United Airlines. You know what United Airlines' website says? It has a Customer Commitment page and everything. I'll wait here until you stop laughing. Okay, you ready?

In the air and on the ground, online and on the telephone, our customers have the right to expect — to demand — respect, courtesy, fairness and honesty from the airline they have selected for travel.

At United, the only acceptable customer experience is one in which you arrive at your intended destination safely, comfortably and on time.

WAIT WAIT NO IT GETS BETTER. United Airlines pledges to "readily, capably and respectfully accommodate travelers with special needs." Are you on the floor yet? Because I've been here for a while. I don't know what's going to happen with this, but I hope it gets good.

Hey! You know who's on Twitter? @UnitedAirlines. I just feel like sharing that bit of information with you.

ETA: Something else interesting: the number of similar stories in the comments here and over there.

Oh! Just in: @UnitedAirlines responds on Twitter: "This is concerning. We're looking into this matter."

Aaaaaand it was a reply to woofiegrrl, who got their attention by invoking the dread name of Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith), he of the Southwest Airlines debacle.

ETA: United wants to contact evilpuppy and apologize.

ETA: They've left a comment on her journal, it looks like, with contact information.

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