Posted on July 8th, 2009
I travel a lot.
Now, "a lot" is relative, and there are people who travel even more than I do... but I definitely get around. Last year it was to the tune of 138,000 miles flown. This year I'm already within spitting distance of frequent flier Platinum status, and the year is only half over.
My point is, when it comes to airplane-related incidents, I've just about seen it all. I've been on a plane where a fire broke out. I've seen a drunken asshole have to be restrained and eventually removed. I've been in an uncontrolled landing. I've been through a bird strike. And a lightning storm. Twice. I've been stuck on the tarmac. I've been stranded, rerouted, and rejected. The list goes on and on.
Of course I've had my luggage lost. And damaged.
Once my luggage was lost as I was flying to a meeting in San Frncisco. The airline kept promising me that the luggage would turn up, and told me not to buy any new clothes because mine were on the way. Finally, after a dozen phone calls over two days with no suitcase, I explained that I had to buy a new suit for my meeting. And since the airline made me wait so long, there was no time for alterations... I had to find a suit off the rack that would fit. And the only one I could find was a $1100 Calvin Klein.
Naturally, the airline categorically refused to pay for that large of an expense... even though it was entirely their fault. It was their fault they lost my luggage. It was their fault they lied about getting it to me. It was their fault they made me wait until it was too late to alter a cheaper suit. It took months of negotiation before I came to a settlement that covered only half my expenses, but the airlines were such assholes about the whole ordeal that I felt lucky to get that much.
So when I see this really cool video by Dave Carroll making the rounds on the internet, I can sympathize...
Of course, we don't know United's side of things here... but this seems so typical that I don't doubt the guy's story one bit. There were witnesses as to the abusive handling, and he did try to report it before the plane even took off, so it's not like United can claim it was "normal wear and tear." They fucked up. They should have to pay for it.
And so now they are.
With a public relations nightmare that's only going to get worse as this thing goes viral (and it will, because the video is so well done that people are going to want to watch it, even if they choose to ignore the message).
So sad that it always seems to have to come to this, but that's modern customer service for you.
UPDATE: And that didn't take long... apparently NOW United Airlines is interested in doing the right thing. But you just know that there are lots of people out there who aren't going to get a fair shake because they don't have the talent Dave Carroll does to make a video. Sad, really.