Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Feedback is always welcomed

A few trips ago, I had a miserable experience getting home. In addition to that, I had several miserable customer service experiences and some great ones. Not to complain, but to comment, I wrote a letter to United.

I am writing because I had mixed service levels from your gate and ticketing agents and the attendants on a recent trip. On June 30th, 2006, I was scheduled to fly from SFO to LAS and then to SEA. My originating flight, 1524 was delay arriving and then departing to LAS. When we left there were approximately 10 minutes for me to make my connecting flight on Alaska Airlines fight 677. Unfortunately, the plane was further delayed flying into Las Vegas and I missed my connection by 20 minutes.

Firstly, I’d like to recognize the great service I received from United. The flight attendants on flight 1524 were excellent because they knew the flight was running behind and let the connecting passengers off first, holding the others back. There were two gate agents in Las Vegas, Nancy Rogers and Sue Mathis, both of whom were very helpful. Although I didn’t use it, I received a voucher for a hotel and was put on the first flight out of Las Vegas. There were a few things that made my situation tricky – it was the Fourth of July weekend and so flights out of Las Vegas were hard to come by and my connecting flight was on Alaska and we had to get my ticket from them. In the morning, Sue booked me standby from SFO to SEA, helping me get home.

Unfortunately, I also got some pretty poor service from gate agents, primarily at SFO. Evidently many flights were overbooked and the gate agents were telling people to go home and try again tomorrow. I was flabbergasted by this. Because I was flying standby on such a rough weekend, I waited for 3 flights in SFO and got to see this same behavior from different gate agents. In fact, there was one gate agent who immediately told people to go sit down and wait and when people who wanted to give up their tickets would express that they wanted to talk to him – he actually called the police! The same behavior of telling people to go home and wait occurred at the customer service desk in SFO also.

When I finally got to Seattle, my bag wasn’t there. I can understand why that happened and have no complaints about that. When I spoke with the baggage people in Seattle, I was quickly helped and told what I needed to do. It was great customer service. A few days later, my bag was delivered to my house, all intact.

On this trip, I noticed that the United employees outside of the security areas and on the planes were very polite and helpful. Once you were inside the security area (when you were in the airlines ‘control’) the employees weren’t very helpful. I’m sure that there are examples of employees demonstrating great customer service and can understand the stress of late planes and overbooked flights to some extent, but that is when you need to be working your hardest, demonstrating your best service!

I’d appreciate it if Nancy and Sue could be recognized by their management team and their co-workers for their great service.


Beau Raines

I submitted it through the online customer service part of their website. A few days later, I got the following response:

Dear Mr. Raines,

Thank you for contacting us. It's always good to hear from Mileage Plus members.

Given the circumstances you describe, your complimentary comments about Ms. Nancy and Ms.Sue are especially appreciated. I will make sure their manager is aware of their efforts. Thank you so much for recognizing their services to you.

Now I will apologize to you for services not properly provided to you by united. Our employees should provide professional service. But, you report that our customer service staff let you down, which resulted in your disappointment with our service. Your comments are important to us and will allow the appropriate management to provide feedback directly to the employee. And to further add to your inconvenience your bags were delayed. However, I would like to apologize and enclose a travel certificate toward another united flight.

Your business matters to us, and I encourage you to travel with United again.


Mikel Joseph
United Airlines Customer Relations

This letter was a pleasant surprise! It was pretty nice of United to do this. While my experiences might have chased me away from United, this display at least keeps me open to the diea of using United in the future. It is nice to see a company that is open to feedback like this.

On that same note, your feedback is welcome on this blog too!


Anonymous said...

I've always had good service with United and wouldn't hesitate to fly with them again. American Airlines, however, have almost invariably been HORRIBLE. I wish I had written them a letter. I'm also a fan of "performance review"-type letters!

Anonymous said...

Beau, I have had mixed results with your blog. Occasionally, your blog entries entertain me and totally fit my needs. Other times, you don't update for a while, and I am left wanting more. Heather, please be sure to recognize Beau for all the great work he does on this blog.