UNITED Plumbing New Depths In DAMN Customer Interactions…….

UNITED Plumbing New Depths In DAMN Customer Interactions…….

Last week when returning from a trip to Europe, I had an experience that was relatively new to me but perhaps not to others.   As you can probably deduce from the title of this post it has something to do with United.

Let me give you a bit of context as to what happened…..

As I mentioned, last week I was returning from Europe aboard Lufthansa’s LH432 to Chicago.   The trip started quite nicely after being upgraded at the gate in Frankfurt  from Premium Economy to Business and the flight was as always, too short.

With LH432, I had about an hour to make my connection to a United flight to home in GRR.   We landed on time, my bag was the third one off the belt and things couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Even to the point that though PreCheck was closed at this time of day in ORD’s Terminal 2,  when the TSA agent heard by Boarding Pass give off the 3-beep alarm, he let me proceed as though the PreCheck lane was open.   Great!  Finally a nice TSA experience.   At this point my flight should have started boarding and I had 30 minutes to make a 5-10 minute walk.   Perfect.

So, as I approach gate F17 in ORD, it was United’s turn to help me through the process and get me home to my Wife and Jack Russells; and thats where we enter the Bizarro World……

As I came to the gate, I noticed that the door was open and boarding was supposedly to have had started 10-15 minutes ago.    Not being sure if boarding had started or not, I come to the podium and asked one of the gate agents quite simply:  ‘Have you started boarding for Grand Rapids yet?’

‘Check your DAMN Boarding Pass for the boarding time’

Yep, that was the reply…..’Check your DAMN Boarding Pass for the boarding time’, to which I countered that according to the BP, boarding should have started so thats why I asked.

‘Your Boarding Pass will tell you when you will board’

Bravo, madam gate agent….bravo.

It took quite a bit of self control to not drop the expletives trying to force themselves from my mouth, I simply shook my head and walked away.  I figured at this point if I escalated the interaction, she was just ‘bitch’ enough to find a reason to not let me board.   Fine.

Ultimately boarding did start, albeit 20 minutes after my Boarding Pass told me it would and I did extract some minor bit of revenge when she called Boarding Group 1 and the look on her face when I approached, was somewhat more valuable than a Greek Drachma.

And of course, United couldn’t figure out in an hour how to get my bag on my flight to GRR, but I’ll let that one go…. 🙂

After all, Jeff is far busier marching in parades with rainbow flags than he is ensuring that his managers are putting together the best staff possible at his most important hub.

So, anyone else come across these Bizarro gate agents in your travels?


For those that care, I did send a note sharing the experience to the 1kvoice@United.com email address…..The canned scripted reply was exactly what I expected:

Thank you LH Flyer for being a valuable customer…blah blah blah..

We’re sorry you had a bad experience….blah blah blah.

We work hard every day to make sure passengers like you have great experiences with us….blah blah blah.

We hope to see you on a future United flight…. blah blah blah.


………I wish I can believe even the fake sincerity…. 🙂






LUFTHANSA Passengers Had Front Row Seat To The Eclipse…..

LUFTHANSA Passengers Had Front Row Seat To The Eclipse…..

Lufthansa went a bit out of their way today during a flight between Chicago and Munich.

Flight LH435 amended its flight plan and took a small detour near Iceland and descended to 12,600 feet to take in the Solar Eclipse that took place earlier today.   The timing of the flight was nearly perfect as far as seeing the peak of the Eclipse.

Planning ahead, LH  outfitted the aircraft with a special informational card along with safety ‘glasses’ so that passengers could take advantage of their proximity to this rare event.  They were also given the option of being woken up to take in the event, which happened about 6 hours into the flight.


What a view!  The Eclipse from the Cockpit of LH 435

What a view! The Eclipse from the Cockpit of LH 435….courtesy of Lufthansa


Special 'Eclipse Amenity Kit'

Special ‘Eclipse Amenity Kit’ …… courtesy of Lufthansa

Plane Spotting Chicago’s O’Hare:  Fanhansa Tracks Me Down….

Plane Spotting Chicago’s O’Hare: Fanhansa Tracks Me Down….

    Typically I do not see O’Hare as a Plane Spotting friendly airport.   I usually am in the airport anywhere from 40-50 times a year and seldom found myself taking photos of any of the traffic.    This is primarily due to the fact that O’Hare to me is a transit airport when connecting to other flights so there is typically little time.   Additionally, with all of my travel to and from O’Hare being either on Lufthansa or United, I’m departing from terminal 1 or 2 which are not conducive to great spotting.

    However, my opinion did change last week when I was flying to Europe on extremely short notice (18 hours) and needed to be in Slovakia ASAP.    In order to get there in the fastest way possible I flew on AUSTRIAN which enable me to arrive in Vienna first thing the next day.   For those not familiar with O’Hare, most international non-US carrier departures take place from Terminal 5.  I say most because Lufthansa and ANA depart from terminal 1 making it convenient for United Airlines passengers.   You don’t have to re-clear security when flying with them.

    By flying Austrian, I had to go to terminal 5 in order to board my flight.   I had not been in terminal 5 as a departing passengers in nearly 12 years and this was certainly years before plane spotting became somewhat of a habit.   Once past security, I found to my surprise a great venue to watch arriving and departing aircraft along with aircraft taxiing to their Terminal 5 gates which create a nice mix of International and Domestic heavies.

    I spent about 2 hours near gate M13 as well as in the SAS Lounge with camera in hand.   I happened to be there during the peak arrival time for International flights so the variety was quite good.    Enjoy!



    SAS’ A330 approaches her Terminal 5 gate.


    United’s 777


    American’s 777 arriving at O’Hare


    AeroMexico arriving from Mexico City


    Iberia’s A330 arrives from Madrid


    Cargolux’s 747-8F prepares for departure


    United’s 747 begins her takeoff roll.


    American (and United) Embraer aircraft are EVERYWHERE at O’Hare!


    Virgin Atlantic’s A340 being prepared for her flight to London.


    Speedbird as well being prepared for a flight to London.


    Korean Air’s 777


    ANA’s 777 taxiing to the runway for her flight to Tokyo.


    And of course there are my favorite shots of the day.   Lufthansa’s 747-8i, D-ABYI, dressed in her Fanhansa livery arrived from Frankfurt while I was taking my photos.    As luck would have she would pull up right in front of me as if she knew where I was! 🙂

    This aircraft would fly back to Frankfurt and then immediately turned around to fly to Rio de Janiero to pick up the German Soccer Team who had won FIFA’s World Cup.



    Arriving from Frankfurt.


    Approaching Terminal 5.



    Right place at the right time for this shot, but unfortunately photo-bombed by a United 777!






    You can’t get much closer without being aboard!