How United Airlines lost a 10 year old girl, and didn’t seem to care too much about it

Regular readers know that I’m not much of a fan of US-based airlines.

I finally got tired of paying $300 to fly on an airline that seemed almost resentful that I showed up for my flight.  And while most of my pain in the past has been caused by United, that may simply be because United was my carrier of choice, me being from Chicago and all.  I switched a while back to American, after United ate a huge number of my miles because I couldn’t find the paper coupons – even though United had to know exactly how many miles I had.

American has been better, but only slightly.  Half the time I get great flight attendants, half the time I get monsters.  Like the American flight attendant who actually had the nerve to make faces at me as I was trying to juggle my scared dog and my luggage because American had falsely told me that there was no more overhead baggage space (there was, right above my seat it turned out), my carry-on wasn’t too big, they simply claimed the carry-ons were full (they weren’t), so I had to stow my carry on, with my computer, iPad and hundreds of dollars worth of medication, under the plane.

As you can imagine, it took a bit of time to unpack my carry on, while trying to stop the dog from freaking out.  All the while, no one at American helped me, they all kept giving me looks, telling me to hurry up (not my fault that I was in the last boarding party, that American didn’t notify me until the very end that I had to stow my carry on, that American doesn’t have the smarts (or care) to figure out how to stop passengers in the back of the plane from stowing bags in the front of the plane, or that American’s flight attendants are apparently so stupid that they couldn’t figure out that that big empty space in the overhead bin above my seat was, uh, empty), and finally another passenger noticed that one flight attendant – who wouldn’t even help me lift my bag (again, I was carrying a dog and my laptop and my ipad and my medication in my hand) – started making faces at me behind my back. I found that out after we landed when the woman, seated behind me, told she was irate after watching the flight attendant mock me, behind my back, in front of all of the other passengers.

And don’t even get me started on the United captain who got ticked at me on a business trip to Mexico because I asked him why he didn’t explain to us what was up with the bad turbulence – he simply announced once that there might be turbulence, then the plan went into a dive, was thrown all over the place, and a lot of us thought we were going to die (people were literally screaming, I actually did my cross).  We land, flight attendants don’t mention the turbulence, captain doesn’t mention it, and when I ask about it, and why they didn’t even mention during the announcement on landing what exactly had happened – I got a quite bitchy response from the captain, who tells me turbulence isn’t his fault – I try to explain nicely that I understand that and was actually asking why no one tried to follow up with a flight full of people who thought we were all going to die.  He then made another bitchy comment, then refused to give me his name.  Specifically he said to me “I don’t have to give you my name, you give me your name.”

Ah, the friendly skies.

Oh, and if you bring a dog on the plane – even though you did pay $250 for the round-trip right to do so – prepare to have some flight attendant be snippy about it.  Some were nice, yes.  Some were absolutely horrible.  And hey, that was awfully sweet of American to install the wi-fi on the plane under the seat in front of you so the nearly $100 dog carrier, that was guaranteed to fit under the seat, now no longer fits!  Thanks American!

So I’m not surprised that United is so incompetent, and so uncaring, that they lost a 10 year old girl, and then ignored the girl’s pleas for help, and the call from her parents.  And I’m also not surprised that United finally seemed to find Jesus when the media came calling.  It’s a nasty airline with a big ole chit on its shoulder.  But then again, it’s not like there’s any real competition in the US airline industry – the prices are all magically the same across all the different airlines. So they figure they don’t have to be nice to us, and can charge us extra for everything under the sun now, because we simply have no choice for flying across the country when we don’t have a real train system.

We do have a choice when flying abroad, and I refuse to take US carrier for that.  We also have a choice with Virgin America, which I’m told has some union issues, but I have to say it was the best flying experience of my life.  And when I’m paying $300 a trip for me, and another $250 for the dog, to be abused, at some point enough’s enough.

Like when they lose your kid.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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