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United – Monday Night Update

March 10th, 2008 7 comments

81 hours have elapsed since United denied me a seat on the Austin-bound flight (on a confirmed ticket purchased weeks in advance).

After more than 10 calls to United Customer Service and the threat of legal action, we finally got some follow up and a return phone call – actually 4 of them – this afternoon. The callers assured both my husband and me that my bag would be delivered between 5 – 9 this evening.

It is now 8:57. Commence holding breath <******>

EDIT: 9:03 BAG ARRIVES!  OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER!  I feel like I won the lottery!  We’ll have to file this under “Brands that Stole a Weekend” instead of Worthy of a Weekend

The UAL Saga Continues

March 10th, 2008 No comments

69 hours with no bag and counting.

On my final call to United yesterday (9:45 last night), I was finally forwarded to a supervisor and got her name.  Kelly Fox was, like her colleagues, very nice and professional, yet wholly inneffective and untrue to her word.  When I refused to get off the phone without some degree of accountability from someone, she told me she would call back within the hour after she got through to the baggage team in Dulles.

You know where this is going – I received no call, no email, once again no accountability and now I am getting ready to go to work with no makeup.  Good times.

United Airlines Ineptitude, Cont.

March 8th, 2008 No comments

I am a very nice lady. I will often apologize out of sheer reflex when I have done nothing wrong. Right up until I have been pushed over the edge.

After my bag was not delivered to my house at 11pm as promised last night, I checked the United Airlines bagtrack website and found the following super-helpful display. Yay technology.

United Baggage

Needless to say “N/A” is not an acceptable answer to my bag’s whereabouts, so I called United and spent a good 15+ minutes on the phone with them. Turns out, they can’t even confirm the bag is in Austin now – they think the barcode may have been ripped off. So, they asked for descriptions of a few unique items in contents. I suggested that identifying it by the bright yellow leather luggage tag might be easier, but I played along. Here’s what I gave them:

  • Reproduction “RUN-DMC” vintage tee shirt, with label from Anonymous tees on Venice Beach
  • Brown “Sports Racers” tee shirt (so that I would have been able to identify other Ze Frank fans at SXSW)
  • Limited Edition Ed Hardy low top Converse sneakers

None of the above is technically valuable, but as I was detailing my requested “unique items”, I started getting angrier and angrier. I love that stuff and, because I work in a business formal office, this was my shot of enjoying wearing it in someplace other than my living room.

Stevie & EdWhat I should have done is invited my colleague who made it to Austin to pick up the bag and take photos of a couple of the “unique items” in various places in Austin – Flat Stanley style. If I couldn’t go, at least my sneaks could have made it to Guero’s, the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, and a few parties. Alas, next time.

Categories: Deep Thoughts Tags: , ,

The United 4 – SXSW Bound No More

March 7th, 2008 3 comments

A funny thing happened on my way to SXSW. I was at the United Airlines gate at Dulles with a confirmed ticket, waiting for my seat assignment. Everyone in the boarding area was very clearly bound for SXSW. My colleague Rohit boarded with his First Class cohorts and I said I would see him in Austin. And then they closed the doors and 4 of us were left on the wrong side of the door assaulting the gate agent. Her story was that they had asked for volunteers and not gotten any, so they randomly bumped 4 of us. I did not hear her ask for volunteers once, but I could have missed it. We were advised to go to Customer Service to find out our options.

In line at Customer Service, we bonded. Turns out we’re all in the digital biz – unsurprising given where the plane was headed – and all blog. It made me start thinking that instead of ranking customers randomly or based on status, should brands think about the risk of pissing off people with all manner of social media knowhow because of the risk they pose?

Case in point, I was packing my brand new Flipcam and interviewed my new friends from September Third, Capital Gig, and PBS.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/mGGI9FcwbfU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

When we discovered there was only 1 seat to get to Austin tonight (through Denver which is NOT on the way), we actually had a discussion as to which one of us should get it – that’s pretty bonded for 4 strangers, hence me borrowing from lost and titling this post the “United 4″. Long story short, I couldn’t get to Austin in time to make it worth the trip, so I spent the next 2 hours in 3 different lines: One line to get a free ticket & taxi voucher to get home, one line to get my trip refunded in full, and another line to try to get my bag (which went to Austin with Rohit) to be sent back to DC and hopefully delivered to my home later on tonight.

You could look at a planeful of blogging and vlogging geeks as a risk or an opportunity.

Half-empty perspective – if you do something assinine like overbook and then not make any effort to equalize the situation with volunteers, you are going to seriously piss off some very vocal people. Net? Make sure you don’t make anyone angry.

Half-full perspective – why not use the Austin flights as the chance to pilot new programs, put free copies of Wired in the seats, hold in-flight focus groups about service, play music, toss around a beach ball, pilot wireless, or do anything remarkable? Heck, you could do something groundbreaking like serving actual in-flight sustenance. If you do, these people will capture it and pass it on and reflect on you positively. They are predisposed to share.

But whatever you do, let them get on the freaking plane.

Note: Vlog superstar Adriana Gascoigne will now be taking my place co-hosting the core conversation 10 Easy Ways to Piss off a Blogger at SXSW on Sunday at 11:30. Check them out!

Categories: Deep Thoughts Tags: , ,