I fly United Airlines more than any other carrier to Hawaii. That does not mean that I'm happy with the service. It's gotten progressively worse over the years and there's no real prospect of things getting better.
Nine Hour Flights and No MealsThings really started to get bad when United stopped serving hot meals to coach passengers, even on a nine hour flight from Chicago to Hawaii. That's longer than many overseas flights on which they still serve meals.
What Beverage Service?The next step was even less beverage service. Instead of coming by several times on the flight, on my last flight from Chicago to Maui, the flight attendants came by with one beverage service. After that, if you wanted something you had to go find them. Strangely, on my return flight I flew from Maui to Denver and then Denver to Philadelphia. On the Denver to Philadelphia leg, we had three beverage services. Where's the consistency?
Enjoy the Film If You Can See ItWell, at least you can still watch the movies to pass the time. Not always. On my nine hour flight from Chicago, the main screen wasn't working and a number of the smaller monitors were all in some shade of green or yellow.
Pay Up For That Second BagNow let's talk baggage. Beginning in May most passengers will have to pay $25 each way for a second checked bag.
Instead of setting a carte blanche rule for all flights, why not tie the second bag charge to length of flight.
Say, for all flights over 2000 miles the second bag would be free.
No Rule 240 With UnitedOn my return flight from Maui I sat next to a woman who was traveling with her husband and two children. They were scattered all over the cabin. When I asked why, she told me that they were scheduled to fly home from Kauai the day before, but the plane developed mechanical problems in the early afternoon while they sat on the tarmac.
At first they were told that a part would be flown in from Honolulu, but after several hours they were advised that was not going to happen. They were told they would have to wait for a flight the next day.
When they asked where they should stay, the United Airlines representative told them that they should sleep in the airport. After an argument, United agreed to put them up at a hotel north of the airport.
The next day they were flown by Aloha Airlines from Kauai to Maui where they had to wait for about six hours in the airport for our flight around 10:00 p.m.
Unfortunately these folks didn't know about Rule 240 which NBC's Peter Greenberg is constantly reminding us all of. That rule states that in the event of any flight delay or cancellation caused by anything other than weather, the airline will fly you on the next available flight — not their next available flight, which might not leave for another 24 hours.
Had they insisted on Rule 240 United should have been obligated to fly them to Honolulu and then aboard the next flight from Honolulu to Denver instead on making them wait over 24 hours to fly home.
Future Prospects DimWith the recent bankruptcy of both ATA and Aloha Airlines and the upcoming merger of Delta and Northwest, visitors to Hawaii can expect to be paying more for their airline tickets both from the mainland to Hawaii and also inter-island. With fewer seats available to Hawaii, the planes will be even more crowded, frequent flier awards and upgrades even harder to obtain and prices higher. All that and you'll likely be getting less in-flight service. So much for the "friendly skies of United."
As I said, I fly United and will likely continue to do so, at least until someone offers me a better alternative.
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