Last week I discussed how I was nearly kicked off a flight for asking about a snack box. United reached out and I want to share their communication with me.
Nearly Kicked Off Flight For Asking a Question
I have never been kicked off a plane in all of my years of flying, that nearly changed last week. As I outlined in that post, I was threatened with being the cause of an early landing or for a law enforcement officer to wait for me as I leave the plane.
My crime? I had asked for a snack box which is an included benefit along with elevated miles and points earning – I’m a little surprised the carriers haven’t found a way to reduce that yet. There’s more to that part of the story and I encourage you to read it if interested.
For those that claim I should have known that the benefit had gone away, maybe they should spend their energy telling that to United instead who still show it as a stated benefit in their app as of this very moment. Maybe that’s also why the person behind me was confused as well, asked the same question, and was also threatened with a police escort upon landing.
There’s plenty of unruly behavior aboard airplanes and tensions are running high everywhere in the United States right now, this is a particularly stupid way for any flight crew to treat customers who are not causing issues on a plane.
That said, there’s something I mentioned but didn’t give enough attention to in last week’s posts on the my flight. I had three other flights with United that week, all of which went without incident. In fact, I’ve flown on about a dozen flights in the last few weeks and all of them have had welcoming crews. Even half the crew working the flight in question was fantastic.
My neighbor is a long-time flight attendant for another carrier, I hear all the stories, I am not an unsympathetic flyer to those working the aisles and the skies.
Vigilante Flight Attendant
This was the same vigilante flight attendant that had threatened another passenger whose face covering had slipped below his nose. As I said in that separate post, this was not someone refusing to wear masks, making a stand. This was someone who didn’t notice it had slipped down.
Many had stated in the comments of that post that the person must have known it had fallen to the tip of his nose, his demeanor and surprise as he was lectured tell a different story.
We’ve seen passengers rebelling against the mask requirements of all airlines even prior to the executive order by President Joe Biden. Matthew’s written about cases with kids, like this American Airlines flight where young children wouldn’t keep their mask on (while eating which is permitted) and were asked the leave the plane. We can thank social media for so many first-person views that allow us to judge for ourselves.
Perhaps I should have taken out my phone and filmed the encounter, but I felt like that would have escalated matters further and would have given the FA an actual policy violation for which she could have removed me from the flight. I never intended to have an incident so when it arrived, I didn’t want to document it, I wanted to de-escalate it.
I had completed a post-flight survey and gave an exhaustive 1,000+ word response but hadn’t heard from United by the time of publication. I gave my business card and asked for the flight attendant’s own to give her an opportunity to tell her side of the story. She had also instructed me to “write a letter” to United if I didn’t like it, so I asked her for her name which she reluctantly claimed was “Yolanda.”
After some commenters and fellow bloggers suggested I should reach out to United, I emailed 1K Voice to let them know about my experience. I gave an incredibly detailed account including the flight details and descriptions of those around me who could verify my experience.
United Executive Services called me this week. I spoke with a very kind and sympathetic United employee who indicated they were actively investigating the matter. Paraphrasing, it’s not the way they expect their flight attendants to act and it’s not how they treat their customers and wouldn’t want their family members treated that way either.
What was most telling to me was that she used language that suggested my accusations had either been verified or at least found they held validity. To that end, she confirmed what I had already suspected to be true – the flight attendant had given me a false name.
I stated that I felt this was particularly unfair given the situation, the FA had my name, all my critical flight details, pretty much everything one could ever want to know about me (which has now been stolen anyway – but that’s a different post) yet wouldn’t even give me her first name. She had no problem suggesting that I should face the police when we land, have my trip discontinued, United would likely incur $20-30,000 if they landed early to get me off the aircraft, and even suggested I write in. But at the first sign that someone would actually stand up to that, she cowered and lied.
United was clear, its flight management team had not completed the investigation, but also committed to starting one. I didn’t ask for any compensation and they didn’t offer any. Both parties, United Executive Services and myself have the same goal – that the incident is investigated, and if they determine the flight attendant acted inappropriately to me and my seatmates, that retraining or corrective action will be taken.
In a note of encouragement to those who would see this incident and say, “I’m not flying United again” that’s the wrong answer. People at United care, the rest of the flight attendants cared, and one bad incident should not be sufficient to replace 1,000 good ones.
After having some time to consider the events, I remain incensed over this flight attendant’s action and her feelings of impunity. That extended to at least the FA that suggested my very question was unacceptable, and the pilot that stood there while I asked for his FA’s name and she lied to my face. But United’s diligence in contacting me personally, looking into the matter, and determining that at least one part of my story was absolutely confirmed is what will keep me boarding the plane for my next United Airlines flight.
What do you think? Was United’s response adequate? Are you surprised that Yolanda wasn’t the flight attendant’s real name? Should United update the app or their meal service?