Now I know the whole United Airlines debacle was a wee while ago now, but it brought back bad memories for me from last year and I've been meaning to talk about it on here for a wee while now. Now is as good a time as any I guess!
I was on a work trip to London with two colleagues, our plane tickets for a well known airline had been booked ages in advance . . . but on the way home, as I approached the gate with my boarding pass held out on my phone, it was scanned and the woman asked me to step to one side. Myself and two other people found ourselves being told there was no space for us on the flight. And no, these two people weren't my colleagues, they were two strangers who had also seemingly randomly been separated from their respective parties.
I wasn't given an explanation for this, and was put on a later flight . . . and I had to go through security again, which is without a doubt my least favourite part of the whole airport process! It was pretty obvious to me though it was due to them oversubscribing the flight, or deciding they didn't have enough demand for two planes and cancelling one of them. Even the way they dealt with it in the run-up to the gate being called was very sly, they obviously were hoping people wouldn't see the gate being called (we had been told it was late with no further information forthcoming for ages) so that they could put the blame on the customer for missing the flight.
I have been in situations with this company in the past where people I have been with have been offered compensation to voluntarily give up their flight due to the flight being overbooked, so I know they do this. Maybe some people would have given up their seat voluntarily for money on this flight had they been asked - I wouldn't have personally as I had an actual reason I needed to get back to Glasgow as soon as possible, but perhaps there were other people on the flight that would. I know one of the other people left behind wouldn't have given up his flight either - he was in charge of a group of business guys heading up to Scotland to play golf, and he was absolutely RAGING to have been left behind. To the point where he nearly got into a fight with a member of staff. I don't really blame him. I was sitting in a corner myself trying not to cry, just wanting to know I definitely had another flight booked, and desperately wanting a glass of chenin to calm my jangled nerves and numb the fact that two of my superiors had saw me in a very upset state thanks to the behaviour of this particular company.
And, going back to United Airines, I've noticed they've said they will ensure that in future they don't remove people from oversubscribed flights . . . IF they are in their seat already.
I don't think that's really good enough. I wasn't in my seat already on my flight but I'd had a seat booked for weeks, I'd done my online check-in about ten hours before the flight, and most importantly, I was going on holiday the next day. If they hadn't been able to get me on a later flight and my holiday flight had been early the next day, I'd have been screwed. Add to the fact I'm a nervous flier at the best of times and have never been on a flight without people I know before, and you can imagine I was a bit of a wreck when I was informed I wasn't getting on the flight.
We all understand that flights have to get cancelled sometimes for various reasons. BUT don't sell too many seats on a flight knowing that you might have to bump people off it. Not everyone has the time to get a later flight, or go through the misery of not knowing what flight they might get. Just get it sorted.
The simple fact of the matter is this: if you're providing a service, please don't do it half-assed. You're messing with people's lives here.