Monday, June 20, 2011

United Strands Passengers, Scorns Soloway

Poor United, our hometown airline. It appears you're low in customer satisfaction polls and recently experienced some unfortunate public relations stumbles.

On June 17, a network connectivity issue left thousands of United Airlines customers stranded at airports across the country. Passengers complained of long lines at service counters, insufficient personnel on hand, frustration in getting their luggage, and other nightmares.

And less seriously, but certainly worth kvetching about, is an episode that occurred between this blogger and the prominent airline:

On May 31, I flew Virgin America to Los Angeles (adorable toddler and teen grandson) and on June 4, I returned on United.

Both trips were quite satisfactory. So when I got an invitation to participate in a survey regarding my United experience -- and gain a $5 Amazon gift card-- I was eager to give thumbs up to United.

Alas, the first question in the survey was Age. I truthfully hit the "over 70" option because I'm not shy about revealing it. Slap came the response, "you are screened out of the survey."

I could live without the fin, but I wasn't so cool with their obvious step into Ageism. What? Do folks over 70 not fly? Consider all those far-flung grandchildren awaiting Bubbie's cheek pinching. Are we a burden on board? Do airline decision makers imagine our presumed wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and gripes?

As for this frequent flier (there's a grandchild on the East Coast, too) my only on board requests are for an aisle seat and a tall, sympathetic passenger to hoist my suitcase to the overhead.

Does United believe us in the Over 70 set are unable or unwilling to use the Internet to book travels, and that's why they've erased our demographic? Speaking for myself, I am typing this on my iPad, which has just recently joined it's iPhone and Mac relatives. Does that sound like a doddering Luddite to you?

You get the picture. Despite advances in medicine that have us living longer and better, many companies still believe that once you hit 70, it's downhill - rather than up, up and away - for our upcoming journeys