Luckily over the past year my employment has not required me to travel as much as it had previously. When I do travel, the deterioration of customer service by the airlines just becomes more and more obvious. I have a few observations from one of the airlines I regularly fly. I would love to change airlines, but there are not a lot of non-regional choices serving Boise.
I won't say the name of my nemesis airline, but it does start with a "U" and rhymes with "nited".
The first event occurred about 6 months ago in Milwaukee. The plane was late arriving, but we were told that we could not change flights as ours would still likely make it to Denver on time to catch my flight home. Once we boarded, it was determined that we had to take on more fuel due to bad weather in Denver. As a result, we needed two people to get off the plane. The airline came on board and asked for volunteers. None. They then said that the plane would not move until two people volunteered to get off. There was no offer or incentive. Numerous people asked if alternative routing was possible. The response was not sure, but you could go up to the counter to check. Of course, once two people exited the door, the plane would be leaving. There was no effort put forth to help people decide other than we were going to sit there until two people got off. Eventually two people volunteered. I was amazed.
The second issue is a subtle change which occurred recently. The "U" airline started charging for seats with more legroom. The result is that those sections are empty and the rear section is full. When you check in you cannot get a seat assignment as the non-premium seats are full. The result is that we had the opportunity to stand in line for 45 minutes to get a ticket with a seat. Today the counters were understaffed. One staff person was doing everything. The result was that everyone could not be processed in time and the plane was late departing. This is the second flight in a row with this problem.
I've heard of many other similar issues from friends. Its amazing that we have let the service degrade to such a rude and inefficient manner. I look forward to my return to school this fall which will decrease my ability to travel. I hope my boss follows through on his commitment to decrease my travel.