Tuesday, September 08, 2015

United Airlines honchos bail out after corruption charges. What about charges of torturing passengers?

Will his golden parachute open? Stay tuned.
As I write this, the New York Times is reporting that United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek and two of his lieutenants are resigning because of a Federal corruption investigation.

All this evidently has to do with having “improperly sought to influence” officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. You know. The Port Authority. As in "Chris Christie" and the “George Washington Bridge Scandal.”

Just like Chris Christie, who has been known to bully the little people even if they have real grievances, I also believe in hitting a man when he’s down. At least I believe in hitting him if he's a bad man. But I’m not gonna bother with Chris’s corruption-connected political operation just now, because I’m more interested in United Airlines. Last time I flew them, out of Dayton, Ohio, in June 2014, it was a nightmare. I think about it often. And gnash my teeth.

Grounded below the "friendly" skies

Y’see, it rained that day.  Other airlines flying out of Dayton (none, alas, with available space to New York) seemed to have their acts together. Their planes were taking off. There were no lines at their ticket counters. 

But at United, and United alone, there was a line long enough to dance a conga from here to the moon. A single clerk was on duty to make new arrangements for all United’s passengers whose flights had been cancelled due to “weather.” The sun was shining brightly as we waited but hey, you know, weather. Somewhere.

What about calling in extra clerks to deal with the hapless passengers standing in line? The airline had a different idea. Go call 'em yourselves, you feckless passengers.

“You can do this on the phone by calling 1-800-UNITED-1” the clerk screamed at us. Fortunately, I stayed on line while I  tried to call.  I was put on hold, and forced to listen to repetitive blather, because my call was so very important to United. So important, in fact, that by the time I reached the clerk’s desk, perhaps an hour or more later, my ear was sore, my cell phone battery was dead, and a live person still hadn’t picked up the phone on the other end.

“I’d like you to change my ticket to the next available flight to New York,” I told the airport clerk. “My cancelled ticket is to LaGuardia but I’ll take any airport in the New York area. I’ll even go to Philadelphia.”

Flights for stranded passengers?
We don't got no stinking flights.

I can put you on a flight to New York at 5:10  p.m. tomorrow,” the clerk said, unsympathetically. “Everything’s booked until then.”

“That’s more than 24 hours from now!” I said.

“That’s what’s available,” said the clerk, in her best take-it-or-leave-it voice. 

“What am I supposed to do, sleep on the airport floor?” I asked her.

“You can go over to that desk,” (she pointed) “and find a local hotel.”

“Will United pay for it?” I asked.


Screwing passengers is never
having to say you're sorry

So I spent the night at a nearby Clarion, paid for my bed, my meal, and my back-and-forth transportation between the airport and the hotel. The next day, when I got to the airport, nobody even said sorry. But they did charge me extra for my baggage.

I don’t have to tell you about in-flight sardine can conditions.

So when I hear that United’s top officers may be as corrupt as the rotting corpse of Boss Tweed, I am not moved to pity. Nor am I moved toward giving them the benefit of the doubt. 

You bastards are bailing out? My only hope is that your golden parachutes fail to open.

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