Last month, over Veterans’ Day Weekend, I went to Portland, OR. My flight, from Newark, NJ, was on United Airlines. Those who follow me on Twitter might remember me tweeting about this incident.
I had an aisle seat, and immediately noticed that the armrest was broken. It was very broken. It kept popping/springing up. I scraped my arm on it, and it kept springing and hitting passengers as they boarded the plane.
I brought this to a flight attendant’s attention. She and others tried to fix it, but could not.
I was seated in first row of economy behind economy plus rows. the economy plus rows were almost entirely empty; the regular economy was not empty but not full.
The flight attendant said I could move to row behind mine which was empty. I put my jacket there, but stood and watched as 2 mechanics came onto the aircraft.
The two mechanics couldn’t fix the armrest either! Finally, they took out some tape and taped it together.
At this time I turned around and someone else had moved to the seat where I’d placed my belongings.
I asked the flight attendant what to do – she said I had two choices – go to the back of the plane and find a seat or sit down where I was assigned. I mentioned to her that it was unfair that she should make me move to the back of the plane because United’s seat was broken, and that there were plenty of seats right in front of mine. Instead, she sneered at me and ordered me to sit down in my assigned seat with the taped up armrest “right now”. I did so.
Neither the experience nor the seat was comfortable, the entertainment system was not working, and I was treated inappropriately. I was never disrespectful to the flight attendant, but boy was she rude to me.
I wasn’t going to complain, but I was really irked by her behavior. That bothered me more than that springing armrest.
So, I wrote a letter. About three weeks later, I received this response. It wasn’t warm and fuzzy, but I was apologized to and given $100 compensation.
Thank you for including United Airlines in your travel plans. Your
comments and suggestions are genuinely appreciated.
Each aircraft adheres to a rigorous maintenance schedule to help ensure
our customers enjoy safe and comfortable travel. I received your
feedback regarding your seat and I truly regret that it did not meet
your expectations. I apologize for the inconvenience this caused and
will include your comments in a report to the appropriate department.
While I cannot undo the circumstances, I’m sending a $100 electronic
travel certificate as a goodwill gesture. This certificate should be
emailed within 72 hours and is valid for one year towards the purchase
of a new ticket on United Airlines worldwide.
Thank you for making us aware of the situation and, again, I apologize
for the inconvenience. We appreciate your business and look forward to
welcoming you on board a future United Airlines flight.
The lesson of course is that it is not wrong to make a complaint (or to give praise!) under appropriate circumstances.