Matt HealeyTuesday,5 February 2013

The Snap:

For the last 2 years I have been living in Singapore. One of the benefits of leaving in Singapore is that you fly Singapore Air (SQ). This is one of the best airlines I have flown. Whether it is better than Cathy Pacific (CX) is a left for debate. Regardless they are both good.

The Download:

I had to fly United out to Montrose so we could go skiing in Telluride. Yes, I know, being on sabbatical is difficult. What a welcome back to U.S. airlines. My god U.S. air travel sucks. There is so much wrong with it that I feel I need to break this topic into 2 posts. This one will focus on how bad the airlines are and tomorrow’s will focus on how bad U.S. passengers are. The reason U.S. air travel sucks is a combination of both.

This was my experience with United. After boarding and taking my seat, we waited for the rest of the passengers to sit down — that will be part of tomorrows post. I then turned off the annoying commercials on the personalized TV screen in front of me because, well, I am not a fan of commercials. I understand that they had to turn the TV back on for the safety announcement. Let’s review what the safety announcement consisted of. First, we had to listen to a description of the new United command center and how this is going to make my traveling life better. Hey United, you know what would make my traveling life better? Not being forced to listen to this commercial. We then got to the FAA announcement. Irritating, but I cannot blame United. But wait, there was more! Then I had to watch another commercial for United, followed by a commercial for the Lincoln Motor Company. All of this time I could not turn the TV off because it was the “safety” announcement.  Really, I thought the safety announcement was meant to protect me. Apparently I was wrong, it was to protect United’s bottom line.

Then the plane took off and I we got the pleasure of listening to the flight attendant give a way too long description of all of the great TV and movies that we were free to purchase by simply swiping our credit card through the reader next to the personalized TV. Wow! I am free to spend more money with you! Never would have guessed that! This was followed by the normal pilot drivel about what altitude we were flying at. Don’t really care, because if we crash from 30,000 feet, we will likely be just as dead as if we crash from 40,000 feet. Then a few moments of silence before the flight attendant went into a description of the food and beverage selections that were also available for purchase. Great, yet another commercial. Did I mention that I am not a fan of commercials? By this time I was beginning to feel like I was in a focus group for commercials.

Then the beverage service started. The flight attendant came by and asked what I wanted. Here was the exchange:

Flight Attendant: Can I get you something to drink?

Me: Yes, water.

Flight Attendant (after ignorning this request for 5 min so she could sell food and booze to other passengers): Would you like ice?

Me: No.

At this point, I assumed that I had adequately described what I wanted — a glass of water with no ice. I was wrong. I know this because of what the flight attendant asked next.

Flight Attendant: Does that mean you do not want ice?

Hmmm? Thought I answered that with the “No.”

Me: I would like a glass of water with no ice.

That apparently worked.

Given this, I figured that I would skip the beverage for the second service. Let’s review how that went.

Flight Attendant: Would you like something to drink?

Me: Nothing

Once again, I thought I had conveyed my intent. Once again I was wrong.

Flight Attendant: Does that mean yes or no?

Me: I do not want anything to drink.

At this point I began to feel sorry for her. After all, it must be hard going through life with the IQ of your average garden vegetable. She was so bad that when disembarking, my wife overheard other passengers describing her as a “bitch.”

And to top it off, there was only one working lavatory for the entire economy section. The other one was out of order. Welcome back to U.S. air carriers. All I can say is that this is a far cry from the treatment on SQ or CX.

Hat Tips:

Singapore Air, United, Image Credit: Flickr

Take Action!


  1. […] I wrote about how bad the airlines are. They are and they deserve a lot of the blame for the state of U.S. air travel. However, blaming […]

Subscribe to get updates delivered to your inbox