It has been a while since I had anything scathing to say about US Airways. Of course, I have not flown that airline for a while.
Coincidence? Not on your life.
Here is the latest example of how a brand can be completely out of touch with the needs of its customers:
Last night, I flew back to Greensboro from a client meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. Because of tight scheduling, I was forced to fly USAirways, which requires a stopover in Charlotte.
The initial leg from Greensboro to Charlotte had included a 45-minute hold on the tarmac because of air traffic control issues in Charlotte. The pilot – who represents the brand when you are on the runway – assured all of us that we would still make an “on-time arrival” because the delays are “already built into the schedule.”
Things were just maddeningly inconvenient on the way out, but they became positively gothic on the return trip.
On arrival in Charlotte from Birmingham, the flight board told us to head to the gate for an on-time departure. But our 9:30 p.m. boarding time came and went without so much as an announcement. At 10, we were told the flight was delayed until 11.
With experience as my teacher, I headed to the rental car counters so I could drive the hour and a half back to the Greensboro airport. Unfortunately, it was race week in Charlotte.
“We have zero cars” the Enterprise attendant sighed. “Zero”.
Defeated, I went back through security to take my seat at the gate with the rest of the deflated passengers. Hoping against hope that the flight would eventually take off, two hours later, I was still waiting. Each hour brought word of further delays.
Worse, actual news became a guessing game as passengers tried to decode such revealing things as nods and eye contact on the part of the gate attendant who made it absolutely clear that this delay was a major inconvenience for her, telling us she was “Past due my time to get off.”
No one felt sorry for her. At that moment, she represented the brand.
At midnight she had an announcement. Actually, a rapid string of announcements that I’ll relay here with no editorial comment.
“The flight to Greensboro is further delayed. We will not know the take-off time until 2 a.m. You can see the customer service desk to rebook on the first flight out in the morning. However, until the flight is actually cancelled, US Airways is not responsible for lodging. We will not, I repeat, not be taking bags off of the aircraft for those who have been asking until we know for certain that the flight is cancelled. No, we do not have a shuttle bus to take you to Greensboro. Thank you for choosing US Airways.”
I think they should merge with American Airlines. They share a brand: Bankrupt.
One is financially broke. The other is ethically broken. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.