• Report: #326819

Complaint Review: US Airways

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  • Submitted: Thu, April 17, 2008
  • Updated: Thu, March 05, 2009

  • Reported By:Plymouth Other
US Airways
usairways.com , Arizona U.S.A.

US Airways No food, no in-flight entertainment, no room to open a laptop... Internet Arizona

*Consumer Suggestion: No need to go hungry

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As a consumer campaigner and journalist, I dearly wanted to put this complaint about US Airways to the airline itself before sharing its shortcomings with the travelling world.

But anyone who's tried to contact US Airways with a complaint will share my frustration at not being able to talk to a human being and being lost, instead, in a maze of obstacles that the cynical among us might think the airline created to prevent us getting redress.

It's a pity, really, because US Airways only launched its service from London Heathrow to Philadelphia a matter of days ago on 29 March and was clearly proud of it, if the press release was anything to judge by.

I was looking forward to my flight, particularly as the press release boasted that US Airways would be using its "flagship international aircraft, the Airbus A330" on the new route.

Flagship it may be, but everything wasn't all right on the flight.

I knew I shouldn't have accepted Seat 13. It certainly wasn't lucky. First, it was so close to the seat in front that I couldn't even open my laptop's lid, never mind tilt it to the angle I needed to see the screen.

"I'm sorry," said the stewardess, "but there aren't any spare seats."

I protested that it's a perfectly reasonable requirement to be able to use a laptop on a flight, and that no-one had warned, either verbally or in its advertising, that it wouldn't be possible.

If I'd known I'd be stuck on a flight for eight hours without being able to write my column, I wouldn't have flown US Airways.

The stewardess then remembered a seat, 10 rows back and with a splendid view of the back of the toilets. There was plenty of legroom there, admittedly, and there was no problem about using a laptop, either. But it meant leaving my wife 10 rows away and out of sight, when we had booked adjoining seats and wanted to enjoy the flight together.

Before I decamped to the laptop-friendly seat, my wife had another disappointment. The in-flight entertainment system on her seat and mine was malfunctioning and didn't respond to the remote control. Unless she'd wanted to listen to Spyra Gyra in Spanish for the rest of the flight, it was useless.

The stewardess said she'd restart both of our systems. Ages passed, then eventually both screens went blank and restarted. After what seemed an eternity, my wife's screen burst into life with, er, Spyra Gyra in Spanish.

"I'm sorry," said the stewardess when we pointed this out. "There's nothing we can do."

Then the meals came around. My wife had booked the vegetarian option, and that's what she got. I hadn't ordered the vegetarian option, as I don't like vegetables, but I was given the vegetarian meal, too.

There wasn't a single item I could eat. I called the stewardess, pointed out that an error had been made, and asked if I could have a chicken meal like most of my fellow passengers were eating.

"I'm sorry," said the stewardess, "but you're down on our list as both wanting the vegetarian option."

I showed her my booking confirmation e-mail and she agreed it showed that my wife only had ordered the vegetarian option. She said she'd talk to the Purser and see if there were any chicken meals left.

She never returned. Everyone else around me finished their meals, stretched their legs, and waited for the stewardesses to clear their trays.

"Finished?" asked a different stewardess when she came by. I told her I hadn't even started, as it was the wrong meal and her colleague had been trying to source another one all that time ago.

"I'm sorry," said the stewardess, "but I think she probably forgot. She's had all those teas and coffees to serve."

She asked if I'd like the snack element of the meal instead, "to keep me going".

She found one and I did manage to eat a bread roll about twice the size of my nose, and a crunchy biscuit that was gorgeous. But I remained the hungriest passenger on the aircraft.

Having been the producer of a TV series about aviation for Discovery Real-Time last year, as well as a journalist who campaigns against poor service and has a consumer self-help manual coming out soon, I confess to being deeply disappointed with my first experience of flying with US Airways.

They don't warn people that their seats are too close together for them to be able to use their laptops unless they're the lucky few with a view of the loo; they don't ensure their in-flight entertainment equipment is working when a passenger is faced with an eight-hour flight without it; and the booking system for their meals leaves something to be desired (ie a meal, in my case).

When I was studying for my Private Pilot's Licence, things that were not working were described as U/S, an abbreviation for unserviceable.

So which airline was I flying with - US Airways or U/S Airways? Fellow travellers might understand my confusion.

In other circumstances, I'd simply never fly with them again. But, unfortunately for me, I'm booked on the return flight from Philadelphia to London with them.

I'm not looking forward to it. I want to spend those eight hours writing, too, and I'd like my wife to be able to enjoy the same in-flight entertainment that everyone around her was able to. And call me demanding if you wish, but I'd really like to be able to have a meal on board like everyone else.

So that's the complaint. But US Airways doesn't know about it yet due to the minefield of obstacles preventing an aggrieved customer putting a complaint to a real person who could do something about it.

The airline's website doesn't list a phone number for Customer Services, just a fax number and an e-mail option.

I tried ringing Reservations and was eventually, most reluctantly, given an unpublicised number (866-523-5333) for Customer Services. But having held on the line for 22 minutes the first time and 12 minutes the second, it was clear they didn't want to take my call or hear about the problems they'd caused me.

The tedious wait for an answer was punctuated with messages urging people to e-mail Customer Services instead through the website.

But when I tried to do that, as an Englishman holidaying in Miami, the web e-mail form wouldn't allow me to put my UK address into it without chopping vital bits off. Had I been American, no problem, but I'd like to think US Airways cares about its foreign passengers, too.

The media centre in Arizona might have been a good bet if I'd been able to e-mail them. But they don't publicise an e-mail address either, which is pretty unusual in public relations these days. Wonder why?

And all this happened on the airline's flagship international aircraft. If that's the case, what on Earth must it be like on the others?

Jon
Plymouth
United Kingdom

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/17/2008 01:25 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/US-Airways/Arizona/US-Airways-No-food-no-in-flight-entertainment-no-room-to-open-a-laptop-Internet-Arizo-326819. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Suggestion

No need to go hungry

AUTHOR: Ripped - (U.S.A.)

I am no fan of US Airways, myself. However, you did not go hungry because of US Airways. It was due to your insistence that you would not eat Vegetarian food. It was your choice to go hungry. They did not serve you poison, or something you cannot eat, due to religious convictions. Next time, try it. It is healthy for you.

My experience with them was, that they did not offer a Vegetarian choice, on US flights, way back when they actually fed their passengers.
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