This wasn't a really recent thing, but I thought I should share this for informational purposes.
December 2004 I was traveling from Duluth, MN to Philadelphia, PA to visit family. We brought my daughter, age 4 at the time, with us.
We drove to MSP and flew from there because it was over $100 cheaper per ticket. Being prepared, we arrived in MSP the night before the flight and stayed in a hotel, which graciously allowed us to leave our vehicle there for the week instead of having to pay to park at the airport. Nice folks at the hotel.
We were shuttled to the airport and arrived an hour and a half before our 8am flight from MSP to ORD via United was due to depart. We got there and found out our flight was canceled due to mechanical troubles. Okay, we could understand that.
We were put on standby for the next 2 flights to ORD (Chicago) and guaranteed a seat on a flight leaving at noon. Because we were on standby, we didn't want to leave the airport, so we sat at the gate and played games with our daughter to keep her entertained.
The first thing that irritated me was that a family who had checked in AFTER us (they had been behind us a ways in the line) was put on the first standby flight. We felt that because we had been there first that we should have gotten the spot on the first plane. Oh well. We continued to wait. We got on our guaranteed flight at noon and headed to Chicago.
At MSP we had been given our new flight information for our US Airways operated flight to Chicago. We were to leave ORD at 3pm. We called Philly and let our family know we were going to be late. When we got to ORD, we went to the flight status info TV by the gate and checked to see what gate we needed to go to. Our next flight was not listed, even though it was due to take off in less than an hour.
We went to a US Airways ticket counter (after a long walk to find one that had a human being at it and being told by two ticket agents to go somewhere else) and inquired about our flight, showing the agent our tickets. She said "Oh, that flight was canceled. We'll have to re-book you." No reason was given for the cancellation.
We were again on standby for the next two flights and guaranteed a seat on a third flight departing at 6:30pm. We got something to eat and went to the gate. Again our luck with standby status was NOT good and we had to wait for the third flight. We arrived in Philly at 10pm. Originally we would have arrived at 2pm. My daughter was very quiet and well-behaved in spite of no nap and spending 8 hours more in airports than planned.
Note that on both flights, my daughter rode in a booster style car seat. There were no problems with this.
On the way back, we flew US Airways to ORD. This time we had the b**ch stewardess from hell. We did the pre-board because we had my daughter's car seat. We walked by 3 or 4 employees with said car seat. We put the car seat in place and set my daughter up for the flight home.
The the stewardess came by and said, "You can't have that car seat on board." I asked her why. She said, "Car seats are not allowed." I pointed out that the seat was FAA approved and that we had flown with it several times, once on US Air, with no trouble.
She replied by getting a snotty tone and saying quite loudly, almost yelling "Well if you don't care about your child's safety then I guess I don't either!" and stomped off.
Moments later she came back with an airline security person and demanded I remove my daughter from the car seat or get off the plane. I complied and they gate-checked the car seat. My daughter was very disturbed by this and wouldn't sleep during the flight because she was afraid of crashing.
For the remainder of the flight, the b**ch stewardess kept walking by and making snide comments. When I asked for a soda during beverage service, she slammed it down on my tray, splashing me.
I responded by calmly saying, "You really should grow up. If this is your normal attitude, you're in the wrong line of work." She huffed and stomped off.
When we landed I went straight to a ticket counter and asked for a manager. A male US Airways employee came over and asked if he could help and I asked him about the car seat. He looked it over and said there was no reason it would be disallowed on the plane. I told him my story and pointed out the stewardess. He gave me a number to call.
No one would give me her name, not even just her first name. I wrote down a description of her right down to the jewelry she was wearing and caling in a complaint to US Air. I got a generic response- no offer to make things right, no apology for the stewardess, nothing.
I refuse to fly US Air again and because they are partnered with United, I won't be flying with them either. There is simply NO excuse for this kind of piss-poor service.
I have flown on 6 trips since then and even when United or US Air would have been cheaper, I went with someone else.