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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

And, now, a word about traveling with United from LAX by Wil Wheaton

I just read a Google+ post by Wil Wheaton (aka Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: Next Generation). He didn't have a very good experience at Los Angeles' Airport, particularly with the United Airlines folks.

(By the way, there apparently is no real reason that Los Angeles International is called LAX.)

Anyway, I thought I'd share Wil's post....

"We got up at 3am on Thursday morning for our 6:52am flight. We stumbled around in the middle-of-the-night darkness, and I wondered if it would have just made more sense to stay awake, instead of trying to sleep for a few restless hours.

We kissed our dogs and our son who was housesitting for us goodbye, and about 35 minutes later we were at the airport. We did the security theatre dance and got some food that we took to the departure lounge where we waited to board our plane.

A United Airlines employee, apparently annoyed to be dealing with passengers, announced that our plane had no flight crew, would be delayed for almost an hour, and those of us connecting to Ottawa would need to go to the service counter to rebook our connection. She frowned at me when I approached the counter and asked her where the service counter was. As if she was speaking to an idiot child, she told me it was next to gate something that I forget.

"Where is that?" I asked.

She sighed and told me it was in an entirely different terminal. Then she announced, in the same irritated tone, the location of the service counter.

We walked all the way to the other terminal, and stood in a huge line of people being "helped" by two employees.

Nearly every person I dealt with at LAX was a jerk. With the exception of the woman who checked us in for our flight (before all the problems started), not one United Airlines employee could be bothered to treat us with patience or kindness. I would remind the United Airlines employees at LAX that we had done nothing wrong, we were patient and polite, and just trying to get to our destination -- you know, that thing an airline is supposed to do? Take passengers from one city to another? -- but it was United Airlines that screwed up, and it was the United Airlines employees who had no right at all -especially the ones in a customer service capacity - to treat us like we were putting them out and being unreasonable.

We ended up leaving LAX and going home, prepared to fly out the following day. Did I mention we didn't have our luggage? Yeah, we didn't, because the incredibly competent LAX ground crew put our bags on our plane without us and sent them on to Ottawa without us which I see to recall is a violation of a big pile of FAA regulations. Did I mention that we sat in the baggage claim for close to 40 minutes waiting for our bags to be returned to us? Did I mention that the United Airlines employee in the baggage claim completely ignored me while I stood in front of her so I could ask her about how long we should expect to wait for our bags? Did I mention that she finally asked me, again, like I was an idiot child, if I had my claim tags so she could look at the system to find out where they were, and then told us that they'd been put on the plane and sent to Ottawa without us, so maybe we'd get them back at our home sometime the following week.

Eventually, thanks to the hard work of the organizers at Ottawa Comic Con and my agent, we were able to get onto an Air Canada flight on Thursday afternoon that ended up landing us in Ottawa late Thursday night. Also, Anne got in touch with someone from United Airlines on Twitter who made sure that our bags were waiting for us in Ottawa when we got there.

I would just point out, for the record, that our problems with United Airlines were entirely with their employees at LAX; the customer service people we worked with who were not in LAX were very helpful. This is not the first time I've had an absolutely terrible experience with people at LAX, and it would be really great if there was some sort of giant enema at LAX to clean out the people who work there who are deliberately contemptuous toward the passengers they are supposed to be helping get from one place to another. With unemployment as high as it is here in Los Angeles, I imagine that airlines serving Los Angeles -- one of the busiest airports in the country -- would not have much difficulty replacing surly and rude employees with friendly and helpful ones."


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