Once again, U.S. airlines remain the most common source for outrageous acts and policies that populate this category on the blog — reserved for the irritations and insults of daily life. Today’s subject is USAIR. I am in New Orleans for a speech trying to get home. Travelers to the Northeast have been instructed to call USAIR on their flights in light of Hurricane Sandy. However, I have literally tried for ten hours to try to reach a live USAIR representative. Instead, you are forced to go through various steps before the line is cut off with a message that you should call back later. It may be the worst level of customer support I have ever witnessed by a major airline.
I have spoken with others who have had better luck with other airlines but USAIR appears to have virtually shutdown customer support from accounts from others encountering the same problem. I have tried on both Saturday and Sunday to reach anyone at USAIR, which has clearly decided not to add sufficient personnel to handle the weather situation. You cannot even stay on hold for USAIR. The airline just cut off the line. I have previously complained about USAIR which is widely ridiculed for such low levels of service. However, this situation is truly unbelievable.
However, what again concerns me is the consistent and growing lack of customer support or even concern by airlines. It seems to be an industry that is plummeting in the level of accommodation or responsibility shown to its customers who are treated as a captive audience.
UPDATE: ultimately, US Air cancelled all of the flights today despite the fact that conditions in D.C. were quite mild today according to friends in the area. It seems the airlines were primarily concerned about the location of the planes as opposed to the immediate weather. I was literally on the telephone nearly non-stop for four hours before I spoke to a human being at US Air. The person that I spoke to said that they had so few people that they had hundreds just on hold — and those were the lucky ones who did not get disconnected. The question is the lack of staffing shown by the airline. Once I was on the line, I was told that if the airline sent me to a different city that was nearer to D.C., US Air would charge for the new ticket since it was not in the immediate vicinity of Reagan National. It was a complete and utter mess. We will likely drive back to D.C. in the morning and we would have driven earlier except for the messages from US Air to speak with an agent on a new flight (a process that took some many hours and resulted in an assurance that the airline could not fly us to Washington until Tuesday — subject to further cancellations). I do not blame US Air for the weather or even the cancellations. It is the lack of customer support shown by the airline in every possible way today.