After several days of flying with former Continental crews I had a rude awakening on my A-320 operated flight from Denver to San Francisco yesterday, which was operated by a former United crew.
The first indication was a captain who felt that the whole experience was to operate at his convenience. At boarding time he strolled up to the gate and put an immediate stop to boarding until ‘I am situated’. This took 15 minutes and although it was a quick flight time it was touch and go at this stage. The sensible gate agent used the time to tag bags from Group 5 passengers who were unlikely to get space in the overheads.
Once boarding started, everything went OK until we go to ten minutes past boarding time. At this point the Captain indicated that ‘there are a number of issues up which we are dealing with but we should get you there around the scheduled arrival time’. The issues appeared to be that he wanted the windows washed. Fair enough, that could be a safety issue. No mechanics appeared.
The next problem was with the co-pilot’s iPad had somehow dumped all of the United data vital for the aircraft in case of a problem and as United had withdrawn their paper books earlier in the year we could not leave without it. There was a definite feeling that the pilot didn’t like the new regime and was using us to make a point. (Personally my iPad has never dumped it’s data so perhaps these are special United iPads which have this featured enabled.) A moment later the co-pilot reappeared and then spent 10 minutes in the loo.
We took off late.
During the climb the flight attendant made an announcement along these lines:
“The fasten seat belt sign is on and this means that the toilets are not to be used. No one, not First Class nor Coach are allowed to use them. People who need to go to the toilet may not use them either.” I understand safety but a soiled passenger and seat for 3 hours seems a little excessive.
Mid-way through the flight it was time for the pilots to use the toilet. On went the seat belt sign, there was moderate chop to be fair, and out came the pilot (is that even safe?). A Ten minute chat with the flight attendant and then the loo. Back in to the cockpit he goes, only for the co-pilot to appear for his chat and a wee. So about 25 minutes with only one pilot in the cockpit during turbulence so bad they had to put on the seat belt sign?
Of course we get to the gate at SFO a few minutes early, and there is a plane there. Off we go to the ‘bad plane’ section at the International Terminal.
I hate to say it, but I really prefer ex-CO crews these days – they just seem to get the customer experience. And a note to the CFO at United, it is not about ‘over entitled elites’ but rather ‘over entitled pilots’ who seem to think the airline runs for their benefit.