You know you’re flying with a United crew when…..

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iPad  had somehow dumped all of the United data vital for the aircraft in case of a problem and as United had withdrawn their paper books earlier in the year we could not leave without it.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.

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  1. You nailed it. I am biased (was Houston based for many years), but you can spot the difference between legacy UA and CO from a mile away. Perhaps it’s that Texas hospitality…..

  2. I have to say that I find the ex CO crews every bit as bad as the ex UA crews. Over the years I sort of get used to them, but even a short flight on another airline (BA, LX and easyJet this year) is a forceful reminder of just how bad the combined UA crews are.

  3. I find that my experiences with the CO and UA crews are equally horrific. There is still a terrible animus between the two, and given any opportunity, each will tell you how the unholy alliance with the other has ruined their saintly airline.

    On a recent flight from LAX-HNL on a 757 which probably hosted the Wright Brothers (okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it was definitely one of the original 757s), I asked the FA if the Captain could turn on Channel 9. I really enjoy listening to the ATC communications. The ancient FA, who probably served cocktails and peanuts to the Wright Brothers (here, I’m probably not exaggerating too much) snapped at me and said, “This is one of those OLD Continental planes. They never had Channel 9. Good luck.”

  4. I do dislike when pilots spend 5-10 mins chatting with FA’s while blocking the lav. I’ve seen this frequently with both sCO pilots too, so that’s not sUA-specific.

  5. Flew exCO across coast-to-coast Sunday, cockpit kept the seatbelt sign on for about 2 hrs, purser announced the seatbelt sign is on, blah blah, but only after she did that for a second time and after almost everyone had been ignoring it, did the sign went off.

  6. Dear Blighty:

    You wrote: “Personally my iPad has never dumped it’s data so perhaps these are special United iPads which have this featured enabled.”

    Please look into the difference between “its” and “it’s.” It’s is a contraction, meaning a replacement for it is. It’s does not indicate possession.

    Simple grammar.

  7. Funny, as I find it to be the reverse. I experience more seatbelt sign on from SCO crews compared to most SUA crews.

  8. Got a few UA long haul flights ex-IAD over the next few months. Suppose it’s time to stock up on adult diapers!

  9. Sad to hear, this. I have five UA (mostly ex-CO) flights coming up — MCO-IAH-HNL-GUM-ROR, and then ORD-MCO — and I am hoping for a better experience than this. I haven’t been on UA in years (all of my recent flying has been on AA/B6/BA/CX/KQ/LH/TG) and I’ve had nothing but warm, respectful, professional crews. I am using this opportunity to test UA, to see if they are worth flying again.

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