USAirways drives me nuts!

USAirways A321 at LAX

The boarding of my LA to Philadelphia flight was just a shambles…

I wonder, as I travel, whether I simply understand more about how the airlines that I use work, and so when I use an airline I don’t know whether ‘problems’ are simply a matter of ‘not getting’ the unfamiliar carrier. The case in point this past week was USAirways. My last trip with them was a great flight from Paris to Philadelphia. You can read about that here. (This was my most popular post of the past month.)

Anyway, let’s see exactly what I might not understand about boarding and seating on my packed A321 flight.

USAirways boards people with disabilities and families with young children before First Class. That seems fine. They need extra time to get to their seats, sort themselves and out and get comfortable.

Then they board First Class. This is where it started to go wrong as one particular first class passenger decided to start the queue at the back of the roped off section, and not the front. Causing all sorts of people to push past her to get in line. This didn’t seem to dawn on her as a problem whilst she blocked the roped off area resorting her luggage. Eventually we passengers were off down the jet bridge.

Except, there was some sort of row going on when we got to the end – on the aircraft the flight attendant, a disabled passenger with a walking frame, the dispatcher and the family of the disabled man were shouting at each other. It seemed that the family of 6 had one passenger in a window in First, which he couldn’t get to because he couldn’t lift himself to the window seat. All the other 5 were in Coach. In addition he wouldn’t surrender his walking frame, whilst the flight attendant was happy to keep it on board the dispatcher said it was against the rules. Everyone else in First was told to wait on the jet bridge whilst this grew more heated.

Eventually, (20 minutes later) the walker came off the plane to be stowed underneath and the disable passenger was moved to an aisle seat.

And yes, you guessed it, my aisle seat.

The flight attendant called up the jet bridge – ‘Who was sitting in 2D?’ ‘Do you mind a window?’

Actually yes I did mind. The prospect of 6 hours next to a passenger who couldn’t get out because his walking frame was removed was not attractive. I offered to return to the podium to rebook – worst case US would have had to put me on AA or BA to London I thought. In fact I offered twice but the Flight Attendant wasn’t having that. ‘Sit in 3D’ she said.

The boarding process them got more and more complex as couples boarding wanted to sit together and she simply told them to do so and she would sort it out. I had no idea how that was going to be achieved, and indeed eventually two passengers were faced with being forced to sit in windows or deplane.

What nonsense.

After this the flight was uneventful but long due to weather. USAirways offers Wi-Fi but no seat power or entertainment.

On board the flight attendant was fine, but clearly didn’t like that insisted on the aisle seat. Her service to me showed her displeasure repeatedly.

On landing numerous passengers were desperate to get their connections, but two passengers could not lift their bags from the First Class bins. (Tip: If it’s too heavy for you to lift, check it). They literally went round the whole First Class cabin asking the younger passengers to lift it out. This took 5-10 minutes, as there were not many young ones about. The whole plane was waiting!

So, again I wonder, is it that I don’t get US?

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