Survey Suggests American Airlines Has Rudest Employees Among Domestic Carriers

According to a recent Airfarewatchdog study, a preponderance of surveyed travelers think that of domestic air carriers, American Airlines has the “rudest employees.” United was a close runner-up, followed by Delta.

Ranking last (which in this case, means winner) is a four-way tie, between Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier and Virgin America. Hmm. Seems budget airlines know how to bring it.

Here’s the full list polled in alphabetical order:

AirTran 4%
Alaska 2%
Allegiant 3%
American 25%
Delta 18%
Frontier 2%
JetBlue 2%
Spirit 10%
Southwest 6%
United 21%
US Airways 12%
Virgin America 2%

Our friends at Airfarewatchdog run these unofficial consumer surveys every now and then and this is a great snapshot of the general consumer psyche. Bear in mind though, this data is unsubstantiated and unverified, so take it with a grain of salt. In our experience, most of the airline employees regardless of the airline are pretty darn chipper.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Fabird Blue]

Apple’s Passbook Gives Us A Glimpse Of The Future Of Air Travel

A few weeks back, to much fanfare, Apple released a new version of their popular iPhone and an updated version of iOS, the operating system that powers the device. Dubbed iOS 6, the latest edition of the software as been a bit of a mixed bag for most iPhone users, who now enjoy improved social networking integration, better messaging and a smarter Siri, but have been cursed with Apple’s new sub-par maps app.

Lost in the hype of the shiny new device and the kerfuffle that has been the maps fiasco, was the inclusion of a new app called Passbook. The app promises to be an electronic wallet for all of your digital coupons, membership and gift cards, movie tickets and boarding passes. Passbook collects those items from other apps, emails or direct download through the Safari browser and conveniently keeps them all well organized in a single place. When it comes time to use one of your coupons or tickets, you simply have the cashier scan a bar code on the screen of your phone and you’re on your way.

That’s not all Passbook can do, however, as it is also time and location aware. That means that it will automatically display relevant passes on your phone’s lock screen based on where you are. So if you walk into a Starbucks it will automatically display any active gift cards and as you arrive at the airport, the app is already placing the relevant boarding pass on your screen. It will even alert you of any changes to your flight time or departure gate, helping to ensure you don’t miss it.Digital boarding passes are not really all that new or innovative, as a number of airlines have been using them for a few years now. But Passbook makes it a breeze to collect and keep track of those passes and its inclusion as a pre-installed app on all iPhones means that more people will start using it on a regular basis. We all know that once a technology gains more mass market appeal, more companies will support it, which means Apple’s Passbook will probably be a gateway to better paperless options when traveling in the future.

The app is already supported by United and American Airlines, and we’re told that Delta will jump on the bandwagon soon too. But airlines aren’t the only ones that are quickly adding support for the new system. Major League Baseball now offers Passbook-based tickets for games and online movie ticketing service Fandango sends its passes to the app as well. The best part is, most businesses are already equipped to scan Passbook entries, which isn’t the case with similar services on other phones that employ Near-Field Communications technology for their approach to the digital wallet.

As technology evolves, there may soon come a day when you won’t need to leave home with anything other than your smartphone. That day probably isn’t as far off as we think either.

United Airlines Puts First North American Dreamliner In The Air

Over the weekend, United Airlines put the first of 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in the air. Said to be the most technologically advanced aircraft ever built, the 787 will initially be used by United on international flights to Asia, Africa and Europe. But first, a series of domestic flights will showcase the aircraft around the United States.

“As the North American launch customer, we are delighted to be getting our first 787 Dreamliner,” said Jeff Smisek, president and chief executive of United in a Seattle Post Intelligencer article.” As we continue to build the world’s leading airline, we are excited for our customers and co-workers to experience this game-changing aircraft.”

And experience it they will. After an October filled with proving/validation flights and training activities, the new Dreamliner will fly out of United’s Houston (IAH) hub with daily service to San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Denver (DEN) and Newark (EWR). Six times a week, the new aircraft will fly to Chicago (ORD) with special one-time flights to Washington (IAD) and Cleveland (CLE).In addition to unprecedented operating efficiency, comfort and lower emissions, the Dreamliner has a host of passenger-friendly features too. Passengers will notice 30 percent larger windows and larger overhead storage bins for today’s roll-aboard bags. Improved lighting, cabins pressurized at 6,000 feet rather than the 8,000-foot mark typical for commercial passenger aircraft and higher humidity levels will help with fatigue, headaches and jet lag.

“United now begins a new chapter with the 787 Dreamliner,” said Smisek, “the most technologically advanced commercial jetliner ever built.”

Here is video of that first 787 Dreamliner being rolled out of the paint shop at Boeing late last week:

Want to see inside the new Dreamliner? Go with Gadling’s Zach Honig Inside United’s First 787 Dreamliner At Boeing HQ

Photo- United Airlines

Woman Claims United Airlines Killed Her Golden Retriever

A California woman claims that United Airlines killed her 2-year-old Golden Retriever, Bea, on a flight from New York to California two weeks ago.

The accusation appears on her beamakesthree blog, which prominently featured her puppy.

“I’m writing this with my anger aside, in the hopes that someone looking for advice will read this and not make the mistake of trusting United with their pets as we did,” she posted earlier today.

The story is a sad one. A caring dog owner returning from an East Coast summer vacation took all needed precautions to ensure that two of her dogs would travel safely home, driving from Upstate New York to Newark airport to plan a direct flight, enrolling the pets in United’s PetSafe program, buying extra food and crates and special water bowls, and of course, undergoing thorough vet checks.

“When we arrived in San Francisco to pick up our dogs we drove to the dark cargo terminal and on arrival in the hanger were told simply, ‘one of them is dead’ by the emotionless worker who seemed more interested in his text messages,” she wrote.

Maggie described the struggle she had with supervisors to get her dog to a preferred vet for autopsy (called necropsy in animals) and the resulting cause of death was heatstroke.

United, she says, has not responded to repeated requests for comment or further explanation as to how her dog could have died in flight, simply stating, “our internal investigation does not show any irregularities, as evidenced by the fact that your companion dog and other animals on board did not suffer the same fate.”

She does not confirm if the airline refunded the $1,800 in expenses they incurred to travel with their pets.

Maggie, we’re so sorry for your loss.

Editor Note: We have reached out to United for comment and have been told that a statement will be issued soon. We will update the post here when an official comment is made.

Update, 4:34 PM ET: United issued the following statement:

We understand that the loss of a beloved pet is difficult and express our condolences to Ms. Rizer and her family for their loss. After careful review, we found there were no mechanical or operational issues with Bea’s flight and also determined she was in a temperature-controlled environment for her entire journey. We would like finalize the review but are unable until we receive a copy of the necropsy.

[Image via beamakesthree]

United Cares About [Insert Customer Name]

We don’t know whether to shake our heads in disappointment or fall off our chairs laughing about this letter “giantreesemar” from Flyertalk posted. Evidently, the flier sent a letter of complaint to United Airlines, and received this incomplete form in return.

The background story, according to giantreesmar, is he had set up a fairly complicated award itinerary, with United promising to hold it for three days. The traveler then made another change with a separate agent, who didn’t mention the hold time. Looking it up online, the traveler saw it would be held until midnight. At 5 p.m., however, giantreesmar checked on the reservation and found all of the segments deleted. Straightening everything took another hour on the phone and added frustration.

Apparently the situation was eventually resolved, and United tried to send a letter of apology. But it looks like they forgot a few key components.

Reached for comment, United spokesman Charles Hobart acknowledged the error:

“We mistakenly sent the customer an unfinished response letter. We’ve reached out to the customer to apologize for the inconvenience and address the customer’s concerns.”

Giantreesmar, didn’t seem too worried, quipping online, “I will really enjoy my (SPECIFIC ITEM).”

In fact, he later followed up on the thread with an update:

Just got a call from United HQ and spoke to a nice woman who was very apologetic and noted that it is indeed “embarrassing.” I was laughing, and really do hope I didn’t get anyone in too much trouble because I’ve made mistakes like this myself and would be terrifically mortified if someone posted it on flyertalk

Either way, she noted that this was supposed to be the letter that accompanies some form of compensation for my prior complaint email, not necessarily the only thing I’d receive on the matter (as I noted earlier, I did get an email in about 4 days that was sort of standard boilerplate apology, but my complaint didn’t really call for a specific action other than fixing their site). Somehow the letter went from generating the template to sending before the agent got to fill in the blanks. Whoops.

Either way, she did say that SPECIFIC ITEM is on the way (although I didn’t ask what it was). I think this whole thing is more funny than frustrating, so the suspense will have to dog me a bit longer!

Also to her credit, she did listen to me explain my issue with the bug on their site (she referred to them as the dot com department) that mis-displays how long reservations are “held” until. We’ll see if it actually gets fixed now!

We’re glad everything got straightened out in good spirits.

[Via One Mile At A Time]