You don't need to have kids to know that it takes time to do anything such as boarding a flight with them. Kids are easily distracted and they have a different sense of time than adults have.
Adding families with kids to normal boarding -- i.e., not letting them board early -- doesn't make sense to me (no kids) and sounds counter-productive, but maybe others see it differently. I'd rather they get it over with early, rather than having them blocking the isle and stressing everyone out even more than they're already stressed while boarding.
Since we're fast approaching peak summer travel season, what do you think of United Airline's new plan?
"We are now boarding those with special needs, and we here at United consider children your blessing, not a special need, so we ask that you board according to your boarding number."Note from John: If the airlines found an actuary who said throwing out the window would save more money, they'd do it. This sounds like yet another excuse to save money (though God knows how), and the fact that it downright inconvenience's United's passengers if simply icing on the cake.
Special needs or not, the incident, along with other industry developments, suggests that families getting ready to take off on their summer vacations may experience some bumps along the way.
The announcement Rubin heard was the result of United opting to discontinue the process of allowing families with small children to board before the general public, a procedure the airline had implemented earlier this year.
I have never flown with ruder, more self-important flight attendants than on US airlines. I refuse to fly US carriers abroad if I have a chance. Yes, some US flight attendants are nice. And far too many are not.
I think of my recent flight on American from DC to Chicago, I was flying with my dog, as a carry on (for $125 each way, and she counts as a carry on), and I was in the last group boarding. They call my number, I get ready to board, and they tell me that they're out of overhead room, so I have to store everything but the dog in the hold. But I have my laptop computer, my ipad, all my prescription asthma meds, among others (totaling at least $750, if not more) and I don't even recall what else. Too bad, they tell me.
So I get down on the ground and am emptying out my carry on all of the expensive, breakable, stuff, and realize that with a dog and dog carrier in one hand, I have nowhere to put all the other stuff (not to mention, I have tendonitis, which was flaring up in that arm, so I can't carry more than a few pounds with that arm). While I'm doing this, the flight attendant is getting testy with me, suggesting that I'm holding up the plane. Keeping in mind I didn't want to be sent to Gitmo, I glared and kept unpacking.
In the meantime, after American's staff badgered me again about keeping their plane late, I asked why they don't do anything about people taking overhead space more forward in the plane than where their seat is. "What are we supposed to do, sir" he says to me. Oh, I don't know, how about tell people not to do it, and if you see people do it, tell them to stop? How about boarding the front of the plane first and then work to the back?
Finally, I was able to jam the meds bulging in my shoulder bag, and was juggling my laptop and ipad and camera in left arm, while my right hand was carrying the dog carrier. I board the plane, my arm aching, and ask the first flight attendant I see if she has a bag or something that I can put the computer, ipad, numerous bottles of meds, and whatever else I had that was breakable. She was very nice and got me a big bag.
I'm now making my way down the very narrow aisle - dog carrier in one hand, overstuffed satchel on my back sliding to my side, and other arm carrying a bag stuffed with my laptop, ipad and other stuff - trying to not hit other passengers in the head. The nice flight attendant says that maybe I can find some jackers or something in the overhead somewhere that I can slide over and put my computer/ipad bag there (which was a good idea, and nice of her). Of course, with the dog in hand, and the computer/ipad etc in the other, there's no way for me to reach up to the overhead and open it let alone move stuff around, so I asked very nicely if there was any way she could help me look for a place. She told me she had to stay up front, it was her station, she wasn't supposed to leave. I look at flight attendant number two who's just standing there silently and asked if maybe she could help. She gave me a look, then begrudgingly said yes.
We walk to my seat, and what do you know, there's a big empty space in the overhead that could have easily fit my carry-on. In other words, they knew I was stuck outside the plane unpacking and no one bothered telling me that there was a big glaring space in the overhead over my seat that could have taken my bag.
Anyway, mean flight attendant found the open space above my seat, then stood there as I struggled to lift the computer/ipad/camera bag up to stuff it in, while holding the dog and carrier, and the meds are still in my overstuffed satchel. And mind you, this is my tendonitis arm. She does nothing to help. I finally asked if she can help. She sighs and takes the computer bag and puts it above.
I then go to get into my seat - it's a window seat (not by choice, I prefer aisle), and for anyone who's tried to put a dog carrier under a seat, it takes a bit more work than simply "woosh and it's in." You have to lift the seat cushion nowadays etc, even though my dog carrier is officially approved by American to be the correct size.
Then I discover a new problem. American has apparently decided to use the space under your seat for their new wifi boxes. As a result, the officially approved bags no longer fit under the seat. Nice. They only cost like $80 to $100, not to mention you can be kicked off the plane if your carry doesn't fit under the seat (and with a dog in it you can't put it in the overhead).
I finally get into my seat, we take off, get to know the neighbors and all is well.
On landing, the woman behind me taps me on the shoulder and informs me that she's really ticked off. Why, I ask. You see, she tells me, while I was trying to get the dog carrier under my seat, the mean flight attendant apparently gave me a look and said something disparaging about me. The passenger who told me said she was so upset she almost spoke up right there (I told her she should have).
And thus ends another typical flight for me on a US carrier. Whether it's American, United or whomever, the only carrier I've been on that's been glorious has been Virgin America, where the planes are new, the food is great, the TV and movie selection amazing (they charge for all of this, but good affordable prices), and the staff could NOT be nicer. (I also understand that people love Southwest, but they didn't until recently fly any routes I normally take.)
We all spend a lot of time talking about how we saved Wall Street and they continue to treat us like garbage. Don't forget that we saved the US airlines too, after September 11, and the attitude, and outright contempt, they show their passengers, is unparalleled.
This move by United is typical, and one more reason to avoid US carriers at all costs. There is very little we can do to protest their constantly increasing number of fees and their ridiculously in synch pricing, but we can do one thing - it's difficult to say "don't fly" when America doesn't have a real train alternative in most areas. But when we go abroad we certainly have a choice, when you can fly Southwest or Virgin America, do. And the next time a politician in Washington wants to bailout the airlines, remember how generous the airlines have been to you, then call your congressman and tell him to stuff it.