I had quite high expectations as I boarded United Airlines flight 15 from Newark to Honolulu. This is, after all, a flagship route and as a top-tier elite customer seated in the forward cabin I expected a level of service and comfort that would be truly unparalleled from the world’s largest airline. That expectation was shattered even before we left the ground when I was threatened with arrest for attempting to talk to the pilots before the cockpit door had been closed. Wh’ev.
Things went downhill from there.
One of the recorded pre-flight announcements indicated that the flight was operated by Continental Airlines, a brand that hasn’t existed since I put them out of business back in March. Seriously, it has been more than 8 weeks now. That they haven’t fixed the recording is an abomination and an insult to brand homogenization. Alas, following my prior chastisement I chose to bite my lip and accept that the flight was going to be a miserable 11 hours of my life rather than point out to the flight attendants that there was a mistake in the recordings that demanded resolution.
A meal was served shortly after departure. The flight attendants who had appeared so diligent in following my every move prior to departure had failed to notice that I had traded seats with another on the flight. This meant that my meal order was taken approximately 38 seconds after it should have been, with the FA going to the incorrect seat before finally noticing my new arrangements and coming over to ask what I wanted.
Continuing with the branding debacle which started with the announcement prior to departure, the linens, glassware and flatware were a mismatched mess of old and new names and logos.
The steak was fine – it tasted nothing like leather – but, as can be seen from the photo, there was no bread to be found anywhere near my tray. Truly insulting that the roll wasn’t served as it should have been.
The ice cream sundae trolley showed up after dinner, laden with gooey toppings and a few choices of digestifs for those of that persuasion. Of course, being a Hawaii trip I was more in to mai tais than liquor and I asked to have another. I was informed that the mai tais had too much sugar, meaning that I should stop drinking them. Oh, and no Grand Marnier, either. Alas, I was stuck drinking the cognac instead.
All this, and we still hadn’t cleared Wyoming airspace.
The flight continued, as did the abject mistreatment. I wasn’t awoken from my nap, meaning my fresh-baked mid-flight cookie cooled off before I could eat it. They simply do not taste the same when the cookies have cooled.
By this point in the flight, as if by some miracle, additional mai tais appeared in the forward galley and shortly thereafter at our seat. Of course, as part of serving the drinks at this point in the trip, questions were raised as to my consumption habits, including my willingness to mix rum drinks with other rum drinks and the impact that might have on my sobriety. Explaining to the flight attendants that getting drunk was the only way to deal with their subordination didn’t seem like the correct response; once again I bit my tongue.
About an hour before arrival our last meal was served, I accepted the tray from the flight attendant and then immediately realized my mistake. They served the meal with only 55 minutes remaining before arrival and that would mean insufficient time to digest before undertaking the hike from the gate to the curb. And I know how important it is to have time to digest before such strenuous exercise. I considered calling for a wheelchair to avoid issues but instead simply accepted the risk of getting a cramp as I walked out of the airport to our next meal.
Finally, our landing in Honolulu was anything but normal. We used a different runway than I’m used to from my previous trips to the island meaning that the views I was expecting on final approach didn’t materialize. It is hard to get good photos of a landing when the pilots change things like that on you without consultation.
At least the flight was finally over. Eleven hours I’ll never get back. Eleven hours of pure torture.
Yes, the entire post here was decidedly tongue-in-cheek. That said, the service really was rather below par from my previous experiences. Part of that stems from the downgrades in the service offered on the flight (fewer meal choices, entrees of lesser quality) and part of it was from a crew that didn’t really seem to be happy working, much less with a group of six guys in the forward cabin who actually intended to enjoy the trip rather than just idle through until the doors opened again on arrival. I really never did get a roll with my meal, for instance, and things like drink and snack basket service were essentially non-existent. Only one of the FAs was anywhere close to being personable. Oh, and the IFE on these planes really is an embarrassment. Just awful.
Clearly not actually a "trip from hell" but also not a particularly great ride.