I flew United for the first time in a decade last week. It was a lesson in customer as well as candidate experience I won't forget anytime soon.
The customer service people were very nice. When I stepped up before boarding and told them I normally fly Continental- had in fact booked my ticket through Continental but my mileage (50-100k per year for the last decade) and status weren't highlighted on the ticket as they should be and then asked whether 1st class had all checked in, the rep just smiled, added my mileage, welcomed me to United and gave me a complimentary seat in a row that purportedly had 5" more leg room, a seat you would otherwise have to pay an additional $39 to get. I thanked him by name and, later, did what I normally do, sent a nice email about him to a corporate customer service address.
Still, the added cost to get a better seat was news to me.
I was flying to LA, CA from Newark, NJ....6 hours.
As I passed first class it was obvious the plane was empty. Only 4 of twelve seats in 1st class were filled. Odd I thought. At Continental, folks with enough mileage are automatically upgraded. There is never an empty seat.
The first 12 rows, 6 across were the "special' economy seats. I had row 12 which was also an exit row. Even more room. Yeah!
Then I noticed there were only 5 people in these first 72 seats.
However, I counted more than 60 people filling the next 12 rows- many were packed three across. I'm only guessing here but my extra leg room probably came from somewhere and it was pretty clear from the groans where that was.
As the crew shut the doors and the plane began taxiing, the first announcement was not about safety... as it usually is. No, the first announcement made by the stewardess was that
"the people  in the first 12 rows have paid extra and so moving up to the 'better' seats' is not an option without first paying.
"However", the stewardess noted, "the crew would be happy to take your money when we are in the air."
There were no comments or jokes from the peanut gallery. Just glares...for 6 (6) (six) hours. 60 people seated in the last 12 rows were able to view 12 near-empty rows in economy (not to mention a first class that was 2/3 empty... for 6 solid hours. No one moved up. (And No, I didn't move back in solidarity.)
Could the crew have invited the 5 passengers who supposedly paid for their upgrade to move into first class and the remainder to spread out? Too obvious? Apparently not to United. But then, perhaps I'm biased as a potential recipient of that move up to first class.
I will however send this link to the new President of the Continental/United merger. If Continental adopts United's practices this is one 100k customer seeking another airline.
- It pays to be friendly.
- Friendly isn't enough when the process is flawed.
- If you know the process is flawed and you just follow the rules, your firm will go bankrupt.
- If one customer/candidate is unsatisfied, you most certainly miscounted. There are many, many more.
As Recruiters, we would be advised to look beyond our well-stroked egos and consider the job-seekers who sit patiently staring at those empty seats without the courtesy of knowing what it would cost to upgrade or whether those with better qualifications have already checked in.