Here's the thing: I like Hawaiian Airlines so much better than United. (If I'm not mistaken, I have at least one regular reader who is a United Airlines employee. Let me just apologize now. You might want to skip this part). For one thing, Hawaiian Airlines' flight attendants don't make a point of telling you, "We're here primarily for your safety." In other words, please don't bother us for menial crap like blankets and extra water. For another, I'm willing to bet that a lot of people have had experiences with United that allow them to commiserate with Busy Dad. Also, in my former life I had to deal with their automated lost luggage "assistant," who, if I remember correctly, is named Simon. Simon will say things like, "Please state the city that you landed in," and you'll say, "Denver," and Simon will say something like, "I think you said, 'Saskatchewan.' Is this correct?" and after 20 minutes of this, someone in your office will tell you to stop yelling, you'll flip them the bird, and they will crack up because they've never seen you this pissed off before, and Simon will tell you that he is unable to help you and to please hold while he gets an agent for you. You will tell the agent all the same things you told Simon, but now you will be cranky and mean to the poor guy in India who is just trying to earn a living for his family and, truth be told, is probably just as sick of cleaning up Simon's messes as you are frustrated. To be fair, it's been about five years since I've had to deal with Simon. Maybe things have improved.
Okay. So, where was I? Oh, yeah, fly Hawaiian Airlines instead! Granted, they don't go to all the places that some of the other major airlines do, but they will take you to a lot of places in the Pacific, and miles build up fast when you're flying trans-Pacifically. Also, I don't know about you, but I'm tired of going out of my way to give my money to companies who don't give a crap about customer service. If I'm going to spend hundreds of dollars on something, I'd just as soon give it to a company that I like and that I want to support, especially in these economic times where everyone should be fighting to hold on to their customers. My husband recently flew to Korea via Hawaiian's code-share partner, Korean Airlines, where the staff came out and personally and sincerely thanked each passenger individually for choosing Korean Airlines. Granted, he was in the business section, but still. When was the last time you were treated that way?
I honestly didn't start this with the intention of turning into an "I hate United" post, it's just that they are the airline that I have the most experience with. I'm sure other airlines have their fair share of disgruntled customers, and United probably even has somebody out there with a stellar customer-service story. Hawaiian's not perfect either-you still have to pay the extra baggage fees and pay for headphones and snacks (their snacks are really good!), but their meals have always been good, and I'll gladly pay the earphone fee to have the extra 2 or 3 inches of legroom that you get on Hawaiian. You know what I'm talking about. You've been stuck in that middle seat, trying to reach that dropped pen or the gum in your carry-on only to realize that you are going to have to dislocate your shoulder in order to reach it or ask someone if you can borrow their screaming baby to crawl around under your seat to get it for you, neither of which are ideal options. So, instead you just deal with the cramp that's already formed in your neck and try not to breathe on the guy next to you for the next 8 hours.
So, anyway, there it is, my post urging you to fly Hawaiian Airlines if you ever get the chance. Let's re-cap:
- Friendly staff
- More leg room
- Best snacks I've ever had on a plane
- Good meals
- #1 in National Airline Quality Rating (I didn't mention that above, but I wanted to throw it in).
- Less chance of offending your seat mates with your bad breath because you can't reach your gum.
- Another thing I didn't mention-they also have gaming devices available for rent
- Limited destinations
- Baggage, snack, headphone and gaming device fees still apply
Please feel free to share any stories you have about good airline customer service. I always like to hear stories of good triumphing over evil, even if it's from United! ;)
11/24/09-Edited to add: Per Beat of Hawaii's October 27th post, Hawaiian pilots have been talking about striking, so if you do choose to travel Hawaiian, it might be a good idea to have travel insurance in place that would cover such a contingency. Please check out their whole article for more details and a different point of view on Hawaiian Airlines.