Trip to Dc by non frequent traveler

Discussion in 'US Airways | Dividend Miles' started by Art234, May 21, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Art234
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    My wife had to fly US yesterday to DC on the shuttle (used some of my miles). This is the first time in years she flew without me. Of course the weather was bad yesterday, and while she got down ok, the return was a challenge, with delays and cancellations. She called me at one point, and just said "get me out of here"..I coached her along-noted cancellations and told her to stay put get something to eat and listen for her flight.

    Finally, she got in around midnight, and made the comment that the US employees in DC were somewhat slovenly, sloppily attired, indifferent to customers, and some using the PA had a very poor command of the English language. I told her there are (or used to be) some very good employees still at US despite the company's efforts to get them to leave, but what do you expect from a company that doesn't want to pay more than $10 an hour?

    Her reply? "Where did they get these employees from? DMV?"

    Just an observation from an outsider.
     
  2. Lufthansa Flyer
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    DC US employees are among some of the worst airline employees that I've ever encountered.
     
  3. dcpatti
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    Not really consistent with my experience at DCA but I wouldn't be surprised if the constant irrops lately are grinding people down. It's been about 10 days of thunderstorms and delays, lots of WX cancellations and misconnects, lots of angry people. Maybe that's taking its toll. My last 3 trips through DCA, the place was absolutely packed with people waiting out delays, not its usual mellow self.

    They do have several GA's with foreign accents at DCA but I don't find them hard to understand. There is one lady with a Latina accent who speaks extremely fast though, I guess it doesn't bother me because I speak spanish? At any rate, has your wife taken the moment to pass along her comments to US? Airline can't fix it if they don't know it's broken.
     
  4. gleff
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    US employees at DCA are hugely variable .. there's one heavyset gentleman who makes up his own boarding rules, for instance, he only boards by row back-to-front and ingores zones. I've even seen him skip starting with F. The real problem seems to be that folks can do what they wish and there are no repurcussions. Also plenty of employees who just seen incredibly annoyed with any customer request, lots of moans and groans when folks want to switch their frequent flyer # at the gate or customer service for instance.
     
  5. Flag_November
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    At DCA they use 2 terminals (not sure what to call them - we used to call them 'fingers') each with its own security so you can't walk back and forth, but US has a shuttle that runs airside. The one with the higher-numbered gates is all or nearly all US, and is like the first circle of hell most nights, jammed with people, continual announcements, no place to sit, etc. The other one, lower numbered gates, is shared with American and United. So you can sit and watch AA planes go to DFW undelayed by weather while you endure the usual 2.5 hour US 'weather' delay. But at least it's quiet.

    That was my experience last Thursday. No rule 240 that night.
     
  6. dcpatti
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    Not sure about the skipping F as first to board; I honestly don't know why they'd do that. But the back-to-front boarding is spot-on for Shuttle flights (DCA-BOS, DCA-LGA, LGA-BOS) because of the high ratio of Zone 1 and 2 passengers. If they boarded by zones, there'd be about 4 guys left after 1 and 2 boarded. If you were going to Boston or New York then this is normal.
     
  7. DeacFlyer1
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    Art, I'm sure none of your tremendous love for US has rubbed off onto your wife... ;)
     
  8. gleff
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    Nope, it's just one guy I'm talking about. I've had him multiple times and not on Shuttle flights.

    Shuttle flights seem to sometimes board by zone, sometimes by row, mostly more recently by zone though (3/4 of the DCA shuttle departures in the past month have boarded by zone... all 4 ex-LGA have boarded by zone, I think but am not certain that board-by-row used to be more common for shuttle than it is now, and wonder whether procedure has changed but the one ex-DCA outlier was a holdover?)
     
  9. Art234
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    Actually she went into the trip with an open mind....as I had when I tried US back in January.

    If you note, my response to her comments was meant to explain a possible reason why her experience was as it was...and was not intended to bash anyone at US....front line that is.... They have managed to get many of their best to leave over the past few years....which while not unique to US (DL is offering buyouts now) the effects of the loss of experienced employees appears most evident there.

    One wonders when corporate management all over learns that it is cheaper in many cases to retain such employees...I have to wonder what the true cost of letting good people go is....
     
  10. SS255
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    Don't get me started on this subject. :rolleyes: Let's just say that US is not unique in this regard.
     
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  11. Art234
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    My point exactly...not singling out US with regard to this issue, they just made a good illustration of it.
     
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  12. SS255
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    The problem with most corporations is that they fix a hard dollar amount on employees as if they are liabilities. My company just axed one 25-year sales vet who had to be making at least a half a million a year. His parting words to me were "they don't care about the 15 million dollar deal that won't get done......they're just looking at what I cost them." The company's attitude is "somebody else can (and will) do the job, for less money" The problem is that "somebody else" will only get $10M, whereas the guy who has perfected the job will get $15M. :rolleyes: I guess that justifies paying "somebody else" $100K or $200K less, right?

    To get back on topic: US can save a few bucks by eliminating (or burning out) their long-time employees, but the spreadsheet does not indicate how much more it actually costs them. Maybe some of those ancillary fees should be set aside for retention bonuses, to keep the seasoned vets around as long as possible.
     
  13. Art234
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    This is absolutely correct. They never look at the other side of the equation.
    That said, I am going back to DC Thursday to drive Bertha the Buick back with Lauren, and I am taking Acela...should be interesting. Half the cost of US one way ticket in First Class too....
     
  14. DeacFlyer1
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    You mean it's half the cost of a First Class US Airways ticket, or are you in First Class on the Acela?
     
  15. dcpatti
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    Good luck with the Acella trip. It's either fantastic, or it's broken, and never in between. I hope you don't get the broken one :)
     
  16. phlwookie
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    My experience with the Acela is that it's far more reliable than any airline. People complain about its high costs, too, but for close-in purchases on WAS-NYP it is usually cheaper than the Shuttle unless the latter is pretty empty.
     
  17. Art234
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    Sorry let me clarify. The business class ticket on Acela was $139, the First Class Fare was $244. US was pricing out at $400 or higher--so my math was a little off but you get the drift. I took the first class since it comes with hot food and personal service....Trip report to follow :)
     
  18. dcpatti
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    For me, it's been hit or miss, about 50% miss. It seems like Acela has more mechanical issues than the regular regional trains, and twice last year I was on a regional that had to stop on a track somewhere to pick up all the Acela passengers whose train had broken down. Considering I only took Amtrak about a dozen times last year, I don't like those odds, and that's just on the "it's so broken down that we have to offload you and not even at a station" events. I also really dislike how you can't stand by for an earlier train without paying the fare difference, not just on Acela but on all Amtrak trips. When flying, especially on the shuttle, I love that benefit and even pay the fee on airlines where I don't ahve status, or where it's not waived for elites, but that fare difference is a killer in many cases. Not paying $200+ to go home an hour early!
     
  19. phlwookie
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    Wow, that's a really bad trouble rate. I'm generally on Amtrak when I'm not flying, usually about 20-30 times per year, and I probably am on time 85-90% of the time, and I can count the number of breakdowns in the past three years or so on one hand - all on Regionals save one Acela issue where we waited for 30 min in NYP for troubleshooting, then crawled along through N NJ as we'd missed our slot.

    The ticket change thing is annoying but in my experience, the costs have been minimal.
     
  20. dcpatti
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    Yeah and that's what kills me about Amtrak. It's so unpredictable. They can have a short 3-week phase of mechanical issues but you'll never know unless you're traveling for those 3 weeks, or you could be miserable if you only travel in those 3 weeks.

    Have had a bunch of "Under 50 Mph Only" rides too :(

    I really go out of my way to find a cheap flight, especially in summer where they lower speeds due to safety issues when the tracks have been cooking in the sun all day.
     
  21. phlwookie
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    Funny enough, Amtrak e-mailed me today with a new Twitter account where they're putting up service disruptions for the NEC: https://twitter.com/#!/AmtrakNEC

    The overhead wire issue occurs on the really hot days where the heat causes the wires to expand and droop some, increasing the chance that the pantograph of the train will tear them down at high speed. This issue could be solved or at least minimized by the use of modern constant tension catenary wires, which are designed to in part compensate for this. That the NEC south of NYC is still dependent upon a catenary design installed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1920s and 30s is a shame, and another example of our unfortunate underinvestment in rail in this country, at least in the high density population centers (I agree that passenger rail isn't so viable vs. air on longer distances). However, it appears that the reallocation of high speed rail dollars from Florida may finally address this. While it may allow for faster running speeds, the real benefit should be for reliability of the power system.

    On a clear day with no ATC issues, the Shuttle will generally win on DC-NY unless there's worse traffic than usual between Manhattan and LGA or something stupid on 395 over the Potomac. Trouble is, those conditions are less reliable than Amtrak. For myself living in the PHL area, rail wins because the short distances outweigh the overhead time in dealing with the airport - leaving at the same time from my home or office, I can often be in DC by Amtrak before we take off in PHL on a PHL-DCA flight.
     
  22. dcpatti
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    Amtrak definitely wins for location. Can't beat arriving at 35th and 5th or thereabouts, and being able to walk to the hotel. It's a long walk from LGA and since my laptop weighs a freaking ton, I usually just grab a cab rather than navigating public transportation.
     
  23. gleff
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    That's all well and good, and leaving aside that I live near DCA :D take yesterday's trip, my 5th time in NY in May..

    I had to be downtown, Times Square, at 10am.

    Now, I could have caught the 7am Acela and made it over in time if everything hit perfectly. Any delay and I was hosed. So I would have had to book the 6am Acela for cushion since it actually mattered that I be there.

    Instead I booked the 7am Shuttle. That put me into LGA at 8;15am, and I was in front of the Conde Nast building before 9. I had an hour to kill.

    For me, morning meeting, there's no way I want to take the Acela even leaving aside where I'm starting from (no more thna 10 mins from DCA) unless severe thunderstorms are starting the morning (and usually they come later), or snow is getting in the way.

    Although indeed yesterday Acela would have been cheaper.
     
  24. Art234
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    At the end of the day the right choice is totally based on circumstances. I am sure there are times when the shuttle works better for me, despite the added cost. But that's why both are offered.....
     

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