There has been a disturbing trend lately where airlines have apparently decided that less information is better for customers. It’s a strange belief that the airlines somehow know what we want better than we do, and it’s incredibly frustrating. So, airlines, please stop this ridiculousness. Do not treat us like idiots. More information is ALWAYS better. (I’ve heard plenty of arguments about when less information is better, but I disagree with them all.)
United Obscures Booking Codes
For years, United has had something called expert mode where it would allow people to see the raw booking class data on United.com but the airline decided to shut that off. For most travelers, this meant nothing but for power users it was like gold. It looked liked something this:
Available Cabins: F2 A2 Z2 P2 RN0 R0 IN0 I0 Y9 B9 M9 E9 U9 H9 Q9 V9 W9 S8 T9 L9 K9 G0 N0 XN3 X0
Like I said, to most of you this looks like nothing. But it contained a wealth of data that was tremendously helpful for travelers. This showed award availability for frequent flier redemptions. It also showed upgrade availability. And while many may never have used this functionality directly, it was used in other things like KVSTool and ExpertFlyer to let people know when awards were available. Now it’s gone. Why? Apparently it was too “confusing” for many customers. Oh and United didn’t like that other services were using the data to help people.
So what now? United is supposedly working on “better ways to share this more meaningful information.” Uh huh. Stop hiding the data, United. It helped a lot more people than it hurt.
Delta Kills SkyMiles Convenience
How many of you use AwardWallet or something like it? The idea is that you have so many different frequent flier numbers and passwords that it’s a pain to keep track. Instead, a site like AwardWallet aggregates everything for you and uses the account information you provide to pull in all the details. It can even remind you when miles expire so it’s hugely helpful. But Delta has decided that it hates being customer friendly. It has joined with Southwest and American to block AwardWallet from accessing the information for users. This sucks.
There are plenty of different ways to look at this, but the reality is that whatever argument you want to make, customers like this service and clearly want to use it. So, Delta, stop being a jerk about this and let people access their information the way they want to access it. I don’t care about the legal arguments or anything like that. It’s what your customers want. (Same goes for you, American and Southwest.)
United’s Massively Confusing Operation in San Francisco
San Francisco’s terminals are laid out well. The airport has four terminals in a circle. The International Terminals site on the west end and serves all international flights. Terminal 3 is on the north end and handles United. Terminal 2 on the east end was recently reopened and now holds American and Virgin America. The rest of the cats and dogs fly into Terminal 1 on the south end.
Unfortunately, United needs more room than it has these days. It was supposed to take over American’s old concourse in Terminal 3 earlier this year but when the airport decided to redo the renovation plans, the reopening was pushed all the way to November of next year. That left United with a real problem on its hands because it didn’t have enough gates in its terminal for a long time.
United originally decided to run Southern California and Vegas flights from Terminal 1. But it didn’t tell people it was using Terminal 1. It made them go to Terminal 3 to check in and then take a bus over to the gate. Now it realized that wasn’t working very well so it has swapped things around again. According to spokesperson Charles Hobart, “most but not all” Express flights are flying out of Terminal 1. Which ones? Your guess is as good as mine. They are trying to put the smaller Embraer 120s and CRJ-200s over there but there isn’t a definitive answer.
You would think this is something that people should know about. After all, if you’re connecting, you might need some more time to get all the way over there. And if you’re a local, well, you would rather try to go directly to Terminal 1, but United has been strangely silent about this. There is a page on the SFO website describing what’s happening but United isn’t saying much at all.
I’m guessing that United assumes that it is so good with signage that it doesn’t need to communicate this to people. But United forgets that a lot of people are smart and a lot of people have flown United in and out of SFO before. They have certain expectations and if United isn’t publicly telling people that things are changing, then it’s a mistake. (They may very well have sent targeted emails, I don’t know, but that’s not enough.)
United is being cheap by not having ticket counters or baggage claim over at Terminal 1, but you would think that the airline would at least let people know that they can still go directly to Terminal 1 if they have a boarding pass and no bags to check. But no, they aren’t talking. The airline thinks it is keeping things simple by not giving people options, but people will find those options and then just be angry with United for not telling them they were available.
Instead, people need to rely on good sources like The B.A.T. to keep up with all these changes. That’s not how it should be.
All of these are examples of companies that think they have everything figured out. They know best, so they don’t want to give people more information than what these airlines have decided travelers need to know. There are different reasons for each, but the result is the same. Less information isn’t better. Stop trying to fight it, airlines. Give us as much info as you can.