As an American citizen living in Korea and teaching English, I’ve had a good share of international and domestic travel experience. Since my first trip to study abroad in Shanghai in 2004, I’ve traveled to China twice, Hong Kong once, Japan three times, Korea five times, and returned home to visit my family five or six times. Therefore, I have a very good working knowledge of what is required for all portions of a successful journey: from buying tickets, to arranging documents, to finding my way around crowded airports, to security checks, boarding planes, and customs at the other end. I’ve developed my own habits and patterns for doing things that make my international travel much better, safer, faster, and more efficient (including always using carry-on bags). After countless successful experiences with airplane travel, I had begun to take my success for granted – I had a perfect record of travel. But a recent experience in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with United Airlines sent me spinning.
Since I have so much travel experience to different countries, I’ve also had lots of experience with different airlines. By far the best of the best always happen to be Asian airlines. Korean Air was always my favorite, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong is also wonderful, I’ve heard Singapore Airlines gives first class service even in economy class, and I recently experienced Asiana Airlines first class service in economy as well. The US airlines however, leave something to be desired. Delta is not bad, but nothing like their SkyTeam partner Korean Air (first class service). Northwest is the cheapest and it’s really true that you get what you pay for, service is just average. United Airlines, or perhaps Los Angeles International airport (LAX), or perhaps a combination of the two however is by far the worst airline I’ve ever dealt with. It’s not the flight itself that stinks, but the customer service stinks and as Dave Carroll sings it’s often a case of “pass the buck” and “don’t ask me.” Here is the story of my recent experience with them, in an email complaint I sent to the company.