It’s a six-hour flight from Honolulu to Phoenix, so when a US Airways agent offered Blair Fell an upgrade to first class for just $350, he jumped at the opportunity.
“The agent convinced me by saying, ‘Wouldn’t you like to lie back and sleep?” he remembers.
But once he boarded the aircraft, he was surprised by what he found. “Not only was it a no-reclining seat,” he says, “but the first class was decidedly not present.”
Fell asked for a refund, but US Airways said “no.” Then he turned to me, sending me his correspondence and a few photos of the conditions on the plane. Here’s a picture of his seat (above). Clearly not a lie-flat seat — but it is in the front of the plane.
Fell says the flight fell short of a first-class experience.
The amenities were laughable. They offered me a basket to choose whether I wanted vending machine packaged cookies or potato chips. And then there was the breakfast: a box of stale granola, a few pieces of cut fruit (the only prepared food I was offered), skim milk. Period. That was the food.
The blanket and pillow? Same as you get in coach. A thin tissue of a blanket, and the cabin was freezing.
Fell says the only way for him to rest was to lie down on the floor. I’ll let him explain how he did that in a minute.
The grievance process left something to be desired, too.
“When their customer service person called me finally today, she was beyond rude, and basically told me, ‘You sat in the seat so we owe you nothing,'” he told me. “And when I asked to speak to a manager she said ‘Managers don’t answer complaints.'”
No doubt, Fell had a disappointing experience on US Airways. But I thought I’d check with the airline for its perspective.
US Airways’ records show Fell was traveling on a Travelocity reservation and phoned the airline the night before his return trip to the mainland to request an upgrade.
This is a 757 and a night flight so there is no scheduled meal service and no Envoy Class service.
All of our seats recline in first class and he does not state the seat was broken, which if it only reclined as far as shown in the picture might indicate it wasn’t functioning properly. We did not get a report of a broken seat and he does not indicate that he reported it as such, so we have to assume it was fully functional but did not lie flat like an envoy seat would.
Not sure where he found the room to lie down on the floor, as there is only room to do that in the aisle and galley (or by the boarding door).
Our agents called him and did apologize for not meeting his expectations but there is really no compensation due as he flew in first class on the return leg.