I am sitting in the United Airlines Red Carpet Lounge waiting to board a flight to London. I got access to the lounge because I purchased the Premier Travel Plus option when I reserved my flight. This option got me Economy Plus seating and access to the lounge, which I wanted because my connecting flight in San Francisco was five hours early.This upgrade cost me well over $250.
I first checked into the lounge a few hours ago. When I checked in, the person looked me up in a computer, then verified that I could enter the lounge. I got some free junk food and coffee and went to log on to the WiFi hotspot. The T-mobile login page clearly says that Red Carpet One-Time pass holders (I think that is me) get access to free WiFi via a pin number. When I asked two different United Airlines lounge employees about this, both told me I needed to be a business class or higher customer to get the $8 worth of free WiFi. One told me she would look to see if she could find any old ones lying around that I could use. I was confused and disappointed, but because I was also hungry I uncharacteristically did not challenge them.
I left the lounge to get some dinner. When I returned, a different person was at the desk. He too checked me in, but this time he gave me without my prompting two drink coupons and a card with a pin number to access the T-mobile WiFi for free. So I am enjoying a free glass of pretty good wine as I type and post this from the United Airlines Red Carpet lounge.
How do you explain the very inconsistent service experience I had with United Airlines today? Is this a crappy people problem, or a crappy system problem? I know how I would answer that question, what about you? For an upgrade that costs so much money, why would United Airlines make an $8 benefit an issue? Or is the problem the interface between T-mobile (providing the WiFi service in the lounge and the wording for the login) and United Airlines that caused the confusion in my expectations?
I look forward to reading your responses from London and Spain!