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    Monday, December 9, 2019-3:34:42P.M.






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Guam, NMI AGs say United Airlines’ service ‘subpar’

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The attorneys general of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands sent a letter to United Airlines expressing concern about its meals, service, mechanical issues as well as overall customer service.

Attorneys General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson of Guam and Edward Manibusan of the CNMI told Brett Hart, acting CEO of United Airlines, about the disparity in the treatment of Guam customers flying to the mainland United States via the Guam-Honolulu route compared to those on the Japan routes.

“United has operated the (Guam-Honolulu) exclusive international route since its merger with Continental Airlines. The level of service provided by United on this route has never met the level of Continental, which operated in this region for over 40 years,” stated Barrett-Anderson and Manibusan.

They noted “the elimination of free inflight meal service on the eight-hour flight.” They said with the meal policy alone, it was evident that the airline was effectively treating the route as a domestic route in spite of the distance involved.

“Passengers traveling from Guam to Hawaii must clear U.S. immigration. Boarding passes bear this out with the designation ‘INT’ clearly visible. Despite the designation, this route is treated as a domestic North American route where customers pay for meals and certain beverages. Many constituents find this practice to be unduly burdensome for a flight that is approximately eight hours.”

They added, “Providing meal service and a greater range of complimentary beverages would greatly improve your customers’ flight experience.”

Barrett-Anderson and Manibusan also criticized the airline’s baggage policy which they said is “unfairly restrictive.” United customers may check in one bag at no charge, but must pay $70 for a second bag.

“Many customers traveling to the mainland bring goods from Guam and the CNMI for family, and return with goods that cannot be obtained on the islands.

“Increasing the baggage allowance would give customers greater flexibility when traveling and increase their satisfaction with United’s service. Once again, this is a change in a decades-long policy to the detriment of our residents.”

Barrett-Anderson and Manibusan said the “inequities are even more glaring when compared to United’s international flight between Tokyo and Honolulu. Both routes are approximately 7-8 hours in duration yet in contrast the international (Narita-Honolulu) route provides free inflight meals and free baggage.”

Barrett-Anderson and Manibusan asked how United distinguishes between two similar international flights of equal duration.

“The disparity in services is especially striking given that the fare for the Guam-Honolulu route is almost twice as much as the (Narita-Honolulu) route.”

Barrett-Anderson and Manibusan also criticized United for providing a fleet of older aircraft for travelers originating in Guam even though Continental had invested in an entirely new fleet before the United/Continental merger.

“The service deficiencies identified above are just a few examples of what customers view as subpar service. Older planes that replaced Continental’s new fleet after merger, loss of free entertainment, insufficient flight crews, frequent mechanical breakdowns are other issues that deeply frustrate United’s Guam and CNMI customers.”

Barrett-Anderson and Manibusan wrote in response to CEO Oscar Munoz who, at the onset of his taking the helm early last month, asked customers how United flight services could be improved.

“We write in response to Mr. Munoz’s letter both as customers of United and as the attorneys general for the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,” Barrett-Anderson and Manibusan said.

They suggested that United use Continental’s model of service to island residents.

“Continental was deeply rooted in this region and invested in its people. This all changed after the merger. We understood there would be changes, but the changes have been very disappointing. Service has declined beyond what we ever could have imagined by this merger. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time low, but there are changes that could — and should — be made to improve customer satisfaction on this route.”

They concluded, “With principles of teamwork, customer-focus, and innovative changes in mind, we hope to initiate a dialogue regarding how flight services on United’s Guam-Honolulu route can be improved.”

Variety was unable to get a comment from United.