Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mid-air merger


When two enormous corporations merge, nothing ever goes wrong... ever. Nope. Its always perfect. Its so perfect that Stephen Hawking often declares mergers scientific paragons of symmetry and friendliness. When Continental and United merged, Albert Einstein (who it turns out, isn't dead, he was just inside a box with somebody's cat in a quantum state of alivedead™) declared the merger to be so perfect that the current model of perfection had to be updated to include the utltraperfect™properties of this new phenomenon.

Einstein also said this about sarcasm "ehhh, what?". No one really knows if he said anything else, and we can't find out either unless we interfear™ with what he said.

So imagine my delight when I booked a flight to south Florida last week on United, only to find out that it was still a Continental flight, at a Continental terminal with Continental gate agents and flight attendants, and Continental planes.  But even Continental has given up.

When I arrived at Newark airport at 7am (I promised myself I would never fly out of Newark at that time again... that promise was obviously some kind of ultralie™), I was greeted by a wonderfully long security line. Even the elite line was long. I was hungry and I hadn't had coffee at this point. Lines will not do that early in the morning. So I went and checked all three security screening points at Newark's terminal C (they all go to the same place, so you can go through any of them) and found the one with the shortest elite line - which was still too long for my taste. Once I got through, I found the nearest United Club, found a nice seat, plopped down with some coffee and breakfast and contemplated what the square root of an explosions would be.

About 10 minutes before my flight was to board, I strolled out of the club, headed to the elite access line, which was empty, and stood right at the front, ready to board. Other elites started to slowly line up behind me. But there was no way any of them were going to be called first. I was the highest elite tier, and I was also in first class. Those two things combined equal ultragreatness™. I should be allowed to board before the plane finishes pulling into the gate. Anyway, I was perturbed by the fact that the gate agent first called out "Now boarding any platinum elites". What the hell is that? Thats continental's old elite program. INAPPROPRIATE. I immediately walked up to her and said "I'm 1k" and handed her my boarding pass. She shrugged and let me through, giving me a look that screamed "I really don't give a gobble, plus, I have no idea whats going on anymore, please kill me".

"Hilarious" I uttered too loudly as I trounced down the jetway into my delicious first class seat. But I hadn't even experienced the most hilarious part yet.

Since Continental and United have merged, the new corporation has had to create new safety videos that are singularly branded and reflect the various new jets in each fleet. Since the merger is still obviously not complete I'd expect there to still be little signs showing that the company was once two, but what I didn't expect was the safety video to reflect how difficult this process has been. The safety video opens with Smisek, the new CEO, walking around an airport pretending he works with all of the ground crews and boarding agents, claiming everyone is a team. He then welcomes us on board a plane which I'm sure looks nothing like his private jet, and directs us to pay attention to the safety video. The safety video starts off normally by saying "Welcome on board this Boeing 737, please fasten your seat belts, please put your trays in the upright and locked position, please turn off all devices that have an on/off switch and don't worry about the devices that can't be turned off..." etc. etc. etc. But then, the video broke down... the following is not exaggerated by me, this is exactly what came next "this aircraft may have exits on the wings, in the front and rear of the cabin. Some aircrafts have emergency exits on both sides of the plane. Your aircraft may be equipped with extra life rafts which can be used in case of a water landing".

I kid you not! This was the most unsure safety video I've ever seen. Maybe there are emergency exits, maybe there are extra life rafts, but also MAYBE NOT! You just don't know until you crash!

Well done United. I'm looking forward to more entertaining quantumflights™ that highlight the Heisenberg uncertainty principle among other merger-related problems.

Enjoy.

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