Tag Archive for: Chicago

United reverses policy on family boarding

She thanks you, United.

She thanks you, United.

You have to respect a company that admits past mistakes. That’s why I’m loving United Airlines today.

The carrier announced that on Feb. 15, it will resume policies that allow families traveling with young children to board flights early. The move reinstates a policy that the airline had embraced for decades but curtailed back in April 2012.

(It also undoubtedly has inspired invisible choirs to sing “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah, and has sparked families to exclaim, “It’s about fucking time!”)

According to a report in The Chicago Tribune, United was the last “holdout” among major airlines on the subject of early boarding for families. The article lists how other airlines handle the issue and I recommend clicking through (here’s the link again) to read the list. To summarize the info box, some airlines let families skip in front of everybody while others let the first class and elite passengers onto the plane first, then give families a head start on the rest of the passengers.

My favorite part of the announcement was when, Sandra Pineau-Boddison, United’s senior vice president of customers, told the Trib that the move comes as part of a larger effort by the Chicago-based airline to be more attentive to passengers’ needs.

“It takes a little bit of the stress out of the travel situation,” she said. “Some things are just the right thing to do.”

What Pineau-Boddison didn’t say but implied: “We were wrong.” No matter who’s speaking, it takes courage to admit that sort of thing. Well done, United. Well done.

Why Stop at Breast Pumps?

The new set-up at Hard Rock Chicago.

The new set-up at Hard Rock Chicago.

It’s about time.

That’s pretty much exactly what I thought earlier this week when I read about a new program at the Hard Rock Chicago through which nursing moms can request (for a tax-deductible fee) hospital-grade Medela breast pumps to use during their stays.

A breast pump! From the hotel! To save moms the hassle of bringing theirs from home! In a word, it’s GENIUS.

I know my wife would have loved this kind of amenity during our first few trips with (and the first few trips without) L and R. I’m sure thousands of other traveling mommas feel the same way.

Still, I’ve got to ask: Why stop at breast pumps?

If hotels as big and popular as the Hard Rock see some value in a family oriented amenity like this one, why aren’t more brands following suit? In a world where families comprise a growing part of the traveling public, this kind of program should be vying with offerings from other hotels through which family guests can reserve everything from jogging strollers and car seats to bottle warmers and baby food processors, all for similarly nominal fees.

Heck, at the very least, more properties should add formula sleeves (like these) to minibar menus.

(It’s not like it’s that much of a stretch; most minibars sell condoms as part of “Intimacy Kits” these days anyway.)

Please don’t misconstrue my plea; I’m not writing this as a dad pining for equal treatment. Instead, I’m responding to the situation as a parent—an equal part of a traveling unit.

At the end of the day, the easier hotels make it for all of us family folk to travel, the more we’ll want to take the kids and hit the road.

Let’s hope other brands learn from the Hard Rock and copy the approach. Sure, these types of amenities help the big hotel chains build loyalty. But in the end, we families benefit most of all.

What family friendly amenity would you like to see hotel chains adopt in widespread fashion?