Jun 30 2012

Travel Log: United Airlines – Incompetence Edition

Published by at 8:18 pm under Delta Airlines,mishaps,travel

So here’s the story….

Do you remember the time when most airlines used to cater to their customers and tried to do everything in their power to make your travel experience enjoyable?

Yea, me either.

I am constantly traveling for work and I usually fly United Airlines because they usually have the lowest fares. But no more. I have put up with the late flights, irritable gate personnel and Customer Service Representatives and after reviewing all of the extra fees I have accrued by this airline I have found it ends up NOT being cheaper.

Here’s what transpired that finally put me over the edge:

I went out to Salt Lake City to do some work for a client. They way out I flew United on a Sunday from Harrisburg PA to Washington DC to Salt Lake City and none of the flights were on-time. Pretty much par-for-the-course for United. But on the way back I was supposed to fly back on Friday from Salt Lake City to Chicago IL to Harrisburg PA on a Friday. My first flight left close to 45 minutes late (big surprise) and when I got to Chicago I saw my connecting flight was delayed also. So this delay worked in my favor. So I checked the boards and saw my connecting flight that was supposed to take off at 6:30 PM get pushed to 7:00 PM, then 8:00 PM, 9:30 PM and finally 10:00 PM (along with a gate change) claiming it was “Awaiting Aircraft”

Now through an app I have on my Android phone (the Driod Razr — LOVE IT!) I can track the inbound flight and I saw it land at 8:00 PM but we were never notified that our flight was ready to board, it still said “Awaiting Aircraft”. It was only later that I found out that they took that plane and commissioned it to another route (HUH?). Later I check the boards again and see the flight is now set for 9:30 PM, a good sign, right? And then the time changed again to 9:45 PM along with another gate change. So our plane gets here (finally!) and they board the entire plane along with filling any remaining seats with Standby travellers. We are sitting on the plane for approximately 30 minutes before the Flight Attendant comes on the speaker and states that the Pilots have reached their contract time limit and will not be flying any more tonight. This resulted in a lot of very irate passengers asking why did they not let us know this before we boarded the plane?

Well, the Flight Attendant spoke to the Customer Service rep who said they found another flight crew and they were on their way (cheers arose!) But after an hour of waiting on the plane for the new crew we soon became wary that they were telling us the truth. And then the lights came up and they told us in fact there was not going to be a new crew and we had to go to Customer Service to get re-booked.

Now, standing in a VERY long line we were all handed the phone number for reservations so we could call ourselves to cut the time down. I called immediately and was able to secure a flight that would get me back home at 2:00 PM the next day (Chicago IL to Philadelphia PA to Harrisburg PA on US Airways), not ideal but at least I was having better luck than others (or so I thought). So at this point I was helping others get in touch with the reps and find other flights. The Rep I spoke with on the phone said I was all booked and I just needed to go to the desk and have them confim it. I got to the desk and the Rep told me I was all set and wrote down the flight numbers and times and gave me a voucher for a hotel room. I got to the hotel around 1:30 AM and didn’t fall asleep until around 2:30 AM. Woke up again at 6:00 to get back to the airport and get my tickets.

<evil music>DUM…DUM…DUMMMMMM</evil music>

I get to the US Airways desk to pickup my tickets and they tell me that my bording pass is showing as “Used” so it did not hold my reservation and there were no more seats on that flight. Then they found another flight that would get me back home at 8:00 PM that night (UGH!). So I was told I had to go back to the United desk and have them release the ticket so I could get that reservation. Now I am fuming and I have to walk back outside to change terminals where it is ver hot so that does not help my temper.

So this is where it gets better (no thanks to United). I called our company’s Emergency Travel Rep at Atlas Travel and she was able to find a flight on Delta (Chicago IL to Atlanta GA to Harrisburg PA) that would get me home at 3:50 PM (YEA!). I boarded the Delta flight (on-time!) and it took off (on-time!) and We landed in Atlanta (early!). So far, So good.

So that is all for now as I am waiting here in the Delta terminal in Atlanta waiting for my final leap and hoping that it will be the leap… Home!

(I finally got to use a Quantum Leap reference in conversation!)

Later!

**UPDATE** The last leg was delayed slightly but I finally made it home.  (Thank you Delta!)

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