You know, before, when I talked about the reading light glitch on the flight from Sydney to America that caused me to not be able to read for the entire flight, I didn’t want to really call out the airline in the post. Hey, it’s a reading light, and if it’s get the light fixed here and stay grounded longer, then I’m all about just trekking on and suffering a bit. When it comes to the airline, I understand where they’re coming from on a point like that as well. The greater good of the entire plane is better than a few rows of reading lights.
In situations like that, it’s really not worthwhile to say that an airline sucks, at least not publicly on the blog. It could have happened anywhere on any airline.
Yet, another occurrence (or occurrences) has led me to making this statement:
United Airlines, I am not happy.
From the giant computer glitch that delayed flights, delayed another flight, caused that flight to get canceled, left us in the airport with no hotel and no food, no food places in the airport open, no assistance with hotel or food by a staff that just said, “If you live in the area, go home. Everyone else, there’s nothing we can do,”… to the broken reading lights on a long-haul flight… I’m not happy with United at the moment.
The Delayed Flight
We left Vegas in the evening in order to give us that third day we needed to either win back or lose even more of our money. Since the “I Dream of Jeanie” slot machine was eating our money instead of giving us double like we hoped, we headed to the airport a bit earlier than expected. After check-in, we went through security and the man checking our tickets says something along the lines of, “You just made it.” What he meant was that we just made check-in before the entire United computer system, around the world, crashed.
We went on our merry way thinking the problem would be solved, but when it came time to board the flight, it became painfully obvious how wrong we were.
Flights that were supposed to leave before us were long delayed. The workers couldn’t tell us anything because they didn’t know when the problem would be solved, where the plans were coming from and most importantly, who was supposed to be on the flight.
The big issue with this computer glitch was that not everyone was able to check in to the flight, and therefore were not on the flight list. If a person is not on the flight list, they couldn’t actually fly.
So, after being delayed a few hours in the airport, they decided to fly us on to San Francisco, but only those 20-ish people that were actually officially checked in and on the list. Strange, it was, to be sitting on a practically empty plane. Stranger was the thought that all the rest of those people were stranded in the Vegas airport.
The Delayed Second Flight
We had no idea what to expect when we arrived in San Francisco. Since our flight was so delayed, it was only a hope that the connecting flight to Sydney was also delayed. When we stepped foot off the plane, we checked on the computer screen to see that our flight was leaving at 12:30am. I looked at my watch and saw it was already 12:30am!
In a panic, Pat and I started to run towards the gate. To miss the flight now would have been awful, so we’re running and running and running, and then…
…a friendly guy near the terminal caught our attention and said that there was no need to rush. There wasn’t even a plane for us to fly away on.
Sadness. Relief. You pick it.
So we waited, and waited, and eventually a plane arrived at the terminal. The crew was there, too, ready to go; the intercom told us they would be boarding in about 5 minutes, and even the computer system decided to pop back on.
The Canceled Flight
It’s almost cruel to tell a very large group of people that they would be boarding their delayed flight soon, repeatedly, and then make the announcement that the flight was now canceled.
Yes, it turns out that the crew would be “illegal” by 10 minutes if they were to get on the flight now. Seriously by just 10 minutes.
That’s the moment when subdued chaos took control – subdued because it was 3am and we were all spent. The customer service workers at the desk were not helpful in the least.
“If you live in the Bay area, just go home. Check on your flight tomorrow morning. Everyone else, we cannot help you.”
You can’t help us? You can’t give us a hotel room?
Nope. All the rooms with the partners are booked up.
Ok, so why can’t you look for some outside your partners?
We can’t do anything about it.
What about food? We haven’t had dinner yet, and there is no place open in the airport at 3am!
You can go to this place, but you will need to leave security.
But if we leave security, then we can’t come back in the airport until the morning since security is closed, right?
So, if we wanted food, we had to leave; if we left, we had to basically hope we could find a hotel room on our own… with no assistance from the customer service of the United workers. Not even a, “Hey, use our phone to make the call for a hotel.” It was this lack of good customer service that really irritated us — even the tone of voice the workers took was not of the most friendly kind.
Instead, Pat and I had to buy a phone card, track down a hotel (we got the last one where we called), catch a cab out and then eat at an Ihop. Not happy (about the inconvenience, not the Ihop).
The Delayed Flight
Our rescheduled flight the next day was also delayed by almost two hours before take-off, but take-off it did. On our journey, we were given an “appreciation gift” from United that would let us log on to a page and gather a compensation for their computer glitch induced errors. I got the option of 1500 miles or $50. HUH? Fifty bucks, really? How does that pay for my hotel and food and inconvenience? I’m still waiting on my email back from customer service…
The Arrival at Sydney
And finally, we arrived. It was around 11pm, but we didn’t get out of there until after 12am. Why? Oh… United… stay tuned for a post on why I want to always take carry-on.