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Let me say right away that this is not a technical post, as you might have guessed from the title.  This is me raving about the incompetence of a major airline.

First of all, $1000 for a round-trip (coach) ticket between Birmingham, AL and Colorado Springs, CO?  Come on, I know the airlines are hurting, but...

The price of the ticket aside, if I had made it home like I was scheduled to tonight, I can deal with an expensive ticket.  But instead I'm sitting in a Denver hotel room.  Now I know that delays happen, that's just part of flying, and much of the time it's out of the airline's control.  But the way the airline handles delays is completely in their control, and that's what pisses me off!

I arrived at the airport today about 1.5 hours early for a 5:00 flight, only to be told that our flight was to be delayed because President Bush was landing there and the entire airport would be shut down for about 45 minutes.  Ok, but when we called several hours before to check on our flights and try to make some seating arrangement changes, no one mentioned any delays.  Did they not know that there would be delays as a result of the president's visit?  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, because the president doesn't exactly make his flight plans available to the general public. 

Here's where the real problem comes in... With the new departure time, we will only have 15 minutes to make our connection in Denver, and it's 20 gates away from where we're arriving.  that's a problem, but once again not an unusual one, just part of the joy of flying.

We eventually do take off, after watching Air Force One taxi down the runway to our right, and there's an outside chance that we can make our connection.  There are several people who are trying to make the same connection, and the pilot announces that he is going to fly low and fast and cut the trip in half.  That's just what he did, and after a bumpy (but fast) ride, we pulled into the gate in Denver with about 10 minutes before our plane was schedule to take off.  We ran off the plane, stopped and told the United official at the terminal entrance what flight we were trying to make, and took off running in the direction she pointed us.  With renewed hope, we arrive at our gate with 7 minutes to spare until takeoff, only to find that the plane left early.  Yep, no one, not the flight crew or the official we just talked to at the gate told us that the plane was going to leave early. 

So, out of breath and furious, we stormed over to the customer service counter to find out how this could have happened and see what our options were.  As our turn came, we told the prissy guy at the counter what had happened and his only response was that the planes were authorized to leave 10 minutes early.  I'm seeing red by this time, spewing something about the incompetence of United.  He immediately got defensive and basically said if I didn't like it I could fly with someone else.  To make a long story shorter, we never got answers as to why they couldn't at least wait until the scheduled departure time to take off, knowing ahead of time that there were people coming from Colorado Springs that were trying to connect.  The friendly, helpful customer service guy just threatened to call security and not let us fly because we accused his airline of incompetence (ok, maybe I raised my voice once or twice and said something about the whole operation being run by 1st graders, but there were no threats or innapropriate language, and no, unlike Airline, we had not been drinking.)  We finally got re-booked for tommorrow morning, and here I sit in my Denver hotel room (that we had to pay for ourselves). 

Why couldn't the plane wait 7 minutes and depart on schedule, instead of a few minutes early?
That one is simple:  They sold our seats.  They knew we were coming and they sold our seats anyway.

Why couldn't someone tell us before we ran 20 gates that our plane was not going to wait? 
Answer:  Two answers - they don't know and they don't care.  The lady that met our plane when we arrived didn't seem to know that we were desperately trying to make a connection, even though the pilot and flight crew aknowledged multiple times that they knew our predicament.  Where's the communication?   They don't care if you miss your flight or if you run around the airport for nothing.  It all pays the same.

Let me say in conclusion that I know there are some airline employees that really go out of their way to help,like our flight crew, but they just seem to be the exception.  Like I told the customer service guy as I walked away to find a hotel for the night, no wonder they're in bankruptcy. 

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2005 10:05 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: United Airlines - incompetence prevails!

# re: United Airlines - incompetence prevails!
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Man, that sucks so much. That really really sucks. I can't even imagine how you felt, but I know it had to suck.
Left by David on Sep 24, 2005 7:52 PM

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