Friday, March 16, 2012

United We Wait

     I'm a travel pro.  I fly on 5-10 airplanes a month. I arrive at the airport less than an hour before my flight and feel good about it.  I wear loafers, just like George Clooney in "Up in the Air" so I don't have to bother with laces after the security screening.
     Nothing prepared me for Monday.  I know Monday departures from Newark are not ideal - all those business people (oh wait, that's me) lining up to start their weeks in some other city.  With a lot on my agenda in St. Louis this week, I just had to leave on the 9AM flight.  Or so I thought.
     After posting delays to 9:30, 10:15, 11:00 and 12:30, United cancelled the flight due to mechanical difficulties.  We shuffled our way to the customer service counter, which is a euphemism for "stand in line."  Twenty minutes later I received my wait-list slip for the 1:30 flight, departing from a different terminal.  Thankfully I am gold status, otherwise I would still be stand in the looping corral queue in Terminal A.
     As I approached the gate for the 1:30 flight, I saw it was delayed until 2:00.  Ominous.  At least I received the good news that I had a seat.  We boarded the plane and sat for 30 minutes until the announcement came that this flight was also having mechanical difficulties.  Leaving our gate-checked bags behind, we re-entered the terminal to wait it out.
     The 4:45 flight left while my bags were still held hostage on the broken plane.  At 5:45, the gate agent informed us a new plane was being sent over to take us to St. Louis.  At 6:30PM, we took off.  I received a coupon for 10% off a future United flight, which didn't seem quite adequate for a ten hour wait in an airport.
     This coming Monday I will give United a chance to redeem themselves.  Same flight.  Hopefully not the same result.

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