Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday 18 November, 2006

Day 18 for nablopomo

The weather related airline misfortune:

Now, more than 48 hours post trauma, I've calmed my self sufficiently to move on and let UAL slip off my radar for the time being. What, pray tell, happened you say?
We boarded the United sardine can in Tuscon on time. The plane was in the air relatively on time (I flown frequently and the plane NEVER takes off at the time assigned.) Some how (by the proverbial they that can never be identified) our seat asignments were mucked-up and instead of being seated together in the same row, we were seated one in front of the other, each in a window seat. After lift off, we were informed that the movie system was not functioning so there wouldn't be any movie for our 4 hour flight to Washington-Dulles. It's not that that bothered me, since I either read or sleep while on airplanes, but it's just one more drop from the chinese water torture treatment. D. listens to the airtraffic control conversation via the headphones.

The day was bright and sunny and the flight was uneventful. No weather related turbulence was encountered. One of the stewards was as tad snippy. (Not with D. or me)

As we were taxiing to the arrival gate at Dulles, the stewardess announced which gates connecting flights were scheduled to depart from, reminding us that this was information she had received in Tucson before take off. She suggested we check the flight board to the right just past our unload door to see if any changes had occured.

Syracuse flight XXXX leaving in 45 min. from gate A3 CANCELLED.

Being that we were in concourse D, we needed to catch the shuttle to concourse A. I'm thinking that once there, someone will be at A3 to advise the Syracuse Passengers of what choices were available to them due to the cancelled flight.

WRONG. We entered the world of choas! The throngs of displaced passengers from flights destined for ports all over the northeast were either milling about like sheep or dashing frantically from gate to gate trying to get on any flight that would get them closer to their intended destination.

The line to inquire at the A3 desk was fairly short (only 6 persons in front of me) but made snail movement seem lightening speed in comparison. Once my turn arrived (45 min.) I was told (mind you, the United personnel were as cordial as you could expect) that the next flight to syracuse, at 2155, was fully booked but she would put us on the waiting list if we wanted. She said we would be numbers 5 and 6. I asked what other options were available? She shrugged her shoulders and then said we could take the 1544 flight the next afternoon. So we asked to be put on the waiting list for the 2155 flight.

The customer service line was at least as long as an American football field. Easily, there were 150 to 200 people waiting in line to try to resolve there individual dilemas. It took 4 hours for the line to diminish to 20 people.

We did in fact get on the 2155 flight. We arrived in Syracuse at 2250. We waited in the luggage area (we had been assured in Washington that our luggage would be on this flight) for 30 minutes to come away empty handed. After filling out the forms to request our luggage be delivered to our home it was nearing 2400, and too late to do a 2 hour drive home.

We spent the night at the Airport hotel and drove home Frdiay morning. Our luggage was delivered at 1400 Friday.

When viewed through the retrospectoscope this incident was really nothing more than a inconvient bump in the road. My main irritation was that the airline was not prepared to handle this all too common , flight cancellation, occurence. I felt abandoned on the one hand and held hostage on the other. I work in a profession that requires me to fix misadventure instantly with no room for error. I expect the same from a corporation as huge as United. They wouldn't accept incompetence on my part and I don't suffer theirs gladly.

That's as much of a rant that you'll get from me today. And thank God they said. ;-)


Anonymous m said...

Sounds like an episode from that reality show The Amazing Race...

Airline flubs always seem less dramatic after they are over. In the moment, they are stressful!

I remember being in a crowd of people running through LAX to catch a plane when they gave us the wrong runway information.
I remember sitting in a "sardine can"(apt description) in Detroit once. It was summer, the air conditioning was off, something was delaying the flight..ugh...

Now I look back and think the airlines got us where we were going without a crash so I won't complain(well, not a lot...)

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds horrible actually. I hate crowds and that alone is enough to make me miserable. Add the bad service and thats a terrible recipe...

6:24 PM  
Blogger twitches said...

I freaking hate flying. This just confirms it. I hate anything that puts me at someone else's mercy. I'd rather float across the ocean in a lifeboat than deal with crap like this.

6:30 PM  
Blogger PEA said...

Like you said, it's a shame that such a big company like that don't seem prepared to handle cancellations...I would have been completely lost since I have only flown once and that was in the late 1980's so I almost need a stewardess to take care of me! lol Glad you got your luggage back, though!!

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luggage trouble, delayed flights, cancelled flights, flights brought forward. Yep, been there, done that! My sympathies...but at least you got home safely!

8:14 PM  
Blogger Rowan said...

Considering the somewhat cavalier attitude of the airline staff and the amount of waiting about that you did I find your attitude remarkably laid back. Glad your luggage arrived safely and hopefully you have relaxed by now and not been called out too much over the weekend.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Lady Lux said...

goodness...just reading about everything made me hear that boomerang of chaos...whew!

3:10 AM  

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