Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Perils of Modern Air Travel - Part VI

Ok this is a complaint. After a very nice conference in Seattle, the uneven transition caused by the merger between Continental & United reminded me of the reality of the perils of modern corporate air travel.

I had booked a direct flight from Seattle to Washington-Dulles. So I dutifully get up at 4 am and get myself to the airport. About the time that the flight should be boarding there was an announcement that the flight had been cancelled.

Apparently the United Airlines "policy" (and yes this was in 2012!) for cancelled flights is something akin to the "survival of the fittest." That is, those with the best footspeed get the best deal. (I may have quick reflexes, but footspeed isn't my thing.) Not ready to be defeated, I warmed up my Blackberry and utilized the Google. After a 25 minute wait, I got a fellow at the United 800 number who was not a student of US geography. He said are you leaving Washington or travelling to Washington? I said yes.

Then he placed me on two US Airways flights- the first to Phoenix and the second to Reagan/National. I took the tram to the other end of the SEATAC airport. After I stood in the line at the US Air gate for about ten minutes, the agent asked if anybody was from the ill-fated United flight to Dulles and about half of us admitted to this offense. The agent said go tell United that they had said we didn't want any of "you people" and in any event the flight to Phoenix was also cancelled. She also advised us to leave the secure area and go to the United counter. This sounded wrong so I returned to the original United customer service area.

There the least fleet of foot were still waiting, and I joined them now at the end of the line. I was re-ticketed on a standby basis through Chicago O'Hare. The flight was full but I made it on the plane.

I had an email from United when I landed that the flight from Chicago to Dulles would be an hour late and land at Dulles at 1:30 am. Right now the flight is an hour and a half late and counting. I love Chicago but this is ridicules.

Three employees, a pilot and two gate agents, confided in me that they feel that the merger between United and Continental is causing some problems. I agree. Enough is too much!

Safe travels everybody, and good night!
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

1 comment:

  1. That trips over the border of reality into the genuinely ridiculous. Footspeed determines your fare in light of a cancellation? That’s their system? Whoever can reach the counter first? Other public service institutions might as well adopt such a policy as well.

    As for an understanding of geography, nothing surprises me anymore. My mom was a travel agent for years after high school, and every week, she'd get a cruise, airline or hotel agent asking what part of Canada is Vermont in. I always thought she was exaggerating until I uploaded a app yesterday and it listed my hometown as being in Vermont, Canada.