Posts Tagged ‘United Airlines sucks’

‘This customer needs service’

April 11, 2017

A United customer-service agent faced with an overbooking situation prepares to “re-accommodate” a passenger.

Not content to settle for losing/destroying its passengers’ luggage, delaying/canceling their flights, or simply leaving them stranded well short of their “final destination,” United has taken customer service to a whole new level undreamed of by Samsung, Comcast or your friendly local DMV:

Just kick the shit out of the troublesome sonsabitches.

C’mon. You knew it was coming. United specializes in employing the unemployable, the sort of authority-mad misfit who can’t make it as a mall cop, Klan enforcer, or presidential press secretary.

Sooner or later one of United’s goons was going to segue from daydreaming of the good old days euthanizing puppies in Leach Field, Alabama, to siccing the dogs on some passenger who not only didn’t want to get boned, but wouldn’t even pull his pants down on command.

As usual, this pissy attitude trickles down from the top. CEO Oscar Munoz should be sentenced to flying coach for a few years to see how long it takes him to become “disruptive and belligerent,” and if he were to be “re-accommodated” by a size-13 boot to the balls, well, I don’t expect many United customers would shed a tear.

But y’know what? Fuck us and what we think. United stock actually closed up after all this bad noise. America’s commercial airlines are enjoying record profits (United made $2.3 billion in profits last year). Overbooking flights pays off.

So shuddup, siddown and enjoy our in-flight entertainment: a gladiatorial match featuring four passengers selected at random. If you’re lucky, we won’t “re-accommodate” you at our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet, the way we just did your luggage.

For everything there is a season

January 28, 2014

Herself almost made it home last night, if you will concede that Denver International Airport qualifies as “almost home.”

The weather was moderately evil, and Herself’s flight from Chicago to Bibleburg was rerouted to Denver, a change of schedule about which I was blissfully ignorant until hanging a left off Powers onto the airport road after a very slow drive on icy, snow-covered streets.

“Where are you?” asks Herself, and I figure I’m about to get an earful for being late picking her up.

“Coming up on the airport,” sez I. “Where are you?”

“In Denver,” sez she.

And that’s the way things stayed. I hung out in the cellphone lot for an hour or so, waiting to see if the situation would resolve itself. United was waffling on whether the 15-minute flight was go or no-go, saying the Bibleburg airport was closed (the airport’s website proved useless on the iPhone, The Gazette had nothing about it, and I was feeling cantankerous and forbade myself to investigate in person).

Anyway, long story short, I motored back to Chez Dog to await instructions, United finally canceled that DIA-COS flight altogether, and I arranged a hotel room for Herself, who — having been scheduled to touch down in Bibleburg at 8:03 p.m. Monday — finally hit the hay at two-ish Tuesday in Saudi Aurora. Now she’s due in at 3:15 this afternoon. So it goes.

While awaiting dispatches from the front I learned of Pete Seeger’s passing, and this morning, in his honor, I decided not to go a-tilting at the windmills of customer service. It was late, the weather sucked, and the harried minions who seem like knee-jerk shitheels at first glance are just working stiffs, like us. They probably don’t like being United employees any more than we like being United customers.

Pete, that unreconstructed old commie, would have sung them a song.


• “Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it To Surrender,” John Nichols, The Nation

• “R.I.P., Pete Seeger,” Charles P. Pierce, The Politics Blog

• “Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94,” Jon Pareles, The New York Times

• “I simply wanted him to know that I loved him dearly,” Arlo Guthrie

Nothing out of the ORDinary

January 27, 2014

united-flightYou know you’re fucked when United gives you an estimated date for your flight home.

Herself is wheels up, jetting from Philly to Bibleburg via Chicago’s O’Hell International Campground, and on a whim I checked her flight status on the United website. The result of my inquiry is posted above. Seems the Soviet-surplus Aeroflot PS-84 inbound from Duluth ran out of bathtub vodka (for either the windshield washers or the flight crew) and is at least 90 minutes behind schedule.

A charging station in O'Hell. Has USB and everything. Hi, Uncle Sammy, it's your trusty taxpayer Herself, just keeping the iPad full of electrons.

A charging station in O’Hell. Has USB and everything. Hi, Uncle Sammy, it’s your trusty taxpayer Herself, just keeping the iPad full of electrons.

Happily, knowing through bitter experience that O’Hell is the aviation equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle (or perhaps the Hotel California), Herself has all her must-have items in her carry-on bag in case she has to kip in a plastic chair at Mickey D’s.

When reached for comment, Herself replied succinctly, “Shit.”

On the bright side, O’Hell apparently has these nifty little charging stations to keep one’s personal electronics ticking along like Chinese watches. All the better for the NSA to keep its files up to date, don’t you know.

• Late update: Well, she got onto that delayed flight, but now the Bibleburg airport is closed due to inclement weather and the sucker was rerouted to DIA. And after such a fun drive too. Funny, everything seemed to be on schedule right before I left Rancho del Perro Loco. The guy with the shovel must’ve knocked off early.

• Extremely late update: After dithering a bit, and herding people off and on and off the plane, United finally canceled Herself’s flight from DIA to Bibleburg, leaving her stuck at DIA around midnight, and from the sound of it their minions were none too helpful in (a) booking a Tuesday flight or (2) helping her find a place to lay her head for the evening. I may have to shout at some folks.

United sucks (No. 162,376,201 in a series)

October 9, 2012
Lost: The Story of Flight 1200

The United Airlines flight that vanished without a trace. We were told Herself was booked on this one, but subsequent inquiry revealed that UA, as usual, was completely full of shit.

If humans were meant to fly, we would have wings, plus pouches for carrying those itty-bitty bottles of in-flight hooch.

And thus we would have even less use for United Airlines, which yesterday managed to disrupt the travel plans of yet another O’Grady. Back in March the bastards got me, but this time they discomfited Herself, who managed to fly all the way from Kailua-Kona to Honolulu despite having booked a flight to Bibleburg via Los Angeles. (Editor’s note: They got her in March 2007, too.)

Pigasus, circa 2007

I Photoshopped this image after Herself took a beating from United in 2007, en route from Bibleburg to Knoxville, Tennessee.

I can’t fault United for the original problem, some class of mechanical that required diversion to Honolulu for repairs.

I can and do fault the anonymous fuckwit in Honolulu who told Herself that she had been rebooked onto a flight leaving at 11 a.m. local time Tuesday — a flight that vanished mysteriously shortly after I confirmed this reservation with United customer service, which as you will recall is operated out of Spaminacanistan, Lower Intestinopolis, or some other exotic locale in which the native tongue is Squinch and the English competency limited to the phrase “I am sorry for the inconvenience, sir.”

During a follow-up call I was told that Herself had in fact been rebooked on a flight due to leave not at 11 a.m., but at 7 a.m. By this time, of course, there was no way she could make it a few hours earlier United had shipped her off to a hotel 10 miles from the airport and that 7 o’clock bird was practically taxiing as customer service and I chatted so enjoyably at the top of my lungs.

We discussed a variety of alternatives, some merely whimsical, others outrageous and physically improbable, to say nothing of deleterious to various internal organs should one prove successful, before I finally got Herself a seat on a 7:28 p.m. flight that should put her in Houston — Houston! — around 8:13 a.m. on Wednesday, and have her home by 10:40 a.m., a mere 24 hours behind schedule.

It goes without saying that Big Tex could have triathloned it faster. But then Herself gets around and about on nothing stronger than the occasional beer or glass of wine.

And of course, if you’re to be stranded somewhere, there are worse places than a Waikiki Beach Marriott. And I plan to suggest that United customer service go there directly, just as soon as Herself has the wheels down in Bibleburg.

• Late update: After double-checking the latest arrangements, I found that thanks to a late incoming plane out of San Francisco, Herself was now looking at a 90-minute delay exiting Honolulu. This meant she would miss her connector from Houston to Bibleburg and would have a tough time beating Jesus here, even if she drafted Big Tex. After a little more rooting around online I found a late-night Honolulu-Denver-Bibleburg deal, but trying to book it over the phone as The Boss cabbed it to the airport proved impossible (“I am sorry for the inconvenience, sir. …”). And thus I threw up my hands, told Herself to get a chokehold on the first English-speaking United agent she found in corpus and book that fucking flight. And lo and behold: The agent was helpful, if slightly uninformed, and once she had the 411 she even laid an aisle seat on Herself without any pressure applied to her carotid artery.

Get your kicks on Route 666

March 2, 2012

Until yesterday, I was congratulating myself on a rare bit of frugality, having chosen to fly to Sacramento for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show instead of driving.

Gas prices were on the rise again, and motels never get any cheaper, so when I weighed the costs and benefits of a six-day road trip versus a quick flyby, the flyby won in a walk.

Until yesterday, that is. Now I’m down $342.10 and never got closer to the Sacramento Convention Center than Concourse B at Denver International Airport.

The first bump in my aerial Route 666 came when my 9:53 a.m. flight out of Bibleburg was delayed. The plane was undergoing “a test flight,” we were told, and after it finally arrived and we boarded, it sat on the deck for a spell while the crew awaited paperwork. The original departure time had left a comfortable margin for me to catch the 11:28 a.m. flight to Sacto, but the delay gobbled that up and then some, and my bird was long gone by the time I’d legged it from gate B50-something to B28.

No worries. A gate agent booked me onto a later flight — four hours later — and I whiled away the time wandering Concourse B and inspecting my fellow travelers, a joyous throng that reminded me of Russians queuing up for bread and vodka in the old Soviet Union, Germans trundling wheelbarrows full of marks to a Weimar Republic café, or Americans camping out for cheap shit from China on Black Friday.

I overheard muttered conversations about canceled flights, missed connections, and various other tales of woe, so I started checking the board now and then. Sure enough, lots of time changes, gate changes, flights vanishing right off the board, you name it. Gate agents pitched like carny barkers, announcing that their flight of the moment was “in an overbooked situation” and soliciting volunteers to lay down their seats that their brethren and sistren might fly, offering the less-than-powerful inducement of a $400 travel credit good for getting boned up the ass the next time they dare to set foot in a United concourse.

My own flight, slated for 3:30, got bumped to 3:50, then 4:15, and finally 4:50 before being canceled altogether. We never got a straight answer as to why from the gate agent, who took to hiding in the jetway after mumbling something about unspecified mechanical issues involving “a couple of valves” that needed replacing.

What the hell? I thought. These things aren’t coming in to disgorge one load of passengers and take on another, they’re fucking pitting with oil leaks, thrown rods, their bits coming off in turn three and black smoke belching out from under the hood.

We of the late, lamented Flight 6392 trudged a kilometer or so to customer service, where several computers appeared to be down for maintenance and only three United types stood ready to handle the deluge. One spent a fair amount of time teaching another how to operate her terminal.

I was somewhere in the top 20, line-wise, and I was overhearing discouraging talk like “I can get you on standby at dark-thirty,” “So we’re talking about flying to LA, then to San Francisco, and then to Sacramento?” and “Bob, how do I get the right screen on my terminal thingie? Do I type ‘2’?”

It was at that moment that I lost all faith in United’s ability to get me to Sacramento before the NAHBS closed. Hell, they’d barely been able to get me to DIA. So I told them to stuff me into the nearest pressurized aluminum tube full of opportunistic infections bound for Bibleburg and finally got out the hell out of Denver (an hour later than advertised, surprise surprise).

I’d heard about the bomb threat, of course. But that was early in the morning, before I ever arrived at the Bibleburg airport, and I wasn’t about to question anyone on that topic. Say “bomb threat” in an airport and about 30 seconds later you’re assuming the position in some windowless concrete room with your pants around your ankles and an overexcited TSA flunky taking the scenic route toward inspecting your fillings with a bullet-nosed Ray-O-Vac. (Incidentally, the scariest thing about that Denver Post story is its final sentence: “All airport operations are normal.”)

The weather didn’t seem to be the culprit, either. Not in my case, anyway. The only weather-related issues I heard about involved flights to Colorado mountain towns. No, mechanicals had been the order of my day — planes that needed test flights, valve jobs, a quick wing transplant, whatever.

This was central to my thesis that I was due a refund for my troubles when I spoke with United via the Subcontinent this morning.

“If you folks would just get the oil changed every three months and rotate the tires per your owner’s manual working journalists would be able to jet hither and yon suffering neither hindrance nor let,” I said, or something very much like that. “Give me my money back and we’ll put our long national nightmare behind us.”

Nope, said United, countering that they had successfully flown me from Bibleburg to DIA and back and offering a miserly $158.60 in recompense for not getting me to what flight attendants call, ominously, my “final destination.”

No shit. $158.60. I spent $342.10 to fly to Denver and back, a trip I could cover via Air Subaru for a half tank of gas. Call it $20. And I didn’t even want to go there.

It all makes a guy long for the day when we can travel via transporter a la “Star Trek.” Let’s just hope United doesn’t get a monopoly on that action. Step onto the platform with Chekov, Jakov or Fukov at the controls and you’d never know whether you’d be leaving your heart in San Francisco or sending it to Jesus.

Your ass, of course, would belong to United.

From here to there and back again

March 1, 2012

Twelve hours after I left home and hearth, sallying forth in the service of bicycle journalism, I found myself back at the ranch, cracking the first of what would be more than one bottle of Odell’s 5 Barrel Pale Ale and speaking in a tone and volume that startled the dog, although the cats are used to it.

It’s all of 85 miles from here to Denver International Airport, a distance I once routinely covered via bicycle, and that’s as far as United Airlines got me today before I finally told them, “Piss on the fire and call in the dogs, I’ve had the course.” Not even bicycle racers can make this many excuses for failure. Call it the Tour of Concourse B.

Had I been flying Air Subaru I’d have made Flagstaff in about the same time as it took to fly from Bibleburg to Mile High and back again (total air time: 40 minutes tops). I could have enjoyed a Hopshot IPA at the Beaver Street Brewing Company, hit the sack, then arisen early and motored to Sacramento for a glass of Thunderhead IPA at Pyramid Breweries. But nooo. …

More tomorrow, once I calm down. We must think of the animals.