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United gone wrong, SFO-DAB

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  • United gone wrong, SFO-DAB

    Ok, so I haven't posted on here for a while, and I know many will overlook this because of the lack of pictures, but I had to vent my frustrations somewhere and let people know how United has deteriorated since it's merger.
    So the background of this report:
    My family had a long planned vacation, which was much looked forward too because it is VERY rare that we are all able to take time off at the same time, with my youngest son & daughter getting time of high school and my oldest daughter getting off of college, it was nice to be able to plan a vacation all together for the first time for what seemed like an eternity.
    About 2 weeks before we were going, I got a call saying I had to be in San Francisco 2 days before, this p*ssed off the wife because it was cutting it pretty short with the vacation which we had planned.
    So i'll just get to it.

    Airline: United Airlines
    Route: San Francisco to Washington Dulles
    Flight Number: 633
    Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
    Scheduled Departure Time: 22:14pm
    Actual Departure Time: 00:25am +1
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 06:15am +1
    Actual Arrival Time: 08:33am +1
    Seat: 33F
    Class: Economy/Coach

    Ok, so I finished my meeting at around 5:30pm that evening, and just jumped in a cab straight to the airport. I arrived at SFO at around 7:15pm, jumped out of the cab, skipped happily into the terminal as I was on my way home, sliding doors open, BOOM. Queues EVERYWHERE, people EVERYWHERE, chaos. I looked at the board, one flight was cancelled and thats it, so I was a little confused as to what all the fuss is about. Nothing wrong with the systems or check-in, so it just looked like un-organized chaos for no apparent reason.
    I joined the back of a queue, and queued for around 40 minutes before I got to the front. The check-in agent said my booking, which was originally for Economy Plus was overbooked and I had been pushed down to Y. I politely enquired why, this has happened before, and sh*t happens so I wasn't to bothered, and she snaps back at me with a "Asking all these questions aren't going to get you upgraded so take it or leave it".
    From here, the whole mood and feel of the trip changed.
    I felt like I wanted to argue back, wrong I know, she was having a bad day clearly. But I fought the urges, and I avoided the usual questions I ask like if a window seat was available or what aircraft we are on.
    Luckily she had given me a window seat anyway.
    As I walked away, I stood next to the desk as I collected my belongings and stuffed them into my carry-on, as I was doing so, I saw the check-in I was with (who must have been with United during their glory days), bust our into a full blown argument with a family who were behind me in the queue. I couldn't quite believe it. Well I could, it's United.
    I proceeded to security where the queues were NOTHING, literally only 4 or 5 people, I didn't really know what was happening to the hundreds of people at check-in and where they were disappearing off too.
    Anyway, security was a breeze and I headed into the departure lounge, which was full, and I squeezed into a seat between 2 huge women, who combined probably weighed more than an A318. One kept looking over my shoulder as I was using my phone, which yeah it quite annoying.
    At around 9:15pm I checked the boards and headed to gate 86, where many passengers were already sitting. At around 10pm, we still hadn't boarded, and the lone gate agent was useless with her "dunno" to every question asked, even "When is boarding going to start" was answered with a simple "dunno". At around 10:30pm, the aircraft at the gate pushed back, and left without any further notice, raising eyebrows among the other passengers.
    About 15 minutes later, the gate agent left, without a word, the airbridge door shut, no sign of anything.
    Some passengers started to wonder off, when suddenly at around 11:25pm, an announcement for Passengers on United 633 to please proceed to 90.
    A mad rush of people trying to get to the gate, not helped by a completely un-organized boarding process made for chaos. First class passengers were pushed out of the way by Coach passengers, the passengers who had wondered off were nowhere to be seen, one lone gate agent was trying to board the flight and control the entire process.
    All of a sudden, a large group of passengers, must have been around 9 or 10 of them came out of nowhere and pushed to the front. I didn't see what happened but this was followed by shouting, and one of them being pushed backwards and falling over a row of seats.
    Boarding was then stopped, the queue of people who has already boarded still in the jetway because the crew were not yet ready, the queue of people behind me who had waited without a fuss for the last 30 minutes, and the people in front who were trying to get the queue back into an orderly fashion.
    This was like a comedy show skit, it was quite surreal.
    The guy who was pushed and his group then snuck away to the back, and boarding continued.
    I eventually got into the airbridge to board at midnight as part of the final group of people to board. The crew did not seem happy at all, the male F/A at the door was not checking boarding passes, more just giving a blank stare to each individual passengers followed by a welcome.
    I walked on, and took my seat at row 33. I knew in the back of my head that I was going to miss my connection, by this time we were almost 2 hours late, and my connection time in was only 1 hour 45. The crew were rude and blunt to many of the passengers who boarded late. The crew were the old stern types United have, and the purser I have seen MANY times before is one of the less-friendly in the skies. We pushed back, and taxied to the runway. The crew stopped the safety demonstration to quite literally, shout in the faces of some passengers for interrupting.
    We blasted off from the runway, hit a little turbulence as we climbed up and said goodbye to the city lights of California.
    The flight seemed to be full, and the 2 people next to me had both fallen asleep. An older lady in the seat across the aisle, 33C, had opened a bottle of water almost at exactly the same time as we hit some rough air, spilling it.
    Well, she might as well have stood up and said she had a bomb.
    2 flight attendants were onto her like a shot, she is this and she is that, she even apologised and they said "well it's a bit late for that now".
    THEY WENT TO THE BACK OF THE AIRCRAFT, AND POURED A SALTY/SAND TYPE THING ON IT TO SOAK IT UP. Quality United over-reaction right there, for a 1cm x 0.5cm puddle of water
    Once the f/a's had gone, the old lady was laughing, and had a look on her face like she had just been shouted at by a teacher and found it funny, a few passengers asked if she was ok and of course, she was
    The cabin fell into complete silence when the crew started their first beverage service. They were pushing the cart at an unusually high speed through the cabin, as if they were hoping they would go past people before they could stop them. They wouldn't beat my lightening fast 2am reactions, and I was greeted with a friendly URGH from one F/A and a tut from the other, and I asked for a coffee, which she handed to me, followed by one of those things with sugar and a stirrer in, dumped a napkin on top and off she went like a damn NASCAR driver.
    I watched a few episodes of new Two and a Half men on my iPad, got some work done on my mac and soon enough the sun was rising again. I also noted, after the first service I didn't see the crew for the rest of the night, no more beverages, no BOB, and no duty free, which I found unusual.
    Passengers around the plane began to awake, and the crew started another beverage service, this time 2 different F/A's, who actually served each individual passengers instead of waiting to be stopped by someone.
    I got an Orange Juice, by this time I was starved, and I knew the wife wasn't going to be too happy about the fact I wont be home today, baring in mind we were going on vacation TOMORROW.
    We started our descent, and before we knew it we were on the ground in IAD.
    We were welcomed, updated on the local time, and within a few minutes were on the stand. We disembarked, and I exited into the terminal.
    At this moment in time, taking into account I was very tired, I stood in the terminal just outside the airbridge entrance, and just stodd staring into space for a good 2 minutes before I snapped back into the real world. I just completely zoned out, I didn't really know what was happening, where im going next etc.
    I called my wife telling her my flight was late and missed the connection, and she told me my daughter, who was coming from UTenn, had missed her flight in Knoxville too. So, a great start to the vacation so far.
    Anyway, I headed to the United desk, where the queue was beyond ridiculous, and stood there for about 25 minutes before being served.
    I enquired about getting back to DAB as I missed my flight, through no fault of my own, and the reply I got was a simple "Theres nothing we can do sorry".
    I have been a MileagePlus member for years, I have racked up tens of thousands of miles, and the one time all of that should come into consideration, i'm told they wont get me home.
    This time I argued back, and she was insistant on the fact she cant do anything for me, as the flight to Charlotte had already departed, and the others were full.
    After 15 minutes of arguing, a supervisor came.
    The supervisor was equally as unhelpful, and told me she would put me on standby for the 4:46pm flight to Charlotte, but by that time the last flight to Daytona Beach would have left, so that was pointless.
    I asked if I could connect in LGA or anywhere to get there.
    The reply was a simple no.
    I left the desk, and joined the queue again, and got a different person, this time, a male agent, who told me he could transfer me to the noon flight to EWR, and from there I could connect to CLT. I thanked him greatly, and moved on.
    I headed to the United Club for the duration of the wait, grabbed some free food and a coffee, and then headed to the gate.

    Airline: United Express, Operated by ExpressJet
    Route: Washington Dulles to Newark Liberty
    Flight Number: UA3841
    Scheduled Departure Time: 12:16pm
    Actual Departure Time: 12:30pm
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 14:39pm
    Actual Arrival Time: 15:00pm
    Aircraft: Embraer 145
    Seat: 6C
    Class: Economy/Coach

    Got to the gate around 11:40, and started boarding straight away, again, a quite unorganized boarding process, but not too bad as the flight was almost empty.
    I was greeted on by a friendly old lady, and took my seat.
    I started to relax again now, I knew I would be home by tonight, and tomorrows vacation would not be spoilt. The doors shut, and we pushed back from the gate.
    We got airborne, but due to turbulence there was no beverage service on board.
    The flight was really uneventful and there was nothing for me to rant about on this one :P
    We landed and taxied to the gate.
    I disembarked, and headed to my connecting flight.
    When I got to the gate for the flight to Charlotte, which was also operated by Expressjet, I checked the standby list and didn't see my name on there.
    I enquired with the gate agent, and she said she would check for me. She informed me it was only her first week on the job so I should bare with her.
    She returned 5 minutes later, and said that my name was not on the passenger or standby list, and the flight was way overbooked, so full-fare paying passengers were being given priority.
    She said she would add my name to the standby list, but that I should go to the United desk to confirm this.
    I thanked her, then headed to the desk.
    When I got to the desk, this bossy old b*tch at the desk kept telling me that it was a pointless waste of time, and that I was wasting not just mine, but her time by trying to get onto the flight on the standby list.
    She refused to check if I was on, and told me my requests were "Myopic".
    This turned into a full blown argument, and ended up in 2 Port Authority police coming to calm the situation down, obviously, I duly agreed to walk away and got talking to the 2 police officers. They explained that there have been several incidents involving the same desk this week with people exploding into a rage.
    They came with me to the gate, where the flight was boarding, I told them of my situation, and they wished me the best of luck, wished me a good vacation before leaving to deal with more annoyed travellers.
    As boarding started to finish, the standby list started to shorten as people were given a seat.
    Unfortunately, I was not, and the full-fare paying customers are obviously more valuable to the company than the people who have been loyal for 15+ years.
    Anyway, again, I was stumped on what to do.
    I headed over to the desk again, served by a different assistant, who told me that I wouldn't be able to make it to Charlotte tonight as all flights were fully booked, and there were no flights to DAB from CLT even if I were to make it today.
    I asked if there were flights available to Atlanta, which they were, but at a fee of $250.
    I refused to pay that much, and I was furious that United wouldn't allow me to use miles which I had saved up for this exact kind of situation.
    So after much consideration, I headed over to the Delta desk, and asked if I would be able to make it to Daytona Beach by tonight, they said yes, for $380.
    Extortionate prices for a problem which could have been solved in Washington.
    I called my daughter, and her phone was busy, so I assumed she was airborne, so I called my wife who confirmed it. I told her I probably won't be home by the end of the night and would probably be home in the morning.
    This didn't go down to well, and the fact it was not my fault didn't seem to get through.
    I sat in the terminal, and I didn't really know what to do, I just people watched while I thought things through.
    There were some United flight crew walking through the terminal, and when a young boy went to ask one of them something they snapped at him with a "What do you want".
    While I was thinking things over, someone came up to me and kept repeating "Sir, Sir, Sir???"
    It was the gate agent who had put me on the standby list, she told me to follow her to the desk and she would help get me home.
    I was thinking is this actually real? United want to help me??
    She took me over and said "You're destination is Daytona Beach right?"
    I said yes, and she did a little searching
    She confirmed what I assumed, that no flights were available, she said I can go to Charlotte but by the time I get there the last DAB flight would have departed.
    She said she will check with other airlines if that would be OK with me.
    I said anything to get back by tonight, and she disappeared to check.
    While she was gone, about 60 people came to the desk, a flight to Houston had been cancelled, and it seemed the majority of the passengers were coming to the desk and were willing to push in front.
    When the girl came back, she seemed overwhelmed by the amount of people shouting at her, asking for flights, even swearing at her for the technical fault which kept the plane back in Seattle.
    Have to give her alot of credit, she did very well in controlling the situation, and she managed to help about 15 people before more people came to assist her, and this was her first week on the job too
    A little later, she apologised quite sincerely, and said she had flights for me but lost them.
    By this time it's around 4:25pm.
    She said she could offer me flights to Orlando which was the next closest airport, and I would get there by midnight. She said it involved US Airways flight to Charlotte and Atlanta then connecting onto Air Tran to Orlando.
    She then offered me a flight on Delta, changing in Atlanta and going to Daytona Beach, but it would be risky as it's full and I would be on standby.
    So I had the dilemma of definitely getting into Orlando, or risking to get into Daytona Beach and possibly not getting home. She allowed me 10 minutes to think it over.
    I called my wife, and she said it was up to me, not helping the situation at all.
    So I chose to risk it with the Delta flight.
    The young girl, gave me a number and a code, and said if anything goes wrong, I should ring it, and it would sort it out for me.
    I made sure I got her name, so I could write in a good word for her, if you're ever flying through Newark on United, look out for a young college aged girl called Madison!

    So here goes the last part home:
    Airline: Delta
    Route: Newark Liberty to Atlanta
    Flight Number: 2042
    Scheduled Departure Time: 17:10
    Actual Departure Time: 17:35
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 19:34
    Actual Arrival Time: 20:03
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-700
    Seat: 23A
    Class: Economy

    I headed to the gate, and found out I had infact got a seat on the flight which I was delighted about.
    Boarding had already started, and I took my seat on the half empty plane.
    The doors shut and the safety demo started on the TV Screens, it's quite funny the new Delta IFS Video.
    We stayed still for about 15 minutes on the taxiway before we took off, im guessing due to congestion.
    We were airborne soon enough, and the crew were quickly round with the first beverage and snack service.
    I got a coffee and some peanuts.
    I purchased in flight wi-fi and caught up on some final bits of work before we landed in Atlanta.
    The flight again was uneventful and we landed a little late in Atlanta.
    I said goodbye to the crew and headed to the next flight, which already had been specified a gate.

    Airline: Delta
    Route: Atlanta to Daytona Beach
    Flight Number: 679
    Scheduled Departure Time: 20:44
    Actual Departure Time: 21:05
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 22:07
    Actual Arrival Time: 22:16
    Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
    Seat: 4A
    Class: First

    I arrived at the gate where boarding was again already in process, I didn't see my name on the standby list and enquired.
    The man politely replied because I had been given a seat already, he printed off a boarding pass and told me I had been upgraded to first!!
    I was quite shocked, and I thanked him and boarded the aircraft.
    I took my seat in 4A, which was large and comfortable, and came with a much needed bottle of water on each seat.
    The power outlet in between the seat was perfect, as I needed to charge my phone desperately.
    The coach section of the aircraft seemed nearly empty. I downed the water in one, and settled into the unusually comfortable seat for the flight.
    The safety demonstration played on the screen in front, and we pushed back from the gate a little late.
    We taxied to the runway and blasted off from the runway.
    Shortly after take off, the flight attendant offered us snacks and beverages.
    I got a water, sun chips and a toblerone, which went down nicely.
    Before we knew it, the aircraft was on it's way down to earth, with the lights of the coast getting closer as we followed the coast down towards Daytona.
    We made a left turn, and seemed to go out to sea before coming back over land to touchdown.
    Touchdown was smooth, and we braked heavily before turning off the runway at a high speed. We taxied to the gate and disembarked. Luckily, I had no bag, as if i did it would have almost certainly got lost.
    So I headed straight through to my car and headed home to get a good nights sleep for the long journey tomorrow.
    I may or may not post about the vacation.
    Overall, I HIGHLY rate Delta and their product. I also have to say that the gate agent in Newark is one of the best i've ever met.
    I am hugely disappointed with United and their customer service. I dont think I will be using them much anymore other than to waste my collected miles.

    Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my ranting.

  • #2
    Out of curiosity, why not just book Delta SFO-ATL-DAB? A lot less to go wrong with two flights rather than four. Alternatively, why not book UA SFO-IAD-JAX or SFO-IAD-MCO? Either one is close enough to DAB.

    In fact, there appears to even be a direct SFO-MCO on UAL.