On Monday, March 14, 2011 I boarded United Airlines Flt #6540 departing at 0646 hrs from ICT to HNL routing through Denver and San Francisco. Our arrival in Den was early but we could not de-plane because the ground crew had not been scheduled for an early arrival.
As my connecting flight United #372 to SFO was not due to depart until 0855 hrs, I really had no concerns. An hour and 45 minutes later, a United Representative announced that my flight would be delayed 40 minutes, no reason given. When I informed her of my connecting flight United #75 departing at 1225 hrs PDT she assured me and others who had the same flight that we would make it. Thirty minutes (30) later she announced again that our flight would be delayed another 40 minutes and still no reason was given. I asked again about my connecting flight and if they would call ahead and was assured, again, that I would be on time for my flight because of the time change. What that had to do with anything escapes my mind.
We finally boarded the plane, which took some time, then had to wait in line for take-off. I asked and was told rudely that ground cover and storms in San Francisco was the reason for the delay, did I expect them to fly into that?
Upon arrival at SFO, I and others had to RUN to make it to the gate only to find that our flight had left 10 minutes ago. Hm, we couldn't fly into SF, but our flight could take off. Now I had to ask for another flight and was told by United Rep that the next flight was not until 1430 hrs PDT. I could be put on standby for that flight as it was booked full and a confirmed seat on the 1800 hr flight.
I asked if they would check with Continental as United and Continental were now "One?" She said no, they were all booked. I asked if any other Airlines had a flight going out earlier that 1630 hrs, and was told that "I" could check, but it was up to me, and I would have to pay for another ticket with no reimbursement. No help for me there.
So, not only did I have to wait over 2 hrs in Denver, now its 5 hrs in San Francisco terminal added to that had to buy something to eat (cost without tax $10.00) that I was expecting to have in Hawaii.
Many seats were empty on United Flt#77, so I and others waiting Standby were able to get on that one.
We arrived in HNL at 1930 hrs HPT (estimate) and as the rental car company had closed, I had to take a cab to the hotel which cost me another $36.
Now, would you think that that could happen twice in one round trip? What are the odds, 50 to 1, or maybe 100 to 1 or more? I was flying Continental home this time. I was going through Houston. Let me tell you, it does, more often than you think, more often than I thought.
I checked in on line and paid for one checked bag on line. Arriving at HNL Continental Rep (with an attitude) asked for my ticket. I said I checked in on line. I gave him my confirmation and bag and after checking he said that it was overweight and I would have to pay $100. I told him that I already paid on line and it was not overweight, to weigh it again. I was so mad with his surly attitude that I told him I wasn't paying for something that was was clearly underweight and he needed to go back to school to learn how to read a scale. With a glare at me, he tagged my bag and threw it on the belt. Luckily there was nothing in the bag that was breakable or there really would have been an incident.
Continental Flt#2 departing at 1920 hrs HST was late getting off the ground. I told the stewardess that my connecting flight in Houston was for 0900 hrs CDT and could they call ahead that this flight would be late. With a roll of her eyes (I do that with my grandkids so I know) she gives me the same answer as in Denver, that there is a time change. My response to her was that I don't know what clock she was working off of, but it has nothing to do with my flight leaving at 0900 hrs, for which she walked off in a huff.
The plane was so cold that even in a sweat jacket and jeans and the very thin blanket provided, my finger tips and feet were numb. My seat mate actually got up half way through the flight got his carry-on bag and put on his sweatsuit in the middle of the aisle, for which he was told he couldn't do that and he said, "watch me."
When asked several times if I could get a cup of coffee, was told that the other stewardess had the coffee. She was on the other aisle and when on my aisle, flew past so fast, I never got the coffee.
Cloud cover was so bad in Houston that the pilot had to land on the farthest runway and taxi to the terminal which took another half hour. Now its 15 minutes till 0900 hrs, and getting off the plane is a hassle and so is the terminal. I ran through terminal C to the tram to go to terminal B to gate 69. But too late, plane had left just minutes before.
Again had to talk to the Rep. They can't get me on a flight until 1430 hrs. and only on Standby although they can confirm for the 1830 hr flight, there is nothing in between. Asked about United, same response, booked full. Other Airlines? Check them yourself, I don't have time, can't you see I'm busy, that Hawaii flight screwed everything up she said. I was so mad, so tired and cold that I asked if there was anything going NORTH, a small plane, a wheel chair, a flying carpet? I was told I was rude and I could take my complaint to Customer Relations.
Could not get on the 1430 flight. the 1830 flight was at a different gate, so had to run there. Upon entering the gate area I noticed that the announcement at the gate said Flt 2336 to ICT was leaving at 1530 hrs. Talked to the Rep to see if I could get on that flight. He asked if i wanted a seat on that plane. I told him the other Rep didn't tell me about this one and one way or another I was going to be on that plane. Must have looked like a senior citizen on the edge. I thought my nightmare was over, but no, another delay, for maintenance problems. Boarded at 1600 hrs, took off at 1610 hrs and arrived at ICT at 1730 hrs.
In all my years (as I am over 65) United has been at the top of my list for flying anywhere, and yes, I have flown the competition on the odd occasion, but I have never, never experienced the delays, the rudeness and attitude toward customers as I have on this trip, and at one point, I thought it was me, but looking around, everyone was experiencing the same thing. Only one person was willing to put the customer first.
The flight scheduling is appalling. There is no time to get from one concourse to another, even for someone younger than me, and God forbid Mother Nature screw up the schedule, or the plane has a maintenance issue. The cabin is too cold to be comfortable, the seats are so narrow that you're practically sitting in the other persons lap. I don't like to get that up close and personal with a stranger. To get up for any reason you have to be a contortionist.
I know some of you have flown your own company. You know how uncomfortable it is, you know that in your trips you've been delayed, missed flights, were late or even missed important events. Do you just throw up your hands and say, "Well, thats the price you pay to fly?" No it isn't!!!
I remember when it was a joy to fly with United, when the service excelled over others, when you had legroom and the seats were not so small, the meals came with your flight and your people treated customers with the respect they deserve.
I am one of the millions of "baby boomers" who spend 76% of our savings and yes, social security on travel, of which most of that goes to the airlines. I am one of the millions of customers who travel for pleasure or business. I am also a dissatisfied angry individual.
This may end up in file 13. At least it is a complaint well deserved.
Mr. Smikas, I will take your advice and if and when I fly, I'll try other carriers until I find one that will give me the respect as a customer that I deserve. Should I fail, it would be through no fault of my own.