Shame On You United

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Sep 21, 2016
1
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#1
Air travel is a part of the modern world that will never cease to amaze me. World travel is truly addictive. While I don't fly once or twice a week for work like the die-hards, I still get around. With three homes and the bug to “go”, it is inevitable. With that said, I've logged my share of miles, and have been around the world a time or two. Of all my flights I can only recall three harrowing journeys. Sadly they were all on United.


#1: December 24, 2012 Singapore to Hong Kong


I'll start with the scary one. Not considered a delicate flyer, I can take some bumps and weather, and even an occasional lightning strike. Flying into Denver? No prob. Spilled drinks while transitioning from the mountains into the hot Vegas valley? Bring it. No need for hand holding from this gal. But when 30 minutes into the flight there is a harrowing screech beckoning earplugs, followed by the smell of burnt plastic as the crew scurries down the aisles with furrowed brows, my nerves get a bit shattered.


The event took place on a United flight from Singapore to Hong Kong. I was in the middle of the plane so could not look out but, people were sitting upright, looking afright, and one sweet little lady at the window actually looked at me frantically, then quickly shut her window shade! What does that mean I fretted!!??


The captain came on and quickly said "remain in your seat with your seatbelt fastened!" The crew paced up and down the aisles and repeatedly looked out the windows. The sound remained approximately five minutes, the smell lingered, and we all waited in anticipation. Then suddenly all was calm. Eerily it sounded as though the engines shut off and that we were possibly about to float humbly to our final abyss. Not a word was said for the remainder of the 3 ½ hour flight, however, in thirty minutes time when the seatbelt sign went off, I humbly took myself to the toilet and had a nice cry.


As people disembarked and stood in the customs line they spoke passionately about the encounter. The sound. The smell. The eerie silence. And the fact that the crew never came on to calm our fears or give an explanation. There was rumor of an "air system malfunction". All I know is that when the crew looks worried.... I'm worried. And the crew looked worried! I have never been so happy to remove myself from a plane.


Being that it was Christmas Eve, it took the jolly out of my Ho Ho Ho. And it would have made me feel especially guilty to my children had the plane gone down. (Not that the date is any fault of United, but worth a mention.)


#2: May 12, 2014, Flight 315 Sacramento to Washington, D.C.


In May of 2014 I was fortunate enough (questionable analogy) to participate in a junior high Washington, D.C. trip with my daughter. We embarked on our journey from Northern California one and a half hours from the closest airport. Because it is a whirlwind adventure, we had to meet at the school at 2:15am for a 6am flight. The itinerary includes getting to the east coast late afternoon in time for dinner and a Williamsburg haunted tour. Upon arrival at the airport United informed us that the night before they brought in a smaller plane so half of our group was 'bumped'. All or half was meaningless at this point because the tour company would not allow us to split up. The “lucky boot” folk got a $200 voucher (that 90% assuredly went unused since these are people that rarely or never travel) and the other half, well, just got the boot! To remedy our situation United was kind enough to transfer us by bus to another airport 2 hours away and put us on a redeye. But don't fret. The kids got an $8 airport food voucher to get them through. We ended up at our final destination hotel at 4am east coast time. $8 pays for a bag of chips and a soda in the airport (if you add a buck or two), but one could say that is typical junior high fare so I will not digress.


Arriving at 4am isn't too bad if you don't have to be at breakfast at 5:45. Many kids didn't sleep for two and three days due to this snafu. I'm not sure if I can totally blame one party because I feel the tour company should have tried harder to get our group of 30 to DC in a more timely fashion. We paid an exorbitant amount and didn't get reimbursed for what we lost. But shame on United.


To top it off, the supervising teacher was a right snag (no fault of United, but worth an honorable mention).


#3: June 28th to 27th, 2016, Flights 876 and 394 Tokyo to Las Vegas


The planning of an overseas journey can be a tedious task. Especially when it includes preparing to leave an 18 year old daughter in a foreign country for two months to study, and coordinating the adventures of other family members in your absence. Truly I felt I had this dialed in when I sent the hubby and son to the Midwest to visit family, and coordinated their return flight to coincide with mine so we could meet for dinner inside the airport terminal after our long flights.


The dilemma occurred upon arrival at the domestic portion of my return trip from Tokyo to Las Vegas. The flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas was overbooked and clearly delayed. Although I was early to the gate, my boarding group was last because I had chosen an aisle seat (shame on me). I took only a carry-on bag to Japan for a week because I knew I needed to have my belongings upon arrival because of the plans to meet my family.


As I handed my boarding pass to the attendant, she informed me I would need to gate check my bag. I pleaded my case that I truly needed my bag because I could not leave security on arrival to retrieve it. She immediately got rude (an understatement – heavens how I wish I had gotten her name), and told me that I would just have to go on another flight then. Which would have been very convenient for them, since they had about a dozen people they couldn't fit on their overbooked plane. When I got to the end of the jetway, I again asked if there was a way I could keep my bag. The initial lady somehow appeared again, got in my face, and started a heated nasty discussion with me. There were quite a few passengers who's jaws dropped. It was truly an ugly exchange, and I simply cannot believe that somebody that nasty works for United. I wonder who $#!+ in her coffee cup! Again she said I should just go on another flight if I couldn't handle it.


Call me crazy, but couldn't a little compassion help the situation? After all – don't I have just as much right to keep my belongings as anyone else? I even had valuables in my bag because I was not checking it. Oh don't get me wrong – I understand logistics. If there's not enough space on the plane, there's not enough space on the plane. But in my heart of hearts I believe most people carried on because they did not want to have to pay to check a bag. This was not my case. I could have checked two 50 pound bags for free. I simply needed my bag in my possession. I sacrificed convenience and a Japanese shopping spree to coordinate these plans. Knowing that the plane was full, they could have asked for volunteers to check their bags at the gate. This was not done and instead they opted to completely disregard the people in the last boarding group. They also did nothing to monitor the amount of possessions people carried on. On the front end from Las Vegas to San Francisco they were very strict about one carry-on and one personal item. There are many ways this could have been remedied from making people adhere to policies, to asking people with smaller possessions to put them under their seat, to asking for volunteer gate checks. But sadly nothing was done.


I am still on this final flight as I write this and am going through the stages of loss: Denial (I still thought I could maybe sneak it on at the bottom of the jetway -ha!). Then anger. Now sadness as I sit here in my sorrow of failure of best laid plans.


These are grumpy tales I tell, but that is not to say that United is thoroughly flawed. Typically the flight crews are a joy. Indeed on this last journey (Tokyo to San Francisco and then to Las Vegas) the attendants were a delight. If only the level of care extended to all facets of the travel experience.


I write all this with an elbow in my hip due to a full sized man in the middle seat next to me that not only hangs into my seat, but continually sleeps and nods off ON me. I've spent the flight "in the aisle". Literally (not a fault of United, but again, I felt it deserved a mention)!
 
Likes: krisseye

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
2,018
3,433
113
#3
I can't help but to wonder why you're still flying on united when you've had so many problems with them. Vote with your wallet and fly another airline. Delta runs a decent service to Tokyo, not to mention the Asian airlines.

I spent 17 years overseas while in the service. I can't believe the number of folks who've never left the US and have no desire to go. So I agree, globe trotting is a blast.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,032
15,548
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#4
I can't help but to wonder why you're still flying on united when you've had so many problems with them. Vote with your wallet and fly another airline. Delta runs a decent service to Tokyo, not to mention the Asian airlines.

I spent 17 years overseas while in the service. I can't believe the number of folks who've never left the US and have no desire to go. So I agree, globe trotting is a blast.
And it will also make you appreciate this country and how blessed we are to live here.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,248
2,092
113
#6
Yes and no. Some of the places I visited were by far worse, but some were better in many ways. Everyplace has its positives and negatives, us included.
Good point you bring up........I think it all depends on what you value most. For me, its freedom and opportunity. That is where I feel the US is head and heels above the rest. As much as our friends enjoy their own countries (Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Argentina, UK as examples), many want to come here because the opportunity to do anything, be anything is so prevalent.
 
Jan 5, 2015
77
149
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#7
The part about the carry on? Pay for economy plus (or if the OP is as well-traveled as she says she is) use your status to board early.

But y'know...otherwise, this just reads like...yawn.
 
Likes: joycexyz
#8
No airline is immune - I needed to be at a family function in Phoenix 12 hours after a scheduled arrival from London last year - family function arose after the business trip was planned -some would say - hey - its a business class ticket -change it to non stop phoenix then hop back home - well - the $2000 ticket would have ended up being an $9000 ticket because all BA has left is First Class - etc etc etc - so I kept the flight to LAX - grabbed a car service home - showered, jumped in my own airplane and was there in 2 hours.

Oddly enough, that was the day there was a security breach at ONT which resulted in 4 hour delays - so I beat the airlines once again traveling 1/3 the speed.

The only bit of advice that I have when traveling - sometimes you make a major effort to make something happen - you struggle and fight - and end up worse off than you were before - sometimes the Travel Gods are telling you to not struggle - just play the hand you're dealt.
 
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,897
113
New York
#9
A week's worth of clothes will create a bulky bag that may not fit on a crowded flight.

It is unfair to label the other non-checkers as folks who just didn't want to pay. Perhaps they too had a free checked baggage allowance but carried on for convenience also.

The airport dinner when flying from Tokyo seems unrealistic. Why not check the bag straight through to the final destination?
 
Likes: joycexyz
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,897
113
New York
#10
Also, the kids would have been exhausted even if the flight left as intended. They had to wake up/stay up to meet at 2:15 am and would've arrived at 2pm. They would be zombies. I'm not sure why the half of the group couldn't get on the original flight.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,911
7,796
113
San Francisco
#11
Great stories, Jens. I'm grateful that I took Rick Steves to heart many years ago when he said "A good flight is one on which you arrive the same day you thought you would." I expect nothing from airlines or hotels and am always happy when the travel is acceptable, very happy when it's great. There are so many opportunities to be discombobulated when travelling ... and you certainly experienced some.
 
Oct 10, 2016
124
88
28
Huntley, IL
#12
Air travel is a part of the modern world that will never cease to amaze me. World travel is truly addictive. While I don't fly once or twice a week for work like the die-hards, I still get around. With three homes and the bug to “go”, it is inevitable. With that said, I've logged my share of miles, and have been around the world a time or two. Of all my flights I can only recall three harrowing journeys. Sadly they were all on United.


#1: December 24, 2012 Singapore to Hong Kong


I'll start with the scary one. Not considered a delicate flyer, I can take some bumps and weather, and even an occasional lightning strike. Flying into Denver? No prob. Spilled drinks while transitioning from the mountains into the hot Vegas valley? Bring it. No need for hand holding from this gal. But when 30 minutes into the flight there is a harrowing screech beckoning earplugs, followed by the smell of burnt plastic as the crew scurries down the aisles with furrowed brows, my nerves get a bit shattered.


The event took place on a United flight from Singapore to Hong Kong. I was in the middle of the plane so could not look out but, people were sitting upright, looking afright, and one sweet little lady at the window actually looked at me frantically, then quickly shut her window shade! What does that mean I fretted!!??


The captain came on and quickly said "remain in your seat with your seatbelt fastened!" The crew paced up and down the aisles and repeatedly looked out the windows. The sound remained approximately five minutes, the smell lingered, and we all waited in anticipation. Then suddenly all was calm. Eerily it sounded as though the engines shut off and that we were possibly about to float humbly to our final abyss. Not a word was said for the remainder of the 3 ½ hour flight, however, in thirty minutes time when the seatbelt sign went off, I humbly took myself to the toilet and had a nice cry.


As people disembarked and stood in the customs line they spoke passionately about the encounter. The sound. The smell. The eerie silence. And the fact that the crew never came on to calm our fears or give an explanation. There was rumor of an "air system malfunction". All I know is that when the crew looks worried.... I'm worried. And the crew looked worried! I have never been so happy to remove myself from a plane.


Being that it was Christmas Eve, it took the jolly out of my Ho Ho Ho. And it would have made me feel especially guilty to my children had the plane gone down. (Not that the date is any fault of United, but worth a mention.)


#2: May 12, 2014, Flight 315 Sacramento to Washington, D.C.


In May of 2014 I was fortunate enough (questionable analogy) to participate in a junior high Washington, D.C. trip with my daughter. We embarked on our journey from Northern California one and a half hours from the closest airport. Because it is a whirlwind adventure, we had to meet at the school at 2:15am for a 6am flight. The itinerary includes getting to the east coast late afternoon in time for dinner and a Williamsburg haunted tour. Upon arrival at the airport United informed us that the night before they brought in a smaller plane so half of our group was 'bumped'. All or half was meaningless at this point because the tour company would not allow us to split up. The “lucky boot” folk got a $200 voucher (that 90% assuredly went unused since these are people that rarely or never travel) and the other half, well, just got the boot! To remedy our situation United was kind enough to transfer us by bus to another airport 2 hours away and put us on a redeye. But don't fret. The kids got an $8 airport food voucher to get them through. We ended up at our final destination hotel at 4am east coast time. $8 pays for a bag of chips and a soda in the airport (if you add a buck or two), but one could say that is typical junior high fare so I will not digress.


Arriving at 4am isn't too bad if you don't have to be at breakfast at 5:45. Many kids didn't sleep for two and three days due to this snafu. I'm not sure if I can totally blame one party because I feel the tour company should have tried harder to get our group of 30 to DC in a more timely fashion. We paid an exorbitant amount and didn't get reimbursed for what we lost. But shame on United.


To top it off, the supervising teacher was a right snag (no fault of United, but worth an honorable mention).


#3: June 28th to 27th, 2016, Flights 876 and 394 Tokyo to Las Vegas


The planning of an overseas journey can be a tedious task. Especially when it includes preparing to leave an 18 year old daughter in a foreign country for two months to study, and coordinating the adventures of other family members in your absence. Truly I felt I had this dialed in when I sent the hubby and son to the Midwest to visit family, and coordinated their return flight to coincide with mine so we could meet for dinner inside the airport terminal after our long flights.


The dilemma occurred upon arrival at the domestic portion of my return trip from Tokyo to Las Vegas. The flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas was overbooked and clearly delayed. Although I was early to the gate, my boarding group was last because I had chosen an aisle seat (shame on me). I took only a carry-on bag to Japan for a week because I knew I needed to have my belongings upon arrival because of the plans to meet my family.


As I handed my boarding pass to the attendant, she informed me I would need to gate check my bag. I pleaded my case that I truly needed my bag because I could not leave security on arrival to retrieve it. She immediately got rude (an understatement – heavens how I wish I had gotten her name), and told me that I would just have to go on another flight then. Which would have been very convenient for them, since they had about a dozen people they couldn't fit on their overbooked plane. When I got to the end of the jetway, I again asked if there was a way I could keep my bag. The initial lady somehow appeared again, got in my face, and started a heated nasty discussion with me. There were quite a few passengers who's jaws dropped. It was truly an ugly exchange, and I simply cannot believe that somebody that nasty works for United. I wonder who $#!+ in her coffee cup! Again she said I should just go on another flight if I couldn't handle it.


Call me crazy, but couldn't a little compassion help the situation? After all – don't I have just as much right to keep my belongings as anyone else? I even had valuables in my bag because I was not checking it. Oh don't get me wrong – I understand logistics. If there's not enough space on the plane, there's not enough space on the plane. But in my heart of hearts I believe most people carried on because they did not want to have to pay to check a bag. This was not my case. I could have checked two 50 pound bags for free. I simply needed my bag in my possession. I sacrificed convenience and a Japanese shopping spree to coordinate these plans. Knowing that the plane was full, they could have asked for volunteers to check their bags at the gate. This was not done and instead they opted to completely disregard the people in the last boarding group. They also did nothing to monitor the amount of possessions people carried on. On the front end from Las Vegas to San Francisco they were very strict about one carry-on and one personal item. There are many ways this could have been remedied from making people adhere to policies, to asking people with smaller possessions to put them under their seat, to asking for volunteer gate checks. But sadly nothing was done.


I am still on this final flight as I write this and am going through the stages of loss: Denial (I still thought I could maybe sneak it on at the bottom of the jetway -ha!). Then anger. Now sadness as I sit here in my sorrow of failure of best laid plans.


These are grumpy tales I tell, but that is not to say that United is thoroughly flawed. Typically the flight crews are a joy. Indeed on this last journey (Tokyo to San Francisco and then to Las Vegas) the attendants were a delight. If only the level of care extended to all facets of the travel experience.


I write all this with an elbow in my hip due to a full sized man in the middle seat next to me that not only hangs into my seat, but continually sleeps and nods off ON me. I've spent the flight "in the aisle". Literally (not a fault of United, but again, I felt it deserved a mention)!
 
Oct 10, 2016
124
88
28
Huntley, IL
#13
Jensonthego, I had a similar experience on Delta from Iceland to JFK. The attendant at the check-in counter was the rudest human being I have ever seen. She made us check our carryons an charged $100. (Did you know that not all of those containers where they can make you put your carryons in are a standard size?) We had been traveling for 10+ years with the same bags and never had a problem. I got her name and employee # & when I got home I contacted Delta & ended up with 50,000 Delta miles for the poor service I got.

One has to be persisent if you want to be compensated for mistreatment. I fell in my cabin on a cruise ship and the next morning at 8am I went down to the medical center to see the doctor as my shoulder was bruised. He took a look at it, said it was just a bruise, gave me a sling and sent me on my way. He did not even offer me an X-Ray, which I found out later that there was one on the ship. When I got home I went to my doctor who took X-rays and found a hairline fracture on my clavicle. However, since there was no treatment for it, I had no lawsuit but I pursued it through the cruise line for my mis treatment and got a $1,000 voucher toward a future cruise. PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF!