Friday, February 12, 2010

United Airlines -- Boo Hoo

So, today I boarded a United flight in Albany, NY to LAX. I had to make connections at Washington Dulles. United gave me only 50 minutes to make the connection when it booked the itinerary.

The first leg was 30 minutes late as Washington Dulles controlled the flight and wouldn't let us take off from Albany. By the time I got off the flight, I was 12 minutes away from departure for the connection. Fortunately, the gate was only 300 yards away.

I arrived with ten minutes to go before departure. The door was closed. An off-duty pilot and I walked up to the gate at the same time. The gate agent remarked to him that a First Class passenger had not checked in and he, the pilot, could have the seat. I held up my boarding pass and said that I was that passenger, and that United should have known that I was late because I was on an inbound flight.

The gate agent told me I was too late because the "door was closed," whereupon she opened the door and let the pilot in. I said, "No, the door is not closed; you just opened it for somebody taking my seat." She said, "No, sir, the door is closed." She then said that she was too busy processing the departing flight and that a supervisor would help me. The supervisor arrived, and the gate agent told her that I was too late, the door was closed. Of course, the supervisor wouldn't believe my story about the door being opened and closed again. Nor would the supervisor give me any aid whatsoever, except point me to a United Service Center with one employee serving an hour-long line.

Whoa.

Two and 1/2 years ago ago I was boarding a UAL flight from LAX to Denver, bound for Sheridan, Wyoming. I was given a general boarding pass without a seat assignment. I showed up at the gate and the gate agent asked me to wait. I watched them make repeated offers to people to leave an overbooked flight. Finally, they closed the door and I approached the agent, whereupon she asked me why I hadn't come forward earlier. I said that I had done so twice before. They opened the door and led me into the plane but every seat was filled and they kicked me off. Apparently, they had let some standbys on and she wouldn't kick the standbys off.

I went to the gate agent and she said she was too busy to help me because she was processing another flight. I stood in line for 2 hours at the United Service Center and then was told I couldn't be helped because I wasn't given a denial of service card.

I called United and was booked on a much later flight to Wyoming. I arrived in Denver and showed up at the puddle jumper connector, Great Lakes Airline, and was told that the flight was overbooked by United by 10 seats. United had booked me on that flight knowing it was already overbooked by 10 seats. (It was a 50 seat airliner.) I had to catch a plane to a much more distant location in Montana.

Whoa. This just ain't cool.