Air Travel Troubles

August 5, 2012

in Odds & Ends Stories

Flights From Hell received an email in which the writer shared correspondence which he said he wrote and forwarded to the customer service department of an airline. Posted below verbatim is his correspondence to the airline: 

Yesterday was I n t e r e s t I n g. I remember now why flying is not one of my top things to do…

I made it to the airport very early… Friday right after lunch is a good time to drive through Newark. Probably 2 hours later and it would have taken me twice as long to get there. The distance in miles is about 25 and yesterday that took only an hour which was as much a surprise to me as anything – I had 2 hours allocated.

Once I got there and casually went through the check-in process and the interminably long lines at TSA and took off my shoes (these new shoes are really comfortable and easy to slip on and off) and belt and all that, I got to the terminal and saw that there was an earlier flight to GR that I just missed by 15 minutes – that one was on time! It was less than 20 minutes later that I saw that my flight had been moved back a half hour.

Ah well, at least I was in the airport. Oh, BTW, so were 2,456,724 others, 567,212 of those with noisy, bratty kids! And there are almost no plugs so charging is a challenge. So I sat at a chair near Dunkin Donuts and charged my phone while chatting up a guy who lived in Florida but was born and raised in Chicago and had been in the service in the UP and roomed with a guy from Muskegon (it really is a small world)!

Then I learned that my flight had been further delayed an hour but shoot, I thought, time flies when you are having fun… so I’ll have some fun here in the airport. Not to be… lots of people; no space; almost no place to sit; lines for the men’s restroom (really) and on and on. But, I do have the Kindle (did I ever tell you I really like my Kindle) and I had some books on it, so I find a seat and read…

All of a sudden, the flight ‘disappears’ from the call board at the gate. Technodude me checks the flight status on the iphone and I discover that not only is there a time change – bumped back another 30 but also a gate change, and a terminal change! Not wishing to trust the technology, I found a United Customer Service agent and confirmed the changes. I asked him why there was no sign at the gate or any information and he said they had made an announcement about 10 minutes ago (hey, I was waiting in line and finally got to use the restroom and that’s when they announced things). Ah well…

Another shuttle ride but no rescreening and we are dropped unceremoniously at the bottom of a long metal stairway – the wheel chair folks went to ‘find’ an elevator. So up the stairs I go and open the door and walk into… quiet… clean… new… spacious… terminal. Well, this is better and even though it is a bit of a hike, I’ll manage cause there is lots of space and a coffee place and a bunch of souvenir shops (I struggled between getting you a CSI New York “T” shirt or a 4″ plastic statue of Liberty with a magnet on the back or an “I ♥  New York” coffee cup or a $39.95 watch – could not decide)! But I got coffee, used the restroom at my leisure, read with my legs propped up and generally bided my time and finally went to the gate about 45 minutes before we are to board…

Twenty minutes before the flight is to board, our gate monitor changes from Grand Rapids, MI to Charlotte, NC. There is no announcement, but by now, TechnoCurt is ready for them and I discover our flight will now depart clear on the other side of this quiet, clean, new , spacious terminal. I decide to trust the technology and off I hike at a brisk pace to the new gate! As I arrive with my following of folks (I did q u I e t l y… mention what I had found on the iphone), the new gate’s sign flickered and relit saying Grand Rapids, MI! Ahh… at last!!

Finally on board and we taxi for a bit and the pilot comes on and says: “Well, folks, we are 12th in line for takeoff and there will be a slight 10 to 20 minute delay while we wait – of course, there will be… I snoozed!

The flight was the least eventful part of the journey… nice flying weather, very smooth, and as advertised, 1 hour and 43 minutes from take-off to wheels down!

At the gate in Grand Rapids and almost ready to have the jetway fastened when the pilot comes on and says: “Sorry folks, we were told to park at this gate by 3 different people but now we have been told to taxi to the other side of the terminal”… and so we did!!

Deplane and discover that even though I did not make the early flight to Grand Rapids, my checked bag had, so after watching all the other bags dump out of the conveyor and getting that sinking feeling as every bag that showed up was not mine, I happened to look up and see my bag sitting off to the side so I gleefully grab it (by now, even unfortunate happenstance is uplifting) and head for the door while calling for the shuttle on the iphone. Guy says… yep, 10 to 20 tops…

Dark, warm (took off sweater and rolled up sleeves), smoky (I forgot smokers know how to stand so that their smoke blows right in your face) and after 30 minutes, I call again. Well… she will be right there, she is on her way to the airport… and true enough, 15 minutes later she shows up and back to the hotel in 5 (one wonders where the heck she was before she came to get me, but hey…).

Never so happy to see the truck! Got in, got to Muskegon without incident and got some grub at Meijer’s and settle in at the house!

Flights From Hell received a subsequent email from the same writer stating the following:

Here’s some additional info from the automated email I just received from the airline:

“For post-travel and all other inquiries, we are currently experiencing an increased volume due to our peak travel season. As a result, it will take us longer than normal to respond to you.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to assisting you in the best possible manner.

– Your United Airlines Customer Care team”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

david August 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm

when was this? there aren't any new terminals at newark and none of them have really been refurbished either


Lobstar August 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Isn’t this like any and EVERY other flight that occurs at any given moment?


H. Edwards August 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I've had my fair share of crazy airport experiences like this one. Sometimes things go smoothly but I usually go expecting something crappy to happen to me or my flight. Less expectations make it easier for me to handle.


Dr. Sex Potato February 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm

None of this is even that bad. Someone doesn't fly often.


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