Given the Runaround, Literally

February 26, 2010

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

As a student, I tend to travel as cheaply as possible, but my frequent trips also necessitate air travel. Spring break my senior year found me traveling from my hometown of Sioux Falls, SD, to Waco, TX, to interview for a graduate school. Timing was tight, and I was due to return on the Sunday before classes began again on Monday.

My flight was on United, which has a large hub in the Denver airport. I’d flown through Denver before and was confident I would know precisely where to go in the terminal – the United terminal in Denver Int’l is massive, a long hallway of gates and moving walkways, so knowing where you’re going is a priority. I knew I could find my gate, though how long it would take me to walk there was questionable.

My flight from DFW took off without a hitch, and when I landed, I found my gate easily enough – B17. I sat down and pulled out my laptop to watch a movie. About 1/2 hour into the movie, I realized that we hadn’t boarded yet, and checked the board – sure enough, we were delayed because of an oil leak on the plane. Okay, not a problem. My flights are frequently delayed, so I’m used to it. However, it’s never been this bad. After the new delayed boarding time had come and gone, it was announced that our flight would be canceled, and we all needed to go to the United Airlines service desk at gate B45 (or something similar) to reschedule.

The entire group of passengers gets up and hurries our way down to the customer service desk. Just as I arrived, another United Airlines representative yells, “Are y’all from the Sioux Falls flight? It’s not canceled. Go back to your gate.” All right, that’s a fine bit of miscommunication right there. By this time, I’ve become acquainted with several of my fellow passengers, and we walk as a group all the way back to our gate. On the way, we hear some sort of garbled PA announcement about the Sioux Falls flight and something that sounds like “gate 53.” Having no idea whether or not we’re just hearing things or what, my fellow passengers and I continue on to our original gate as we were only two gates away anyway.

We get to our original gate to find it deserted. Not even a gate agent, and the board is blank. I checked the computer screens nearby the gate, and sure enough, our flight has been moved all the way to gate 53 – almost the entire way in the other direction down the terminal. Luckily, it’s been delayed enough that we have time to make it there.

At the new gate, we were delayed even more, but most of my fellow passengers and I were happy enough to just sit down somewhere. Plenty of us were hungry, but none of us wanted to venture very far. Soon, however, we were boarding the plane – at this point, it is about 2 hours after our original departure time. In fact, it’s such a short flight that we’re actually past the time when we should have landed in Sioux Falls in the first place. We found our seats, sat down and most of us were settling in for a quick flight home.

No such luck. We had been on the plane no less than five minutes – but long enough for me to call my parents in Sioux Falls and let them know I was finally on my way home – when the flight attendant came over the intercom to tell us, regrettably, that *this* plane had a mechanical problem with it, too, and we would all have to deplane while the problem was fixed.

We all disembarked, some of us more than grumpy by this point. After another 45 minutes of delays, we were finally allowed to reboard the plane. It was now more than 4 hours past the time we had originally been scheduled to take off. A mere hour long flight later, and we’d touched down in Sioux Falls, only to discover that they had lost my luggage – the perfect cap to the worst airport experience ever.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Marta February 27, 2010 at 4:42 am

Well that's United for you. At least your snipe hunt happened when you were heading home and not when you had to get to your interview in Waco.

Good luck with grad school

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david February 27, 2010 at 5:33 am

i hate when that happens, and it always seems that 1o people are without their bags

you'd think that they would switch planes to a nearer gate and check the plane before the switch……also have a speaker system that works/loud enough

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Jane February 27, 2010 at 5:59 am

What?! You're not bashing the OP for having a fake story?! You're agreeing?! Is the apocalypse tomorrow?!

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david February 27, 2010 at 6:08 am

most the stories i comment on are ones that i dont believe happened or that there are alot of questions about, or controversial events

if i believe a story is true than i normally wont comment

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david February 27, 2010 at 6:12 am

i forgot to say, i am at the airport now in a delay and the plane that i am waiting for hasn't landed yet so i got a while, and the gate i am at is far from food so imma walk to the other side and back haha

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rerere February 27, 2010 at 8:11 am

You should go to the JetBlue T5 terminal at JFK in New York. They always have the P.A. there LOUD.

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david February 27, 2010 at 9:42 am

some airports/terminals do have good speaker systems and others/majority seem old and outdated to the point that there is no way of comprehending what they say without investigative ears

there are easy ways to fix the problem but the airports dont want to due to money, so it does strand some passengers and cause them to miss flights and while the airline maybe blaimed it should be the airport

i know that the airports i have been in europe and asia are much better at informing passengers (charles de gualle-spelling not sure- is a mess of an airport) and at least at the major airports there are good shopping to go do while you wait to board……….singapore changi has a movie theatre, spa, swimming pool, and much more so its much more relaxing than any airport over here where everything is all tense……….which means that it helps control children with alot of energy take them swimming so they can burn it off and make everyone's experience a little better

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