Distraught Over Delays

July 14, 2010

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

Back in June 2008 my husband and I plus our 5 month old baby were waiting in DC IAD to head back to Boston. We purposely booked 4:30pm (little expensive being a Sunday) so that we would have plenty of time to rest and prepare for the next day.

Everything from security check point to the gate was smooth. It was close to 4:20 pm, we saw the display saying the flight was delayed and scheduled to depart at 5:45pm. It was 5:30pm, another display said it had been moved to 6:25pm and also that the gate was changed. So we all move to another gate within the same terminal. It was 6:10pm, there was an announcement saying the flight is “waiting” for us in a different terminal and so we all rush to get into a shuttle and reach the new terminal. To our surprise there was no flight waiting for us as per the announcement. It was complete chaos! First time I am travelling with a baby and I realized I was idiot because I checked his car seat and stroller. Needless to say I was running low on Enfamil and diapers. I literally had to drag his feed time because I had only 2 more packs of Enfamil left (again a lesson learned the hard way).

They kept pushing the departure time every hour and finally it was 10:30pm, still no news. Then came a new announcement blaming “mechanical error” for that Boston flight so it was pushed to 11:45pm. Could not believe them anymore, so all the passengers went to rebook the flight which the agent would not allow us to do as no formal information had been provided to them. My husband tried calling United and they said all flights were booked.

My baby slept and I decided to sit in one corner because it was hard to hold him all the time. Then a final announcement around 1:30am (next day) said that the Untied flight to Boston had been cancelled due to weather in Chicago and asked us to rebook for the next available flight. By then everybody was so mad that they started yelling and complaining. We turned around and saw a line that had no end. Booking over the phone did not work because they kept saying there were no flights until Tuesday.

Having a baby not knowing what to do, I begged my husband to book in another airline no matter what it cost us. He was unhappy with my request but had no choice. He called JetBlue and we paid $225 per person and left to Boston around 11:00 am next day. We checked into a hotel at 3:00am for that night!

We landed in Boston with no car seat and no luggage because everything was with United and god only knows when we would be getting them. We got a car seat from the airport for rent and went home.

Unbelievable experience and I wrote a strong letter to United and the aviation unit. We knew it was a BIG LIE by UNITED who first said delay and then mechanical error and then weather delay – and it took so long for them to cancel the flight – does not make any sense to me. From that experience I learned the hard way. No matter if my fly time is only 30 minutes or less, I make sure I am well prepared for my kid.

Oh – wondering if I got any response after writing to the aviation or the airline? Yes, United gave me a travel voucher for $200 which could be used within a year. I booked one flight using that free ticket and guess what – that flight was cancelled as well and I had to rebook for the next day.

I have experienced 3 such delays with United after that and I finally stopped flying with them.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom July 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm

IAD is one of the airports I try to avoid if at all possible. A few months ago I needed to get to PA in a hurry and IAD was my only option from where I live in the Midwest. Fortunately, my flights were on time, but at IAD I could not understand what any of the gate agents were saying so I had to be real careful to pay attention so I wouldn't miss my connection.

Sounds like you at least learned some lessons from the experience. I guess that's at least something good to take from it.


MM July 15, 2010 at 11:27 am

Not a fan of IAD either.


Jim July 15, 2010 at 6:10 am

I have little respect for the airlines….and, sorry for your delays.

But, I have little respect for you too.

Really? Travel with a 5 month old? Do you think the kid enjoyed the trip? And, you obviously had no regard to others, as you were subjecting them to your child's possible crying, etc… from ears that won't pop, to the unavailability of formula.

The plane is public space, we must all share, and be cognizant of each other, and be polite…don't talk too much, smell too bad, be too fat to sit in one seat….and, don't bring a child on the plane unless it is an emergency. It is only polite.

You chose to have the child, drive it around until it is old enough to know to behave, and you can parent it accordingly.


Dina July 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm

You don't know the situation. My first flight was when I was around that age – it was to visit a bedridden relative in my mother's hometown. Driving wasn't an option, as my parents couldn't get enough time off work. It was the only chance she had to meet me – she passed away a few months later.

How do you know that the OP wasn't in a similar situation? Not that it's your business, anyway!


Stephanie July 16, 2010 at 3:40 am

Agreed – she could've had an emergency situation.

Besides, not all children travel poorly, nor are all parents neglectful of their childrens needs on airlines.

I took my 6 month old to see his Grandfather as my father was in critical condition and not expected to live. My son didn't fuss, he didn't cry, and was quite good the entire trip from Wichita to Seattle.

My children have always flown well. Then again they're easily entertained and naturally polite kids. I would hate to have deprived them just because somebody has a baby aversion.


The Alchemist July 16, 2010 at 8:10 am

There is no reason not to take a child on an airplane. Many are well behaved.

That said, the OP did make two mistakes, she carried the baby instead of booking a seat for him/her and she checked the stroller. Had she gate checked the stroller on boarding she could have kept the child in that during the delay. With the child as a ticketed passenger (which should be required by the FAA) she would have been using the car seat on the plane and had it with her in Boston.


ps July 16, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Where does it say the child went crazy? Sounds like the stranded adult passengers did. And the poster was new at this. If the little one stayed quiet during all of this, God bless him or her. Lighten up you arrogant moron. I'll take a child next to me over a blob or arrogant wannabe road warrior who didnt get bumped up anytime, of which you must be one of the latter two.


annoyed July 15, 2010 at 7:24 am

Jim, you are an ass.


Memee July 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

Jim, glad to see the airplane Nazi's are alive and bitching. Get over yourself. Start your own airline if you want to say who can or cannot fly. Ass!

Yes poster, flight from hell with or without a baby.


rerere July 15, 2010 at 8:03 am

I am an airline nazi!


Jim July 15, 2010 at 8:22 am

I'm an ass because I am respectful of others on a plane. I do not smell, I do not take up more than my seat, I do not travel with my children until they are of an age to behave.

So, in today's society being responsible, not subjecting others to your childrens possible temper tantrums is being an ass?

I'm constantly amazed at the entitlement, welfare attitude of parents. You chose to have the children. You should raise them! But, no you expect everyone else to make accomodations for you and yours. Because you want to have a child.

I will raise my children. I will be responsible for them. And, I will not force you to endure their possible bad behavior. Nor, will I ask you to make accomodations for them, etc… I just expect others to do the same.


Jody July 15, 2010 at 10:12 am

Well said, Jim!

I've been on flights where there were a lot of children. When the parents are being *parents* (i.e., making the children behave) there is absolutely no problem. If the parent is doing everything in his power but the kid won't behave — again, I have no problem because they parent is trying. It's when the parents don't even try to make the kid behave and expect the rest of us to like it when the kid acts up — well, that's when I have a problem.

Case in point — last year I flew to Salt Lake. In the row directly behind me was a mother with two small boys. Those were two of the best-behaved kids around and a delight to sit near.


MM July 15, 2010 at 11:30 am

Kids are annoying, but on a 2 hour flight (or less, idk how long it is from IAD to Boston) I can deal with some screaming. They've got to get there too.


Jim July 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm

A 2 hour flight, would probably be what, a 10 hour drive….so, maybe the family should just drive….I'm sure it would be much more comfortable for a 5 month old….and, a lot more respectful of those that don't have to listen to a possibly screaming child.


Tom July 15, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Jim, I can't stand screaming, nagging kids anymore than the next guy. There are things that parents can do to help make the flights a little easier for the little ones, and that is what good parents should do. I have family living in Japan with little kids. They come back once a year to visit. What should they do? Take a boat? I got to make the trip over with them once. Their kids did great on an 11 hour flight. The parents were prepared and did a great job taking care of them.

What I think you should do is charter a private jet, because you sound not only like an ass, but also a snob. Certainly someone as snobbish as you can afford to charter a jet and not be inconvenienced by us peasants on public transportation.


Dina July 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The two hour flight from San Francisco to Seattle takes about a day and a half to drive when kids are involved. You're not going to drive 10 hours straight with kids in the car, trust me.


Jim July 16, 2010 at 3:31 am


I understand where you are coming from. And, when my children were small, I chose to drive a day and a half, rather than subject them to the uncomfortable, cramped in flight. And, rather than subject others to the possible whines of my kids, when they were too young to correct.

Life is about taking responsibility for one's self and one's children. Today, most parents are wanting the world to take responsibility for their children…the whole, "it takes a village to raise a child" thing. They expect the village to endure their children and raise their children for them. They choose to have children as their status symbol…but, then they throw them in day care, put them on Ritalin, and then put them on planes to parade in front of friends and relatives to show off their kids….all at the expense of the children…and, the expense of others who have to endure their brats.

If one chooses to have children. One should be willing to make the sacrifices for them. Which may mean…do not dine at fine restaurants with them, do not take them to evening movies, and do not fly with them until they are able to be responsible enough to be quiet.

Sorry, if expecting the world to be responsible and cognizant of others makes me an ass….but, I will continue to take care of me and mine…and, not expect the world to accomodate us. As such, I do not expect to have to make accomodations for others and theirs.


Stephanie July 16, 2010 at 3:52 am

Jim, you said:

"If one chooses to have children. One should be willing to make the sacrifices for them. Which may mean…do not dine at fine restaurants with them, do not take them to evening movies, and do not fly with them until they are able to be responsible enough to be quiet."

I have to disagree with that else how will they learn? Yes it helps if you know your child and their limitations. I had one that I could literally cart anywhere from museums to nice restaurants to art galleries. I had one that didn't quite have that patience until he was a little bit older.

Neither of the boys misbehaved when we were out. Everything we did was an adventure. I didn't take them to night movies because that wasn't an option (except the drive-in) but they've both flown with me, they've both ridden trains with me, they've both gone to nice restaurants and they rather enjoyed it. Granted when the oldest was 6 months old, he couldn't say he enjoyed it but he didn't fuss either.

Yes if you know your toddler can't take sitting still doing quiet things, by all means don't take them on a 6 hour flight. But don't begrudge the rest of us who actually enjoy traveling with our rather well-behaved children.

(and yes they both knew if they acted up they weren't going again – incentive to be good)


Jim July 16, 2010 at 6:12 am


I agree with you in that I have been near some children on a plane, that were actually very well behaved, polite and were fine to travel with. No problem having children fly on a plane, restaurants or movies, when the parents do a good job parenting. And, the child knows how to be respectful of others etc…

But, many times I have been in situations when the children were a terror. And, the parents did not correct them, or even attempt to make them behave. Quite often, the parents made excuses for them, (they were tired, mad about leaving, etc…). Or, the parents were too tired to try.

All I ask, is that parents know and recognize their own children's limitations, and their own limitations on parenting. Do not subject other innocent bystanders that are trapped in a plane, to endure your children's tantrums etc…if you know good and well that your child cannot endure such a long trip. And, with 5 month old babies…regardless of parenting…the child will probably not do well. Just be respectful of others.

I apologize to you….you sound like a great parent, with well behaved children…and, I do not mean to say that all children should not fly, etc… it is just the ones that cannot behave for long periods of time without being noisy, or with parents lacking in parental skills to properly be able to keep their children engaged and entertained without bothering others.

Peace Lover July 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I do have to consider myself lucky as I have never had a single flight delay in my years of flying around Europe. I long ago learned that the best way to avoid a flight from hell is to have a good attitude to it, or maybie it was me doing a bit of magic! giggle.


Howie Feltersnatch July 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Jimbo, I think that at times you are full of poopie.


Jewey Jew Jewerson G July 20, 2010 at 9:15 am


You are even more of a Jew than I am! Schmoigas!


Bob July 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Wow, are you ever hebrew. Please write some other funny yiddish words, I would like to read them because they are so funny you putz? or should I say schmeckel ? oy vay!


John September 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Yeah United has been getting horrible the last couple of years when it comes to delaying their flights, my wife and I now refuse to fly on any of United's flights because of how poor their reliability is.


Nurser May 25, 2014 at 7:43 pm

You know, you’d never have run out of breastmilk. Maybe you’re having more kids, so there’s some helpful advice for you.


TonytheGreek July 22, 2010 at 7:27 am


You're an idiot and like others said, I'll take a baby next to me over a self-entitled ass like you any day.


Alina August 15, 2011 at 4:56 am

I agree… My mother should've taken an ocean liner and then a train across America to get to her family when we were small.
I mean, that's only about what, 3 weeks more?

There's not always a possibilty to just not take the plane and my mother looked after us. We never cried for longer than maybe 2 minutes. Why? Because my mother never stopped entertaining us and looking after us until we were old enough to entertain us ourselves.

The problem aren't the babies. The problem are the paretns who're unwilling to do something to make others have a nice flight.
And even if the parents are perfect, babies are babies… you never know.

So, unless the parents are obvious idiots, how about cutting them some slack?


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