Family Faces Travel Hell During Trip to Hawaii

March 26, 2017

in Odds & Ends Stories

On February 16th, 2017, my family and I traveled on United Airlines from Boston to Maui with a stop in San Francisco. We took UA207 to San Francisco early that morning. We arrived at the airport late as we were stuck in rush hour traffic from all the commuters going up to Boston as we live on the Cape. We did not expect everybody to be leaving so early, but snow came in the previous day so there were many people going in early.

We arrived at the airport around 6:30am for our 8:07am departure on a 753. We were cutting it close. We tried our best to weave through the early morning rush at the new United area located in Terminal B. I have never had to wait in a lengthy line for a kiosk before, but given the United check-in area is small for the amount of flights per day in Boston, I sort of figured this out beforehand. We dropped our bags and proceeded to the overwhelming security lines.

As we approached the lines we noticed that one of us had TSA Precheck. The lady went along with it, and before no time we were at the front of the line. When we approached the desk the guy put us in the front of the main line as we only had one Precheck boarding pass. A nice gesture, but why did that lady say we would all be fine to go through priority? We whisked through security and off we went to Gate 23 for boarding. Right when we approached our gate announcements were made for boarding Group 3, our group.

When we got on the plane we were located right in-between the first pair of exit rows and the economy plus section. This section does have power outlets, although the charger did not stay in as they were very old. As everyone dials down and are settled into their seats, approaching our plane is a deicer machine. At the gate. We waited for 40 minutes as our plane was deicing. Couldn’t this have been done last night or before our flight as our plane was here? Nope. Not on United. The captain came on and said we would be leaving in five. We made it through the 7 hour flight uneventfully, surprisingly arriving 2 minutes early from a longer side of a delay. As the plane was old and the wi-fi didn’t work throughout the flight, we had no way of knowing where or when our next 5 1/2 hour flight was. Two and a half hour delay for a late inbound aircraft arrival. This is just the start of it. No hell yet.

We wanted to get some food as nothing was given to us besides a waffle that was the size of the palm of a hand; we were starving. I really do think that passengers in economy should be given a free meal on a 6 1/2 hour flight. If two substantial meals were offered on a flight the same time as ours (BOS-LHR), then why can’t there be meals on these flights too? I like how Delta is adding these services on its transcontinental routes soon too. Now for the good part… We ended up spending $60 at a restaurant overlooking the longer runways at SFO. Felt like heaven to eat real food so we weren’t that mad about the bill.

Once we got to our gate (81), it was packed. Given that it has its own boarding area, the seating at SFO does need to be improved. We FOUND a spot on the floor resting up against a moving walkway and waited. As soon as the previous flight from Vegas came in, boarding did not start until half an hour after everyone was off, resulting in a 3 hour delay.

Things finally started moving in the boarding process which was run by one agent (yes one agent for a 737!). We were in Group 5 (the last group) and waited respectfully and responsibly until it was our turn to board. I also noticed that there were only a handful of people in Group 5 in proportion to Group 3 with half the plane.

We were the first to board from our group, and as we approach the podium the agent starts shaking her head. While that is never good to see, I couldn’t possibly imagine why this lady was shaking her head; we were headed to Maui! We get to the front and disaster strikes. Keep in mind before hearing this that I am only 13 years old, travelling with my mom and little brother (10) with anxiety problems. Also keep in mind that we were booked on this flight and vacation in general for a solid half a year. We also had flown across the country beforehand with two kids and one parent and had a 3 hour delay! “You won’t be able to get on this flight,” she said. Um, no, we’ve been booked on this flight for 6 months. She scans the boarding pass. “Unfortunately this flight just got weight restricted; I have never seen this happen so close to the departure time since I’ve been working here for 28 years.”

A million thoughts raced through my head. These were my thoughts on why we should be on the flight and not others: (1) We already traveled across the country, (2) We are travelling with children, (3) We have had this vacation booked for more than half a year, (4) If we were in boarding Group 4 we would have been on the plane, (5) And many more things that would send me over the top to speak about.

The lady explained that some people booked the underfilled plane last night, and they had originated in Las Vegas (inbound aircraft) and San Francisco. Then why couldn’t they take those people off the plane because they would have a place to stay? We asked her why and her answer was she couldn’t get that information. Look at the last reservations and boot them off the plane! As much as she was kind and trying to be helpful, she had no clue what she was doing, especially for an employee who stated that she has been working for the company for 28 years.

After numerous phone calls and supervisors, we were booked on a flight at 6:30pm to Honolulu, and stay the night in a hotel near the airport, wake up at 4:00am, and drive to the airport to catch our 6:20am departure to Maui. Things changed. They then again booked us on a plane that was going out that night to Maui from HNL; we prayed we would make the connection in 30 minutes.

ANOTHER NOTE: A family of five, with 2 year old twins and a 6 month year old who were from Japan, were also booted off and followed us on our “adventure” just because of their boarding number as well. It was weird because it didn’t seem liked they cared at all. They just used the words “ohhhh” and “okay” a bunch of times over.

ALSO: United did not take our bags off our original flight, so we were stuck with no clothes for the night. AFTER ALL OF THIS THEY COULDN’T convenience THE PASSENGER? We were beyond pissed after all of this. And just to make things even better (although we did get compensated for our trip), our new flight is delayed 1 1/2 hours because of a paper that needed to be printed for the unusable bathroom on the plane, leaving one bathroom for an entire 757 economy cabin to use.

BTW: Our plane was a transcontinental plane that is only supposed to fly to LAX and SFO from EWR, so I’m not sure why they are flying the plane to HNL? Before we arrived we already knew that we missed our flight and we would not be in Maui tonight.

Once we got to HNL we got hotel vouchers but no food vouchers or anything else. We were told to go to the arrivals curbside and there would be a bus coming to pick us up for our hotel. We were told that we were in the right place several times, but then a bus driver tells us WE NEED TO CALL FOR IT TO PICK US UP! After waiting 45 minutes that’s the service we got from United. Multiple people telling us we were right even though we weren’t?

Once at the hotel at 1:00am we get our room and we look to see where it is. We found it to be outside across a parking lot where guys were smoking weed at one in the morning. Very appropriate for kids. We get to the room and it’s a dump. Dust, spiders, spills, stains everywhere. Not like we had any luggage to ruin it some more! We ended up only getting 3 hours of sleep because our flight was so early. We paid $1,300 each ticket and this is what we get?!

We got to the airport again and spent $30 on breakfast for three at Starbucks and were off for our first uneventful flight of the trip, although boarding started late. Once we finally got to Maui we realize that our bags are locked up with United and we cannot get them out. They were finally delivered to our place at 4:00pm the next day. No clothes for 2 days and missing a half? We had to spend our own money because of United’s problems. We wrote a letter explaining this fiasco and all we received were $150 dollar vouchers? That’s all?

Let me know what you guys think. Should we ever use those vouchers and fly with United? Will you ever fly to Maui with them? Do you feel this is right?

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

James March 27, 2017 at 10:52 am

We waited for 40 minutes as our plane was deicing. Couldn’t this have been done last night or before our flight as our plane was here?

No. Most de-icing nowadays involves the application of a chemical to deter adhesion of ice to surfaces — and has a limited life. So, it is applied as close to take-off as possible, so it is de-icing and aircraft that is actively using its wings.

Had the plane been de-iced the day before, there is a greater chance of ice forming on the wings, and reducing the ability of the aircraft to stay aloft. Or, to put it another way, it crashes.


Bethany March 27, 2017 at 11:21 am

Was just about to make the same reply. You want that plane deiced at the last minute possible to make sure it works and no new ice forms.


Jake March 27, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Yes, I just wasn't sure when it was supposed to be done as the captain replied that there were no deicing equipment available beforehand. Probably should have put that in the story to make it a little more clearer. Sorry! And also why would they delay the plane just to deice? They could have done it beforehand closed to the scheduled departure time, not starting 10 minutes after the departure pushback time.


James March 28, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Here, you enter another normal realm of business. Most airports do not have the de-icing equipment to de-ice every plane in a timely fashion. This is because it would be very expensive to do, and because they expect flights to be delayed or canceled in inclement weather. So, they planes get de-iced as the equipment becomes available, and take off after they are de-iced.


Jake April 8, 2017 at 2:27 pm

You do realize that that isn't the point of the story here. That's the good flight! Although you might be right, why are you focusing on one small flaw when there's a big one right in your face?!


James April 10, 2017 at 2:09 pm

You asked, "And also why would they delay the plane just to deice? They could have done it beforehand closed to the scheduled departure time, not starting 10 minutes after the departure pushback time." Roughly half your comment was the above.

I opted to answer that question.

RedHead0186 April 10, 2017 at 12:57 pm

At most airports I've been to where they have to de-ice, the plane pulls away from the gate and goes to a 'staging' area. They don't de-ice at the gate (or maybe they do in Boston, but that's never been my experience).


Jake April 11, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Yes you are right. Most airports do do it in a remote area but at Boston they do it at the gate for some reason. Maybe no space to do so.


Jim Smythee March 27, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Are you kidding me? That was the most long-winded "first world problems" story I have every tried to read.


weyoun March 27, 2017 at 7:36 pm

It constituted a flight from hell, it's exactly what makes up the content of this website. What kind of thing were you looking for, being thrown out of door mid-flight?


Jake March 27, 2017 at 8:04 pm

Thank you Weyoun. I am only 13 so at least it was a bad experience for me!


Jim Smythee March 30, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Yes, first world problems. "On my way to a vacation to Hawaii." "They need to have a bigger in flight meal."


Jake March 31, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Just pointing out the obvious. If you need a better explanation, look down below…


APME April 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Perhaps when Jake gets a little more perspective he'll learn that a) first world problems like this are scorned at and b) how to actually back up an argument. Although I hold very little hope for both.


Saffie April 7, 2017 at 9:37 am

Jim is looking a little green with envy to me. Sounded like a horrible experience to me, and I've never been to Maui. So, you know, grow up a little there Jim. Or make some money, go to Hawaii and you won't have to whine about your own lack of adventures.


APME March 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm

TL; dr: Spoiled little brat has to wait to take privileged vacation to Hawaii.


Jake March 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm

It's not about going to Hawaii APME. This was an experience from hell just as the title of this website suggests posting. This is not about where i was going, this is about an experience from a flight that was hellish. I would watch what you say bc u basically just got roasted by a 13 year old kid. I understand that I was extremely privileged to go to Hawaii. Try picking on someone ur own size. #roastedtoastedbutterandburned.


Gregg - Admin March 28, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience Jake. Hope your next flight is a pleasant one!


Jake March 29, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Thanks Gregg! Trying Spirit in April to Florida so that might be interesting…


Philip Jackson January 26, 2018 at 7:02 am

On spirit you are going to pay extra $$ for checked bags, carry on bags & seat assignments.


Jake Steeves March 17, 2018 at 11:26 am

Well aware bud… That trip happened last year… no problems!

APME April 5, 2017 at 8:37 am

Perhaps when you grow up you'll realize that was the absolute farthest from being roasted as you can get. If that's the best you can do…then try harder. Bless.


Boo March 29, 2017 at 7:59 am

What a fiasco you and your family went through. Just reading the part where the plane was over weighted ticked me off lol. These days there are no guarantees for just about anything. Scary thought. Hope you enjoyed your vacation!


Jake March 29, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Thanks Boo! It was awesome!


RedHead0186 April 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm

"These were my thoughts on why we should be on the flight and not others: (1) We already traveled across the country, (2) We are travelling with children, (3) We have had this vacation booked for more than half a year, (4) If we were in boarding Group 4 we would have been on the plane, (5) And many more things that would send me over the top to speak about."

Traveling across the country does not give you any more right to a seat than someone else. Nor does having the vacation booked for half a year (many others were likely in the same boat). I could maybe say that yeah, traveling as a family could give you some priority. I'm not sure how United assigns it's boarding groups so I'm not really sure if that's a valid one or not, but saying that because you crossed the country you have more of a right to be on that flight than someone else is not right.


Jake April 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm

First of all half the plane was booked the night before from passengers originating on the west coast as explained by the gate agent. This is a two in one situation. You really think that passengers that booked only a day ahead of time from closer or the same city have the same rights over a family who flew across the country, and had the trip booked well in advance? I hate to say it bc I like to be positive but by this comment it seems to me like you don't have a brain. Even though you might not have a very strong right over a person who booked last night (but you still do have a right), you absolutely have a right when passengers live in the same area as the origin, and especially with the circumstances given, have booked the flight hours before departure compared to 6 months. I'm also not sure why you aren't getting the point that HALF THE PLANE WAS EMPTY LESS THAN 24 HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE so people wouldn't be in the same boat ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY DIDN'T GET KICKED OFF THE FLIGHT!!


Boo April 12, 2017 at 7:27 am

Well it could have been worse. You could have been bloodied and dragged off the plane by security to make room for United airline staff!!! 😉

You had a terrible experience and you have the right to post it. Don't let others lambaste you. And I agree with your point of people living nearby vs travelling across the country but that is not how it works..good bad or indifferent. You will no doubt have many other bad experiences in your flying future. Don't sweat it 🙂


Jake April 12, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Lol thanks idc what other people think i'm just trying to give people some common sense on the airline business!


Sarah May 3, 2017 at 9:02 am

Are you sure you’re 13? You seem like a very mature 13-year-old!!


Jake May 5, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Lol i'm just good at writing 😉


wordpress plugin August 12, 2017 at 3:25 am

Maybe when Jake gets somewhat more viewpoint he'll discover that a) first world issues like this are despised at and b) how to in reality move down a contention. In spite of the fact that I hold almost no desire for both.


Mac October 27, 2017 at 8:29 am

A 737 ETOP (extended twin engine operations over water)? Never heard of any 737 with that qualification. But then I never fly the airlines anymore.


Jake October 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Actually lots of airlines fly 737's and a320's over seas. Delta and United fly them to and from Hawaii from the mainland and now low cost european airlines are flying them on trans-atlantic flights (Ex. Wow Air BOS-KEF a321)


Jake June 24, 2017 at 6:42 am

It was supposed to be a retorical question but I guess you couldn't pick up on that…


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