Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On Thursday last after boarding the plane I used my United App to check on the status of the flight.  An air traffic controller in NY had already texted me the airports were going to be closed and there was no way we were going to leave Houston.

I learned from linking on to the United App the flight was delayed because of a crew shortage.  Then we were told the pilot did his check, cleared the plane for take off and then disappeared.   We were told he was not answering his phone.  About an hour and half later they found a replacement pilot.  Had this not happened we would have landed at LaGuardia before the Delta plane slid off the runway.

On the return, in Houston the pilot disappeared and the Brownsville flight was delayed for over an hour.  It is like flying in the Twilight Zone with pilots disappearing at United.  What follows shows a clear personnel problem at United.  I did not get my bag until Sunday and it had an Air Ethiopia tag on the bag.

My flight was diverted to Dulles because of the Delta incident at LaGuardia.  We were the first United plane to land based on a diversion.  The United staff had a good 20 minutes notice we were coming in.

Upon exiting the plane to call them rude would insult rude people.  They are trying to had us what turned out to be food vouchers without telling us what they were.  As people began to get irritated because no one knew what we were to do, we were sent a few gates down to a Customer Service desk.

We were told to separate into 2 groups - those wanting to finish the trip on Amtrak to Penn Station and those who wanted to hold over until the next day.  I chose Amtrak.  I could have easily gotten in to Eastern Long Island by 7 p.m. had anyone knew what they were doing.

They asked for our original boarding passes.  We waited 2 1/2 hours for the agent to generate Amtrak vouchers.  She could not give out 2 or 3 as she finished them.  I believe she printed some 28, but I could be wrong. Myself and three others were standing there with nothing.  One young lady, the first in fact to provide the agent with her original boarding pass was trying to get to Eastern Long Island for her brother's funeral - so to say the least she was upset.

The agent insisted we never gave her our original boarding passes.  I said she could either look around her work area and trash or I would get a supervisor.  She found the 4 missing original boarding passes in her trash.

She then said she was only human and left. Mind you, had we been even the second diverted flight, I might have understood her attitude, but we were the first.  The other agent insisted we get on another line with over 100 people waiting to be processed for rebooking by 1 person.  I said no and went for a supervisor.  Even then I had to explain to the supervisor that we were diverted in part because United, not the weather, failed to timely provide a pilot.  After issuing the vouchers for Amtrak she insisted we had to pay for our own transportation to Union Station.  Yea, was not going to happen.  Rather then me have a higher level supervisor explain reality to the agent, we got our vouchers for a shuttle to Union Station.

I was then given a print out directing me to baggage claim 3 wherein the computer indicated my baggage could be found.  When I got there, there were three men sitting in the baggage claim office refusing to help me find my bag.  At this point there were hundreds of bags.  Rather than create zones for each flight, they mixed them in all together making finding any one bag impossible.  It was getting late so I had to leave for the shuttle or else I would have missed the 5:05 to Penn Station.

The DC roads were solid ice - the drive did an excellent job so I gave him a $10 tip.  It set a standard for the rest of the passengers - most going to Reagan International.

My time was down to minutes and we were on line on the road trying to get to the drop off area.  I got out on the street and ran across the lawn in deep snow. The 5:05 was at last call when I got on it.  I found the Café Car - and enjoyed the ride.  I love the train.

Because of the weather we were an hour late getting into Penn Station - I had maybe 3-4 minutes to find my train to Eastern Long Island.  Again the conductor was in the doorway of the train calling last call.  I called out to him to hold the train.  I got in close to maybe 11:30 p.m.  I was tired.

With every call to United no one could locate my bag.  Finally I was told for 1 1/2  days it was in Newark and that if I wanted it I would have to go get it.

Then I was told it was in Chicago on its way back to Seattle.  Then on Saturday I got a call it was in Dulles all along and it would be in New York by 1:30 p.m.  Then about 5 p.m. I was told it never made the flight.  It was Sunday afternoon before I got it.  It had an Air Ethiopia tag on the bag.


United is responsible for its pilot abandoning us without any notice or explanation.  United is responsible for how they treated us.  When I got to the Brownsville gate for the return and was told there was no pilot for the flight  so it would be delayed, I spent over an hour listening to agents bad mouthing United for making them work more than one gate.  United has a personnel problem and it seems it will only get worse.

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