I was recently flying home after some work in the Dallas Fort Worth area. My original routing was DFW to IAH to MKE. Flying south to fly north, but it was the only way to get any mainline flights with a decent fare.
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency DFW the night before my departure, which was a good choice, since the 6:40am departure was painfully early. The line for security screening in the E terminal was quite long, stretching past the check in desks, but thankfully it moved pretty quickly. No idea why the elite line was not open at this time.
I visited the United club, and had a little breakfast before heading to the gate for boarding. We boarded as normal, and I was happy to see that there was DirecTV even for the short flight to IAH. My upgrade had cleared several days in advance.
The flight was fully boarded and I was zoning out to CNN on the screen when the lead flight attendant announced that there was a slight issue which would require a reboot, and everything including overhead lights would be turned off, but it would only be a few minutes. After that, a pilot announced that unfortunately the reboot didn’t fix the problem, and that the problem would require a part to come in from Houston, so they had everyone go back to the boarding area for re-booking help.
The aircraft was supposed to take me to Houston
Fortunately I was in row 2, so the line to get re-accomadated was pretty short. While waiting, I got on the phone to the Elite line to check on my options. The agent asked what the problem was, since her system was not updated, and I explained what I was told. She then told me that since it was mechanical, that she could help me. Another change I don’t like….why is it my responsibility to prove what is causing my flight interruption? Anyway, she eventually found a nonstop flight on American Eagle to Milwaukee. I said, sure, that sounds fine, so my record was updated. I was then at the front of the line, and I told the gate agent what happened, and she printed my itinerary for the American flight, but I of course had to go to American to check in, which required a terminal change.
I had 3 hours until that flight so I went back to the United Club to catch up on email and relax a bit. I was able to find the American PNR on the United website, so I attempted to check in online for my American flight. I then noticed that the flight was full, and I couldn’t check in since there were no seats available. Awesome. I went to speak to the agent in the club, and she offered to see if she could find any additional information, unfortunately, she found the same thing. I headed over the the Skylink train to head to one of the American terminals to get checked in. I found a kiosk, and only could obtain a “Priority Verification Card”. I was in terminal B, which is all American Eagle flights, and I couldn’t find a customer service center, but I eventually went to a gate agent that did not appear busy working a flight. She told me I should make it, but there would have to be at least one that didn’t show up or bumped for me to make it. Not very convincing.
At this point, I was rather frustrated that I was put on a flight that had no space for me. So I went to twitter to express my frustration and to hopefully get some response from United. I should have known better than to expect United to even acknowledge my tweet. Its been 3 days with no reply from United. I was pleasantly surprised that AA replied within 9 minutes…
With the AA status match offer and other frustrations as a United flyer, I would obviously not choose my preferred airline based on their social media presence, but this is just another of the ‘little things’ that United is managing horribly while their competitors are leaving them way behind. Delta is also very active on Twitter. United‘s twitter feed looks like they are mostly regurgitating marketing info and links to their website rather than actively maintaining a dialog with their customers.
I headed back to the United Club in the E terminal since I still had a while until the AA departure. The lovely agent in the club was quite apologetic and helped protect me on later United flights in case I didn’t make it on to the AA flight. Unfortunately this meant that I wouldn’t even leave DFW until 2:30 or so, almost 8 hours after I was originally scheduled to leave, but on a Friday, most flights are full.
While speaking to the agent, another passenger was leaving the club, so he spoke to her briefly. Before he left, he said something like “Thanks for keeping the Continental spirit alive”. I found that interesting, in that as a legacy United flyer, my bias is that Continental has ruined my airline, but I’m sure legacy Continental flyers feel the opposite. I guess reality is that both passenger groups and employees are stuck dealing with countless changes, and only the senior management will be truly happy as they fill their coffers thanks to this merger.
I headed back to the B terminal for my flight, and I waited patiently. After the plane was boarded, the gate agent called a few people who hadn’t boarded yet, but they all showed up. Finally she called my name, and I got a boarding pass. As I quickly moved towards the jetway, I heard her tell a passenger that she would process his bump. I may have taken a bump myself if offered, but I never got cleared on that flight until just before the door closed. I was in 16C on an ERJ-145, but I’m glad i finally made it home.
The nice agent at the United Club suggested I should get original routing credit for my flights since a mechanical issue caused me to be involuntarily rerouted. I haven’t had to deal with this since the March 3 PSS cutover. This seems obvious, but as I understand it, Continental isn’t as generous with this request as United used to be.