Communication nightmare on United (Part 1)

I know I haven’t written here in a while – things got quite busy with work and life. I’m hoping to continue regular posting. In that vein, here is a recent story (last night) about a horrible experience my wife and I had before a United flight from Newark to Fort Lauderdale.

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My wife and I planned a trip to stay in Delray Beach at my parent’s condo. I wrote about this recently as I was excited to plan and execute a trip for less than $500. We were to fly out at 7:14pm yesterday, December 23, one of the worst times to travel in the country, but I thought with 4 hours to get from work to the gate, we would be fine. It all started going downhill when, at 3:00pm, I got a text message from United saying our flight was delayed:

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 5.48.53 PM

I immediately got on the phone with my Mileage Plus Explorer Card phone number. I did have to wait about 15 minutes on hold, but the agent did her best to find me two other seats later that night on United and on American or Delta. I was pleasantly surprised by her effort, but nothing worked. Unfortunately, she would not let me put on hold a ticket for the next day just in case.

She did tell me, however, that my flight was actually delayed by 3 hours and wouldn’t leave until around 10pm. I kept checking the United flight status page but it hadn’t updated. Once I got off the phone with her, I received this text message:

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 5.50.20 PM

I called my wife and my parents so everyone knew what to expect. My wife stayed at work and I went home. Little did I realized but things can change rapidly, as noted on the United Flight Status page:

* United Airlines will do everything practical to ensure we provide the most accurate flight status information at all times. However, situations change quickly and many factors affect our scheduled operations. Please understand that a flight listed as “Delayed” may, depending on the circumstances, depart “On Time.” Unless your flight has been listed as “cancelled” we suggest you always check-in for the original scheduled departure time of your flight.

So, really, I shouldn’t have been surprised to receive this text message about 20 minutes after I had ordered a burger for delivery:

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 5.52.35 PM

At this point it was 4:45pm and my carefully planned relaxed method of getting to the airport was done for. We both left our respective locations immediately and booked it to the airport. Subways were working fine but we got drenched in the downpour of rain that was brought in with a warm front (to make a rainy Christmas, oy). When we met each other at Penn Station, we could relax a little bit more since I received the final important text message of the evening:
Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 5.54.05 PMThe story doesn’t end there, however. You will have to stay tuned for the next installment soon!

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