Sunday, August 1, 2010

the first day of my vacation or how i learned to hate united airlines

i'm going to write about each day of my mini-vacation separately. they'll probably all be pretty long but there will be lots of pictures too!

i am a southwest airlines girl ALL THE WAY. even if i'm not flying with a buddy pass (standby passes given to me by friends who work for them) i purchase my flights on swa. their service is just the best in the industry. last summer i flew united to san francisco and had no real problems, other than my personal complaint that they charge $25 to check a bag. anyway, my flights to philadelphia and back were booked on a friend's united miles so obviously that was the most cost effective way for me to get out there. i left austin on a 2.5 hour flight bound for chicago. everything went well on that flight other than some seriously disruptive passengers (which i can't totally blame on the airline). i arrived at o'hare with 2 hours to kill until my connecting flight to philadelphia. i had a nice long phone date with my friend robin and then it was time to board the flight.

as soon as all the passengers were boarded and buckled into their seats we heard this loud crash and the whole plane shook. it turns out that homeboy who was fueling the plane drove his truck into the aircraft. we had to wait about an hour to find out that they did not have another plane for our flight so it was then cancelled. then the announcement was made that there were only a few seats left on any flight out of o'hare to philly until 9:00 that night but that all of our luggage would be leaving on the 2:00 flight with our without us. the gate agent assisted several people in booking on other flights then all but refused to accommodate me in anyway. he told me that all the seats were now full until 9:00 but that i could try standby to get on an earlier flight. then he informed me that united bases their standby on your status with their company. well, i don't have a status with united! i told him that and he said that after status they rank the passengers in order of how much they paid for their flights. my flight was booked on miles so that essentially made me the lowest status passenger ever to fly united, apparently.

the gate agent then told me that i had to go to the customer service desk in order to be booked on another flight. i walked over (it was just across the hall) and found that there was no one there so i went back to my gate. the guy said, "i told you to go to customer service!" when i told him that there was no one there to help me his response was, "well there should be." should be? well there isn't! ugh. i saw a guy from my cancelled flight talking to a woman at a different gate counter so i went over there. i overheard her help him get on the standby list as well as booking him a seat on the 9:00 flight. when i walked up she looked at me and said, "this isn't customer service, you know." i repeated the same thing to her that i told the other guy and she said, "this isn't our problem. we have our own flights to worry about." nice. really nice. i understand that i'm not her problem but i felt like she could have offered to call someone over to work the customer service desk or something. instead she gave me attitude when she could clearly see that i was already upset.

i walked back to the customer service desk and waited about 45 minutes for 2 women to finally show up. i was the first person in line so i walked up, handed one of the women all of the paperwork i had and said, "i need to get to philadelphia today." this is when things got pretty ugly.

customer service: well the 9:00 flight is full so you're booked to leave at 6:00 tomorrow morning.
me: where am i supposed to sleep?
customer service: they should give you a hotel voucher.
me: should?
customer service: yeah.
me: but my checked bag is going to philadelphia in 2 hours?
customer service: yeah.
me: no it's not. if i'm spending the night in this city, so is my suitcase.
customer service: no it's not.
me: yes it is. i want my suitcase back now.
customer service: you're not getting your bag back today.
me: yes i am.
customer service: no you are not.
me: you need to get someone over here immediately that will actually accommodate me because all you've done is tell me no and that is absolutely unacceptable.
customer service: (as she rolls her eyes) i'll call a supervisor.

i was livid at this point. i tried to be calm but that woman was seriously the worst person i've ever dealt with in my life. i started crying while i was waiting for the supervisor. i'm honestly surprised it took me that long to cry because i was pretty worked up the entire time. around 12:45 i asked them to call for a supervisor again because if i was really going to be stuck there until the next morning, i needed my suitcase which was schedule to take off at 2:00. a little before 1:00 a supervisor finally showed up and he was a ray of sunshine.

supervisor: what can we do for you?
me: well i need to get out of this airport and that woman told me the earliest i could leave was 6:00 tomorrow morning.
supervisor: okay, well let me see. (he started typing away into his computer)
me: and if i'm going to stay here i demand to have my suitcase back.
supervisor: that's going to be tough but let me see what i can do. (he called down to baggage and was put on hold while they went to find my bag)
supervisor: wait, you said you were booked at 6:00 tomorrow morning?
me: that's what she told me.
supervisor: you're not actually booked on any flights but we have seats available at 9:00 tonight, would you just like to do that?

my jaw dropped. first of all, that bitch told me there were no seats on the 9:00. secondly, she told me she booked me on the 6:00 and she didn't. if i had not escalated my situation to the point where a supervisor had to come over, i probably wouldn't have known that i wasn't booked until the next morning when i tried to check in and then there would have been a good chance that it would be full by that point. so, i was finally booked on a flight going to philadelphia that day (albeit it SEVERAL hours later than planned).

in total i spent 12 hours roaming the hallways of o'hare on wednesday. so, obviously i took some pictures!

up next: quakertown and sellersville! 

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