United Airlines — Not!

united.com. Yikes, after flying with them this week, I won’t do it again for a long time. It took us hours to get out of O’Hare but the scary thing is why given that it was clear and beautiful and it wasn’t about weather, but I think about minimum maintenance and a totally demoralized workforce:

# In On Time, No Gate. We fly from Boston to Chicago. The plane has no gate. We wait 20 minutes for one.
# We still have 15 minutes to make the 3PM to Seattle. We get there, the woman closes the door, looks at us and says, no way, you have to wait. We watch the plane take off.
# We go for the 4PM. Flight is delayed 40 minutes with mechanical out of Columbus. The ground staff says it was 11 minutes delay, so not clear why it is late. Flight arrives 4:10PM.
# They get everyone on board. Then the pilot says, “well, the two lavatories out of three have water running through them.” This is BTW, a brand new A-320. 20 minutes to get someone to fix.
# We taxi out and are #1 for take off. We pull over to a taxiway. 40 minutes later, the captain says, “we have a minor mechanical and are trying to reset.” 30 minutes later, she says, “uh, we can’t get the weather radar to work, it’s not safe to takeoff.” Back to the gate. They are not letting anyone off. They are waiting to try to get a part in 10 minutes and then install it in 10 minutes. That doesn’t inspire confidence to me anyway.
# We get off to try to make the 7:40PM. A little running across to another concourse. There is a shiny new 767. Get seats. We are happy. Everyone boards.
# At 7:40PM, the captain says, “uh, we have to change some tires, it will be 40 minutes delay.” I overhear a passenger who had landed on that plane, “of course, there was a huge boom when we landed, the tires exploded.”
# At 8:30PM, captain says, “uh, they have to change the other tires.” (!!!). At 8:50PM we are ready to take off. In all that time, the flight attendants are reading magazines and books. No accomodation, no apologies.
# We take off finally and half the lavatories on the plane aren’t work. We get a short apology, but that’s it.

Hmmm. Sounds to me like someone has been cutting down on preventative maintenance. Why do tires explode on landing. Why do radars fail and lavatories stop working. Thank goodness in Seattle there are alternatives like Alaska, JetBlue (awesome) and ATA (cheap to Chicago).

I’ve been a loyal United flyer since 1982. My United Visa card I got in 1992. Not too many miles, I think it is 400K real lifetime miles. Amazing how easy it is to blow it. I’m glad that at least there are some choices. Most folks don’t have any particularly if they are in Denver, Chicago or smaller cities in the midwest.