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cog (4665)

Journal of cog (4665)

Monday July 03, 2006
12:52 PM

United Airlines, never again

[ #30157 ]

It all started when I was checking in...

  - They tell me my flight will take me to London Heathrow, but my flight from London to Lisbon... departs from Gatwick... and I won't have time to take it. And there's nothing they can do about it.

  - I ask for an aisle seat; they say they'll call my name near the boarding gate and only then will my seat be assigned; I should ask there.

  - Passing security, I realized how cattle must feel like. A bunch of people together passing through tight security, demanding things like shoes to be removed, but not asking the usual questions like "did anyone gave you anything to put in your bagage" (I found that odd).

  - Getting to the gate, I find what looks like a small room for a small domestic flight with the need to accomodate around 340 people... No place to seat.

  - When they start calling people by name, I am presented with one of the worst sound systems ever. Out of the 5 people calling names, none of them is clearly heard. Two of them don't even get their voice through to the speakers... but they don't even notice it.

  - A man makes some general announcements... The poor sound system in conjunction with his Chinese English makes it impossible to distinguish the words coming out of his mouth (but I believe it was something about boarding first class first).

  - I'm really close to the counter, so even though the sound system operates poorly, I can still hear what they say... Almost everybody's in line to board, but I'm not, because despite the fact that they told me they'd call me... they didn't, so a man behind the counter calls me up... he asks me my name and my ticket, I provide him with those, and he brutely hands my a seat... Therefore, I did not have the chance to ask for an aisle seat (which I didn't get, and I wouldn't, even if I said something, because there were only a couple of seats left on the plane and none of them as I wanted). There were other people waiting to be called too who never did; they just called them by pointing at them, noticing how lost they looked.

  - Boarding is made from front rows to back rows... Not very clever, considering you're entering by the front of the airplane, because now everybody has to wait for everybody else who got in first to get out of the way.

  - Despite the existence of two corridors on the airplane, they send everybody through the same one... I got tired of waiting and crossed a row of seats to my corridor, and then I moved easily to the back of the airplane.

  - I get in my seat, try putting my backpack (with my laptop) below the seat in front of mine (as I always do) when I notice... that I can't... because instead of having the supports for the seats between each two seats, there are supports right in the middle of each seat, making it impossible for someone to use that space.

  - We take off (after some delay which was explained as "we still have a cargo door opened") and after a while dinner is served... when they get to my row, there's no longer the choice between Pasta and Beef, there's only Beef...

  - Since there's only one person serving the food in each corridor, by the time that person goes around to serve the drinks... everybody's finished eating and is desperately trying to shove the last remains of food down a dry throat.

  - Night passes, I'm not able to sleep because of some anoying passengers, mornings comes, and with it breakfast... but, unfortunately, the drinks were late again...

  - We get to London. The captain proudly announces that we arrived 25 minutes earlier... And for the next half an hour we wait for a place to park the plain... After that we still wait a bit longer for the doors to open...

  - We are to be taken by busses to the terminal. However, there are not enough busses, so after half the passengers disembark, the rest of us are left to wait for the next round once again...

  - I finally get off the plain, take the bus, get out of it at some terminal, rush past everybody and everything, get first place to the bagage reclaim and see my bag passing by, grab it and proceed right away to the exit. I try to find TAP and I'm told they operate in terminal 2. I'm pointed in their direction. However... instead of pointing me to a bus that would have taken me there... they point me to the long-walk way there... :-(

  - Some 15 - 20 minutes later I finally get to terminal 2... I rush by people and TAP counters, I'm told there's some flight to Lisbon delayed that I can probably take, get them to change my ticket, pay 45 GBP, check-in, somebody tells me the flight is delayed and I say it's OK anyway because the flight I was going to take was just going to be in about two hours, so I'm actually ahead of schedule.

At this point, now dealing with TAP, things got much easier. And no, it is not related with the people being Portuguese, because they weren't. One of them was Brazillian, one was, I believe, Spanish, and I didn't get the nationality of the third one, but quite definitely he wasn't Portuguese.

Anyway, there were many other things I can't remember ATM. Believe me, I have a bunch of complaints IRT UA.

Well, at least I'm home...

United Airlines?

Never again, thank you.

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  • My sympathies on your unfortunate experience. I suspect that to get from Lisbon to Chicago you probably didn't have a large selection of airlines on which to book. The major U.S. airlines have all been in and out of bankruptcy in recent years and have "solved" their problems in two ways:
    1. Major attacks on the wages, pensions and working conditions of their employees from top (the pilots) to the bottom (gate personnel).
    2. Fine-tuning of their ticket sales algorithms to ensure very high seat occupancy rations
  • Who would have thought I would be able to use that word so soon? Seriously, I'm bummed that that you had such a terrible flight. That makes two airlines [] on my blacklist. :-(

  • ... had two choice, United at $1,500 or Qantas at $2,500.

    I'm hardly expecting amazing service on a cheap airline.

    And to be fair, it wasn't THAT bad for my trip.

    One day, if you get a chance, fly by military transport. You'll never bitch about commercial airlines again.

    Although on the flip side, with military if you are allowed to fly it you can just turn up at the airport and take any seat available for free without prebooking... so that's of course way better.