Bullitt's Bros

Monday, May 07, 2007

Don't Fly United Airlines

I would normally never blog about something as generally insignificant as a bad experience with air travel, but what I received at the hands of United Airlines makes me want to warn the rest of you to stay away from them forever. I assume they are the official airline of Hell.

Here we go.

I bought my tickets two months ago and I asked for aisle seats on every flight. I typically use Orbitz and so far, if I booked far enough in advance, I have always gotten my aisle seats.

The crux of the problem is the "seating management cards" I received as opposed to seating assignments. Here's where my warnings to the rest of you come in because this could happen to any of you as it's United's policy to randomly give these out. What this means is that your requests for seating are ignored and you are given whatever seat happens to be left over after other seating arrangements for other people are sorted out (what these are, I am not sure but I received this card at 3 of my 4 flights).

FLIGHT 1 - Los Angeles to Washington D.C.

I asked for aisle. I got middle. I was seated next to a guy who was so fat I had to lean on him like a pillow. He was near 400 pounds. I was supposed to cuddle a stranger for 5 hours. I asked if he could get his arms out of my seat and he said, "It's not my fault my shoulders are so broad." I said, "It's not your shoulders." This was apparent to everyone as it was his elbows, courtesy of his super-gut, that were helping themselves to half my seat. This was untenable. I asked every stewardess I could find to get me a new seat and they all said no until the last minute and I was able to get... a window seat. Better than the fat guy, yes, but still not what I asked for.

FLIGHT 2 - Washington D.C. to Dayton, Ohio.

Asked for aisle. Got window. Why? No idea.

FLIGHT 3 - Dayton, Ohio to Denver, Colorado (connection to LAX)

Got a call from Orbitz that my flight was delayed. Called United about it and they assured me it was on time. I asked the lady when my flight was scheduled to depart. She said 3:31. I asked when the flight before was scheduled to land. She said 3:32. This seems to be an obvious problem. I asked how my flight could depart while it was still a minute from landing and she said as long as the computer said it was on time there was nothing she could do and I should get to the airport. So I did.

At the airport they assured me I would get to my connection to LAX on time. I got another seating management card and so, again, I was seated at a window. The plane took a long way around to avoid that storm that's been threatening the Midwest and that made me miss the plane to LAX causing more problems. But before you say, "Good thing they avoided that storm!" The problem is, we didn't. We flew through it anyway and I got to experience genuine roller-coaster ride turbulence. Nothing better than literally hearing people shrieking prayers to God to make you think perhaps Frontier airlines would have been a better choice.

So the plane landed and I missed my flight to LAX. This was at 5pm and I was told at the help desk there were no flights until the next day, which seems kind of nuts. I waited 30 minutes to get this word and then wound up dealing with a new guy (by this I mean new to the job, not new to this Earth as he was at least five thousand years old). I wound up dealing with him for 45 minutes and at one point I actually passed out from frustration. Of course, I just mimed this but it prompted the next guy in line to ask, "are you okay? I said, "Yes. I am doing this for the drama." It got me a few laughs but it did not get me home.

They gave me a voucher for the Denver Doubletree. I asked about getting my roller board with my toiletries out of baggage but they said it would take too long so if I went to carousel 16 they would give me a bag of toiletries for one night. I went to carousel 16 where I was told they had no toiletries and had been out since the day before. Of course.

So I wound up going to the Denver Doubletree, a convenient 40 minutes from the Denver airport. Of course 40 minutes. Why give me a hotel that was actually near the airport? Denversons are made of heartier stuff than that level of convenience would warrant I suppose. So with no change of clothes and no toiletries I went in for the night.

More crap happened but let's just get to the flight. I was in 33 F. All the way in the back. At a window. I had taken a shower but I was wearing the same clothes and had no deodorant. Worse for the people next to me but United makes us all suffer.


I landed at LAX. I went to the carousel to get my luggage. It didn't show up. Why would it? So I would up waiting about 2 more hours for them to find it for me.

So fly United. If you want to tell stories like this. Mother fuckers.


  • Bummer. I recently had a flight from Hell with Northwest. Teh sad part is when no one who works for the airlines seems to care when shit happens.

    By Blogger MRPIGG, at 1:29 AM  

  • While Europe is behind the U.S. in many, many things, air travel here is actually sane, efficient, and cheap.

    Based on my many flights in the U.S., I'd have to say that American Airlines is the least bad airline there (not great, but consistently tolerable). With the new 'open skies' agreement worked out between the US and EU, though, I'm hoping to simply take British Airways everywhere possible in the future.

    By Blogger Akrasia, at 5:50 AM  

  • i think you're the only grown man i know who uses the word "toiletries."

    and i thank you for that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:28 AM  

  • Wow. I've been in such a storm before, but I always sang my prayers.

    By Blogger Bobcat, at 11:57 PM  

  • Egad. I had no idea it was this bad.

    I'm starting to reeeeeaaaaally regret my experimental trip coming up in August with skybus.

    I saved $180, we'll see if it's worth it.


    By Blogger Mikey Y, at 1:54 AM  

  • That sounds absolutely terrible. The worst I ever had was, after missing a flight, a airline worker told me I could rent a car and to drive the 2 hours home and be reimbursed. I repeatedly told them that I had never heard of any airline ever having this policy and she continued to tell me with a straight face that it had always been their policy. I didn't actually test it.... America West everybody

    By Blogger Christer, at 11:17 AM  

  • As a Canadian, I would just assume that this was what I deserved.

    Couldn't there be some sort of matching program that would require a fat person to delay plane travel until an extremely thin person wanted to fly the same route?

    By Blogger Andy, at 5:28 PM  

  • I just had a similar problem with United - see my blog at http://shannonclark.wordpress.com for all the details - summary, my connecting flight from Chicago to Madison was canceled (not delayed, totally canceled), the automatically rebooked me on a flight the next morning! (Unacceptable so I just spent $25 and 3+ hours and took a bus), only to have my luggage not arrive in Madison until 11:45pm (but they did not tell me it was there) and they refused to deliver it to my hotel, instead I had to waste my time the next day to get out to the airport and retrieve my luggage.

    United indeed is the worst airline I have flown on in a very long time.

    I personally think American is neck & neck in terms of being bad. The only decent US carriers I have flown with are Southwest and Jet Blue. I'm optimistic that Virgin America may be decent when the launch as well.


    By Blogger Shannon, at 10:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home