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A, O, Way to go United

August 27, 2012

(With apologies to The Pretender’s My City Was Gone.)

After several weeks not on airplanes, it’s back to the rat race—and all continues to be not well with United. It seems that Mr. Smisek still can’t run an airline that pleases and rewards its most loyal customers. I could have titled this posting My Airline is Gone.

I’m writing this entry in Buenos Aires, Argentina after a ridiculous bout of travel. Here’s what happened.

I should have known when I had to book the flight to Buenos Aires through Newark that something was fishy. United used to fly nonstop from IAD, but no longer. (Last time I came to Argentina, I flew that route.) What could go wrong adding a leg in the opposite direction of where you’re actually going? Hah.

More back story. My horrendous United experience earlier this year when I was de-upgraded by the confluence of an asshole and a pathetic set of gate agents plus all of my other railing against United’s bad service and Smisek’s bad leadership, led to my getting a call from a special assistant to Mr. Smisek who offered to help smooth things over. She actually did what she said she would, getting my bribes for bad service through the system and working to make sure I was upgraded to business using my now-mostly-useless systemwide upgrades on this trip to Buenos Aires. Right.

So I was getting ready to head to the airport and I got an email stating that the flight from IAD->EWR had been cancelled. I immediately called United and they had booked me to fly through Houston the next day. You guessed it. No upgrade and inferior equipment with no lay flat beds. Their default plan B was more like plan Z. 11 hours in economy overnight with 35 degree recline. I’m too old for that nonsense.

I figured out an alternative, flying through Cleveland (?!) from DCA to get to EWR (with no time to spare), got it ticketed via phone, and started driving like a maniac to DCA. By the time I got there, that flight had been delayed by weather so long that I would miss the flight from Cleveland (?!) to EWR and thus miss the leg to Buenos Aires. Fortunately, there was a superb gate agent at DCA named Corwyn Jeffers who suggested that I take a train to EWR. Apparently United would put me on that train for free (though none of the agents on the phone know that). Corwyn issued me a voucher and I snagged a cab to Union Station with 25 minutes to spare. Amtrak to NY. Yes, indeedy.

Of course the train was delayed thirty-five minutes (late departure due to poor line management), one-tracking outside of Delaware, etc., and I made it to EWR exactly 47 minutes before scheduled takeoff. I hustled from the station to Terminal C only to discover that it was too late to check a bag. Off to a very slow security line where they confiscated my toothpaste (too big) and almost caused me to miss boarding. EWR has no elite security line late at night, so be prepared to wait and fret while little old ladies who have apparently never flown before but who are ahead of you in line attempt to dig their laptops out of their suitcase.

Anyway, after all that nonsense I made it on the plane along with the last four Group 6 people still in line. I slept in my lay flat bed, all sweaty from the running. Takeoff was delayed for maintenance paperwork, but we landed on time. The crew was great.

But was the trip as a whole great? Not really. As we said back in Tennessee where I grew up, United can’t win for losing.

2 Responses to “A, O, Way to go United”


  1. […] the nonsense that it took to get to Argentina, it was great to take a shower at the Bobo Hotel again in Buenos Aires. I am in room #5 at my […]


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