Had I only known what United Airlines was capable of, I
would have certainly fought for those Cheez-Its Friday night… Stories of travel disaster are sort of
like stories about peculiar dreams.
They are crushingly boring unless it happened to you. Yet, I think this is a pretty good one,
so stick with me.
Flying from San Francisco to Cleveland on United is no
picnic. There is only one direct
flight each way. The return flight
is at the horribly inconvenient time of 145p, which results in landing at about
930p after the time change. This
leads me to have to make some grim decisions. There is a flight that leaves at 11:11p and connects through
Chicago at 550am to Cleveland for an 8am arrival. This provides the illusion of saving time and arriving back
at home crisp and fresh, ready to take on the day. In reality you arrive like a torn out dish towel, more
animal than man. Still, in an
effort to be as productive as possible I decided to go that way.
As you may recall from an earlier post, I was delayed on my
trip coming out here “due to air traffic control”. There was a wild rumor that electricity was out in San
Francisco. Hey, what can you do? Electricty is working great today! As far as I can tell, the
infrastructure here in the Bay Area looks tip top. So I entered into this evening’s redeye flight with a
positive attitude. I had to kill
hours upon hours waiting for the flight, but with the sheer amount of time I
would save flying at night, I’d be way ahead! My enthusiasm began to wane when the push alerts for my
flight being delayed began to arrive.
It was a gorgeous sunny day in San Francisco today. It was very confusing why so many
flights on United were being delayed.
I then got an alert that my flight to Chicago would be delayed to the point
that I would miss my Cleveland connection. The last time that happened I had to rent a Hyundai at
O’Hare and make a sleepless drive at 85 mph though Indiana where a cop pulled
me over and said “I never want to see you again” after I offered him a bite of
my egg bagel sandwich as a reward for letting me out of a speeding ticket. I called my good friends at United to
discuss a flight that I could take as I would miss the one they had booked me
one initially. Great news! They could get me on a flight… at
So my scenario was this… I could either fly overnight to
Chicago where I would arrive and have to kill 8 hours and 45 minutes in the
airport. With that much time, I
could probably have interviewed for and secured a job at Chili’s, and then had my
first shift. There is no doubt
some upside there. Chili’s has a
great reputation. I could also
have stayed up all night and then rented that Hyundai for the suicide drive to
Ohio for a approximate 230p arrival after dropping off the rental/getting my
car. Who doesn’t like to have the
chance to really open up a Hyundai Sonata on those pristine Indiana roads? Instead I decided to eliminate the
chance for United to fuck me like a stranger in the ass and go for the direct
flight tomorrow. I had to cut my
I then sashayed on over to the customer service desk in the
hopes of bullying my way into a hotel voucher. There were about 50 people there in various stages of losing
their minds. Still, I was thinking
a logical person employed by United would say “Wow! We really have fucked you over hard twice in the last three
days. Let me get you a hotel my
man!”. Surprisingly, this is not
what happened. I went to the
representative and noted I had been fucked like a stranger in the ass all
weekend by the airline. She told
me that I could have a coupon for a discount hotel booking website. I mentioned how this had been their
fault, so perhaps they could pick up the tab. She said it wasn’t their fault as
it wasn’t mechanical in nature.
Well, what was the problem?
“Due to air traffic control”.
This was when I asked for a definition of what that term meant.
The woman at the counter then told me that “The US
government determines when we can take off and land the planes. It is out of our control. And with the
construction project on the runway…”
A-ha! I knew it! This was when I countered with “Yes,
but it wasn’t like United Airlines didn’t know about a planned construction
project. You could have adjusted
flight schedules accordingly instead of letting everyone book knowing full well
that you’d miss all these connections.
That was 100% in your control.
That’s unethical even for United, and I say that knowing that you just
pistol whipped some senior citizen.”
That was when she just stared at me and smirked.
Now a laugh I could deal with, but the smirk is tough. That’s the expression to let me know
that I have no power and she considers it amusing that I am trapped in SF with
no hotel and no way to get them to be held accountable. I went from being inquisitive to very
annoyed. “Excuse me. Why are you smirking at me?” Sir. Sir. I am a human being.
Sometimes I am happy and I need to show my emotions. “So me being trapped here without a
place to sleep makes you happy?”
Sir. I am smiling at something
else. “What are you smiling
at?” Sir, I don’t have to tell you
This was when the dynamic really changed between us. She was sitting behind one of those
dramatic United counters with the logos.
She was just smirking away.
“Are you under the impression that this counter is a moat and I can’t
get over this? Is that what you
think? Because I am 100% confident
I can, and I know that dude over there that looks like Jessie Ventura can
too…” That was when the Jessie
Ventura guy said “You bet I can!”. So she decided to do what any customer
service rep in that situation would do.
She went on break. The
crowd really went crazy then. A
promise was made to get “The Supervisor”.
I waited for “The Supervisor” for about 45 minutes with a
dozen other people. Six of them
were beyond reason with rage. They
had ceased to be humans. They had
some horrible story about not connecting through to Philly and now had to stay
at the airport until 345p tomorrow and United wouldn’t get them hotels. “The Supervisor” never came. Frankly, I don’t think that
person exists. I think it was a
way to put the crazy people on ice.
I called the coupon number for my superdeal discount hotel. They had one available for me. It was a one star lodging. I didn’t know one star lodging even
existed. I would have stayed
there, but I didn’t have a prostitute I was going to murder or have any cocaine
I needed to smoke, so I thought that might not be the right lodging for
me. Instead I called a hotel
directly and negotiated a discounted rate at a place United said was sold out.
Tomorrow is a new day.
I know United Airlines is going to fuck me over in a way I can’t even
imagine yet. I have been running
scenarios through my head, but I know they are working on something really
great. The gloves are off
now. They have stopped pretending
to give even a single fuck. There
will be no coupon, no rebate, or even a sorry offered to me. They are going to continue to just
dominate me until I lay on the floor submissively and cry. Only then will they provide the basic
service for which I have already paid them. I need to see if this hotel shuttle will swing by some
bondage shop in the morning so I can get my Gimp outfit. I know they booked me back row in the
middle. That Gimp outfit will make
that flight nice and comfy.