The bags were packed. Boarding passes printed. Kids hyped about heading to Hawaii for the first time. All in all this was turning out to be a great vacation.
I’ll admit I’m not a frequent flyer. Most of my travel is vacation oriented with my family. I had never flown with United Airlines before either but we paid to upgrade to their Economy Plus seats for more leg room and to ensure we were all sitting together (we were travelling with three kids 8 and under). We couldn’t get a non-stop flight to Honolulu from Buffalo, the city we started our journey from, but we were able to book a flight with just one stopover in Chicago. When you’re traveling with kids in tow, the least amount of stopovers is ideal.
The 9-hour second length of our trip would be long but fortunately the 777 plane we were scheduled to fly was equipped with a centre row of 5 seats; I was able to book the whole family to sit together in one row, our own row. We’ve never been able to do that before so I was sort of looking forward to that part of the trip.
Then we arrived at the airport and smiles turned into frowns thanks to United Airlines.
When we arrived early for our 8 a.m. flight, we were told it would be delayed by an hour and half. This of course meant our initial connecting flight, tight but doable in an hour, would be missed. We were rerouted. Now instead of it being a 12-hour flight with a short, single stopover in Chicago, we were now head for a 15-hour journey consisting of a stopover in both Chicago and Las Angeles.
I know what you’re thinking, delays happen when traveling. And sure, if there had been bad weather, such as a snowstorm, I couldn’t fault the airline over that; they have no control over the weather. But snow wasn’t the issue; weather wasn’t the issue. It seems our plane was delayed arriving the night before. Safety regulations require that the crew receive a specific amount of rest before their next flight. This meant that they wouldn’t be able to fly out as originally planned. I have no issue with the regulation. I know how draining flying ca be as a passenger let alone someone who’s flying the plane. No, the issue I have is that United Airlines didn’t schedule another crew. By delaying the initial flight to Chicago, United Airlines inconvenienced hundreds of passengers, their customers. Connections would be missed, flights rerouted; the plane itself, if scheduled for a follow-up flight, would be delayed affecting a whole other set of passengers. It was a ripple effect.
How hard would it have been to schedule a new crew, inconvenience their employees not their customers? Perhaps I’m being naive but if their pilot became sick the night before would they just postpone or cancel all that pilot’s flights for the next day? I’m guessing not. They would have brought a new pilot on so what makes this case different?
Now on the remaining two legs of our trip we would have to negotiate with gate staff and other passengers to ensure we could not only get our Economy Plus seats we paid for but also ensure we could sit together as a family, or at the very least have each child sitting with at least one parent.
To make matters worse, just as we were getting ready to pull away from the docking platform the pilot announced that the tractor used to pull the plane out wasn’t working and they needed to get a new one. Plus the plane needed to be de-iced. This would mean an additional delay of 20-minutes. Now you would think that United Airlines, knowing that their customers already weren’t happy with the delay, would make every effort to ensure there were no further delays on this flight. Now there was concern that our already rescheduled flights would have to be rescheduled, again.
Thankfully our two stopovers were short and since the planes were domestic we didn’t need to worry about checking in again or collecting our bags. The gate attendants were very helpful in ensuring that each child was sitting with a parent. The rest of the trip went without any delays or complications. The extra delay pushed us from an afternoon arrival into an evening one. This made for very tired and cranky kids but at least we were there on the same day and our vacation was about to start.
We head home on United Airlines with the intention of flying with one stopover and sitting together. Hopefully our return journey will go much smoother, ending on a positive note.
Now on the remaining two legs of our trip we would have to negotiate gate staff and other passengers to ensure we could not only get our Economy Plus seats we paid for but also ensure we could sit together as a family, or at the very least have each child sitting with at least one parent.
This thought still fresh in my mind, the pilot made an announcement just as we were preparing to pull away from the docking platform. Now you would think that United Airlines, knowing that their customers already weren’t happy with the delay, would make every effort to ensure there were no further delays on this flight. I guess they forgot this when they announced there would be an additional 20-minute delay due to equipment malfunction (the tractor that pulls the plane away from the docking station wasn’t working) and de-icing. Now there was concern that our already rescheduled flights would have to be rescheduled, again.
Although our vacation started with stress and frowns and yes it could have gotten off on