Why I Hate United Airlines

By

Leonard Zwelling

It had been a great trip up until the day of our departure back from Scotland to Houston.

We had motored down from Nairn in the Highlands late Thursday after playing the last of our six golf courses there. The journey took almost four hours as traffic was horrible, but we made it to the Doubletree at the airport in Edinburgh scheduled to go to Chicago and then on to Houston the next morning.

As my friend said, “Ha!”

Friday morning, we checked in without a hitch and sat in the lounge until it was time to board. We got on the plane and settled in. Then…

The pilot announced that the weather radar was not working on the plane and that we cannot fly without it. (I actually thought that part made sense). Why the ground crew waited until the moment of departure to check this is beyond me.

I almost finished watching a movie before the pilot decided that: (1) it HAD to be be repaired, (2) there were no replacement parts in Edinburgh, and (3) the flight was cancelled and we all had to be rebooked for a flight tomorrow. We marched off the plane and walked about half a mile to baggage pick-up where we waited and waited. Our bags came off at the very end. What that meant was that we were on the end of the line to get rebooked, receive hotel vouchers and get meal vouchers, too.

So after wheeling our bags and golf bags out to the United counter we were on a line over one hundred people in length being serviced by only two counters. We would have been there for several more hours had son Andrew not leapt into action and told a third desk that his father was old and couldn’t stand that long and that we had been already notified by email of our new boarding passes for the next day. Andrew got us the vouchers early.

Then we had to wheel the bags on trolleys another half mile or so to the hotel (no shuttle service) and check in. We were kind of trapped there. Where can you go at the Edinburgh airport?

We did call United and after they put me on a phone queue that allowed them to call me back, confirmed that we were indeed booked and confirmed on a flight the next day. Of course. They are going to fix the very plane we were on and fly it the next day. There are no other planes here and the pilots’ window for rest was exceeded at 4:30 PM, about the time we reached the hotel. Stuck!

I even tried to book a flight for the next day a bit earlier than our scheduled flight. There were none available on any other airline to the States.

So why do I hate United Airlines?

This is at least the fourth or fifth such delay experienced by my family this year.

Being in Houston, you are kind of stuck having to use United now that they bought out Continental. Service has gone down hill after the purchase.

Many of the employees are rude and ill-informed.

Once the radar was broken the vouchers should have been printed out and distributed on the plane. Why bother making everyone wait on the same line. Everyone needs the same thing. Be ready!

I recently wrote a blog about people doing bad things because they can. United can be a poor airline because they have a virtual monopoly in Houston and have captured all of us. What can we do?

Hopefully, we will indeed receive a flight voucher as promised as well. As the BW says, after her trip never reaching Cleveland for an important lecture because of mechanical problems and weather and our trip to New York being delayed for four hours for the same reasons, we may have enough free travel vouchers to fly to Hawaii. Maybe the Moon.

United Airlines is bad because it can be. The airlines need more competition. I have no illusions that any other airlines flying domestically are any better except Southwest and they ordered all those 737 Max planes.

Like so much of the service sector, air travel has deteriorated in quality even as it has improved in safety.

United—get with the program. This is no way to run an airline!

Leonard Zwelling