Right now I’m supposed to be picking up my suitcase from baggage claim at London Heathrow. Obviously, I’m not.
We got to the airport over two hours before our departure to find huge lines at the United Airlines desk. This did not bode well. Neither did the "cancelled" and "delayed" signs in front of just about every other outgoing United flight. After standing in line for what seemed an eternity, we were told that there was no way that our flight from Greenville to Washington would get us there in time for our connection to London, and that they would rebook us on the next thing available. Next available apparently means that we have to do this all over again the next day. Instead of flying through DC, we’re now flying through Chicago. We’re also arriving on Sunday instead of Saturday (assuming that this flight isn’t cancelled.) United has stolen a day from our vacation.
What I hate the most about these situations is a lack of communication. There was nothing to indicate why we were standing in line so long. People were confused about procedure, and I saw one poor jerk nearly get his head taken off when he tried to push ahead to the self check-in. Nothing was floating back our way but rumors.
Many of these folks had international connections, as did we. It was also obvious that many were business flyers. I’m sure their thoughts were that they had important things to attend to, but to me my vacation is just as important as their business. They can wait in line.
The unfortunate thing is that everyone – EVERYONE that was cancelled today was booked on the few flights that leave Saturday. We’re now potentially faced with overbooked situations on all these flights. The only excuse we were give was that it was due to "mechanical problems." Excuse me? You had "mechanical problems" on every blasted plane that was supposed to fly into Greenville Spartanburg??? Every other carrier in the airport had their flights leaving on time, and with no problems. I’ll go ahead and say it – United Airlines sucks!
As we left GSP, Laura was in tears and I felt the need to kick something. We had a nice dinner out, and came back to sort out arrangements with our tour company and to watch a movie with our house sitters (who were surprised to find us home.
We went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I had a perverse hope that this had happened for a reason – that maybe CNN would have news of that London flight being lost, and that the delay only saved our lives. While I would never truly wish for catastrophe for others, at least, I would love some satisfaction at the expense of the airline. You never really hear of anyone suing an airline for delayed or cancelled flights. I’m sure they have tons of clauses to supposedly prevent this I did find one online article that says that many have had some success suing in small claims court. It is, after all, a breach of contract. And by using small claims, the airlines can’t claim improper venue or jurisdiction, as is their usual tact.
I don’t think we’ll have to go as fas a small claims, but I do know that we’re going to be at GSP bright and early today, even though our flight leaves after 5:00 PM.
Follow-up: Try Googling the phrase "United Airlines sucks". Interesting reading.