Well I’ll say it for real: My days flying United Airlines are over. This could be difficult, given that I live in Denver, their hub. But I’m going to try and avoid this company to the best of my ability. And here’s why.
So yesterday I was flying from Allentown, PA to Denver. I had to connect in Chicago for just a one hour layover. Around 2pm I’m on a huge 777 plane about to take off for Denver, when the Captain comes on the intercom. He informs us that some people on the left side of the airplane saw us hit another plane with our wing. Now I immediately believe people in situations like this, but the Captain was all sorts of sure that these people must have “seen something flying in the wind.” That’s crazy. I’d put $100 on my peeps on the left side o’ the aircraft. The Captain says that as a precaution, we have to go back to the gate and have it checked out. He sounded real annoyed, and told everyone not to get up, because he was sure we’d be taking off in a matter of minutes after it’s looked at. So about 10 minutes goes by, and the Captain is back on the intercom…only this time he is informing us that indeed we hit another airplane, and the left wing is all jacked up. (OK, so he didn’t say “jacked up” exactly, but gave some sort of explanation saying the wing was basically mangled. Hence, my interpretation.)
All 300 people are now asked to get off the airplane, and about 299 of them get in a big-ass line to speak to one solitary gate agent. But I know better. I go to the bar, order a Sam Adams and get on the phone with United’s 800 number. Silly non-travelers. I tried to tell a few people in line that standing in line wasn’t going to get them anywhere, but they ignored me. 7 minutes later I was confirmed on the next available flight leaving 5 hours later. In the meantime, United claimed they had “fixed the problem” and called in another crew to fly the plane. Now, I don’t quite understand how you “fix” a jacked up wing in just an hour. That’s gotta be some sort of record. The new crew arrived shortly thereafter, and get this…they refuse to fly the plane! Now I have one rule about air travel: If a crew refuses to fly an airplane, you should refuse to ride on it! So I decided to wait out the later flight and make a lot of new friends in the airport bar.
The debacle continued, but for the sake of ending this blog posting, the day ended with me getting home to Denver around 11pm safe and sound. It made me think about a lot of things in regards to what I speak about for a living. First off, why don’t we trust people’s vision and intuition immediately when they alert us to danger? Why do bureaucratic airlines try and put people in danger for the sake of getting a plane to it’s next destination, despite professional crew members saying it’s unsafe?