United Airlines screws up again

So I was sitting in my extra-legroom seat on the plane at O’Hare (I got a “premier” upgrade for having big mileage) shortly before departure at 7:30 pm. Five minutes after the scheduled departure time, the captain comes on the intercom to announce that there’s a mechanical problem. Another hour passes and we’re asked to deplane. There was apparently a “wing issue”. We’re now scheduled for departure at 11 pm, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Of course they gave us no information, so I gleaned this by going to the United customer service center.

I used to be a loyal United customer, but this is the second time in two consecutive international flights that they’ve had a big delay. I am no longer a loyal customer: now I expect delays and scanty information.

Oh, and I asked for a food voucher (and got one) because I was starving, but did they tell us we were entitled to them? Guess! In the world of United, only the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

With any luck I should get to Paris only four hours late. With any luck . . .



  1. Joe Dickinson
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, the not telling you anything useful is the most annoying thing about airline delays. why they seem too think that is the best policy is a mystery to me.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      I know! Just providing information makes customers so much more happy. Airline delays & Pre-ops are two processes that could do with am improvement in how long they make people wait wondering what the next step is & how much longer they have to endure waiting.

    • Posted November 4, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I think that, generally, there is a culture of “you can’t admit your company screwed up without permission from above”. People get paralysed because they think “if I admit the real reason, there might be a lawsuit and I might get fired”.

  2. Damien
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    You’re in Paris ? Contact me !

  3. Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    On the bright side, it is better that a “wing issue” is discovered on the ground. 🙂

    Good luck.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      Haha I said the same below.

  4. alexandra Moffat
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    The same thing happened to a friend in October, on United. They have learned to claim “mechanical problems” when there is a management problem because it keeps us quiet.
    The thought of failing “mechanicals” shuts us up so we become obedient instead of screaming, swearing and flinging ourselves to the ground and kicking our feet & tearing our hair.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      Haha. Well I can say that I always like travelling with Americans because they aren’t afraid to express displeasure. As I’m a bad Canadian, I enjoy joining in.

  5. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Well, a ‘wing issue’ is I suppose one step better than a ‘technical issue’ or an ‘operational issue’ which tells you absolutely nothing.

    Best announcement I’ve heard was from a suburban train driver – “Hello passengers, this is the driver. We’ve got an earth fault on one motor which means we’ll be proceeding at reduced power but we should get you to your destination okay”.
    In fact we were no more than a few minutes late.

    Best airline handling of a delay I’ve encountered was a Cathay Pacific stopover late one night in Hong Kong – there was an engine needed checking, about three hours delay (which they advised us of upfront) so after a while they brought round a trolley of cakes and soft drinks (more than we could eat/drink) and offered food vouchers at one of the airport restaurants.


  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    It sucks when it happens (I once saw this exact thing happen to American Airline travellers at Logan & felt really bad for them). I was travelling American as well but no issues with my little plane to Toronto. But, at least they found a problem while on the ground instead of in the air!!

  7. KiwiInOz
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    To be fair, it’s better than being informed that the wing fell off, mid flight.

  8. Posted November 3, 2018 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    Sometimes it better not to know what’s ailling an aircraft, do you want to know about fixing a toilet but updates on departure would be not so hard to arrange you’d think.

  9. Hempenstein
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Last time I flew United was I think nearly 30yrs ago, when my Northwest flight was cancelled and they re-booked me on a UA flight. Try Delta next time.

    • Blue
      Posted November 3, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      in re ” try Delta next time, ” … … well, maybe,
      Mr Hempenstein. Maybe .not. so much.

      However, one may be good to go on Delta .IF.
      utterly certain of their future whilst UP ON
      it. Utterly certain that: .IF. i) they
      suddenly require medical help whilst UP and
      ii) there comes to their assistance a fellow
      passenger – doctor, crew members do NOT first
      stop the doctor UP short to … … to
      require from her FIRST BEFORE she can touch
      you and help you … … her medical
      credentialing – documents !

      TWO times … … TWICE … … within just
      the last year UP on Delta, its crew persons
      have stopped a doctor trying to help a
      passenger. Requiring FROM HER .FIRST. her
      HARD – COPY proofs of expertise !

      AFTER its first such event went public ?
      Delta “promised” that it would not do this
      anymore, It BROKE THAT “PROMISE” just last
      week. And did the same SEXIST – MUCK AGAIN
      just last week with this sexist m u c k, “Are
      you actually an MD ? ” TO her face … … !



      • Posted November 3, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Delta’s policy is to take the word of the person assisting the passenger and not to require copy of license. They are doing a full investigation of this incident.

        • Blue
          Posted November 3, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          This deal is .not. about Delta;
          this deal has squat to do with Delta.

          This deal is bigger than Delta.
          … … a whoooole frickin’ lot bigger.


  10. jhs
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Ah… I could ask for a food voucher under certain situation! I always learn something here. 🙂

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 3, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      I know. I would have just grumbled with the other passengers.

  11. Mark R.
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Dump United I say. I hate that airline. But again, if that’s where are your miles are, it is difficult to leave. That’s how they get you. I don’t think mileage is transferable between airlines.

  12. Posted November 3, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    The one time I flew United (a transfer flight to Toronto via Chicago), it got delayed by 6 hours. If I’d known that I’d have gone to meet Honey.


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 3, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      Or at least asked Jerry where to eat. Then gone to his office at work & changed the toilet paper orientation in all the washrooms.

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