My flight is canceled. The Frogette and I are stuck in Chicago wondering how-in-the-hell we’re going to get to Boston.
Normally one would just head over to the gate agent to get booked on the next flight, but interestingly, there is no gate agent. In fact a quick trip around Chicago’s Concourse B (all United, of course), reveals that there are hardly any gate agents…anywhere.
United has come up with a novel tactic for dealing with their customers, angry or otherwise. They simply don’t. Operations, especially at Chicago, are engineered to minimizing exposure of flyers to employees. Gate agents now show up no more than 10 minutes before passengers begin boarding and disappear as soon as the upgrade and stand-by lists are either cleared or closed. The only person left is the poor schmuck who checks boarding passes, and he’s usually too busy to answer questions.
Need a seat change? You’ll need to speak to an agent, except that…there aren’t any. Want to argue about an upgrade? Good luck finding someone to argue with. Was you’re flight canceled? Head for ‘Customer Service’, because your gate now resembles a ghost town.
So it’s off to ‘Customer Service’ we go only to find: A bank of automated ticket terminals, but not an agent in sight; 50 or so people waiting to use the 2 working kiosks (of 5) or the 3 working phones (of 7). Where most of the unfortunates find that they need to try and call United on one of the ‘non-broken’ phones (the irony of calling United from their own terminal being lost of these masters of avoidance), we find that we’ve been booked onto another flight…5 HOURS LATER! But…with no one to talk to, what the hell are we going to do?
So we accept our lot; punch through a dozen offers, “Would you like to pay $50 for an extra 3 centimeters of leg room?”; endure a major delay without compensation, two MIDDLE-F*CKING-SEATS in different parts of the plane (where originally we were seated together), and 5 hours in ‘United Concourse Crud’ a terminal so filthy that I expect roaches to be scurrying at my feet And then…our rebooked flight is (wait for it…) DELAYED!
Some parting observations on “Something dreadful in the air…” tomorrow.