My First Time Missing A Flight In Years

Filed Under: Travel

As much as I travel, I almost never miss flights. I think it’s partly lucky, partly good planning, partly being proactive when things go wrong, and partly hustling when connections are very tight, like my 20 minute international to domestic connection last year at JFK with a terminal change.

The last time I missed a flight was in Bahrain in 2014, when I stupidly showed up a day late. It was an American award ticket that I had changed and I know for a fact I told the agent the correct date, but she booked me on the wrong date. However, that’s on me for not double checking. So yeah, I missed a flight by 24 hours, but otherwise I don’t remember the last time I missed a flight.

Well, Friday a week ago I legitimately missed my first flight in I don’t know how long. And of course it had to be on the Friday afternoon before July 4th weekend. What happened?

An Air France to United connection

As many of you may recall, I flew Air France first class from Paris to Houston, and was planning on going to Los Angeles for the weekend. So I booked a United flight from Houston to Los Angeles (on a separate ticket, obviously, since the two airlines don’t partner). It was a last minute paid first class fare that was fairly reasonable, and I booked a 75 minute connection.

I know that’s risky when on separate tickets, but I figured that would allow me to be delayed by up to 45 minutes or so. Since I have Global Entry and don’t have checked bags, I tend to think 30 minutes will always cut it (which is really 20 minutes, since most airlines close the door 10 minutes early).

Go figure this time around it didn’t work out so well. My Paris to Houston flight was delayed for “security reasons.” Apparently all US-bound flights out of Paris have a security company come in and “clear” the aircraft before departure, and apparently they were running late. We ended up departing about 70 minutes late.

Everything that afternoon was sold out from Houston to Los Angeles, so I figured my only option was to hope for the best and that we’d make up time in the air, since there wasn’t much I could rebook on. Fortunately Houston hotels were wide open, so I guess my alternative was to spend the weekend at a hotel there.

Well, we arrived at the gate in Houston 65 minutes late, meaning that my United flight was scheduled to depart 10 minutes later. Since they typically close the door 10 minutes early, I figured the door was closing right as I was deplaning.

I checked the United app, and sure enough everything showed as being on time. Oh well….

Trying to get rebooked

I cleared immigration and looked at ExpertFlyer, and noticed that there was a single seat left for sale on a flight several hours later from Houston to Los Angeles. Fortunately it was in the same fare class I had originally booked in.

I sprinted to the terminal from which my United flight was scheduled to depart (which was pretty far away — rather than taking the train I ran, and arrived out of breath). I got to the Premier Access check-in counter, and explained the situation.

“Hi, I was hoping you could help rebook me. I screwed up. My inbound international flight was late, and I booked it on a separate ticket, so I missed my flight to Los Angeles.”

She huffed and puffed, and inched over to the counter ever so slowly. “I don’t know if I can do anything, this is going to be expensive.”

I just don’t understand the attitude of these agents, and how they have a job in a customer service industry, let alone in the area supposedly designed for “premium” customers.

Would an “I”m sorry to hear that, sir, let’s see what we can do” have killed her?

“I need to call my support desk. I don’t know how to do this.” She spent several minutes trying to dial up a number but it didn’t work, so she called over her colleague and explained the situation to her. You’d think a check-in agent rebooking passengers who missed their flight wouldn’t be an unusual circumstance?

At this point I said “I don’t want to be a pain, but there’s literally one seat left on a flight tonight. Do you mind just putting that segment in the record and then you can let me know what the fare difference is, because I don’t want it to disappear?”

“You’re gonna have to be patient,” she responded. Sheesh.

She spent quite a while waiting for someone to pick up, explained “we don’t need to help this passenger because it’s his fault,” and then she got disconnected and had to call again.

“There’s gonna be a big fare difference sir, I’m just telling you.”

I just stepped back and let her do her thing, because watching how she was doing things was driving me mad.

After about 15 minutes she waved me over and issued me a new boarding pass on the later flight, without charging me anything. The funny thing is that she wasn’t trying to be nice, but rather seemingly couldn’t figure out how to reissue the ticket and charge me more.

That flight ended up being oversold and needing volunteers, and they were offering a $500 voucher. However, the next flight out was 26 hours later, so as much as it killed me to do so, I passed on the opportunity.

Bottom line

I’m amazed I don’t miss flights more often, but I guess I’m just lucky. This was a situation that ended just about as well as it could have for me — I got the last seat of the night and they didn’t charge me extra for it. When I booked this I knew there was some risk, but 99% of the time it works out well for me, so it was a risk I was willing to take.

The only part of the experience that was bad was the United representative who couldn’t have been less helpful. It just amazes me how unprofessional so many frontline employees in the airline industry are. Where do they find these people?

  1. It sounds as the employee was placed in that desk to man it without being trained in ticketing. She was a body to show a face to the public and was instructed just to call for service assistance.

  2. not a surprise…this happens everyday on only on US airlines with notorious union protecting their rear..try this in asia or middle east.. ha!

    in my own self interest, no matter how great the hard product Us airline might be, id still fly asian/middle airline with better food and service.

  3. “The funny thing is that she wasn’t trying to be nice, but rather seemingly couldn’t figure out how to reissue the ticket and charge me more.”

    lol that is so classically UA at IAH. Where the customer is enemy.

  4. UA let’s you do pretty much anything want/need in their app, I would’ve tried there first and then gone to an agent. They’re extremely generous with day of departure flight changes.

  5. Australian perspective here…
    It truely astounds me that after having such an incredible amount of bad press in the past few months that United Airlines service (or lack thereof) continues to be on par with a bowel movement for seemingly, so many travellers. Has no-one in that company bothered to say to their staff at internal briefings..’we’re really under the spotlight – please make sure you are nice to our passengers..’.

  6. Your name is Lucky for a reason…but given your experience flying no one was in doubt that you wouldn’t find a flight. Heck, you probably can hitch a ride with a Space X rocket and convince Elon that your miles transfer via one of the major alliances. May cost you an arm and a leg but that’s ok.

  7. Agreed that the United app is a miracle worker. It is my 1st resort when things go south. I’ve found that the app often offers space that may not show on other sites.

    On the other hand, many, if not most United agents are good, while others are taking up space. The airlines do not seem adept at weeding out those who spend their time frustrating the traveler.

  8. Lucky, I read you every day, and sometimes you annoy the heck out of me (like when you call everything INSANE), but I appreciate your not titling this post with some reference to how “pathetic” UA customer service is, or similar clickbait.

  9. Thinking about it, I absolutely abhor America’s tipping culture. But when faced with a situation like this, I suppose front liners who work for their tips are a lot better than these front liners who don’t. Then again, I could be wrong. But I am pretty sure that there are a lot of United front liners who need serious refresher training on their systems. It took someone in New Orleans a good 20mins to help me join a United flight to another Star Alliance carrier in Houston (which were bought separately) and to make sure my bags were tagged to its final destination.

  10. Though it may seem cruel, you really need to complain to United and give them the name of the agent. They need specific feedback, with names attached if things are going to improve.

  11. Heh. Great story about United rep. To top it all off, she was wrong about the policy. United still observes the flat-tire rule. There’s no penalty to change to next available departure when you arrive at the airport within two hours of your original departure time. The system probably just applied that policy automatically, which is why it wouldn’t let her charge you more. What a dope!

  12. How hard would it have been for her to say, “You must be frustrated, especially after a long flight. Let’s see what we can do to get you where you want to go…”?

    Employees like this virtually invite negative feedback. I’m sure somewhere in her training there were role playing exercises but she didn’t get the message. Given UA’s current reputation, fairly or unfairly learned, one would think they’d continually be asking employees to emphasize friendly and empathetic SERVICE.

    In fairness to UA, in my long career as a high school principal I came to understand there are some people, e.g. for me some teachers, who apparently never learn anything from their unsuccessful interactions with others, and continue to make the same basic mistakes over and over and over. One variation of Pareto’s 80-20 Rule is that 20% of people cause 80% of the problems. Some days I could make that the 90-10 rule.

  13. Ben, you are too damn nice. I would have shut the lazy agent down right after the “I don’t know if I can do anything, this is going to be expensive” remark. My response would have immediately been: “Then get me someone who is competant and doesn’t have your insolent attitude.”

    I am red hot just thinking about that “we don’t need to help this passenger because it’s his fault” comment. I’m guessing, Ben, that your ticket was non-refundable and that is why you tolerated this bullshit. I would have escalated this big time and would have ended it by calling Delta right in front of her and saying “I’m here with an incompetent and obnoxious United agent who is going out of her way to lose my business. Could you kindly book me a connection from Houston to LAX so I can just walk away from her and United?”

    Ben, did you consider approaching Air France’s ground staff when you realized that you were going to miss the LAX flight? As you so well highlighted, AF offers extraordinary ground services to its first class passengers. I’m wondering what would have happened if you had asked the AF agent meeting you: “I fear I’m going to miss my United flight to LAX. Would there be anyway for you to help me rebook to a later flight?”

  14. Let’s all keep in perspective that the starting hourly wage for these agents is about $8-$10 USD an hour and they work long shifts, weekends, evenings, holidays and whenever the weather is bad. In fact, those are their longest and hardest days. More often than not, they are part-time employees and get no medical/dental benefits, no daycare, and often no paid days off. There is also little to no direction to move up if you’re proactive, pleasant and productive. There are usually no incentives or bonuses aside from travel (although that’s very limited for part-timers.) Who do you think the airlines can get for that? Do you think they’re trained and treated well by their managers? You’re not the only way the airline makes money.

  15. Imperator +1

    If I could only think of something that awesome to say at the time I need to say it and not 10 minutes after the fact.

  16. I had a situation like this a few weeks ago. Originally had a LAX -BOS segment on AA but ended up having to be in SAN that weekend so I booked SAN-LAX on DL with a ~100 min cushion. What could go wrong on a 110 mile flight in June, right? Well, one DL broken plane later and no other alternate flights I Ubered to LAX to try to make that flight. I arrived at LAX and, in non-LAX fashion, I flew through security within 4 min thanks to (new) Clear and a light TSA Pre line. Side note, its these few circumstances where you’d be happy you didnt cancel after your free 3 month Clear trial. Unfortunately, I watched the door to that aircraft close without me despite the effort. Via ExpertFlyer I knew the following flight was real tight. Long story short, AA issued a confirmed seat on the next flight without any further push just by explaining the situation calmly, then stepping back. It’s often a roll of the dice with customer service reps but giving them space I find usually helps your get to your end goal, even if there’s concern over losing that last spot in inventory.

  17. I missed a flight two years ago but that was just stupidity on my part:

    I’ve literally shown up at the wrong hotel:

    And I’ve made a reservation at the Novotel Suvarnabhumi for the wrong month:

    You just made a reasonable bet and bet wrong!

  18. United and it’s employees just don’t get it. If customers don’t fly them because of crappy service and rude employees, they’ll all be out of a job. Guess it’s not direct of a threat to them and their job unless it gets on YouTube. It’s literally the last airline I’d choose and only ic there were no choice.

  19. This also reminds me when I was at (UA hub) SFO late night in February. I wanted to purchase a ticket to LAS for the last flight that had been delayed several hours. The original departure time had passed but there was still plenty of time to spare for the new departure time. With a dead phone in hand my only.option was to buy a ticket at the counter. Fortunately, there were lots of agents hanging around shooting the breeze. Not so fortunate, there wasn’t one who knew how to sell a ticket, although they said timing wasn’t an issue with the new departure time. I was told that its not possible to buy a ticket online for a delayed flight, that they don’t sell tickets at the airport, and to call UA. Well, you can guess how that call went. As time ticket by I missed the cut.

  20. These customer Service agents are just plain STUPID. They have zero intelligence, and how they find their way to the bathroom is beyond me. Of course the airlines like hiring stupid people – because stupid works for stupid low wages.

  21. Good old United. In my long experience with them, I found a handful of true gems among their customer-facing employees – warm, friendly and competent. The majority, though, were surly and indifferent. How remarkable that, years and a big merger later, the culture still hasn’t changed.

  22. The word “customer service” was banished from any training done for employees of AA, United and Delta. Actually that term no longer exists in many US companies. It is all about caring less for customers since they believe we are not important.

  23. Last year in Europe I was scheduled to fly out LHR at noon on Sept 9.

    I had read horror stories about passengers on separate tickets missing same day flights and not being reaccomodated, so I made a point of flying from Krakow to London on Sept 8 so I’d be guaranteed not to miss my flight. But I had booked the last flight out of Krakow on the 8th and, you guessed it, there was a mechanical and I couldn’t get out that night. Every flight the next day was booked and I had to eat a very expensive LHR-LAX leg and, instead, book an anytime award to get home in time for work.

    Lesson learned.

  24. +1 for someone’s suggestion to contact AF on arraval.

    I was on late AC flight HKG-YVR connecting to DL YVR-SEA on a separate ticket. 90 minute connection, AC was late 70minute, bag was not checked through, so it was a sure miss. While waiting for my bag in YVR, I politely asked AC service desk to contact DL gate and see what can be done. DL offered flight next day for free, but I decided to go with last flight of the day on AS and DL agreed to refund non-refundable ticket. Wow! Fantastic service from both AC and DL.

  25. I flew TLV-BKK on ElAl and than a 90 minutes connection to SIN on a separate ticket with Singapore Airlines. ElAl naturally took off an hour late and as I entered the gate in BKK I saw a Singapore Airlines agent holding a sign with my name on it, explaining that she came to grab me and personally escort me to the plane due to the fact it’s departing in 30 minutes. She also mentioned that they booked me on the next flight on this route with Thai an hour later, just in case.
    Again, it was Singapore Airlines the only proactive party here. I didn’t contact them when I learned I was late (no Wifi on planes 17 years ago). Needless to say I wouldn’t have to pay a cent had I ended up taking the Thai flight.

  26. It’s quite easy to find these people! The irony that such an employee would be fired almost immediately by a McDonald’s, who has effective management.

    US airlines, now oligopolies, don’t spend a cent in managing their people. And it shows.

  27. While you can get this sort of treatment from any US airline, (and I have, even from Admirals Club agents who knew I was Exec Plat), it has been the default setting for United customer “service” (sic) for nearly forever.

    After both myself, and my ‘so nice to a fault’ 60 year old mother, got treated this way 5 or 6 times in a row, by UA check In persons, gate attendants, and FAs, we decided to never fly UA again. And several decades later, I’m proud to save I haven’t flown the Unfriendly Skies since then. Why people still buy tickets on UA, where they are likely to get battered, bloody, and kicked off for no discernible reason, is a mystery to me. 😉

  28. I don’t understand, why should you have to pay a fare difference if the same fare class was available?

  29. Man’s flight lands late. Man gets moved onto later flight at no extra cost. Am I missing something?

  30. I try to remember that these typical gate agents that we rail against are a product of a corporate culture that is only now starting to mend. In addition, they also deal on an everyday basis with the likes of people with volatile emotions who disregard the facts of reality (re: the TK episode of that naive lady). It’s going to take awhile for it to get better, but it will happen.

  31. I used to be one but I loved my job. When that changed, I got out (best decision I ever made!). Nothing is worse than being stuck in a job that is going no where. Believe me, with that attitude she will go no where (but hopefully out the door). Hope you saved your boarding pass, it has her agent ID on it. She has no business working there but obviously she loves the power of it that over compensates for her insecurity in other aspects of her life. Perhaps a letter to UAL with a copy of your boarding pass to United will improve her attitude in the future.

  32. @ Tom It is not cruel to report someone dealing with the public who is not doing her job properly or well. When I was managing people in those positions, in a sense, I appreciated the help.

    @George Why do we need to keep in mind that these people are being paid burger-flipper wages? The airline management can jolly well do their jobs training people and not funneling every penny to shareholders.

  33. At IAH, it’s easy to tell a “legacy CO” employee from a “legacy UA” employee. The former is a normal human being and is toasting customers with glasses of “bubbly”, while the latter has one eye in the middle of the forehead and is gnawing on the arm of a customer.

  34. The only flight I have missed from was on UA. I was traveling from Santiago Chile via Air Canada to LAX on UA miles. Work needed me to get to SFO. I thought a two hour connection was enough time to get switch terminals, customs and recheck my bag. Snow delays on my connection in Toronto caused me to miss my flight. I politely with out sounding panicked upset or annoyed explained my situation. UA ticket agent said don’t worry I will rebook you on the next flight! Sometimes you have to show some politeness to get some back. If you show signs you are on the verge of being rude, they will only to be defensive.

  35. As a 1K… This doesn’t surprise me at all. You are better off calling the 1K phone line but in your instance you can’t. Unfortunately United does not empower it’s people to make proactive decisions.

    And yes, it seems the company culture is the passenger is the enemy.

  36. They don’t “find” these people; they’ve been working there for years and no longer care or give a you know what….

  37. Ben, it’s not a question of “where do they find these people?” It’s more a question of why don’t they put them back! There is a list as long as your arm of people who would kill for her job!
    Also, you were awfully unlucky your connecting UA flight was on time; shoulda flown AA!

  38. Most airlines, including United, have what is called the “Flat Tire Rule”. Simply stated, if you show up within 2 hours of a scheduled departure, you can be rebooted on the next flight in the same cabin without fees.

  39. Typical United attitude towards their premuim customers. The amazing thing is that this happens to me all the time with them…as a 1k. You try to explain to them that you are on a refundable, full fare tix, and they pull out the recording…it will cost you more, when it doesn’t. I routinely try to find the oldest agent who knows how to do full fare changes. God help you if you showed up w a paper tix or an MCO!

  40. Am travelling to the US next year and against my better judgment I booked United out of SFO to LAX – First Class for AUD$309. I’m from AUS so thought the price was great. Within 2 days my plans had to change and I wanted to change the ticket to fly SFO to NYC on an earlier date. This is all happening in May 2018 so it can’t be claimed all flights are booked out. Anyhoo, called United and found out that First Class (P) is really business class which isn’t a problem. When I made the booking online I saw that a fee would be charged for changes. All good too. Then I found out that the fee to change the ticket was 85% of the original ticket!!!

    I tried the, “you’ve got to be kidding” line and got nothing in response. So I said I would rather lose the additional AUD$52 and not give them any more money. Response? “OK”.

    I’ll be the first to admit that some of our businesses out here don’t give great service but I’ve never encountered anyone who cared so little. After looking around I am going to stick with flying another airline as the difference in price (even with losing AUD$309) is about the same and I refuse to give them more money. Lesson learnt.

  41. United has become the Kmart airline. They live off of the reputation that they earned in the halcyon days of the mid to late 20th Century. Just like the failing Kmarts around the US, United suffers from underpaid and undertrained staff, shoddy products (shrinking seats, aisles and amenities) and overpriced goods and services. United wanted to charge my coworker $129 for an exit row seat on a 90 minute flight. The United Club vouchers for the dog food a and cheap drinks I give away. One good economic downturn and they’ll be done.

  42. It is United Airlines! You actually expected good service from them even in premium check in? Quite hilarious. If it were good service, it wouldn’t be called United Airlines, hehe. Of course, she did not know how to do it. Once again, it was United. They don’t have anyone that know how to do the jobs appropriately and she was as you say not willing to care to help you. She was too lazy. On a side note, with the introduction of self check in kiosks, I have noticed more and more U.S.based check in agents being so lazy and unprofessional. I remember with my Delta flight when the kiosks were just starting to roll out, she basically was telling me that she was too lazy to help check me in and really wished I had used the self-check in kiosk. It was a super early morning flight and I was the only passenger. She was mad that I interrupted her from talking to her colleague about gossip. This why Asian and Gulf carriers are better than the U.S. Airlines.

  43. Uncaring indifference must be a job requirement for United Airlines. Its why I won’t ever fly United anymore. They have burned me once to many times.

  44. It looks like the Air France flight had no wifi. If it had had wifi, this would have been pretty simple to rebook via the United app – if I’m not mistaken, the space in the same fare bucket on the later flight would have shown up as a choice for same day change in the app.

  45. Sometimes the gate agents dont work for the airline…the airlines contract these employees from outside companies…..they don’t know about same day change..or how to reissue a tkt.

  46. I suspect there wasn’t any award availability IAH-LAX when you booked that flight, but supposing there was (and you had no status on UA) and you’re a no-show/late-show, would an SQ award on UA have been more ideal? Seems like you’d pay a change fee and book the next day. In this case, if the agent didn’t rebook you, it seems like you’d eat a pretty hefty ticket cost.

  47. Do you know whats really annoying? Having a gate agent priorities standby passengers in coach instead of sorting out those in business who will miss a very expensive connection.

    AA did this to me last week – the look after the low revenue and ignore that high yield. Last weekend was an absolute cluster for AA in ORD – which they passed on to BA.

    It was so bad that the BA systems allowed massive overbooking and AA walked away because B accepted the rebook. TO the point….BA had 26 people in Club World booked for 6 seats. All 26 had been rebooks from AA’s cancelled flight in the morning.

    What makes this doubly annoying is I gotta fly AA again from LHR next week lets hope they are less crap this time.

  48. You gambled. You lost. You arrived panting at the counter. Your angst created a tense atmosphere. The agent may have not processed a request like the one you were demanding. Maybe she was a new employee. Maybe she was considering the consequences of a reprimand had she made an error.
    People are human and not every instance can be attributed to an unwillingness to assist the customer. Maybe when you walked away she thought, “Where do we get these customers.”

    My wife and I have never missed a flight. We arrive 3 hours before takeoff and if a connecting flight is necessary we allow for a 3 hour buffer window when booking in case of delays on the first leg of our travel.

    5 P’s are always in play.

    Prior Planning Promotes Proper Performance.

  49. exactly the same experience /w united premium service last week. twice on the way back also. to bad URL is already taken ….

  50. I just started planning my MCT based on flight history of both the arriving and departing flights. Using FlightAware desktop (or FlightRadar24 Gold app) the actual times can be reviewed for several months. I usually plan so 98% of the time I will make it. That last 2% is usually weather caused and very difficult to predict. Then I just ask myself, when is the next backup flight?

    For a major international award trip, a domino effect of missed award flights could be disastrous. Best to allow extra overnights as buffers!

  51. @ David Hall – back in the real world my employer is not going to cover 3 hrs prior, three hrs between – infact my employer wouldn’t consider it proper performance, they would consider it taking a different type of P!

  52. @Federico — For flat tire rule, they will give you a confirmed ticket on the next flight with availability *or* allow you to standby for next flight out if that flight is full. Given that there was availability on the flight Ben wanted, he should have had no trouble changing to that without penalty. Rep was wrong to suggest otherwise.

    I’ve even had situations where they changed my ticket without my going to the airport. One time I was running very late for an international flight and wasn’t going to make it, so I just called them when I was about to leave. They just changed my ticket to go out on the next day’s flight, without any penalty. I don’t think you can always do the flat-tire rule over the phone — they may require you to actually go to the airport — but I have had that experience at least one. And they gave me a confirmed ticket, cleared my upgrade to business, and checked me in.

  53. The “hang up, call again” rule works in person also. After a cancelled flight he gate agent was of little help; but the lounge agent, on the other hand, was of help. Ideally move to the next option without the first option’s “help”; as the second option hesitates if the action requires undoing the first option’s help.

  54. I know you “made up” with UA and try to be “Fair” for your “new friend”. But not everyone want to “make up” with this airline for exactly the reason you highlighted in your post!

  55. If it’s any consolation, I’ve booked flights out if DCA and showed up at IAD, and v.v.

    I once booked a rental car for Knoxville; I only found this out when I showed up in Memphis and asked why my car wasn’t ready.

    Mistakes happen, and they’ll keep happening. To be honest, I laugh at pretty much all the goofs I’ve made while travelling. They’re bound to happen when one travels frequently enough.

  56. Don’t blame the employee. Blame the management. It’s their responsibility to ensure the operations such as customer service run smoothly.


  57. “they were offering a $500 voucher. However, the next flight out was 26 hours later…”

    Only $500?….United got off easy:

    On my 9am DL flight ATL-MIA, the Saturday before July 4th weekend, one seat was needed for an oversold situation. The gate agent offered $1,500 voucher, plus a guaranteed seat on the 3pm same day. No takers. All boarded. Sitting in the plane, offer raised to $2k…. $2.5k…. Nope. At $3,000 voucher + guaranteed seat on the 3pm flight, one gentlemen hit the call button and deplaned. The cabin applauded!

  58. @Lucky
    What exactly are the new security procedures like for US bound flights out of Paris?

  59. Ben,
    you should have someone proofread your posts before you submit them.

    “The last time I missed a flight was in Bahrain in 2014, when I stupidly showed up a day late. […]

    Well, Friday a week ago I legitimately missed my first flight in I don’t know how long. ”

    Huh? You don’t know how long ago 2014 was?

  60. huffed and puffed?

    Like a wolf from a fairy tale?
    You make her out to be less than human yet you take Akbar Al-baker to task for making ageist comments about FAs.

  61. I’m surprised Ben even flies United anymore. The gravy train’s been over for some time now.

    I personally haven’t flown on United in 15 years. My company hasn’t put anyone on United in 5+ years, and in light of this year’s countless United F–K ups, especially United’s responses to those incidents, it’s going to be another 5+ years before my company even remotely considers the idea of using United, let alone actually purchasing a ticket. We had an issue last month wherein the client was purchasing tickets and was attempting to use United. We refused, explained our reasons (bad service, bad reliability, even worse during IRROPs), and purchased the tickets for our employees at our cost, just to avoid United.

    @Danny: Whilst management is often to blame, I also place blame on the front-line employee. Attitude is 100% the employee’s responsibility.

    There’s a Moe’s restaurant in one of the cities I work frequently in. There’s a guy in there who always has the biggest ear-to-ear smile and genuinely enjoys working. He admits the job isn’t great in and of itself, but he’s determined to make the best of it and it shows. He’s definitely getting paid less than the United front-liners, with a much more intensive job, yet still keeps on smiling, even 10 minutes before closing time. Sometimes after I’ve had a sh*tty day, I’ll stop by there just to see him smiling, to remind myself that my day really wasn’t that bad.

  62. In spite of 2 very close calls when traveling all over Europe and the UK in 2015, I haven’t missed a flight in forever either. Yet, I had one board right under my nose in Atlanta while suffering through a 4.5 hour layover between Mexico City and New Orleans. I probably would have heard them calling my name if I hadn’t had earbuds in. But my iPad inexplicably did not automatically change time zones, and I thought I had an hour left before boarding.

    The Delta agents could not have been more helpful, and I was enormously grateful to them for getting me on a flight arriving less than 2 hours after my original one.

  63. Years ago I got stranded in DCA overnight via Scareways. Before getting stranded I approached a CS agent to fix the ticket and the individual stuttered. I don’t mean stuttered, but STA-STA-STA-stuttered REALLY bad.

    While sympathetic, you’ll never find a law firm hiring their next legal eagle out of driver’s ed school…I’m all for providing employment to those who have disabilities, just put them out on the ramp slinging bags where they don’t have to talk to anyone. “Disability” solved…

  64. If I miss a flight, I just walkover to the lounge to get it fixed or a new ticket. It applies to all main 3 airlines. Gate/desk agents are not capable enough to handle this (from experience)

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