...The eye beholds the heart's desire. A. E. Housman
It sure went by way too fast. And it sure was interesting. But first, reasons why you shouldn’t fly United.
Getting there. Our plane was suppose to leave from Raleigh around 7ish Eastern time, make a stop in DC and that same plane would continue to LAX, putting us in California just after midnight Pacific time. The plane in Raleigh was 30 minutes late. (You may be able to guess why soon). I sometimes get nervous during take-off & landing. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong — so I said a little prayer. Let me tell you—it worked! When we got to DC, we had to get off the plane but we would be re-boarding shortly after. Except as soon as we got off, the stewardess made an announcement. “Flight 1234 has been delayed. The plane is currently unfit for flying. We’ll make another announcement in one hour.” …
YES — the same plane I was just on, was deemed unfit for flying. Oh, but it get better…
Three hours later, the unfit plane remained unfit and they found a new one. It’s about Midnight or so Eastern time. We are in the new plane though, ready to go. Taxing down the air strip when…an oxygen mask drops a couple rows behind us. The pilot gets on “I’m sorry folks. An oxygen mask has dropped and we just can fly a plane all the way to LA that way. We have to get it checked out… yada yada, I know this whole experience has been a real pain so far.”
So we wait another hour for a mechanic to come out, check the mask and pop it back in and of course everything’s just peachy now. We take off and I don’t sleep but for maybe an hour or so the whole way to California. I also tore one of my contacts and my spare ones are in the carry on United forced me into checking before we boarded the plane. grr…
Fast forward to 4-5 hours later. We finally get to LAX. It’s about 4:30/5 am Pacific time. I’m dead tired. Ready to collapse. We get to the baggage claim and we wait and wait and wait. I finally told rdm to just go get the car and I’d roll the bags out to the car. (We would have just done carry ons, but rdm had to bring all his books because he had to take a test while we were in California & they made me check my carry on back in DC anyway).
So it had been 15-20 minutes when rdm left. At the 30 minute mark the announcer comes on overhead “Passengers of Flight 1234. Your flight landed in the middle of shift change. 3rd shift unloaded your baggage, but obviously didn’t bring it to baggage claim. 1st shift will find it and bring out as soon as possible. Thanks for patience…yada yada yada.” Yes. LAX/United lost my luggage. I suppose the bright side is that they at least lost it within the same airport?
Well it took 1st shift (or whatever shift it was) 30 more minutes to find our baggage and bring it out. Then about another 20 for ours to come through. So far, the only good thing to come out of this disaster other than not crashing, burning and dying is that we managed to get a pretty sweet ride from the rental company. All the crappy cars were already taken, leaving some nice classy executive cars for us. We ended up with car that cost about 1/3 of my student loan debt — and it certainly was a nice ride to drive when we made trips through Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Hollywood.
BUT wait, it gets worse. It’s about 6 am when we get to our hotel. We had called telling them to expect us a little after Midnight. They said it wouldn’t be a problem. But that was before we knew about the unfit plane. We get there though and they tell us they are completely sold out and there are no rooms left. Nope. Not kidding. Not one little bit. I wasn’t sure whether I should have just blasted this guy because I was so angry or about to break down in tears.
And rdm used priceline to get the room and there may have been a clause about arriving on time — though this was all beyond our control. And it didn’t make sense to me why they would give a room away because it was already paid for. Ugh…it still makes me so angry.
Luckily though, they sent us to their sister hotel next door. I was a little afraid it would be a dump because I thought it said it was the Luxor (which according to my roommates is a dumpy casino in Las Vegas), but it was actually the Luxe and it wasn’t bad. We did have to pay $25 for parking for the whole 4 hours we stayed there. (I should forgo all dreams of being an attorney and buy a parking lot in LA by the way—it’s its own little industry on that side of the world). We then went back next door for the remainder of our stay.
So the first day I was not in a good mood. I’ve had bad experiences flying before. There was the time I missed my connecting flight to Germany and had to spend a night in Newark all because the President was flying in our air space. Then there was the time in London where I was suppose to board a flight in 20 minutes, went looking for the bathroom and found myself outside the airport and forced to go back through security (thank goodness I had my ticket and passport on me). But I’m pretty sure this one trumps them all. For the rest of my life, I think I at least deserve decent flying experiences. Especially since United failed to offer me anything for my troubles and my unnatural patience.
Thanks, United. Thanks.