(unf)airlines, part 2

I flew United this past weekend. I don’t want to single out that particular airline, because I’ve experienced delays and issues on American and U.S. Air as well over the last year. But this weekend it happened to be United that messed up.

I had a connecting flight, the first leg of which was scheduled to leave St. Louis at 11:49 am. When I arrived at the gate, I was informed that due to bad weather in Chicago, the air traffic controller was delaying our flight (that was compounded by the fact that the plane had yet to arrive in St. Louis).

The plan arrived a little before noon. After everyone had deplaned, the United gate person told us that the flight attendants wouldn’t allow us on the plane until 12:30. So finally we got on the plane—we were all ready to go at 12:45, but the pilot came on the loudspeaker to say that no one was going to give him our new departure time until 1:00. So again we waited.

At 1:00, the pilot informed us that (his words), “The plane will take off shortly, at 55 after.”

It took people a minute to realize what he said. 55 after? You mean 5 ‘til 2:00? What kind of twisted language is that?!

So again we waited. The pilot and the flight attendants were apologetic for the delay, and we actually left a little earlier than 1:55. We finally landed in Chicago, where there were massive delays, cancelled flights, and long lines extending from the customer service desk.

It’s become a fact of life that flights will be delayed. Airplanes are the best way to get from place to place, and people will continue to put their schedules at risk on the off chance that their flights will be on time.

That being said, I wish airline personnel, as representatives of their airlines, would take more responsibility for the delays. Countless times that day I heard people pass the buck—it’s the weather’s fault, or the air-traffic controller, or the flight attendants, TSA, government regulations…the list goes on. Not once did someone say, “United is at fault today. We’re understaffed, we have too few planes, and we messed up the schedule. You deserve better, and we’ll do better.”

That’s all I want.

(Oh, and I also want airport water fountains to have better water pressure. It’s 2008. Haven’t scientists figured out how to make the water shoot out higher than an inch?)

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