April 30, 2012

#USAir #FAIL times six, plus a #WIN #srsly #wow

Taking a break from my Nepal travelogue to share today's US Air fail.

Like many people, I travel for work a lot. I generally fly Southwest or United due to frequent flyer shme. Today I flew US Air (a United partner) against all advice and my own better judgment. But their schedule fit mine, and the price was right, and it was a cross-country direct flight, so...

Scheduled departure from San Francisco 8:50 a.m.; scheduled arrival in Charlotte 4:50 p.m. Dinner with colleagues/friends in Charlotte scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

At 6 a.m., after I'd left for the airport, I got a notice from tripcase (highly recommended, BTW) that my flight was rescheduled to 11 a.m. with new arrival 6:50 p.m. WTF? Okay, sometimes planes or flight crews are delayed arriving. Nothing dire. Pain in the neck. But it put my dinner at risk.

Got to the airport. Logged in and worked on the laptop. No problem for a road warrior like me. Rescheduled dinner to 7:30 (these are very good friends, apparently... they both have small children).

Found out the two hour delay was to fix a broken captain's chair.

Excuse me? The plane was sitting here all night long, and you couldn't fix a chair until two hours after scheduled departure?

OK, so they kindly kept us updated and actually boarded us for an 11 a.m. departure as scheduled. Then we sat. And sat. And sat.  At 11:10, the captain informed us that while the chair was being fixed, the ground crew overfueled the airplane. It would take ten minutes to pump the extra out, and 15 minutes to top off and sign off the paperwork.

Excuse me?You have done this before, right? I mean, put fuel in an airplane?

So we sat for the 25 minutes they predicted. And we sat some more. Finally the captain came on again and told us they misunderestimated the time to correct the fuel. New departure time noon. NOON?

At 11:45 a.m., still sitting parked at the gate, I got a call on my cell from United Airlines (this was a code share flight operated by US Air). United helpfully informed me that my 8:50 a.m. flight could possibly maybe experience some delays, but that I should arrive at the gate before the originally scheduled flight time. Just in case.

I laughed. I shared this information with my seatmate, who laughed and said she'd just gotten the same call. 

We actually got off the dock about 12:10 p.m.
Three hours and 20 minutes late.

Once in the air, the plane was cold, and my seatmate politely asked the flight attendant if they had any blankets. I expected the flight attendant to run and get one. Right? Delayed three-plus hours for a captain's chair and refueling?

Yes ma'am, I'll get you a blanket right away. And would you like a free glass of wine for all the trouble today?

Um, ha ha. Ha Ha. HAHAHAHA. Not damn likely on US Air. My seatmate was informed (politely) that the only blankets on board could be purchased for seven bucks (but it came with a pillow and headphones).

I heard the guy behind me tell his seatmate, "Hey, want a giggle? Check out page 12 of the inflight magazine."

What the heck. I checked it out. It was a feature article on how complex the refueling process is.

I'm all like, srsly? Wow. You should show this to your ground crew.

We arrived in Charlotte a little before 8 p.m., three hours late. Because of a broken chair and a refueling issue.

I am thrilled that my luggage also arrived. Which is not necessarily common when I travel to the east coast.

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