I love travelling. I love navigating new airports, and looking at all the regional related art exhibits and restaurants packed into said airports. I love making sure my carry on luggage is packed like a boss with all the entertainment, snacks and emergency items I could need. I like being on the road and I like being in the hustle and bustle.
And I do it. A lot.
So I have some experience interacting with many different airlines, their staff, planes, amenities etc. Recently, when I had the opportunity for myself and my husband to go back to the Motherland, I tried 2 new airlines. I flew up with American Airlines and had a rather pleasant experience with both the airports and the airline.
My husband came up to Canada a few weeks after I did and so I booked him with Delta. He then had the first pleasant experience with an airline that he has ever had. He was upgraded for more leg room, which for a guy as tall as he is, meant the world in the way of comfort and accessibility. He had no issues whatsoever.
For our return flight, which we took together, I was forced for availability sake to book with United. I had done everything in my power not to book with United. Ever. Again. Why you may ask? Well, it starts out with them over using code-share flights and the staff at the airports bouncing you back from kiosk to teller, and NOT knowing who to send you to. The last time I had went with United, I was bounced back from Air Canada to United 4 times before someone finally checked me in. Not only is it frustrating, but even more so that the staff are always rude about it.
Then there is the issue of responsibility. Last time I flew with United I went from Washington to Montreal to Calgary. I was to pick up my luggage in Montreal and recheck it. It never showed up. How does one go about losing luggage on the first flight? I have no idea, but United managed that one. I just shrugged it off and waited in the line before customs for missing baggage. Stuff happens, right? It was a good thing I booked my connecting flight with a few hours buffer. Apparently half of the planes luggage did not show, so I was not the only one. After about an hour, I was filling out my paperwork and watching the lady put the information I had just clearly and concisely wrote out for her into the computer. Later on I would find out she mistyped half my information.
When I landed in Calgary (an hour late no less) my baggage was still missing. The United site said the flight was on time, so my poor parents were at the airport waiting for me until midnight. Tired and a little miffed at the airline for not updating because you know parking DOES cost money. A delightful, and I use that word sarcastically, United employee told us that we would have to file our paperwork with Air Canada as it was a codeshare flight. So we travelled to the other end of the airport only to be told we would in fact, have to talk to United about our missing luggage. So back across the airport we go to track down a United employee which is like a game of Where’s Waldo vs Carmen Sandiego. The United employee was extremely rude, stating that we were not supposed to file any paperwork in Montreal, even thought that is what the airline told me to do in order to clear customs. He read the information that was input in Montreal and this is when I found out the girl behind the counter had put in all my information wrong. He then told us that we would have to go across the airport to get it changed at a different area. After getting it all figured out, I was told when my luggage came in they would call me, and they gave me my missing bag claim number just in case.
The next day I called United to check if my information had in fact been changed, and to see if there was any update on my bag. Lo and behold my information was still incorrect. And my bag was somewhere in Chicago. This went on for 2 days until finally at 8 pm, after I contacted them yet again, a United employee told me my bag would be delivered after midnight that night. Now, that is a rather curious delivery time. I reiterated this to the person on the phone and no, I heard correctly, after midnight. Not even “in between midnight and 3 am”. Just sometime after midnight. I waited up until 4 am and my bag delivery was a no-show. SURPRISE!
The next day without my luggage I called United Airlines back. This is where it gets sketch show. United claimed I never flew with them. Funny, I had a $1300 ticket in my hand that said otherwise. Needless to say that was a stressful conversation that left a mark on my forehead from so many epic Picard facepalms.
After 4 days I finally got my luggage.
My flight home that time was fun, too. Again it started with checking in. Being told to go one place, then another then being yelled at by the lady at the counter for being in the wrong place (to be fair, she was mad that her fellow employee kept sending her people who shouldn’t be there). United had booked me with 45 minutes to spare on a connecting flight which I had to clear customs and security with. I made it with 10 minutes to spare from boarding time, and was greeted by a disgruntled United employee that told me I was late and that they had been paging me. Then she wouldn’t let me on until seeing my marriage certificate. Funny, US Customs and Border never asked to see it, but a United Airlines employee who scans tickets wanted to see it. I would like to once be greeted cheerfully by a United employee. I don’t know why their entire staff is so well versed in miserable..ness. West Jet employees always have a smile on their faces. Just saying.
Anyways, because of all the previously mentioned (and unmentioned) fiascos I’ve experienced with United I wanted to avoid them this time around. Alas, due to availability restrictions I HAD to fly with them. So I crossed my fingers and hoped everything would go okay on my husband and my return flight home. Now, this is partly my fault. I have a bunch of important, meaningful, breakable collectables. I figured I would get them out of my parents storage and back into my home this visit. I knew from previous flights that you can request a FRAGILE tag at airports. You all see where this is going. I am dumb, I know. I shouldn’t have ever trusted United airlines with my breakables. In fact, at this point I know I should just never trust United Airlines with anything.
Again, checking in. We were told to check in online at home. So I spent 45 minutes inputting all my information only to be told check in cannot be completed because our information needs to be looked over by a United employee. Cool beans. I can see that, since I have a green card. When we arrived at the airport we were told not to speak to an agent, rather go to the dreaded kiosk. Can you guess what happened from there? If you guessed it didn’t work and put us behind 30 minutes while we waited for an employee who kept walking by us saying “just a minute” then you guessed right! Then our luggage bags didn’t print. Of course. So we waited again for her while she manually printed them at the till. Well, it’s almost as if all of that could have been avoided if they would have let me go to the counter to begin with, as she had to do it twice to complete our check in anyways. I asked her for a FRAGILE tag and she laughed and said “We don’t have them, and you won’t need them as long as you wrapped your stuff. You’ve got a good suitcase”. Note, that I used the hard shell suitcase that was given to my parents by an airline for completely destroying their other suitcase.
Lo and behold.
Sad faces. All around. Now I fully accept I am half at fault for trusting an airline with my precious breakables. (Just for reference, I’ve moved 7 times and I know how to wrap breakables like a baus. Those things have been with me since I was born and have moved with me every single time.) I should have mailed them for the 90$ I spent in luggage. I probably would have half the stuff broken with a mailing company versus an airline. I’m silly pants. But why, United? Why don’t you have fragile tags? Why don’t you take responsibility for any of your short comings? Why don’t you have employees that can muster a simple greeting and a smile? Why must you make my future baby-mes go without milk in their tea? Now since I only have one glass, I can only have sherry during the Olympics by myself instead of with a friend. Why must you force me to drink alone, United?!
In all seriousness, it sucks. It sucks and I’m sure it might have happened with another airline even if I had fragile tags considering how rough and tumble luggage handlers are. It’s my fault for trying to luggage carry breakables. But it doesn’t help my impression of United when stacked onto all the other problems I’ve had with them. My flight with AA was actually made by spending a little bit more money, and flying 3 extra hours further JUST to avoid United.
So that my friends, is why this Canuckasaurusrex will avoid United Airlines at all costs.