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One (first world) hellish day... Untied Airlines

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Warks

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I was in Vancouver visiting family and was booked to go to a conference in Orlando. On Tuesday I had a booking to fly YVR-DEN-MCO. I was supposed to leave YVR at 0749 and arrive MCO about 1800 (3 hour time difference).

After getting up at 0520 (with remnants of EDST still in my system from when I left 5 days earlier) I got to the airport with plenty of time for USA security (it's their mob in YVR) and the rectal probes etc. Not the appalling queues of LAX and no full body scanners at least.

Went to the gate and in time we boarded the plane a little late. It was a smallish United Express plane and I didn't know the aircraft but rear engined and 2-2 seat configuration. We sat there for the usual time and then pulled away and rolled out onto the tarmac. Then we came to a stop and the pilot came on the PA and said that "one of the XYZs had failed" and they were going to get ground staff to look at it if they couldn't fix it.

Then we waited and waited and were updated now and again with "we're pretty sure someone will be looking at it soon" but eventually there was the announcement that the ground crew couldn't fix it out where it was so we headed back to the gate. They told us to take our bags so it wasn't a good sign. As it was a smallish plane and was packed it took ages to get all the hand luggage off.

Waited around back at the gate lounge as they pushed the time back further until we finally left some 2 hours late. It was a bumpy ride to Denver where we all knew our connections would be long gone. Of course to add insult to injury (and in case anyone had the slightest chance of making a connection) we waited at the gate for a good 10-15 minutes for someone to operate the airbridge.

As we entered the terminal we were handed new boarding passes - people were going all over the US and many had missed flights - I found myself with two boarding passes - one for Denver-Houston (DEN-IAH) and the other Houston- Orlando. Woot! Never been to Houston! Looked like there were no more direct flights to MCO that day so I was stuck with this new route. My original arrival time was 1800 - now it was 2240.


I was in a rush to get on the Houston plane but realised I was looking at the boarding time, not the departure time so had time to get some food-like substance at one of the many eateries in DEN airport. Went back to the gate and people were milling around the desks. There was an announcement that the original aircraft was now out of service and a different aircraft would replace it necessitating some seat changes. The announcement did say the original plane was a '787' (sic) so people seated in certain seats beyond F would get new seats. It was now a 737 - dunno what the original plane was. Then there was a the mystery of their priority boarding. There was "group 1&2" which seemed to be 1st and Premium Y then there were groups 3, 4 and 5. I'd been in group 3 for YVR-DEN but now had been shoved to group 4. When I reached the FA my boarding pass made a nasty beep and I was slotted into another seat (38B - how the mighty have fallen). What this meant was that when I got on most of the overhead lockers were already closed so it looked like my bag was not going to make it - enormous roll-ons in every space. Got to the back (2nd last row) and waited around with some others to see if space would open up or that they'd take our bags off. The FA claimed he couldn't work miracles but then walked up to a locker and opened it to find it mysteriously empty - so a few bags went in including mine.

By now we left at least an hour late. My connection was 50 minutes after arrival so it looked grim again. People around me had similar problems - they kept track of our flight on the wifi and the United app which showed we'd be 30 minutes late as the pilot made up some time. I was thinking I had no chance and would have to spend the night in Houston. The guy next to me was going to Tampa and told me that the area around Houston airport was a "very bad neighbourhood" - I was hoping there'd be a hotel in the airport so didn't have to test it out. Actually I was hoping to make my flight!

Finally we made it (another bumpy flight) and that's when I rediscovered why I never ever get a seat at the back of the plane. It takes sooooo long to unload a plane in the US - I reckon at least twice as long as Australia. They asked people to sit still for the people who had connections and some even did - we gave them thanks as we rushed up the plane to live in hope we'd make our connections - why did they seat us at the back?

But it was such a long time by the time I left the plane I had less than 10 minutes until the gate closed for the Orlando flight. The gate was a long way away too - I think close to a km I worked out - ran along the travelators etc but all the sitting around had taken it out of me and I had to jog for a fair bit with a bag bouncing on my back and laptop bag in hand. Finally I got to the gate and there were still people queued up so I was in luck. This took an age to load again but we didn't leave all that late and two hours later we landed in Orlando (didn't get dinner at Houston or on the plane) - I was right in back row this time and again it took soooo long to 'deplane'.

I'd started to panic that there were no more buses to my Disney resort at this hour (2300) following a conversation with another passenger. Made my way as quickly as possible out of the airport (there's that little train to take you some of the way) and got in the bus thing to the resort after buying a ticket inside the airport. The bus drove and drove and drove and went to every other resort on the planet plus got every red light before I finally made it well after midnight. A hellish day indeed but got there in the end and the reception staff were very nice to me upgrading my room.

So it shows how things can snowball. I was expecting a relaxing evening in Orlando. Instead I had three flights in the worst of cattle class. I have to say my fellow pax were pretty good overall apart from the luggage and slow disembarking.

Now I'm all relaxed a couple of days later and can enjoy life again. Thank you for reading this far. Almost a trip report.
 
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MelUser

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This sounds like a nightmare - thank fully you were protected by having everything on 1 ticket!
 

vertisol

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As Van Morrison once sang, There'll be days like this...

It certainly pays to keep a sense of humour when travelling.
 

opusman

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Thank you for your consideration for my ageing eyes with your selection of font :)
 

Warks

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Thank you for your consideration for my ageing eyes with your selection of font :)
I'd actually written some of the text in an email to SWMBO so on copying it originally the font went a bit crazy and I had to modify it. Didn't think it would be that big!

It was a good test of my patience and stress management that day. I was pretty pleased that I handled it as well as I did. Some years ago I wouldn't have coped nearly as well.
 
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