Guess what loyal followers?!?! I am back to travel blogging! Yay!!! Today’s post is about mine & roomie KG’s first day of our Nashville trip…but don’t jump up to spread the news too quickly because I have still yet to make it there. Our nomadic saga begins on the way to the Edmonton airport:
Mama & Papa P were kind enough to drive us to there. Due to mine & Kristin’s inability to begin packing before the absolute last minute we left home a little late. It ended up being irrelevant when we received an email stating our 3:15pm flight was delayed until 4:14pm. No biggie…that still gave us an hour+ layover in Denver and time for a snack before we took off. Actually, that was probably better! …but perhaps I spoke too soon…
By the time we got to the airport we were taking off at 5:01pm leaving basically no layover…but the second flight might be delayed too, right? Arrival at the ticket counter saw us being turned away from check-in. Apparently both our plane and the second Edmonton-Denver plane (that was to depart an hour after ours) were still in Denver and possibly only one would be coming. Until they had confirmed our flight wasn’t cancelled we were stuck outside of security. Harvey’s anyone? Midway through my burger & onion rings I received yet another “United Airlines Flight Delay Update” email. 5:49pm departure. My flight tracker app showed our connection as On Time still so that was a bust, but at least we were going somewhere. We could catch the next Denver-Nashville flight. Oh Kris, how naive you were…thinking it was all so simple…
When we reached our gate we were finally informed that the delays were due to ‘weather.’ Can I rant for a minute about the explanation ‘weather‘? Because it seems like the least descriptive excuse ever. Where is this ‘weather‘ occurring? Is it good ‘weather‘ or bad ‘weather‘? They do realize that everywhere is experiencing ‘weather‘ all the time right? Right now even Hawaii has ‘weather‘…pleasant ‘weather‘ that doesn’t affect air travel, but still ‘weather.’ “Harsh winter weather in Denver” is a quality reason. “Poor weather on the East coast causing delays in the Denver flight schedules” is a full explanation. “Weather” is just bullshit.
When an attendant finally joined us at the gate we brought up our connection issue. Could we get moved to the next Nashville flight that night please? No, we were on the last flight of the day so we’d have to wait until the morning. Ok, could they please put us on that one then? No, it was booked up. Could they put us on standby for it? No, you have to be at the airport to be put on standby. Fair enough, but could they possible find us a new path to Nashville? No, they had no access to the system for that. Could they rebook us on the flight that Mom had found for us? No, they actually had no write access to the system at all. Could they do anything helpful at all? No, the only people who can help you are the service reps at the Central Hub. You can access them via the 1-800-number. Obviously we had a lot of questions. And obviously we heard a lot of No’s. And obviously YEG employees are not trusted to problem solve.
Feeling rather dejected and under appreciated as customers we (along with every other North American traveller) tried to phone the Customer Care number. Prepare yourself for Rant #2 folks because it is coming…
Could the United Airlines Customer Care phone system be any more infuriating? Don’t bother responding because I already know the answer: a resounding NO. No, it could not. It is already the most annoying thing on the planet. Your call is answered by an automated voice…let’s call him Ron 😡. At this point I need to make it clear that it is not merely Ron. It is Ron 😡. You must say it like you are Christian Bale’s Batman and you are so pissed off that you are actually growling out the name. That is Ron 😡. Ron 😡 pleasantly tells you that he doesn’t need to transfer you to a live person because he can solve all your problems with a few quick questions. Ron 😡 stop getting people’s hopes up! You can’t do shit. You can’t even figure out my confirmation number without making me repeat it over & over. But wide-eyed, hopeful, first-time-calling you doesn’t know this, so you answere Ron 😡‘s questions with zealous. You’re amazed that a resolution can be so easily found while just talking to a machine. Yeah it would be amazing…if it were true…and not a giant LIE Ron 😡 has fabricated to mess with your head! But I am spoiling the ending… Soon Ron 😡 has all of your information. He’s got your reservation number. He has your name. He’s figured out your flight details and that you want to change them. Everything’s falling into place and you’re on the edge of your seat awaiting the big finish…
“I’d love to transfer you to a Customer Representative but they are all busy. Goodbye.”
Goodbye. That’s it. Then it just hangs up. Ron 😡 f-ing hangs up on you! What? We told you we could solve this without a real-live person but we actually can’t. And because there are none available at this moment you’re SOL. Goodbye. Hang up. First of all why did I spend 10 minutes working through all of your questions if you were weren’t going to be able to help me anyway? And then you’re just going to hang up on me? What about Hold? Have you heard of Hold United Airlines? Because if I’m just repeatatively calling hoping I’ll be the one person in North America that randomly gets their call answered I’m giving up. At least if I knew I was number 545 on Hold I would know that in 544 people I’ll get a turn and anyone who calls after me will be dealt with after me. Since when was it ok to make customer service a random lottery? Needless to say I was so irate that I was yelling obscenities at the automated voice (Screw you Ron 😡!) in the middle of the terminal. Oh well, wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been “that crazy chick over there.” I made sure to document my frustration on the internet as well…because that’s what people do now-a-days, right?
Eventually we ran out of time to one-sided-argue with Ron 😡 and had to get on the plane. It was good we did because the Edmonton-Houston-Nashville flight mom had found for us ended up being cancelled and being stranded in Denver is still better than going to work and being a regular person.
The flight was fine. The Flight Attendant & Captain were so very cheerful and nice. I have to say, as much as some of United’s procedures & systems make me want to punch them in the face, their staff is awesome. They’ve been extremely pleasant, even though I’m sure people have been yelling at them all day (I’ve limited my yelling to just Ron 😡) and compassionate in their understanding that we all just want to get on our way. While in the air KG & I ate multitudes of Salt & Vinegar Pringles and Wine Gums as the healthiest of dinners and played ‘Would You Rather?’.
Would you rather be run over by a steamroller or a hundred mopeds? (Steamroller…at least it’s a quick death)
Would you rather marry Liam Payne or Ed Sheehan? (Ed is so dreamy…and a ginger!)
Would you rather live next door to Harry Styles or under Simon Cowell’s stairs? (Simon Cowell is my hero.)
Would you rather let your hero die (for us this was obviously 1D members) or save his life but have to live out the rest of your life in Avril Lavigne & Chad Krogers bedroom? (I’m not a selfless enough person to endure that kind of pain.)
Would you rather be burned alive or have to marry Ron 😡? (Burned Alive! Burned Alive!)
Provide your answers in the comments below!!!
As predicted we missed our connection, although by an annoyingly close margin. Flight Delay Updates told us that our second flight has also been pushed back several times, just not enough times to match YEG’s delays. The Edmonton staff had told us to talk to the Customer Service folks in Denver to get rescheduled. Denver is a Central Hub so they had the authority to help us. We came across the end of the line for the first CS desk long before the desk itself. We’re talking a Disneyland-ride-worthy line. Luckily we had done our research on the plane and knew the terminal layout from the United inflight magazine. There were still 3 other desks to put our hope in. The line for the third was much shorter, although still epically long, so we joined the throngs of other stranded travelers to wait. Shortly after joining a lady passing by ranted at us about how it had taken her 5 hours to get through the line from the exact spot we were standing. 5 hours? Hopefully not.
But less would have been good luck, and it was becoming clear that was something we didn’t possess. 5 hours turned out to be spot on. While waiting we received an email saying we had been automatically placed on flights through Newark on Thursday. Not really as soon as we were hoping. That would get KG there in time for the last day of her event conference, aka the main reason we were coming to Nashville, and would leave us stranded in Denver for 3 full days. Plus New York is not having the best of luck with getting flights out of their airports either. We were hoping the waiting would be worth it and we’d see some improvement. At the counter (5 hours of standing/sitting/laying later) we spoke to an amazing employee who was soooo helpful and nice and lovely. I repeat that the United employees are not the problem. It was sounding like she was already multiple hours into overtime and was still doing everything she could to help us…and be wonderful while doing it. I wish I had written down her name so I could send United a letter about how pleasant she was. Our trusty CS agent was able to reschedule our Thursday flights so they were the same, unfortunately there was nothing sooner available, and then put us on the standby list. It wasn’t much but she assured us that standby was something to believe in. With all of the flight cancellations and delays a lot of people were missing their connections. Earlier that day she’d cleared a 20 person standby list on one flight and still sent it off with empty seats. For Nashville we would be standby travelers number 10 & 11. Not too far down but annoying how we would have been 2nd & 3rd if they’d been able to put us on the list from Edmonton.
By the time this was done it was the middle of the night…literally. It was 3am and we were starving…and not even drunk…normally if it’s 3am and I’m starving I’ve had some slightly deviant fun beforehand. Being the middle of the night, nothing was open. Not a single shop. I really think the Denver airport food vendors are missing out on a fruitful business opportunity with this late night, stranded crowd. I was so thirsty I thought I might die of dehydration and KG was having hungry stomach pains. eventually, with the help of another super friendly employee, we located some hidden vending machines. Our midnight meal of water, pop tarts & cookies was a nice compliment to our candy & chips dinner.
Feeling utterly exhausted we located a secluded spot behind some chairs at an end gate and settled in for what was left of the night. Although it provided some shelter from prying eyes it also was right next to a window. At 4:30-ish we had to haul our frozen bodies to an upstairs business corral…like the study spots in the university library…to resettle. The end space was larger than the others and allowed us both to curl up. This business corral is now my new home (as I now live in the Denver airport). Its warm, dark-ish (when you’ve climbed under the desk) and relatively quiet, with just airport appropriate white noise (suitcases rolling, moving sidewalks buzzing, etc). So tell me Homeless or Hippie?
With Love & (No) Luck from Denver,