The Hub has worked in the airline industry long enough for me to witness its slow, painful demise. Airlines that do not take care of their employees are staffed with employees who don’t give a dirty boot to take care of their customers. That’s my opinion. Not sure if that’s United’s trouble, but they suck.
Weather is out of my control, the pilot’s control, the ticket agent’s control…so on and so forth. I get that. But yesterday was the kind of blue-sky day that airlines use for posters and advertisements. Yesterday, there was no weather.
Yet our plane out of Denver into Spokane arrived late. Thus my flight boarded late. No reason was offered, no apologies issued. We loaded like cattle and the plane pulled away from the gate. And there we sat.
After a delay, the first engine shut down and out pilot announced that she was shutting down the engine for safety. Safety because she needed to complete paperwork for us to leave and a United employee was walking out to give the flight crew the paperwork. What?!
Smart phones do exist with all kinds of apps including the management of paperwork. If paper paperwork was indeed necessary, why wasn’t it dealt with BEFORE we left the gate? So there we sat, waiting for pens and paper to be exchanged. The engine started back up and into our flight the pilot announced our late arrival time.
Like every other person seated in this can with wings soaring across blue skies, I looked at my connecting flight. The pilot said we’d arrive at 4:51; my connection started boarding at 4:50. Denver is a huge airport and my boarding pass failed to list a gate.
I asked a flight attendant for assistance finding my gate. She was elusive as a drug dealer stopped on a street corner and asked for directions. She gave me non-information, nothing helpful and suggested I try United.com. I had signed up for “alerts” which by the way never alerted me to anything including the delays I experienced. What a waste of digital space on my phone.
The pilot informed us that we were making tight connections and asked for a show of hands from passengers who had connections 40 minutes or less (I was already at -1 minute). EVERY hand rose. The pilot, who couldn’t see this, advised us to give courtesy to fellow passengers who raised their hand. We all laughed like people who know they are screwed.
Not a single flight attendant helped anyone. We had passengers helping get bags. I sat next to a nice young man who retrieved my heavy computer bag (heavy, loaded with all my Hickok research) and coat for me. Others passed up a diaper bag for the mother traveling with her baby. The flight attendants thank us for flying with United–the friendliest airline in the sky.
The gate agents ignored me as I asked for help. Please, my plane is already boarding. She looked it up and agreed. Yes it was. Where? Gate B77. I landed at B20-something. I had to run. And I don’t run well.
Let’s pause and make a suggestion: United, you have a delayed flight, delayed by whatever stupidity led to paperwork on the tarmac, and you KNOW you have passengers with tight connections as a result. HELP THEM! Is it that difficult? Seriously–call their gates, let their connections know they’ve arrived. Have transport ready. Be FRIENDLY. Look that word up and know it, don’t just regurgitate it over your intercom system.
By gate B48 I was winded, had blisters forming because my shoes were for ease of getting through security not for sprinting and my name was called for final boarding. Couldn’t they see on their screens that my plane arrived on the opposite end? So I stopped and asked the gate agents for help.
Winded, I could have been having a heart attack. They ignored me. All three. How do you ignore a person who says, three times, Help me! Talk about dehumanizing. Kind of the opposite of friendly. I begged them to call my gate, let them know I was struggling to get there. One woman reluctantly did and told me, “You better get going.”
The one angel of the day was a beautiful black man, driving a cart. He noticed I was winded. He saw my limping gait, my heavy bag, and stopped to give me a ride. I guarantee you, this kind and friendly man who then put me at ease, said we’d make it, chatted like he was my best friend does not work for United.
Once at gate B77 I was treated as if I were holding up their damn plane! I was hustled along, told to “Go, go go!” And had to be escorted to my plane. The flight attendant ignored me as I boarded and another passenger tried to help me with my bag. It wouldn’t fit. We shoved it between my seat and the one in front of me with my legs painfully pinned. Despite being out of FAA regulation, neither flight attendant cared, nor offered to store it elsewhere.
I arrived. I found my family in a chorus of hugs and laughter. Told them my ridiculous story of traveling to which my niece and sister, said, “Oh no. We never fly United.” In fact my sister says she’ll pay extra to avoid the airline. Wise. We waited for my bag that then never arrived.
Today, I’m grumpy. I’m in day two of my sweaty travel clothes. My “delayed” luggage claim was suppose to update me every six hours on my bag until found. Other than the text advising me of the update policy, I was never once updated. The toll-free number on my claim goes to some “you won…” scam and when I try to by pass my prize I get disconnected. So I started calling Houston. I got information, but only be calling. No one ever called me.
Lack of customer service. Apathetic at best. Fly United–the Most Apathetic and Inept Airline is the Skies…if we don’t crash. And yes, that was my last travel horror story. I was kind that time and did not call out the airline. Nor was I ever compensated for my trouble. They offered me “reward miles.” Not interested. And yes, I flew United.
Time to lighten up! I’m on my first research trip which I get to share with family. They know me all too well, and when I visit they’ve shown me area cemeteries and museums. They get to go to Rock Creek with me and stand where it all went down on July 3, 1861. I’m very excited, and so happy to be among loved ones.
My three-year old grand-nephew we will call the Gymnast has a prompt for us: a yellow boat on a river. You can add dinosaurs and fire trucks if you are so inclined. I may be sporadic in my responses but I will respond to all your comments and submissions. I travel home (on United) and have low expectations. Thus I don’t think I’ll be posting on #MondayBlogs. And thank you for your patience with the delayed compilation posting. What a great collection of stories and fears.
October 8, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a yellow boat on a river. Be creative with the phrase. It can be about a yellow boat or it could be the name of a band or brand of toothpaste. It can be included in the setting or be the adventure.
As a bonus challenge, anyone willing to write a story for three year-olds will be included in a separate children’s compilation. It’s an option, and not the main prompt. I owe my nephew a story.
Home Sickness by Charli Mills
Sarah closed her eyes while the wagon trundled down dusty ruts. Sunset over the prairie hung hazy and pink on the horizon. Leroy said it’d take another hour to reach his ranch. After that he didn’t speak.
Like on a rocking boat, Sarah swayed. “I’ll buy you a yellow boat, Rosebud and sail you away from here.”
To Sarah, it was a promise Cob made to her years ago in the daisy-strewn meadow of the hollow where they met. Carolina meadows. Carolina mountains. Like swells of sea-sickness, she longed for home. She wanted off this boat. Cob had lied.
For the Gymnast by Aunt Nanners
“Turn the yellow boat around,” the captained commanded.
We were on the river behind Grammi’s house and the dinosaurs were lumbering after us. We found this yellow boat with a captain who wore a hat with an eagle feather. I gave him a piece of bubble gum and he agreed to take us across the river in his yellow boat.
The boat spun around leaving a crest of water in its wake that sprayed the biggest dinosaur. It melted. Now we knew their weakness. I popped my bubble gum and smiled at the captain. The yellow boat sped away.
Rules of Play:
- New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
- Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
- Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
- Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
- If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
- Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
- Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
- Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
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