(submitted to United Airlines' Customer Care online portal)
subject line (from the drop down menu): Alliance Flight Experience
To whom it may concern:
I understand that United Airlines is not responsible for the weather, for New York City's heavy air/ground traffic, and/or for Newark's single runway for departures/arrivals.
However. The experience I had flying with you yesterday went from dysfunctional to manic. Rapidly.
I was originally scheduled on flight 4212 on 12/8/2013. Blessedly, this flight was canceled well in advance of my trek from Manhattan, and I was automatically rebooked.
I arrived at EWR on 12/9/2013 to take flight 4292, scheduled to depart at 12:30pm. The first of 10 emails to arrive from United over the course of the day informed me of a delay. (I did not receive an email every time the flight was delayed or the gate changed; that would have increased my inbox by at least 15 more emails.)
I arrived at the designated gate (A25). 20 minutes before we were meant to depart, we had a gate change (A22). Zones 1 and 2 boarded, then unboarded. We were told of a necessary aircraft change. Some of the reasons given: it was too small; for our size/load, it would require between 1 and 3 fuel stops en route; it could not handle the wind.
We were told to board at A20. We boarded. Then the pilot announced that there was an engine leak. We waited to see if it could be repaired. Alas, no. WE ALL UNBOARDED THIS SECOND PLANE and were sent to A23 to await an arriving plane we could borrow.
We boarded this final plane (our 3rd) at this final gate (our 4th), five hours after we were scheduled to do so.
This experience was greatly improved by our crew. John B., our flight attendant, maintained a great sense of humor ("Welcome to flight 4292, nonstop, same-day service!") and offered unlimited alcoholic beverages and snacks for the duration of our flight.
The captains, as frustrated as we, kept us informed and made decisions that made us feel safe. Their honesty earned our trust.
Mechanical failures. Customer service success.
(my initials are EWR. curses.)