The New System - How United is just falling apart - Trip from Hell part 2

You can read part one of my multi part trip report about my debacle on “The Worlds Leading Airline” United. Here

Now as we arrive in the Z gate area of Frankfurt airport I see a sea of people ahead of me, you can hear yelling and crying. I walk right into the mess and to my dismay it is right at my gate for my SFO flight. I was then approached by some contracted security person for UNITED that I recognize from past flights. This person was not with UA or LH but a contractor who’s job it is to ask me who packed my bags. She yelled at me, “San Francisco?” I said yes. She then told me to go over there (and pointed to a counter with no-worker at it) and you will be rebooked. Rebooked? She then said, “Go Go Go” I pull out my iPhone and there is no posted issues with my SFO flight and the monitors do not indicate any problem. So I stand like an ass at this counter with no one at it, at this point there is about 80-100 people behind me. I get an agent on the phone and asked if there was a problem with my SFO flight. She said, “Sir it looks fine” she can hear the yelling and asked me what is going on there? I explained that is why I was calling, she then said “oh no sir” I see the problem. “The two earlier flights to SFO were canceled the LH A380 and the UA B747 did not go today. Your flight is the only one going.” I thanked her and hung up.

Now that i knew the problem and I had a confirmed booking I should be ok. The problem was I had no boarding pass, because when I was IROP’ed the new booking on LH from MAN-FRA did not have the FRA-SFO-SEA flights attached to it and LH could not see the flights, this is a feature of the new system. I also could not checkin on the UA App for the flight, so I was not checked in for the SFO flight and take off time was about an hour away at this point. I was worried not being checked in would get us kicked from the flight. So still no agents around, LH agents were across the way getting people overnight vouchers and asking questions like “who doesn’t have a visa for Germany”. I get back on the phone, I got a CO agent (I knew because she answered, Continental may I help you) I told her my quick story and asked if she could check me in. Nope, I can not do that, she said. Hung up, and called back got an agent who got me checked in via the phone, she needed my passport number (that was loaded on my online profile, again what a nice system). I thanked her and asked if she was CO or UA, she replied “Real United for 30 years Sir, 4 weeks with Continental” we both laughed at this point. So now checked in with out a boarding pass, someone walks up to the counter and I explain all I need is my boarding pass. I got it, then off to the tower lounge for a quick drink(s).

Boarding was delayed by about 40 min, I get in my business class "bed" on the B777 and started to watch a movie. Then I was tapped on the arm by a passenger to have access to the window seat, this guy sits down, and his lady friend asks me if i would trade seats so they could sit together. I ask is it an isle? She smiled and said yes. I look at her boarding pass “row 42”. I say “no thank you” and sit down. She stomped off to the back. I was shocked.

The guy next to me did end up saying he was sorry for her actions but she was upset. They were on the LH flight then rebooked on the UA B747 flight. It was a long day. He told me that boarding was done on the 747 when a truck hit the engine, leading to the cancelation. He added they were the last 2 people to get on the current flight, they were booked in Economy but were given one seat in the back and one in business.

11 hours later we land at SFO (15 min late). The flight was like any other international UA flight in Business. The service did not change at all, it was not like the CO BusinessFirst service but like the old UA service. Really nothing to write home about. Crew was nice for the most part. I chatted about the changes and the crew did not have anything nice to say about "Mr. Smisek".

The connection in SFO was easy, the TSA were even nice to me!?!?, Stopped in the UNITED CLUB for something off the cracker and cheese buffet,  I then went to the gate of the SEA flight and our names were called to the desk. In part three find out what happened next.


colpuck April 15, 2012 at 06:21 pm

How is a trip in business class a trip from hell? I am not buying your story, you seem to blame the merger for things like mechanicals and trucks hitting planes.

too much hyperbole, sir.

Del April 16, 2012 at 01:58 am

You just made it under the wire for the weekend! Its amazing how when things go wrong on a flight even the most mundane things like a boarding pass become uber critical!

Anywho I have my bag or pop corn waiting to throw in the microwave for the next riveting installment! "our names were called to the desk" Gosh you are one for cliff hangers arent you! ;-)

Andrew April 16, 2012 at 03:12 am


Thanks for writing this up - I enjoy reading your article and knowing how to say no to an "aisle to aisle" seat swap :)

The real question is, if you hadn't spotted row 42 on her boarding pass and had stood up because you said yes to the lady, would you have got her to get out of your business class bed?


Interesting reads! Thanks.

I have to interject though that this segment wasn't too bad considering. You got lucky, sir. I think it's telling that you made it on your flight with the help of a PMUA phone agent. But everything else sounded fine. The real catch would've been how differently the other stranded passengers were treated due to systems/policy changes.

Gaby A. April 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

Love the fact he made HER sit in economy. Curious how their ride home from the airport went? LOL.

Del July 31, 2012 at 01:05 am

Part 3! My pop corn will get stale!

Richard Long December 21, 2012 at 02:34 pm

Agree with comment #1. This is a posting of a non-issue. So there's a little confusion before your flight. You still get on. You get a business class aisle seat. How is United falling apart when you got what you wanted?

I'm no United fanboy, but if you're going on a rant about United, tell us a story that truly demonstrates how the airline is coming apart. Not this whiny story.