Wrap up of my recent streak of delayed flights on United.

Unfortunately, I've been on quite a run of delayed flights lately.  I've had business trips several weeks in a row, and each trip had some significant delays. I summarized them in these posts: Delayed from Philadelphia, delayed into Las Vegas, and Los Angeles delays.

united-msp-delayed1Flight status of my outbound flight.  Another mechanical...

The good news is that I don't have any delayed flights this week, but that's because I'm not flying at all.  

I wanted to conclude this series with information on the last leg of this series of messed up flights. My last post mentioned that maybe my luck was changing.  It seemed that way, but not surprisingly, I spoke to soon, the delays returned.  I guess that flying through Chicago makes me more susceptible to delays, but on my outbound flight to Minneapolis last week, everything seemed to be fine, and we initially pushed back on time, but soon after taxing towards the runways, we returned to the gate due to a mechanical issue.  

That mechanical delay ended up being over 150 minutes, but we finally were on our way, and I arrived about 2 1/2 hours late.  That's always annoying, but especially since the original flight was only scheduled for about an hour.  

My business trip went well, and I stayed at my 'usual' place, the Aloft Minneapolis, and similar to my previous stay due to a great rate and my desire to pick up another stay credit, I also visited the Westin Minneapolis for one night.  Unlike before, I didn't get a free suite upgrade; but my room was 'upgraded' to a large deluxe room.  

My return trip was unfortunately delayed significantly again, but this time I tried to be a little bit more proactive.  There were some storms going through Chicago, so there were long ATC delay on inbound departures.  I think shorter flights are more susceptible to this, since inbound arrivals are limited, its easier to delay these short flights.  My late morning departure was delayed in the typical fashion, a few minutes, then an hour, then the delay kept getting extended.  Eventually it posted a 1:46pm departure time:  


This flight eventually left at 3:49pm, almost 4 1/2 hours late.

I also noticed that most of the United Express flights between Minneapolis and Chicago were being cancelled.  During weather events, the express flights are the first to go.  I'm sure this helps United mainline attempt to maintain its on time stats, but as Rohan discusses in his excellent post about United's recent performance, this is terribly misleading since Express flights now make up a majority of flights at O'Hare and many other places.   Soon I received notification that my connection to Milwaukee was cancelled:


Not wanting to deal ongoing weather delays at O'Hare for 2 separate flights, this was enough to make me take action.  I contacted the United Twitter team.  

United isn't well regarded for many things these days, and their use of social media has been quite slow.  But I have to give them credit, they were very helpful in this case.  Via direct message, I was able to get re booked on a Delta nonstop into Milwaukee.  I left the now crowded United club in Minneapolis, and headed to the Delta gate.  

It took a while for United to push the ticket over, but I eventually got my boarding pass for that flight while standing at the gate.  I was in the last row of a MD-90 with no windows, but I was happy to be headed home.  I had a nice chat with the flight attendant whose jump seat between the rear lavatories possibly made for an even worse seat than I had.  The captain predicted bumps, so he ordered the flight attendants to remain seated for the duration of the flight.  That was a little disappointing, but was somewhat common on this approximately 45 minute flight.  I used to fly this route a lot when I flew Delta/Northwest more regularly.  Oh well, thanks to my new friend, I was still able to get some cookies, which are still offered for free to coach passengers on Delta flights.



For those keeping track, I did request original routing credit for my intended United flights.  I had to provide my e-receipt and my Delta boarding pass.  Unfortunately, my e-receipt online now shows the Delta flight, so I actually got a response from the Mileage Plus Service Center telling me that Delta is not a partner, so no credit is allowed, but thankfully, a followup from Mileage Plus confirmed these would post, and now they have. 

It is disappointing I had to fly another airline to get home, but when faced with delays, being proactive is always useful.  Now I'm home for a while, and while I'm glad to not have thet stress of flight delays, I'm ready to get out there and fly again soon.  Only a few more weeks until my Singapore Airlines First Class adventure begins!


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Hey Brad,

Great post! And, thanks for the shout-out!

First of all, I travel to Minneapolis for work from time to time - birds of a feather, flock together - I LOVE staying at the Aloft Minneapolis downtown. The staff is excellent, the rates are phenomenal, the amenities are outstanding, and the location isn't even half bad. I like how I can walk to my Yoga studio across the street and get a workout in, and get a shared ride to and from my office downtown on 3rd and 7th.

Flying United to MSP is, on the other hand, quite a different story. I hate the fact that even though UA operates hourly shuttles between Chicago and Minneapolis, the majority of them are on RJs, and my RJ flights RARELY leave on-time from MSP. I will agree with you 100% that UA does not factor these flights into the OTP rate and its incredibly frustrating, especially since its literally a 45 min journey.

Such a shame, too, because ever since Southwest, and more recently, Spirit, entered in the market, fares have gone down so much - its literally $150 or less to fly r/t on DL, AA and UA, which is such a steal. Not to mention, I almost always get my upgrades cleared on ORDMSP within the 48hr window. Such a sham.

Brad May 9, 2013 at 06:12 pm

Thanks Rohan. I agree on the Aloft. It just works. I always seem to have a car, but it would be reasonable to just take the Light Rail, assuming the weather is decent enough for a few block walk from the Metrodome. I'm a runner, and appreciate the trails along the river just behind the Aloft.

I should know better than flying MKE-ORD-MSP, but I am loyal to United, and the 2000 EQM per trip beat 1000 worthless Skypesos. United is my corporate preferred carrier, plus it's usually cheaper as you mention. Reliability on United is really suffering lately, and it is horrific with Express. I thought I'd be relatively safe with the E170 and the mainline flight on that trip but even that couldn't escape the mess.

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