on why united is the worst.

unitedYesterday, I flew home to Denver from DC’s National Airport. Things were looking up, at first: my dad had a voucher for a free flight, so I got to splurge and get a direct flight home (this was HUGE); I had managed to pack for 10 days into a carry on (ladies, I’ll give you a moment to let this sink in. 10 DAYS!!!); and I got to the airport on time, with a smooth trip to security, and with magazines, a Weeds DVD, and a Chuck Klosterman book to occupy myself.

I was pretty thrilled about all of this, but I should have known that it was just a tease. I settled into my seat in the waiting area, inexplicably surrounded by only Chinese people, and munched on some snacks. Then, I casually — innocently — turned to verify my flight time, and it had been bumped back a full three-and-a-half hours from 5:26 p.m. to 9:01 p.m. Now, I’ve had my fair share of flight problems. Except when compared to the people who plunged into the Atlantic Ocean a few weeks ago, you might say that I have some pretty damn bad luck when it comes to flying. And here’s the thing: typically, I stay calm. I sort of like airports, and I like being able to be by myself and read magazines and people-watch guiltlessly. For some reason, however, this flight delay REALLY pissed me off. My BBM fest with my sister indicates this:

Me: Of course things couldn’t go too smoothly…My flight has just been delayed by 3.5 hours
Me: Mother fucker
Me: I’m so pissed right now
Maddy: What?? Are you serious. Is there another flight you can get on??
Me: I don’t know…I can go check but I don’t know how this stuff works since I used dad’s voucher
Maddy: I would go ask and just see that is ridiculous. Why? Is it bad weather?
Me: Not even a little bit
Maddy: It must be from wherever the flight is coming from
Maddy: I would go ask
Me: I WANT TO KILL SOMEONE [Ed. note: Ah, first-world problems]

More chatting, more chatting, and then I take melodrama to a whole new level:

Me: Ha yeah I just want to cry because this is probably the first direct flight I’ve taken in 5 years and I packed so well and of course something has to go wrong
Me: [Four letter word I’m embarrassed to publish]
Me: Maybe I will move to Denver and never travel outside of driving distance for the rest of my life
Me: And now Sarah Palin is on the cover of Time magazine on the TV in front of me
Me: I might explode [Ed. note: At this point I had considered typing something about wanting to bomb the airport, but I figured that the C.I.A. or the F.B.I. or whatever probably, somehow, monitors text messages for mentions of bombing airports]

And later…

Me: Oh snap I’m boozing. I forgot I can drink legally

The rest of our conversation continues similarly. My flight did that fun thing where it got delayed ten minutes at a time until it was at 9:45 p.m., and by that time, I was calmed down, watching Weeds standing up and doing minor yoga poses. I also ate the largest, most delicious sandwich of my life. Thank you, Potbelly (and Camille).

Things ended up being oookay, and around 9:45 they moved our gate and were RUSHING us to line up and have our boarding passes, like, totally ready, and out, and also definitely don’t use your cell phone or talk because we are getting on this plane NOW. We’re all eager and ready, and then they drop the bomb: “By the way, we are waiting on this one flight attendant, and if she doesn’t show, your flight will be canceled. But don’t worry! You guys have been great!”

This is when minor anarchy breaks out and people start getting really pissed. There’s that classic loudly chatty lady who’s all “What is this, the twilight zone??” and everyone chuckles appreciatively. I find myself surrounded by drunk adults (and I was sober — Weeds and Chuck K. won out over wine, oddly enough). I felt strangely awkward around these drunk adults. Being around drunk people my age while sober is one thing, but drunk adults? I felt like I was observing a different species. There was flirting (gasp!) among people with spouses, drunk businessmen, and a really obnoxious lady who seemed to fancy herself a modern day version of Kathy Bates in Titanic. I observed and smiled and laughed and made sympathetic comments where appropriate.

Luckily, we did end up boarding, and that rogue flight attendant was found. They didn’t let us get too calm, though; they hurried us on the plane, saying, “Seriously people, if you don’t sit down in the next six minutes, our pilots will become illegal.” Um, awesome.

Aaaand then I passed out for four hours and woke up, alive, in Denver. Good story, right?

The thing about miserable flying stories is that they’re a lot like wacky dream stories. Chuck Klosterman (it should be clear by now that I’m totally and completely in love with him, or at least his writing) talks about the strange truth about dream stories in Killing Yourself to Live. Every single one of your friends has a bizarre, or hilarious, or terrifying, or physic dream story at some point, and they always want to share it with you. The problem is that most dream stories are only truly interesting to the person who dreamed them. But when someone says, “Oh man, let me tell you about this insane dream I had last night,” you can’t stop them. You have to listen, and be amazed, and maybe counter with your own only-interesting-to-you dream story.

It’s the same with flying stories. Everyone has miserable flying stories, because airlines these days (with a few notable exceptions) suck. And you guys didn’t really care to hear that whole story, but I told you anyway. This is what happens when you have a blog, and three hours to kill, and a glass of wine. You’re welcome!

P.S. Last night, I had this crazy dream…my teeth fell out, and I had to fight Michael Jackson for the insurance check to get them replaced, and…yeah. You get the point.

UPDATE: The comments indicate that I am sooo not alone in my hatred of United. Loyal reader Beth F shared this wonderful video, which puts our collective anger to music:

[Posted by Mallory]


Filed under adventures, blogging, crushes, pop culture, thoughts, travel

8 responses to “on why united is the worst.

  1. united IS the worst, and a band wrote a song about how they broke one of their guitars (http://www.onlyinamericablog.com/2009/07/07/band-accuses-united-airlines-of-breaking-guitar-writes-song-in-revenge/)!!!

    ps – i’m a friend of a friend of kathleen’s, and a loyal reader of your blog since pretty much the beginning. i love it!

  2. CSH

    I won’t fly United… They are rude as hell. Made me sleep in the airport one night… Solidarity sister!

  3. You’ve just gotta read “Suck Stories” about travel at http://www.yousuckwhenyourerude.com

    Trust me. I know exactly what you mean.

    I don’t like US Air either. No TV in the seats.

  4. You’re right, United is the worst. I took them on a flight home from Hawaii. Three plans broke down. They lost my luggage and refused to help me get it back. It took over 24 hours, 7 of them spent in LAX. They are the devil.

  5. EW! (Sobriety, your 90-hour airport debacle, Kathy Bates in Titanic, pimentos. Not that pimentso have anything to do with your post, but Ew anyway).

    And I love the Ed. Notes. You should write Ed. Notes on my blog. I shall give you the super secret password, and just remember that I know where you sleep should you get too “funny.”

  6. Pingback: fine, i’ll write about balloon boy. « six words to change the world.

  7. Pingback: guess what? i’m not a robot. « six words to change the world.

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