Notice: this is a rant posted only to my “life” blog category, if you happen to not like personal stories but got this due some syndication using my global RSS instead of specific, please forgive me and just ignore this post.
Ulisses and I had to travel to a conference in Orlando, FL and we did the stupid mistake of booking the flight with United Airlines. Yes, we already had problems with it in the past and we knew United Breaks Guitars, but nonetheless we insisted to give it another try. It was already strange that our flight to Orlando had to go to Washington DC in the first step, then we would have to go through Chicago during our return… but yeah, it was cheaper and the airlines do these stupid routes to aggregate more people.
Problem#1: So… Sunday, June 20th, we were set to depart at 10pm. Given that my birthday was the day before, I was at my family’s house for a great Brazilian BBQ. However their city is 4 hours away from the airport, you all know the airport checks take some time and they require us to be 3 hours before, so 7 hours earlier I departed. If you happen to like football as I do, and you are Brazilian, you would rather die instead of loosing Brazil versus Ivory Coast in the world cup, but I was forced to.
Arriving at the airport exactly 3 hours earlier, we did the check-in, went through security and waited for hours… to be notified 20 minutes before that our flight was cancelled due no reason. They rumored that the aircraft had mechanical problems and could not fly.
Problem#2: We were told that we should go in the next flight at around 1pm the next day… it was already bad, given that we’d loose the first conference day, but it became worse once other passengers alerted us that UA actually did not had any flights departing at that time! Apparently they were just doing that so they would just have to pay us one hotel night, forcing us to be at the airport in the morning and then wait until 10pm for the actual flight!
We could not afford such delay as the second conference day was the one with the important bits. Thus we made them book us a flight with their partner company “TAM”, departing Monday 21th in the morning. The flight was a direct one and that was awesome, with a new airplane with interactive media displays and so on.
Problem#3: We had to go to Chicago where we had the connection back to SÃ£o Paulo, it was around 2 hour slack between them and so good balance, not much to wait and enough time to get our luggage transferred. But UA was nice to delay our flight departure by 30 minutes. A bit worried, we were confident it was still enough. However during the flight, the pilot announced “We’ll have to stop in Kansas to refuel”, WTF we thought immediately. Of course this was a stupid excuse for something that they did not tell us. Kansas it was, long delay… but we did manage to get to Chicago 30 minutes before our flight departed.
Obviously, while you can walk from one gate to another in 30 minutes, your luggage cannot go through their unknown process and it did not make into the plane.
Problem#4: We arrived in SÃ£o Paulo and waited for our baggage… thinking in a logical way, we did know it was not there, but as the government slogan says “we’re brazilian and we’ll never loose hope!” After confirming that it was not there, we went to United Airline help desk. Strange looks, computer queries and questions about our route in USA, they said it was located in Chicago and should be in Brazil in their next flight, which should be this afternoon (June 29th). The whole they happened, but no news from our luggage… called them and they said it is still in Chicago, but at this point: would you believe them?
Problem#5: when entering Brazil you have the usual options “Nothing to declare” or “Goods to declare”. Often then choose some samples from “nothing to declare” to be exhaustively investigated, a quite invasive search I’d say. We did not had anything to declare, but given that our luggages were not there, we had to go be searched just to be able to have our stuff to be allowed through the Customs without us. WTF, what is the logic behind that?! A huge inconvenience.
Problem#6: my luggage was package with all my brand new clothes as we had scheduled some meetings with costumers in the conference. For some stupid mistake, I also dispatched my BlackBerry with my luggage since I did not use it for the whole week. Ulisses also had some nice gifts for his daughter in his bag. Very, very likely we’ll not see such personal items anymore, as they are likely to vanish with our luggage or just handle us opened bags without these items as it already happened to me in the past.
Yeah, United breaks guitars, make you loose your football game, fuck with your business travel, loose your luggage… what a shame, never using United services in future, this time for real. I did learn my lesson.