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Friday, April 17, 2009

NYC Or Bust

So here we are again - at the airport in Denver - we are on standby for a flight around noon - fat chance - and are confirmed for the flight at 7:20 - exactly 24 hours later than our scheduled flight out of Denver - in fact it is the same flight, but one day later.

Of course, I ended up paying for a hotel last night - thankfully, a United Express ticket lady took pity on us and gave us a pink voucher with a mysterious phone number on it (1800-500-5556). We called the number, gave our location, and they listed two hotels - the Radisson for $78 per night and Red Lion for $54. We chose the Red Lion for $54. The lady on the phone told us we should exit through door 517 and wait for further instructions. Kidding. We were to exit through 517 and then wait for the Shuttle Red Lion/Double Tree. We did just that.

While we were waiting for the shuttle to leave, the driver announced that the Double Tree had no more room - so a handful of poor travelers had to get off and brave the United Airlines counter again - they were "Amenities" though, which is UAL speak for UAL foots the bill for their hotel. We were not "Amenities", and to UAL we didn't exist. United Express is somehow NOT United Airlines, even though they have the same logo and rather the same name, except for the fact that the name of the former implies you get there faster.

The more important distinction is that while UAL employees seem to be unionized, United Express employees are not and will actually help you. For some reason, United keeps canceling one flight after another due to mysterious weather conditions, missing windshield wipers, and strict hour limits placed on the duration a pilot or crew member can work. Not that I want tired pilots flying around, but I overheard one passenger saying that he was on a plane that was canceled after the plane had left the gate - it turned around because the pilot had reached the hour limit. Didn't they know this before they loaded the passengers onto the plane? Odd.

I should also mention that it seems all other airlines with scheduled flights out of Denver have no such problems. Jet Blue, Southwest, both airlines able to fly in the rain, even the snow! There must be something special about the rain and snow here in Denver that it only falls on United Airlines Planes.


When we got there, we stood in a line 30 deep to get our rooms. It was about midnight at this point. In the morning we found that all of the early shuttles to the airport were full. Rats.

We finally got on a shuttle - 9:55 and were on our way back to the airport. En route I struck up a conversation with a young man trying to get to Los Angeles. His had been a two day journey as well, thus far. I made up a new slogan for United Airlines in his honor:

United Airlines -Fly from Chicago to LA - in 48 hours or less! (Covered wagon not included)

I will make up a slogan for our trip as well, once I have a good idea of how long it will actually take.

One more thing: I promised the young man I would report this: The Quality Inn in Pasadena claims that they cannot cancel his reservation for the evening despite the fact he called as soon as he knew that he would be stuck in Denver. As of the time of this writing, he will be charged regardless of the fact that he would not be able to stay there the first evening, but would arrive one day later. The 800 number of the Quality Inn told him that the manager of that particular Quality Inn just didn't want to give him a refund - but that he could.

The manager at the Pasadena Quality Inn claimed he didn't have the authority. Furthermore, only the accounting department could provide him with a refund. The young man requested that the manager ask the accounting department to do just that - and was told that the accounting department could only be communicated with by email or fax. Or smoke signals?

Shame on you, Quality Inn of Pasadena.

Gotta run to standby now

Good luck to all my fellow travelers who are also stuck in UAL Heck here in Denver, Colorado.

RH

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