For the past few years, I have been very loyal to United Airlines. The ease of my international flights with just a 25 minute connection in Dubai has always made them worth it for me. However, last fall when American failed once again on their promise of connecting internationally without any delays or cancelations during the “Holiday Unexpected” travel season, they did not disappoint and instead were able less than two hours after cancelling due to foggy weather to rebook passengers onto another flight leaving from Dubai that was scheduled at 6 am local time.
The “united airline phone number” is a company that offers flights to various destinations. The company has been around for over 70 years and has had an impressive safety record. However, in recent times, the airline’s service has been questionable at best. I was recently on a trip where my flight was cancelled and United Airlines saved me from another disappointing experience.
When American Airlines failed again, I was rescued by United Airlines and a 25-minute international connection.
on October 23, 2021 by Gary Leff
On a recent weekend, I spent time on Moskito Island. That’s a narrative in and of itself, which I’ll tell you about. However, the return journey was eye-opening for me, and I’d like to share two of the things I learnt.
I was supposed to go on Cape Air from Beef Island (Tortola) to San Juan, then on American Airlines to Miami and then on to Austin. There is now a nonstop flight from San Juan to Austin, however American operates it as a redeye in both ways, which proved inconvenient for me (and the idea of a redeye on an American Airlines Oasis aircraft is just brutal). Because there aren’t enough gates at San Juan and Austin, you schedule what you can, which results in improved aircraft utilization.
My American flight from San Juan to Miami is delayed by approximately 40 minutes after I check in for my Cape Air trip, and then it is delayed by another half hour. The incoming plane had broken down in Miami. I had a one-minute connection there immediately, and the plane that would take me back to Austin was unlikely to be delayed since it would be waiting in Miami for a few hours before my departure.
Almost every seat on American Airlines was taken. They didn’t have anything that would bring me home the same day – and I’d left my room at 4:30 a.m. to begin with. A few minutes later, a seat on a Miami-Austin aircraft became available, bringing me home after an 8-hour wait around midnight. I contacted again to get the flight added to my booking.
I did find a United Airlines flight that would fit my schedule and reduce my wait time in half. The agent did not offer to transfer me to another airline on my own initiative. But since I was working on another proposal, I didn’t press for it. There was a United flight out of San Juan that American refused to allow me on because it was an unlawful 44-minute international-to-domestic connection. I was planning on going for it.
United demanded 73,000 miles for the single first-class ticket available from San Juan to Houston, with a coach connection from Houston to Austin. But I had a huge United credit card bill and didn’t want to spend the money for a ticket that was totally refundable. I understood that if I couldn’t make it, I could cancel the reward and receive my miles back by paying a penalty. I made my reservation using the app. And then I was gone.
I’d have a 44-minute layover, which meant I’d be arriving as my United aircraft was boarding. In reality, I’d only have 29 minutes since I’d have to board 15 minutes before departure to avoid losing my spot. When I needed to corner like I was on rails, I was wearing loafers.
- Immigration is free and clear.
- Agriculture inspection is also important.
- Then there’s a national guard inspection for overseas aircraft entering.
- Make your way through security.
- To get to the gate, walk.
My Cape Air flight arrived five minutes late in Tortola, but our Cessna landed on schedule. We took a lengthy roundabout route to immigration, passing through unmarked doors and around the ramp. There were no agents there, but I utilized the Global Entry kiosk, and customs had a single agent. My baggage were x-rayed after he signed off on me, and I was free to go. I had my negative Covid test to show, but when I informed the security agents I was only connecting, they allowed me bypass the line for their check. For TSA PreCheck, there was just one person ahead of me. In less than 25 minutes, I was on an incoming plane, boarding my connecting flight. United was still in boarding group 5 at the time.
My San Juan – Austin ticket will be refunded by American, therefore the United miles won’t be wasted. And all of this meant that I’d be home for supper with my three-year-old daughter after being gone not only for a three-day weekend, but also for work the week before. My main concern was being able to see her and do bedtime with her.
I was reminded of two things on my United flight:
- What a disaster their internet is. That’s when it started to work. The Boeing 737-800 has no connection over water, and I’d been avoiding the airline due of its terrible wifi on land.
- In first class, food service has been resumed. For breakfast, I had the option of eggs or French toast. I didn’t think I could take another shrink-wrapped turkey sandwich from American Airlines.
MileagePlus has visibly depreciated in value. However, United Airlines seems to be improving. The same interior upgrade that adds seat back video to aircraft that don’t already have it also installs new internet. And what’s up with Scott Kirby, where they’re putting more money into food?
My mental image of Scott Kirby was that of an airline destroyer. Since Tempe management took over American Airlines, he is mostly to responsible for the company’s collapse. He now criticizes them for not providing seatback video, yet it was a choice made during his tenure at the airline. He was adamant about not putting internet at US Airways for years because he felt they wouldn’t be able to recoup their costs, and it wasn’t until he saw plainly individuals refusing to purchase plane tickets because they couldn’t give up several hours of work to do so that he caved in.
When Kirby first came to United, he worked as a cost-cutter. The airline’s Polaris business class soft product was pulled back, which came as no surprise. United was plainly dishonest in holding consumer money for flights they did not run at the outset of the epidemic, essentially prepared to risk a DOT investigation for behaving unlawfully in order to save money. MileagePlus will be depreciated twice in 2020.
United, on the other hand, was the first major airline to abolish change fees on most prices (although with some wacky procedures to prevent consumers from matching cheaper rates after they’d purchased them), and they’re spending more in their product. I wish I knew what happened in Scott Kirby so that I could accept the recent investments as evidence of their commitment to being a premium airline. United seems to be ‘on the rise.’ The crew who flew me from San Juan to Houston was also fantastic.