I feel as if I must tell everyone who reads this column about that time I forget United Airlines still sucks… Actually, it’s more of a plea to British Airways to please reinstate the daylight eastbound flight from Washington Dulles International Airport, but United still is a wretched excuse for an airline. I don’t want to question American bankruptcy laws, but how is this airline still in business?
The real moral of this story is, well, I really should have known better. You see, the last time I had flown United was to visit my brother in Colorado. I arrived two days late without my skis, due to mechanical problems and an airline unable to sort rebookings in a timely manner. Now, United has recently merged with Continental, which has resulted in an airline that is demonstrably worse than their competition. The other massive US carrier, Delta, has brought back their call centres from India, so in the event of needing to speak to an agent, one can. United has not, and they lost $417 millon last quarter.
This time, I needed to make a Transatlantic excursion for some business mettings and a fairly debaucherous weekend. BA no longer offers a daylight flight on their route from Washington to Heathrow, and with the economy being what it is, I was travelling towards the back of the Boeing. United afforded me two options of avoiding sleeping upright on my eastbound leg, and I could sample their premium economy section. Let me say this, there is nothing economical nor premium about United Economy Plus. It’s the same seat as regular steerage with a couple of inches more legroom, or as one might say, ‘it’s just utter shit, really.’ They also don’t serve free booze or segregate babies to certain rows; never ever fly United long-haul.
After I had already checked in online for my flight during the daytime to London in the AM, United decided to cancel the morning service. There was no weather issue on either end, but I got an email stating this was the case at 5 o’clock in the evening. There was one last flight to London that night, or else I was spending an extra day on the wrong side of an ocean. The Indian call centre employee offered to book me on a flight the following week, but after 30 minutes of playing the telephone waiting game, I finally convinced the good people of Bangalore to put me on that night’s final flight. Luckily I got to sit behind a crying baby and next to a woman who kicked her legs into mine about every 10 minutes all night. Why can’t people sedate their children on airplanes like my parents used to do? Also, I was now without enough US dollars to get a glass of mediocre at best wine to accompany my inedible ‘meal’. At least I had my own toothbrush and noise canceling headphones, since United provided neither of these essential items! This late as always flight also took me into the lovely Terminal 1, which could use a little help from Luftwaffe circa 1940 to improve the place. The Piccadilly Line was a much better, cleaner, and more comfortable travel experience.
United also lost my bag, and there was quite the line to process all the claims from this particular flight. Cargo takes precedence to bags: it’s unscreened. However, if one person fails to board, then we all have to wait for them to take the x-rayed and bomb scanned single wheely bag of the damn airplane. Add this to the fact that there’s not a looker amongst the cabin crew, and I’d rather risk my life by flying Air France, who crash a lot and cram an extra seat across the row on the 777, through CDG airport, which tends to collapse on you, than take United. At least they have free wine. In fact, I’d rather fly FedEx in a wooden box than take United, but with my luck the funeral director would put my remains on United. I’d really hate to be that asshole who bumps your bags full of cigarettes and booze, so sorry in advance. Of course, even should they still exist at time, I’d be willing to bet that United Airlines still sucks.