Ben’s Odyssey – the journey home


Monday and Tuesday, 22-Aug-2022 & 23-Aug-2022

Getting home from Massachusetts was… challenging.

See, as I alluded to in the earlier posts, I was lucky enough to get some last minute plane tickets to Massachusetts for my friend’s wedding. The tickets weren’t direct, and weren’t with an airline I tend to trust, but… you know what, it was good enough and for the right price, so sure. I clicked buy and went with it.

Sitting in the hotel room, that I had to reserve and buy myself, after sitting in line for almost seven hours to be told that United wouldn’t reimburse me for a cancelled flight, I had to question whether the price was worth the hassle.

Let’s begin in the middle:

I’d gotten dropped off at Logan, checked into the flight, and winged my way safely to Houston International Airport. No issue, no hassle. Came in a little early, we’re good to go. The stewardess made an announcement as we landed that I couldn’t understand (why, exactly, are airline intercoms all still from the 60s?), but… whatever. I’ll be fine, right?

Not quite so right. I got off the plane, checked the board… and every departing flight was cancelled “due to weather”. Looking outside… not really so much weather, but sure. I’ll trust United that, if they say it’s going to rain, then it’s probably going to rain. I went looking for the line for customer service.

I found the customer service desk… a bit busy, at the moment. Looking for the back of the line, I walked through one terminal, into another, through a third, and finally found the end of the line in the middle of a fourth terminal. I stayed in that line for the next 7 hours. I called customer service, tried to log into their website, and… nothing. Customer service rebooked me to a two-stop flight leaving the following evening… but I wasn’t confident that’d hold true. And even then, I’d be missing a day of work… joyous.

I stood in line.

I made friends with the people around me, we traded stories, and we ate snacks. Took turns holding out spots in line so people could use the restroom, buy food, all that fun.

People behind me were escorted to newly opened customer service counters. Soon enough, I was the end of the line. They stopped opening new customer service counters.

I got to the original counter, one of the last 10 people remaining in line. I’d landed around 4pm, it was 11:45. They told me I had to book my own hotel, and that there wasn’t anything they could do to help me… but that I could show up at 6am the next day to get on standby for other flights.

I booked a hotel, hired a Lyft, and finally got to lay down.

It still hadn’t rained.

The next day, I groggily got out of bed and rushed to the airport… only to learn that standby tickets don’t need to arrive until after boarding has been completed, since all ticketed passengers get first dibs… and every flight for the day was booked. I’d arrived at 6:30, and learned this at 11:30.

I went back to the hotel… and the driver dropped me off at the front door… to a different hotel. I tried to get them to bring me to the other… but they’d already booked a new ride. As I started to call a new lyft, I got a call from United. They’d rebooked me on a new flight leaving at 12:45, so I needed to get back to the airport immediately. It was 12:00.

I got to the airport, got on the flight with 10min to spare, and left the cursed Houston airport. My connecting flight went smoothly… though the layover was, of course, over four hours long. Thankfully it was in SFO, so a bit more comfortable and less chaotic, which was a nice change of pace. I finally boarded a flight to Oregon, landing nearly 28 hours later than planned.

It hadn’t rained once throughout the whole odyssey. Two weeks later, after submitting all my receipts to the airline customer complaint line, totaling ~$750, I got a temporary credit for $200 off a plane ticket with the airline who left me stranded for the possibility of some drizzle.

Thanks, United.

Leave a Reply