Why I hate United Airlines
Unexpected adventures during travel are not surprising to me – if something strange is going to happen, it may as well happen to me so that I can blog about it.
I flew SWISS from Montreal to Istanbul and felt confident that I would have no issues with this airline. When I boarded the plane and made my way to my seat, I was pleased to see a pillow and blanket waiting for me. The seats seemed a little bigger than what I’m used to as well, which was a bonus. My travel companion? A quiet fellow who did not believe in space invasion. YES! Despite a short delay with our departure, we landed in Zurich on time, hassle-free, and the crew kept us updated on our flight status. Also, they gave me chocolate – the way to my heart. Mmmm…. However…
I soon realized that the plane had been invaded by a congregation of unaccompanied Orthodox Jew boys (about 15-16 years old) dressed in full regalia (black knickers and trenches, shawls and of course, the infamous hats). As a result, my 7-hour flight proved to be entertaining, if not slightly annoying. These boys acted like they had personally chartered the plane; they spent the duration of the flight walking around, back and forth, back and forth, changing seats with each other and playing musical carry-on. What is musical carry-on you ask? It’s when a group of Orthodox Jew boys proceed to repeatedly take their bags out of the overheads and either leave them in the aisles or pass them around like they were hot potatoes. Then of course, they stick their shit back in the overhead. ALL night long, as Lionel Ritchie would say. In addition to this, they ate. I don’t mean they ate one meal like the rest of us common folk. No, no. I mean, they were eating machines. I don’t know how much food one orthodox Jew boy can inhale but goddamn, it’s a lot! They also seemed to have open access to the kitchen area because every time I looked up, some kid was walking to or from the kitchen holding food. I think what entertained me the most was the hat replacement therapy. First of all, why do you need to wear a hat on an overnight flight when presumably, you’re likely going to sleep? Different strokes, I know. However, the boys kept getting up to take off their hats and replace them with the hats they’d carried on in their hat boxes. Except they were all the same – the damn hats were identical! I don’t pretend to know anything about this religion so perhaps there’s some kind of significance that I’m missing. Maybe they have to wear hats to sleep. Or maybe one hat is for everyday use and the other hat is worn to pray. Or maybe there is no difference and they just do that to confuse people like me. In any case, I was both fascinated and perplexed by the hat adoration, if only because they treated these hats with so much delicacy, you’d think they were handling fine bone china. And finally, the unexpected… well, I don’t know what I’d call it. A few boys were sitting in their seats moving back and forth, sometimes frantically. At first I thought there was something mentally wrong with them but then it occurred to me that perhaps they were praying. Like I said – I don’t know anything about the Jewish faith nor do I claim to so if you’d care to enlighten me, I am all eyes. I should also point out that I have zero issues with anyone regardless of religion. If you don’t like my use of ‘Orthodox Jew boys’ well, that’s your problem.
So, while the boys were entertaining and fascinating, the guy behind me was neither. My first contact with him was when he hit me in the face with his ass. No apology, of course. Typical French Quebecker (Side note: I’m a French Quebecker). The rest of the flight involved this skinny, obnoxious fuck kneeing my seat repeatedly, despite the death stares that I turned around and gave him a few times. I swear, he was doing it on purpose. Now, I easily could have told him off but I told myself the flight was 7 hours and temporary. I took a few deep breaths and ignored him. That was, until he started counting loudly in French during the descent. Then he started praising the pilot for landing the plane. I mean, seriously. What the fuck was the need for all that other than to disturb the other passengers while acting like an immature asshole? When the plane landed and the door opened, I bolted out of there. No harm, no foul, right?
This is where it gets interesting.
PSA: DO NOT FLY UA. EVER!
On my return journey home, I thought things would go smoothly but frankly, I knew they wouldn’t because of who I chose to fly with. Flying SWISS meant a 17-hour layover, and flying with Lufthansa meant a very tight connection that I would likely miss. My only other option was to fly UA, which allowed me a 2.5 hour layover. Boy did I regret that move!
Arrive at airport > Find out the flight to NJ is delayed by 2h15. Did I receive a call, email or other notification to advise me? No I did not.
Finally get checked in > Dude gives me a meal voucher to compensate for the inconvenience and specifically tells me this will get me lunch. Really? All I was able to get was a drink. There were several other passengers at the restaurant arguing with the manager because they had ALL been told they were entitled to meals and he was explaining that the voucher only entitled them to a drink. I walked away because there was no point arguing.
Passport control and security > I then make my way to my gate, checking the boards along the way. By the time I got to my gate, it had been changed. To the other side of the airport. Goddamn it.
Head to new gate #2 > Again, checking the boards along the way. By the time I get to the new gate, it had changed AGAIN. Calisse de tabarnac. And again, the new gate was on the other side of the airport.
Head to new gate #3 > Still checking the boards as I go…. Get to new gate, take a seat and chill – for about 10 minutes. Then I heard another passenger say “They changed the gate again!” Motherfucker. Are you fucking kidding me, you bunch of useless fucking twats!? The new gate is once again, on the complete opposite side of the airport!
Head to new gate #4 > At this point I had already gotten in all my cardio for the next week. I was hot and I was really fed up of the rigamarole. One of the Turkish security guys accompanied me to the next gate. It took about 15 minutes to get there, so as we walked, we chatted – him in Turkish, me in English. Ironically, despite the language barrier, we managed to understand each other perfectly. He taught me how to count in Turkish, as well as the days of the week – so my final cardio sprint was educational, if nothing else. I also found out he played football. The fellow was quite handsome and I think he fancied me. Damn. Why am I so slow on the uptake?
Arrive at new gate #5 > During my multiple cardio sprints, I tried to get information from various airport people, none of whom were helpful. Or if they were, I would later find out that their information was inaccurate. So I had no sense of anything. They wouldn’t re-book my connection – probably because they’re fucking retards- even though there was no way I’d make it to NJ on time to catch my flight. This new gate was a complete zoo, and frankly, it was obvious that the airport/UA crew didn’t give a shit about the passengers that were being inconvenienced. Very frustrating.
Boarding > After several hours of bullshit, we mass-boarded the plane. Finally. The only up side to this story so far was that I was able to switch seats to the front of the plane, where there were no seats in front of me (extra leg room) and no one beside me. And they finally fed my ass. Yay me.
Landing > We landed as my connection took off. I was none too pleased with this situation because my gut told me that I wasn’t leaving NJ that night.
Customs:> Despite asking the flight crew – who should KNOW this – I had to pick up my bags and go through US Customs before I could re-book my connection. Dudes. It was like, 25 degrees and humid as shit in Newark. I thought I was going to die from both exhaustion and overheating. That and I’d been flying for 11 hours.
Bullshit UA Shit > When I was finally done with Customs and baggage, I went to UA Customer Service where I was told that I had already been re-booked on the next flight. Saturday morning. FUCK! So what did that mean? I had to spend the night in Newark, at the Ramada Plaza, which is THE most GHETTO hotel EVER. To get there, I had to take the air train to take a bus to take me to the hotel, all the while, dragging all my shit with me. The up side? I had a place to stay. Is that an up side though? I still don’t know. It took about 10 minutes to get hot water out of the goddamn shower and when I tried to switch on the shower head, the goddamn tap fell off. I was cursing so bad.
Morning > I woke up at 2:30 a.m. still on Istanbul time, so I got my shit together and headed down around 5 a.m. I had planned to grab some food with those goddamn meal vouchers (real ones, this time) then take the 5:30 shuttle to the airport. Of course, the restaurant wasn’t open even though it says 24 hours – and the guy in the coffee shop told me had had no good to make me. I swear to fucking God.
Airport > I got off at Terminal C and already had a boarding pass. I needed to check my bag so a fellow told me where to go. What a fucking zoo. There were different lines all leading to the same area and absolutely no system on who should be going next. When I made my way to a human, I got attitude and was told ‘this’ wasn’t a line. Oh yeah? Well fuck you lady – black Kojak over there told me to come here to check my fucking bag so I can get the hell out of this fucking shit hole! I didn’t pay $1300 to get abused by your fucking piece of shit airline! Check my fucking bag and lose the attitude!
More security and passport control > After checking my bag, I went through security and passport control then headed to my gate. Guess what? By the time I got there, it had changed. To another motherfucking terminal. At this point I wasn’t even trying to stay Zen. This whole experience was a disaster and all I wanted to do was go home. I had to walk about a hundred miles to the air train, which I took to Terminal A.
More security: Oh. My. God. Are you kidding me? I just went through security! It was 6:50 and I was boarding at 7:30.
Surprise: Guess who was randomly selected for full-on additional screening? ME! YAY! I got a full pat down, then the security people went through every single one of the items in my bags (2) and swabbed all of them. ALL OF THEM.
Final gate: I swear to God, if those fuckers had changed my gate one more time I would’ve lost my shit on all of them. Lucky for them, this was it. I boarded the damn plane and flew home. Up side? my travel companion was a friendly fellow and we chatted the whole way to Montreal.
Moral of the story? Never fly United unless you want to deal with a bunch of fucking morons and risk the possibility of never getting home.
The final up side? I’m home. Praise Allah.