My experience with United and US Airways

This is a tech blog, and I try very hard to present facts and technical advances here. However, this is simply a story that needs to be shared (mostly for my own personal expression, but I hope others find some benefit in it).

What follows, is a copy of a compliment I sent to United, when they helped me get home as quickly as possible after my father-in-law passed away. I live in Northwest Arkansas, and at the time I was at a conference in California. I initially looked to change my flight but United had no flights available that night so (with help from my incredible management team of @mrembetsy and @allspaw) I booked a pretty expensive last minute flight on US Airways. At the last minute US Airways cancelled the flight. This was the last flight out that night, and they left me stranded with zero assistance of any kind, other than to book me on a flight 12 hours later and delay my arriving home for the entire day.

The reason they gave, was the pilot felt sick. Forgive me US Airways, but when you commit to something at this level, “I don’t feel well” isn’t an appropriate reason. You had two hours to find another pilot. You failed.

United saw what was happening, and immediately jumped on it to fix things, and they came through shining. This is an email I later sent to United:

This is a slightly long story, I hope you bear with me 🙂

My father in law had end stage cancer. I was supposed to fly out on SFO on Fathers Day and changed it to fly out Monday instead so we could be with him.

On Tuesday, while in California, I received a message from my wife that i needed to come home immediately.
I looked to change my return ticket but there wasn’t an available United flight that night. So, I bought a $650 ticket on US Airways.
Not my first option – I’ve previously been Star Alliance Gold with United and really like you guys.

That flight was supposed to leave at 00:20 Wednesday, and get me home Wednesday morning.

At 01:00, US cancelled the flight because “pilot was sick”.
I should mention here that my father in law passed away shortly before this and I was desperate to get home.
I was rebooked on a flight that would get me home on Wednesday NIGHT, after 9pm. I had no other option, and in my frustration I vented on Twitter at US Airways, explaining that I’m going to stick with United from now on.

What happened next is really leaves me speechless. You can see the twitter discussion here:


(as you can see, I have a good number of followers and privately many expressed their shock at US Airways’ behaviour).

As requested by @United’s twitter, I DM’d the confirmation number to you guys, expecting that I would either have to pay a huge change fee, or be told there was nothing to be done.

Instead, at 4:25am PT, while I’m huddled in the cold in SFO, I receive a called from Janet (who I think was ^JJ on twitter). After confirming the situation, she said she would call me right back.

5 minutes later the phone rings again. She changed my return flight to a trip through ORD which left 3 hours later and got me home before 5pm.

How can I really express my feelings here?
You guys called me. Let me say that again:
You. Called. ME.
And then you fixed it. No questions, you just did it.
I’m just one customer, but you heard me in the middle of the night, realised how this impacted my family and me, and you handled it.

The saddest thing? US Airways tweeting me shortly before I board my United flight, asking me to DM my reservation number to them. They had SIX HOURS and did nothing. You guys handled it.

I’m working back up to Silver (maybe Gold) on United again this year, and very proud of it.
My family is extremely thankful for what you folks did. Please extend this to the social media team, Janet and her managers.

One year later…

Could I be any lazier?
life has been getting increasingly chaotic over the last 12 months. Fortunately my ability to cope has increased at the same time. A quick run down of events from the last 12 months:

  • Family moved from Oldtown, ID to Priest River, ID
  • Family moved from Priest River, ID to Laclede, ID
  • We’re expecting another baby boy in the next few months
  • I moved from Los Angeles, CA to Mountain View, CA
  • Left EarthLink for a much better job while allows me to see the sun (sometimes)

I’m sure much more has happened that I just can’t think of right now…
I did just return from a trip to Toronto. It’s very cold there, with at least a foot of snow almost everywhere I went. Contrary to popular belief, Canadians have several redeeming qualities:

  • The courts make SENSE; they stated clearly the P2P technology is not illegal even if it’s used to infringe on copyright, and last week ruled that “sex clubs” so no harm any of the consenting persons who frequesnt them and should be allowed. This completely throws out the notion of “social acceptable”, which IMNSHO is an out dated ideal anyway. Down with social rule, up with individal freedom!
  • The Canadians are a very friendly bunch, I had an absolute blast. They’re about as friendly as I’ve seen people, without being sickeningly jolly.
  • They say cool things like “It’s the fuzz! Cheese it!”

Flying back to LA sucks

After having been here for a week and a half, I don’t want to go back 🙁

I write this from the airport. Thank god I have wireless access here, or I might have gone over the edge.
Joseph had a great birthday. He got a free cake from Safeway to eat / sit in / play with. I got it all on tape and will upload it when I get home 🙂 I just wish I didn’t have to go there at all. I don’t know how kurt and ginger are going to take my request to work remotely. I want to wait until we have at least one more person in Pasadena before I raise the issue.And I’d like to try and get some amazing work under my belt too. Never hurts to suck up a little. We’ll see how it goes in a few months.

It’s gotten really cold in Idaho. It was snowing when we left the house this morning. I bought a wooly hat. If I get my hair tidied up I can probably leave it untied at a managable length. There’s a bigass low pressure zone over LA right now, and a bigass high pressure zone over Seattle. The flight down should be fun. It’s 68F down there, and 37F up here.

The simple life

I got back from Idaho last week. Kept meaning to write something here, but didn’t get around to it. I just know Joseph’s going to grow up an I’m going to miss it 🙁

I miss the simple life. I just have too much to do here, and I’m not getting anywhere. A character on a TV show was talking about the challenges of life and said:
“It should be hard. I like it when it’s hard. But it shouldn’t be this difficult.”
It sucks here.

That it all.