The trip to Japan did not start well. Before I even left for O’Hare, Terianne’s United flight from Pensacola was cancelled. The rude United agent did not care. She could not get a refund on just half of the trip and they had no flights to Chicago that same day.
Terianne did manage to get a Southwest flight to Midway, that arrived at 1:55. Our flight was supposed to depart O’Hare at 3:38. We knew we were cutting it close. Terianne sent a ten person text message asking for prayer.
Her flight had a stop in Nashville which added to our prayer requests.
I got to O’Hare about 1pm. Dad headed to Midway. At check in, I connected with a United customer service representative who said all the right things. He helped me get my luggage tag and boarding pass which was a bit more complicated without Terianne there since our tickets were bought together. Turned out the CSR was very busy. A second CSR was also helpful discussing what path to take to help us.
Meanwhile Dad called to say there was incredibly slow traffic on the highway, probably from an accident. He was sure the drive from Midway back to O’Hare, which is usually about 40 minutes, could take twice as long.
A third CSR, named Irma, was the most helpful and ready, willing and able to be aggressive:
Irma met Terianne as soon as she arrived at O’Hare. She helped her with luggage and took her to the head of the line at security. Teri then sprinted to the gate arriving before we even started boarding:
We were so thankful. So Terianne sent our final text to the prayer thread, “I made it!!! Seriously only by God’s grace! Phew. I literally put my running shoes on and sprinted through the airport.” Thank you friends and family for all your prayers. God is good.
An interesting aside, Dad accidentally sent a text to Laura’s family thread, which meant 16 people, mostly not Christian, got to see how God answers prayers even for relatively insignificant situations.
Unfortunately our inconvenient and frustrating adventures continued. In retrospect we should have kept that prayer text going. But I had not yet realized what a mistake it was to fly United. NEVER again!!
We boarded about a half hour late and then sat on the tarmac for at least another half hour. Supposedly a plane at the gate next to us had parked crooked so we had to wait till that plane left. So what was that garage repair shop odor that wafted through the plane?
Feeling concerned about our connection in San Francisco we asked a flight attendant if he could check to make sure we would make our next flight. More than once. I even stood next to him listening to his side of a phone conversation. But either he was faking it with all his assurances that we would make it or downright lying.
We landed in San Francisco and deplaned about 7:15pm. Whew! We made it before our plane to Japan would leave at its scheduled time at 7:40pm or so we thought. Rushing like maniacs we got to our gate at 7:29pm a whole minute before they should have been closing the doors to the jet bridge. But no one was at the gate. Not even one United gate agent. (Later I noticed the flight attendant who “helped” us was nowhere to be seen.) We got to the gate eleven minutes before departure time, but not a soul was at our gate.
So, since we foolishly assumed they actually were waiting for us we barged right into the jet bridge in spite of the warning signs. And sound. But the door at the end was locked up tight. A phone hung on the wall next to the door. I picked up the receiver and punched 0 repeatedly.
Someone answered and said the plane had left at its departure time, which was fifteen minutes before the time on my printed schedule. Nothing could be done. It was taxiing to the runway.
Frustrated we went back through the jet bridge only to discover we were locked in. As in no way out! I ran back to the phone. After furiously punching 0 again, I was told a United CSR would be sent.
But we soon found out the CSR was not in a hurry to rescue us. We could see out to the deserted gate area through a crack between the double doors and every time we saw someone walk by we pounded the door and yelled. Several people ignored us but finally s kindly gentleman traveler opened the door. No surprise our CSR wad nowhere around.
We trekked to the other end of the airport to United Customer Service desk, getting directions along the way. I kept my eyes open for a United uniform but never saw one. There was a line of about 8-10 people waiting for the ONE yes only one CSR at the desk. Did that mean another CSR was looking for us? NO!
The female rep was awful, she clearly had never been trained appropriately for her job and lacked personal people skills. She never said she was sorry or in any way indicated that we had a right to be frustrated. She just kept stating United policies, which were clearly not designed for the benefit of the passengers. The people who paid for a ticket. We took the time to explain a few things, basically training this poor employee. She was a pleasant person but had no clue how to treat a rightfully frustrated traveler.
The end result was booking a flight for the next day. But instead of flying into Hanada airport in Japan we went to Narita which is about twice the distance to Jeff’s place. The CSR said she upgraded our tickets which would mean we would be in first class. That was nice. We were given a voucher for a local hotel. And get this, vouchers for dinner and breakfast at the airport, for a mere $7 per meal. They have got to be kidding. We took a shuttle to the hotel.
The young man at the desk knew how to treat people in our circumstances. He upgraded us to their best room, which was very nice, gave us vouchers for breakfast buffet at the hotel, and several warm cookies. So spent the night in San Francisco.