How? My flight out of Denver left the gate on time, then spent the next 20 minutes on the tarmac. The pilot came on the intercom to tell us we were being held while "waiting for some paperwork." A half hour later, we were on our way back to the gate. A fluid line was reporting a problem, we were then told, and after two attempts to fix it, our flight was assigned to a different plane.
Of course, by that time, our pilots had exceeded their daily shift limit, so we had to wait for a new crew to arrive.
Frustrating, sure, but what bothered me most was the string of bogus departure times United issued. We were scheduled to depart at 1:02 pm. When the troubles started, our published departure time slid from 2:00 to 2:15 to 2:30 to 2:40 to 2:45 to 2:50 to 3:00 to 3:30 to 4:00 to 4:18 to 4:30 to 5:00 to 6:00, when we eventually did get on the new plane and off the ground.
Having worked for several years in the theme park attractions, I know that machines break down from time to time and that delays happen. But I appreciate Disney's policy of training cast members not to provide a definite reopening time when that occurs. Because, let's face it, you never know exactly when something's going to be fixed.
Sure, you can tell people how long previous fixes of the same time have taken. (And I've found many Disney cast members over the years who'll do that.) But every downtime is different. There's no guarantee that this power-up from a cascade stop on Big Thunder Mountain will take 15 minutes just because 90 percent of them do. This could be one of those annoying 10 percent.
So I appreciate when a business is honest and tells me "we don't know." I understand that it's good business to communicate with your customers - but only if you're communicating honestly. United just embarrassed itself with that string of bogus take-off times. I wish the airline industry would quit feeding us this garbage. Tell us what the problem is, and what you're doing about it. But don't insult us by making up a dozen departure times that you can't keep.
In the interest of getting some entertainment out of a frustrating day, I invited our Facebook fans to submit their airline delay horror stories, and promised to give a new Theme Park Insider T-shirt to the best one. You can check out the one that have been submitted already, or add your own. Vote for your favorite story by "liking" it.Tweet
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