UPDATE: Trifecta of Crappy Airplane Stories, +1

Here’s a first, Justin writes about one of the very same extreme flight delays that another reader wrote in about!

Justin’s focuses more on the inadequacies of Orbitz as opposed to the scarlet letter S. Here are the highlights:

    • Friend on same flight gets call and automatic reschedule by Orbitz. Justin does not.

    • When he calls, Orbitz CSR takes forever to resched before she realizes her internet connection is down.

    • “15 minutes of static, garbled classical music that keeps building and just never seems to resolve which is really annoying after only 3 hours of sleep.”

    • Subsequent air brake failure.

    • Humorless irony as he waits for his next flight and watches an Orbitz commercial touting their ability to notify customers of flight delays.

Now, if you’re sold on the sizzle, taste the vacuum sealed steak, after the jump…

Justin writes:

    “I was going to write in to describe my crappy Orbitz experience over the weekend, when I realized that you already had a story about the same flight I was going to complain about. I too was scheduled to leave Boston heading to Chicago on United Friday morning at 6am. I had just woken up at 4am when my phone started ringing, it was the friend I was traveling with. He had called to touch base after receiving a call from Orbitz notifying him that our flight had been canceled. Much to his surprise I was woefully unaware of such a cancellation. We were both on the same flight, but had booked our tickets separately. I couldn’t fathom how Orbitz managed to call him and reschedule him on a later flight while forgetting about me completely. I got out of bed and stumbled over to my computer expecting an email from Orbitz, but there was none to be found. I then figured I’d log into my account and see what flight I had been rescheduled to, and once again I’m surprised to find that my Orbitz account is painfully unaware of this cancellation. Orbitz has automatically called my friend, informed him of the cancellation and rescheduled his flight, but it still shows mine flight as “On-Time”. I quickly logged into the Logan Airport website and type in my flight number to make sure it is indeed canceled otherwise I had to leave immediately. Sure enough the airport website reports it as canceled.

    My friend tells me that he has been rescheduled to a 6pm flight. We were supposed to leave at 6am, and somewhere, somehow, Orbitz thought that it was acceptable to reschedule our early morning flight to early evening. In our case we had nothing important to do on Friday in Chicago so the delay wasn’t costly, and I have to say at 4am I was quite happy to go back to bed for another 8 hours. But still, what the hell? You reschedule us on a flight 12 hours later? What if I had an important meeting or a Craigslist casual encounter scheduled for that morning? I feel that out of principal I should be more angry at the sheer ludicracy of being rescheduled to a flight so much later and had I not been so tired I might have complained more about it. At that point I was just happy my friend had called before I spent $40 on a cab to the airport and got stuck there all day.

    I called up Orbitz and got their robotic answering system. After yelling “Operator” at it for 5 minutes it finally suggested I yell “Customer Service” since it didn’t understand “Operator”. I say the magic words and I am teleported to the magic waiting queue for 25 painful minutes of garbled classical music through my cellphone speakers. Finally a customer service rep answers, I explain my problem and she seems to agree that it indeed sucks, she just needs to log in and take a look for herself. “Hmmmmm” she says. “I can’t seem to get to the page”. After about 10 more minutes of “Hmmms” and “Hawwws” she realizes that their internet connection is down. Finally she gets through and concurs that my flight is indeed canceled even though the “My Trips” page doesn’t agree. I inform her of my friend’s flight and ask to be placed on it but she tells me it’s sold out. I explain that he was automatically rescheduled to that flight, and I ask why I wasn’t. I can’t remember what she said, I think I zoned out or fell asleep but whatever it was she said it never explained the reason for this gross oversight. I believe it was just a canned apology, with no sincere effort to rectify the mistake. She tells me that she can get me on the next flight at 7pm, broken and tired I accept her offer as it’s now about 20 minutes till 5am. She then says she has to transfer me to someone else to book my flight.

    Once again I’m on hold for about another 15 minutes of static, garbled classical music that keeps building and just never seems to resolve which is really annoying after only 3 hours of sleep. After getting through to the next rep, I book my new flight with her, but now my return trip is no longer listed on the web page. Obviously I’m horrified by this after the mornings events, but she assures me that I’m still in United’s system and all is well. Without much choice I take her word for it. To her credit I didn’t run into any issues with the return flight….well except for turning back around after getting out to the runway for takeoff because the air brakes weren’t working. This lead to an hour and half delay sitting on the plane at the gate, but that’s another story about United sucking, this one is about the suckness of Orbitz.

    To top it all off, as I’m sitting at home waiting for my next flight, an Orbitz commercial came on the television. In this commercial the captain of a plane in flight informs the passengers that they will be delayed an hour. Then it turns into a game show like setting where the game is “Who will be first to notify their company that they’ll be late for the meeting”. The one guy starts dialing the phone while the other proclaims he is already done. Orbitz has notified his company that he will be late for a meeting. This obviously is a slap in the face since I had still yet to be notified about my canceled flight 10 hours earlier. The other kicker is that I received several emails about my rescheduled flight being delayed and my return flight being On-Time, but I have still yet to receive one email about my canceled flight.

    After my new flight was delayed an hour and my friends flight delayed as well, we finally arrived in Chicago around 9pm and had to rush off to an improv comedy show scheduled for 10:30 pm we had bought tickets to already, thinking we’d be in Chicago at 7am. Needless to say I won’t be using Orbitz of flying United again.”

Comments

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  1. jonfeldman says:

    Well, lets not all go nuts on United because the cancelled a flight. Beleive me, an airline will do everything in their power to avoid a cancellation – its incrediby expensive to jam a plane full of people into other already full flights, or pay other airlines to accomidate them. If the don’t let the plane fly on a 3 day weekend you better beleive it isn’t airworthy – better its on the ground then flying around with you in it.

    As to Orbitz, when you shop on price in a business model built on the reducing cost by eliminiating humans from the process, it shouldn’t be surprising that their service sucks.

  2. Large says:

    orbitz: you get what you pay for

  3. billhelm says:

    Book directly with the airlines is my only piece of advice here. They are good about calling with cancellations. And probably could have gotten you on an earlier flight than 8 hours difference…