Photo © Michael F. McLaughlin
UAX/Operated by Mesa
I was so excited for my first trip domestically in the US since 9-11 that I checked in exactly 24 hours before hand (this would be a problem later). I arrived at EWR around 3:00, and went through a seemless security process. Walking down the glass walkway in terminal A, I saw B6's new gate with A320 to boot, a NW DC-9 and A319, as well as a 717 by AirTran. I settled down to the Gate and got out a good book, very excited for my trip. When I looked up from the book, it was around 4:00 and the gate had updated with the flight's information: delayed until 5:20. OK, I thought... I still have plenty of time for my connection at IAD. Around 4:20, the Gate went from the current information about the flight to "Thank you for Flying United"... I got nervous and telephoned United's call centre to ask about my flight and the connection. After I gave the representative all my information, The conversation went something like this:
"For 7192... to IAD, what time is it scheduled to depart?"
"I have a connection to make at IAD to Charlotte, what can I do?"
"Let me check your Itenary... hmm... Im sorry, Mr. O'Shea but we dont have those flights listed on your records..."
I almost wet myself.
"Excuse me-" she cut me off.
"We have rescheduled you to a US Airways flight at 6:00 direct to Charlotte, go back to the check in desks and get your pass"
I was happy. A direct flight! But then the thought occured to me- what if I hadnt called to check my flight out? There was no gate agent to tell me that I had been switched. I queried the agent.
"Well, I guess you were just lucky you called!" she said.
And this was only the beginning...
I went up to the check in centres at Terminal A, and walked down to US. The agent there told me that because I had already checked in with UA, she couldnt print me a boarding pass so I had to go back to UA's desk...
A long walk down the corridor and a queue of 35 minutes greeted me. Apparently, their computers were down. I met the flustered agent and explained my problem, and she said that she had changed it and sent me back to US. Another long walk down the corridor to US gave me a grim result: UA hadnt released me, and I had to go back. I went back, waited again for another 30 minutes, (by this time it was 5:10) and the agent released my ticket. One final trek down the corridor to US' desk ended me with a boarding pass in hand and a forced smile on my face... after all, It wasnt her fault UA had screwed it up. Security this time seemed a breeze until I was selected for a random search- oh, joy. 10 minutes later I sat at the gate ready to get the hell out of EWR.
EWR-CLT 6:15 (Scheduled) 6:45 (Actual)
Photo © Chris Starnes
The flight, to my suprise, was literally empty. Not more than a 20% load, and I was very happy after my long day at EWR to get an exit row all to myself.
After we tookoff, the outstanding service of soda and a packet of peanuts the size of my index and middle finger put together was served (I managed to swipe a few extra that were in the serving bag) and the flight attendants dissappeared into the blackness of the cabin. It wasnt the best service, but maybe it was the fact that it was 7PM, maybe it was the fact that they had a long day, but either way... they should at least smile when you say thanks instead of grunt and walk away. The landing at CLT was very bumpy due to some thick clouds, but other than that it was an uneventful flight.
...Part 2, CLT-EWR on the ERJ comming soon (Just landed an hour ago)!