Funny yet sad day at EWR today!

So let’s fast forward through the rest of the trip for a moment (which I’ll be covering in detail over the next few days) to my EWR experience today. After flying FRA-EWR on Lufthansa I was booked on US from EWR to CLT to TPA, all in First.

I couldn’t figure out what gate my EWR-CLT flight was leaving from, so I tried to find US check-in. I couldn’t find US check-in, so I approached UA check-in to ask if they knew where US’s counters were. At first I was a bit peeved since the two agents in the elite line were talking to each other about some personal matters (definitely not business related) for a good 30 seconds before recognizing me as I was standing in front of them, and I was very tempted to say something along the lines of “hate to break up your chit chat ladies, but….” Let me say that I’m very happy I didn’t, because those agents saved me in the end.

They directed me to the US check-in counter, and I asked what gate the EWR-CLT flight was leaving from. They rudely said it was cancelled, so I immediately asked for the reason, at first in a nice manner. They said “weather,” and while I know that could mean any of a multitude of things, I looked through the roof and said “it looks like a nice day to me.” All three agents rolled their eyes at me and I asked what I was rebooked on. They printed me out a sheet which showed the CO flight I was booked on tomorrow morning at 6AM, but I really didn’t want to fly CO in coach, likely in a middle seat, when I had a confirmed F seat on US. I asked if it would be possible to fly UA, and they said no, they were sold out. I said “how do you know, you didn’t even look?” and the agent responded “yes I did, don’t question me.”

I dialed the 1K desk and asked about availability, and they said EWR-ORD-TPA was indeed available. The US agents insisted they couldn’t see it, and were very rude about it. Eventually I asked about hotels for the night, and the agent said “hotels? for what? It was weather,” basically laughing at me. I explained that maybe they could give me one of those discount papers which just explains that I’m a passenger on a cancelled flight, and they said they didn’t have any.

All three of these agents couldn’t have been any ruder, so I asked for all of their names and specifically explained that I would be reporting them for their attitude and not so much the substance of what they said. They rolled their eyes further.

I went back to the UA check-in counter and was helped by the same lady that directed me to the US desk earlier. I explained the problem and asked if there was any way she could confirm whether or not there was availability for EWR-ORD-TPA tomorrow. All of a sudden she was very friendly and helpful, and found availability. She worked on my itinerary for about 20 minutes, and eventually printed out a receipt on UA stock and said I had to go to the US counter for them to endorse the ticket over to UA, or something like that. She noticed that I was coming from Malta, so we hit it off well since her family is largely from Malta although she has never been, so she was curious. Furthermore one of the baggage guys used to live in Italy, so we talked for a while. She told me to ask for a specific person at the US counter that she said was competent, since I had explained how rude and idiotic the agents over there were. She even gave me one of those hotel slips for a discounted hotel.

I got back to the US counter and got the one competent agent they seem to have, who worked on my itinerary for about 15 minutes. One thing I found interesting was that a family lined up in the elite line and the guy that handles baggage asked if they were flying First. The agent helping me immediately snapped at the baggage guy, yelling “They’re fine, that’s not your job. You make sure all the bags are taken care of, and we’ll do the rest. I can handle it, don’t try to do my job.” Well jeez, I felt kind of bad for the guy….

Anyway, after a while she decides to walk with me to the UA counter to finalize this, since there was quite a bit of confusion, which I really appreciated instead of just being pushed from carrier to carrier. The agent that helped me earlier at the UA counter (who this US agent happened to know) was on break, so we got a different agent. What followed cracked me up. Never before have I seen agents from two different airlines argue like this.

The US agent was standing on the baggage scale looking over the shoulder of the UA agent, and they certainly didn’t see eye-to-eye. At one point the US agent said “do you see what I’m talking about?” and the UA agent responded “No, I don’t, and don’t tell me how to do my job.” It was fa’riggin hilarious. The Jerry Springer show airline style, I tell ya.

After a while they had it all sorted out and the UA agent offered to upgrade me for EWR-ORD since I was originally in F. I thanked her and was happy to be all checked in.

I then began the quest for a hotel, going down the list of hotels the agent gave me. I would have never expected it to be so difficult. Basically everything was sold out, so I’m typing this from a relatively crappy hotel (although not awful) on a pretty expensive rate. Oh well, so is life. At least they have free wifi!

Some might think I’m crazy for choosing EWR-ORD-TPA, getting me home at 5PM, instead of the nonstop on CO, but it’s all worth it to me. There’s always the bump potential on UA, and frankly nothing is more entertaining to me than a day of flying UA.

Tomorrow should be yet another interesting day, but in the meantime it’s time to catch some zzzz’s….

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Wow. I actually got angry as I read this. I’ve been told “there’s no availability” on another carrier and couldn’t think of what to say when it was obvious that they hadn’t even bothered to look. I’ll keep this in mind and simply call them out on their obvious lack of effort next time. I hope you do get around to reporting them.

  2. The laziness of some agents is appalling. Last week, a UA agent refused to consider VDBing me over to F9 for DEN-SAN, saying they were full. When I pointed out that they were clearly selling seats on their website, she told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. Nice.

  3. Lucky,- It is just sad how so many agents do not care about the people who keep them employed (the pax). They do not like helping the pax and always seem to laugh at them or dismiss them. I experinced an employee like this at DCA on US while with my family going to Naples. I do not know why the agents are like this towards the customers but It is not right. It always seems to happen on US. They try to dismiss the passengers and never give them their best when trying to help them.

  4. UGH. Simply UGH.

    The attitude for the US Air agent is simply unacceptable. At the same time, they probably should have considered other NYC area airports, or at least reaccomodate you in F on the CO flight. Granted, the silver lining is you got a bit more BIS UA miles.

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