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United Airlines computer problem delays 200 flights - Chicago Sun-Times


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I was on the tarmac for just over three hours. The interesting thing about this sucky flying experience-- this time, and the last time I flew united-- was how angry and helpless the genuinely nice crew was.

I remember United when it was a employee owned airline. The employees used to make calls on the spot to make things right. Bump someone to an empty first class spot, ask people to move or rearrange luggage. But now all they can do is offer us literally stale pretzels that the plane keeps for emergencies (and they had to call to ask permission to open them up) and not charge for liquor when we were finally in the air. BTW, when I say literally stale I'm using the word correctly-- the flight attendant warned us no one knew how long they had been sitting there, in case. They also ran out of bottled water. This violates DOT regulations which limit international tarmac delay to four hours, but domestic to threeand "Carriers must also ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided adequate food and water after two hours, as well as working lavatories and any necessary medical treatment."

The crew seemed like the same people from "the good old days." The crew was actually caring, but now unable to make a difference. They all are deeply angry and bitter over Shares, the new (Continental) reservations system which has apparently been separating families left and right. My daughter and I were were separated despite having selected two seats together during reservation and got to beg a couple to not sit together so we could. Nice prelude to our time on the tarmac. We had been separated on our way to Mexico as well.

It's clear United's IT is killing its business... as we disembarked, last ones off, I commented, "well that's my last trip on United."

Behind me, a pilot said "Us too! We quit." then asked "How are you going to avoid United if you live here?" and finally, as if remembering who he was, "Well, I hope you'll fly with *us* again. We're nice. Aren't we?"

Yes you are. But not empowered enough.

I'm sure going to try not to fly United ever again. And I wish all those nice folks on my flight great jobs at southwest or jetblue. They deserve better.

Considering we were on the tarmac just over 3 hours and ran out of water and didn't have "adequate food", I suspect we have a class action suit in the making. That could be the deathstroke for united.

What's fascinating is that this is a software problem (integrating the United and Continental systems) combined with a culture people (does anyone at United care enough to be awesome?).

The airline industry seems to be counting down to oblivion.

I wonder how long we have to wait for flying cars.

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