With a travel schedule like this during October, I knew I would be in for some flight delays.
It started with my very first trip–to Chicago last week. While it was a pretty day in DC, storms were moving through the Midwest and mid-day flights to Chicago were delayed. Since I was trying to make a meeting that started at 4:30, as soon as I got an alert that my 1:30 pm flight was delayed, I tried to rebook to an earlier flight. My travel agent couldn’t help me because it was past the scheduled departure time for the earlier flights, but I was able to rebook myself using the United Airlines App.
You can do everything on this app–check in, view/change seats, see where your plane is coming from (and where it is), check alternate flights, etc. In fact, when I first rebooked myself it gave me a crappy seat at the back of the plane, but 15 minutes later I was able to change to a better seat near the front. 😉
My luck continued when I was in New York City earlier this week. The day started off a bit foggy and drizzly, but by mid-afternoon the weather got more serious.
Since my meeting was finished, I decided to check for an earlier flight home. I wasn’t surprised to see that the 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm shuttles had been canceled, but I was surprised to see that my 8:00 pm shuttle had been canceled–and that I had not been notified of the change! (This time I was on US Airways. Apparently even though they ask for “day of flight contact information” when you check in, they won’t contact you about flight changes unless you sign up for their “BeNotified” program.)
I called my travel agent and learned that US Airways had rebooked me onto the 9:00 pm shuttle, but I asked to be moved to the 7:00 pm shuttle, which was slightly delayed to 7:15. I was not able to get a new boarding pass (or seat assignment) from the US Airways website or using the US Airways app, but I had my original boarding pass to get through security. Since it was almost 5:00, I made my way to the airport.
Isn’t that line of clear sky spooky?
By the time I got to the gate area it was about 6:20, and the 7:00 pm shuttle was delayed to 8:15. I saw that the 6:00 pm shuttle was scheduled for 7:15, and a gate agent was able to move me to that one. As 7:15 came and went, there was no shuttle in sight, but they announced that the plane was “within reach.” Once it landed and the passengers deplaned, they announced that the crew could not fly, so the 6:00 pm shuttle was canceled. (Can you hear the collective groans of everyone waiting in the gate area?) They said we all would be rebooked onto the 9:00 pm shuttle, but I wasn’t sure how to get a new seat assignment. After calling my travel agent again, I got in the long line for the gate agents.
As I was waiting, I checked with people around me to confirm that we could not get new boarding passes or seat assignments via the US Airways app. Even though it looks like it has the same options and features as the United Airlines app, none of the helpful features work when flights are delayed. Every option directs you to see a gate agent for assistance! Even the link to the customer service 800 number wasn’t very useful, since the person who took my call didn’t even know that the 6:00 pm shuttle had been canceled. 🙁
I was able to get on the 7:00 pm shuttle–which left at about 9:15 and was surprisingly empty after all those cancellations. All in all, I ended up getting home only about an hour later than I would have on my original itinerary on the 8:00 pm shuttle. I just was booked on every other shuttle in the meantime!
I hate to jinx myself by singing United’s praises on the day that I am heading to Chicago on United for the day, but the United Airlines app is pretty amazing and certainly puts the US Airways app to shame. I can’t say that I would pick an airline based on their app, but all other things being equal I will remember which airline makes it much easier to rebook when my flight is delayed.
Do you use any airline apps?
Should I take the train for my next trip to New York?