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Delayed flight leaves earlier than scheduled departure time!

Delayed flight leaves earlier than scheduled departure time!

Old Mar 25, 14, 11:59 pm
  #1  
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Delayed flight leaves earlier than scheduled departure time!

My wife was booked on a short local flight this evening leaving from SFO at 7PM. Checking the flight status on the United app, it stated that the flight was delayed by about 90 minutes due to "waiting for inbound aircraft." so we take our time getting to the airport. She gets to the check-in counter to check in her bag at about 630PM and is told that the flight would leave around 930PM. She is past security, walks to the gate, and finds out that her flight took off EARLY at 654PM!

All she is told is that the flight has taken off and go to customer service. She is then booked on a later flight leaving at 1037PM. She gets dinner and then walked by a board to check the status of the flight at 830PM and it was CANCELLED. She goes to customer service say that is weather related and wanted to book her on a flight the next morning. Since she has a meeting, it would be too late so she wanted to get her baggage and drive instead. They also told her that she could take a shuttle bus, but they weren't sure where or how much it would cost. She is told that all the bags from the cancelled flight would be coming out on the carousel. She goes to baggage claim and waits for thirty minutes. Tired of waiting, she went to the baggage agent who said it would take 45 minutes to FOUR HOURS for the luggage to come out.

She was cool until this point, but demanded that someone get her bag and that she was going to drive. The baggage agent then said that they would deliver the bag to her hotel. She then took a taxi home (because I am long gone by this point) and will drive to her destination.

How could this happen? I can understand that a passenger should be ready to board at the gate at the stated boarding time. However, she was given a boarding pass AND allowed to check in her bag when her flight was in reality about to take off and the check-in agents information stated that it was delayed. How do you go from waiting for inbound aircraft to taking off early?

The main thing that bothered her was not the delays or cancellations, but the RUDENESS of everyone from the check-in agent, to the gate agents, to the customer service agents, to the baggage agents. She felt like it was an inconvenience to help her and the fact that no one seemed to know what was going on. This gives off a wonderful sense of security and confidence in United.

I am speechless. I don't know what to do or request or what she should have demanded, if anything?
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Old Mar 26, 14, 12:10 am
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This happens frequently at hubs. If they can find a spare aircraft, it's not unusual for them to start boarding immediately and hustle out of there. This is why pax are asked to be at the gate at the normal boarding time, even for delayed flights.

I've seen some stations accept bags 30 minutes prior to departure as a "late check" with no guarantee that it makes the flight.

The rudeness part blows, though.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 12:36 am
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Originally Posted by ShotgunKid View Post
The main thing that bothered her was not the delays or cancellations, but the RUDENESS of everyone from the check-in agent, to the gate agents, to the customer service agents, to the baggage agents. She felt like it was an inconvenience to help her and the fact that no one seemed to know what was going on. This gives off a wonderful sense of security and confidence in United.
Welcome to the "friendly skies" at the new UA. Many UA employes at SFO seem to have an attitude.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 7:39 am
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Not sure how experienced a flyer your wife is, but delayed departures are very fluid situations which is why one is supposed to do luggage check and be at the gate as if the original departure time was still valid.

For SFO that is 45 minutes prior to departure for luggage check and 15 minutes prior to departure for appearing at gate.

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...s/default.aspx

If your wife had followed those times, she would have made her early departure flight.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 8:44 am
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Originally Posted by controller1 View Post
Not sure how experienced a flyer your wife is, but delayed departures are very fluid situations which is why one is supposed to do luggage check and be at the gate as if the original departure time was still valid.

For SFO that is 45 minutes prior to departure for luggage check and 15 minutes prior to departure for appearing at gate.

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...s/default.aspx

If your wife had followed those times, she would have made her early departure flight.
Not all that experienced. Understanding your point, but even the agent during baggage check-in was indicating that the flight was going to leave even later. She was actually going to the United Club to wait, but since the flight was leaving from another terminal, she elected to go to the gate directly. Within the span of 20 minutes, the flight took off.

When I travel and the flight is delayed, I usually stay at the United Club. Am I supposed to hang out at the gate from printed boarding time on when sometimes flights are delayed for more than an hour?

I don't know how aircraft get swapped, but my assumption is that another plane was found to replace this "late inbound aircraft" and the 1037PM aircraft was used to replace that plane. Why? The 1037PM flight was cancelled "due to weather" at 745PM.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 8:55 am
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Seems to me, if you post a new departure time, that is the time the plane should leave. If you think you're going to scrounge up another plane (and this plane didn't miraculously appear from nowhere on the tarmac) then you leave the original time posted and tell pax that you'll probably be late but you're working on it.

Otherwise, posting the later time does no one any good, not the departing pax, not those who may be meeting them.

I flew out of ZRH this fall and a 4hr 30m delay was posted. Plenty of time to first call and change my connection while seats were still available and then spend a few hours walking around town. Left me feeling much better about sitting in Y on a TATL than if I'd been hunkered down in some airport lounge for that whole time.

I know it's not going to happen, but I would wish that if someone were stranded due to early departure that the carrier would be responsible for food / lodging until a seat was available.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 9:12 am
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Originally Posted by MojaveFlyer View Post
Seems to me, if you post a new departure time, that is the time the plane should leave. If you think you're going to scrounge up another plane (and this plane didn't miraculously appear from nowhere on the tarmac) then you leave the original time posted and tell pax that you'll probably be late but you're working on it.

Otherwise, posting the later time does no one any good, not the departing pax, not those who may be meeting them.

I flew out of ZRH this fall and a 4hr 30m delay was posted. Plenty of time to first call and change my connection while seats were still available and then spend a few hours walking around town. Left me feeling much better about sitting in Y on a TATL than if I'd been hunkered down in some airport lounge for that whole time.

I know it's not going to happen, but I would wish that if someone were stranded due to early departure that the carrier would be responsible for food / lodging until a seat was available.

This is exactly the point. I have had tight check-ins before with my bags and been told that it may not make it on the plane. In this case, there was absolutely no discussion of that - because the plane was going to leave 2.5 hours after the scheduled time.

Is the communication that bad? It makes me wonder what else is not coordinated or communicated. I am already a flyer that doesn't like to fly due to fear of flying, but I have to. It makes me worried about safety as well.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 9:19 am
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Sounds like an ATC delay for weather. In that case, they sometimes get a window that they are allowed to leave and they pack up and go. It's always good to know why the flight is delayed. Could have been a mechanical and they swapped planes, but generally they won't leave earlier than stated when they do that. Also, the later flight was cancelled due to weather, so I'm guessing that was the problem for the earlier flight.

For ATC delays, always make sure to get to the airport assuming the flight will leave on time.

Many years ago, I missed a MEM-ORD flight because I was in the bar and didn't hear the announcement that they were loading up and going (ATC delay). It happens (although in my case, I ended up on the NW non-stop MEM-DEN which was better for me).
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Old Mar 26, 14, 9:20 am
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Originally Posted by ShotgunKid View Post
Is the communication that bad? It makes me wonder what else is not coordinated or communicated. I am already a flyer that doesn't like to fly due to fear of flying, but I have to. It makes me worried about safety as well.
There is no link whatsoever between this situation and anything even remotely related to safety, and it's that sort of fanciful thinking that makes people afraid of air travel despite its extraordinarily high level of safety.

The check-in agent should not have told you the plane was definitely going to be delayed, and I don't think they should have pushed early knowing a delay had been announced.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 9:37 am
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1. This is not a UA issue, but is a common practice for the three US legacy carriers, including AA & DL. Has nothing to do with the snark some people try to insert into every thread.

2. Delays change -- in both directions -- all the time. This is more common xhubs and other busy stations where aircraft substitutions are routine. They also routinely change on a moment's notice. At the time OP's wife checked in, the flight was scheduled for the time she was told. But, that changed.

3. Experienced or not, this is why UA, as do all carriers more or less, requires that domestic passengers be at the gate and ready to board no later than T-15. Delays change, not only due to aircraft swaps, but changing ATC situations, and even repairs which turn out to take less time than estimated.

4. It's fine to wish that it were otherwise, but it isn't and it isn't for good customer-friendly reasons. For all of the passengers who read the warning about T-15 and are ready to go, it is grossly unfair to make them wait because there is one who didn't and who then delays the flight. That said, if indeed the counter agent used the word, "definitely" -- a term I have never heard used -- that agent ought to be retrained.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 9:47 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
4. It's fine to wish that it were otherwise, but it isn't and it isn't for good customer-friendly reasons. For all of the passengers who read the warning about T-15 and are ready to go, it is grossly unfair to make them wait because there is one who didn't and who then delays the flight.
This statement has nothing to do with what happened here.

OP's wife was clearly let down by the check-in agents. An inexperienced traveler has no reason to know they can't rely on what they're being told by people in UA uniforms.

It seems increasingly common for UA GAs to close flights ridiculously early - I've seen last calls and threats to close the boarding door at T-20. Not particularly customer friendly behavior.

The unfortunate reality is that, yes, you do need to be at the gate 15 minutes prior to departure, even if they've announced a delay, or risk getting left behind.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 10:00 am
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Originally Posted by kettle1 View Post
Welcome to the "friendly skies" at the new UA. Many UA employes at SFO seem to have an attitude.
There is a consistently unfriendly air to any interactions at SFO these days, to the extent that any polite/helpful people really stand out. And combined with the decaying infrastructure (must admit that I haven't used the new gates yet, but Terminal 1 is the pits) means that I will be looking at LAX in future. I gave up on LAX many years ago for these same issues - maybe better these days??
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Old Mar 26, 14, 10:05 am
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This situation is one where the mobile app comes in very handy. In these situations, I check the status of the flight no less than every five to ten minutes. And yes, I have left the United Club hurriedly to catch a previously delayed flight. But I've never missed one!

With that said, I ALWAYS check my luggage in based on the timing of the original scheduled flight time.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 10:15 am
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Originally Posted by MojaveFlyer View Post
Seems to me, if you post a new departure time, that is the time the plane should leave.
We really should get someone to go back through all of the threads on Flyertalk and do a count to see which is more frequent :

* People complaining that United DIDN'T post a delay even though clearly they "should have"
* People complaining that United DID post a delay, and then left early.
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Old Mar 26, 14, 10:20 am
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Originally Posted by docbert View Post
We really should get someone to go back through all of the threads on Flyertalk and do a count to see which is more frequent :

* People complaining that United DIDN'T post a delay even though clearly they "should have"
* People complaining that United DID post a delay, and then left early.
14,289 * People complaining that United DIDN'T post a delay even though clearly they "should have"

37 * People complaining that United DID post a delay, and then left early.

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