On the outbound leg of this trip, I had quite the adventure in Houston and LA. Click here if you missed that. Today, I gave myself approximately two hours to land and make my connection in LA. So it begins…
UA 38 doors closed at 1049. We pushed back from the gate at 1106, a few minutes late, due to Operations not having the weight and balance numbers. Once we were pushed back, we sat on the taxiway for 25 minutes. The captain came on the PA to announce that we would be going back to the gate due to a container being loaded in the incorrect position on the aircraft.
We were back at the gate at 1140. We started our second pushback at 1215 and were airborne 13 minutes later. A full hour and 40 minutes after the doors initially closed.
The pilot made his apologetic announcement about the delay. He said that he had never experienced a shipping container being loaded in the wrong side of the aircraft. Weight and balance and possible load shifting can have catastrophic consequences, so I was more than a bit concerned.
I reached out to United on Twitter to see if they could book me on another flight. Short answer, no. No availability the rest of the day. When I got to LAX, the first agent that I spoke with told me that I was on standby for a later flight but my chances of making it were slim.
I called American Airlines to book a one way Business Class seat for $285 but due to call volume, the automated system said they would return my call in 22 minutes. Frustrated, I went to the United Club for a drink.
Enter Jerry Barca. I told him what happened with the delay, missed flight etc., he was sympathetic. I told him that I was going home today, no matter what. He asked what I planned to do. When I told him about the flight that I was planning to take, he started typing frantically on the computer. At the same time, American Airlines returned my call and I began explaining to the agent the ticket that I wanted to book. It was at this moment that Jerry said, ‘sir, you can hang up the phone. You’re good’.
Jerry booked me on the exact flight and seat that I wanted, American Airlines Flight 2462. This flight is served by a Boeing 777-200. I am more than thankful for him. At the end of our exchange, he wished me a ‘Happy Birthday’.
I was ready to write United Airlines off because of the customer service during this trip. Jerry was that ray of sunshine that I needed. I am still smiling because he did not need to go out of his way to help, but he did and for that, I’m thankful.