A hard lesson learned | AspenTimes.com

A hard lesson learned

Dear Editor:

United Express, the “airline from hell,” struck again on Saturday night, Feb. 16. Three of us were traveling from Aspen/Snowmass to San Francisco. The flights were all delayed (what’s new …). We were waiting in more comfort outside the waiting area until about 25 minutes before the previously-announced delayed departure time when I checked with the United Express ground-staff and was told that the plane to San Francisco had not yet arrived from Denver. So clearly the flight was not leaving anytime soon. So we slowly began to get ourselves organized to head in through security once the plane arrived.

But then a single announcement was made about five minutes later calling our three names for boarding on flight 6817. Realizing that we must have been misinformed by the ground staff we rushed through security and got to the counter in just a few minutes, still more than 10 minutes before the announced delayed departure time.

There we were told by a very unpleasant shift supervisor that our flight was “closed” ” even though the announcement called for us to “board.” She also claimed that three announcements were made. They were not. One is very sensitive to public announcements involving one’s names and none of us heard more than one announcement regarding that flight. This was incredibly distressing, particularly for one of our party who needed to get back to see a very upset young daughter.

All our checked bags were on board. In fact, the flight left with our bags on board without us (they were waiting in a locked area at SFO when we arrived over three hours later)! This appears to us to contravene FAA/Homeland Security requirements. By the time the flight actually left it was over 15 minutes from when we reached the counter. Since this flight was only about 30 percent full (with 25 people, including us, on that flight) it would have been trivial to accommodate us. The supervisor made some very bad decisions.

We learned our lesson(s): Expect incompetence. Expect lies. Expect no sympathy and support from United Express. Pray for the rapid approval of Frontier’s flights into ASE. Use Frontier …

Garth and Wendy Illingworth

Santa Cruz, Calif.

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