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United snafu strands travelers

Steve Benson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A pleasant Thanksgiving holiday turned ugly at the Aspen airport Sunday afternoon, as an overbooked United Express flight to Denver left several vacationers stranded.

“We come here a lot, and it’s always an issue to get in and out of here ” we always get stuck or screwed around,” said Jo Ellen Herman, who, along with her husband and daughter, was bumped from the 4:35 p.m. flight to Denver Sunday.

“This is ridiculous, this is the last time I’ll fly to this airport,” she said. “We’re going to fly to Vail from now on. I guess it’s worth it to avoid this aggravation.”

A United Express official declined to discuss the incident, which has been a frequent occurrence recently, stating only that the size of the planes and the flight schedules have remained the same all fall.

The Hermans are from Dallas but have owned a home in Snowmass Village for close to 10 years. Jo Ellen Herman said they were at the airport at least an hour in advance and were not given any sufficient reason for why they were bumped.

“They were so aloof about it, they wouldn’t even give us a ride to Vail,” she said. The Hermans were planning on flying out of Vail this afternoon.

They said they suspected United Express chose to use a smaller plane than planned when passengers made reservations.

“Instead of sending the big planes, like they used to, they sent this smaller plane,” said Wes Herman, an eye surgeon. He said he will miss several eye surgeries today.

“This is disgusting ” you can’t tell me they couldn’t call us in advance and let us know the flight was overbooked,” he said.

Herman said if he had been notified of the mistake earlier, he could have made other arrangements.

Several passengers were bussed to Denver International Airport, hoping to make it in time to board their connecting flights. The Hermans, however, declined to take the bus since their connection to Dallas would leave before they completed the four-hour bus trip.

Herman said this has been a recurring problem over the past three years, and he wondered aloud if the inconvenience of flying in and out of Aspen airport may be affecting the town.

“It was frightening to see a lot of the stores weren’t open,” he said. “When you come here for a holiday, you like to have a place to celebrate and have dinner.

“Aspen’s our second home, it really kind of makes it sad.”

The Hermans originally planned to buy a home in Telluride, but opted for Aspen instead, because it was more convenient. Now, Jo Ellen shakes her head.

“Maybe we’ll sell the house.”


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