Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More travel day drama to the city of brotherly love

I traveled with a group of 13 including myself, to Philadelphia for a conference. Our group of
13 people included 6 adults and 7 minors traveling from SNA to PHL. Our originally scheduled flight was to be on UA 728 from SNA to SFO departing at 6:45am. At 6:15am they announced the delay due to weather in SFO. The delay would've forced us to miss our connection from SFO to PHL. This delay was announced at the gate and another chaperone and I stood in line to wait for assistance with our flights. The agent that helped us was very helpful and worked feverishly to get our group to PHL as early as possible. He had options for us on two different airlines where we would need to split up our group. That was not ideal. After about 10 minutes of checking he found 13 seats on UA/CO1691 from SNA to EWR. This was great for us but the flight was leaving in less than 45 minutes from that point. He split up our reservation to make it easier to book and we were all set with new itineraries. As each ticket was printed I sent each person in our group down to the new gate so that we would all make the flight. We had about 10 minutes to spare by the time we all arrived at the new flight and had to get boarding passes from the Continental staff. At the new gate I asked the agents about our connection to PHL to which they replied that we were not booked on any flights past EWR. They told us to sort it out in EWR or take everyone off the plane and sort it out there. They were very short with us because the flight needed to leave in minutes. Once we arrived in EWR, we went to the customer service desk
near gate 90 and inquired about getting us to PHL. Since we were on a United issued ticket the Continental staff could not help us but they assured us that the United staff in Terminal A would get us train vouchers with no problem. So we had to get our luggage from Terminal C and get to Terminal A to talk to United. We also discovered that one of the student's bag didn't make it and so we filed a report with the baggage service desk in Terminal C. Once we arrived at Terminal A, the supervisor was completely unhelpful and said that they do not issue train vouchers even though they code share with Amtrak to PHL 30th street Station. This was unacceptable and he said that he couldn't do anything. I was getting pissed at this point and I cold feel my voice getting louder. I told him that it was United's responsibility to get us to PHL as per our original itinerary. I even called the group desk to ask for help since we were on a group reservation and she told us to talk to the UA staff in terminal A. At this point we were so frustrated by being tossed around from CO to UA with no resolution of our problem that we decided to buy tickets on the train. The rate was $100+ tax per person, which would've cost us $1300+ for our group. We looked into renting 2 vans from Avis, which priced out to about $1000. So we
went with that option. As one could imagine, this situation would be quite stressful had I been traveling alone, but with 12 other people this situation was ridiculous. I feel that UA dropped the ball with this
situation and I completely understand that the original rebooking that occurred at SNA was done within a very short window to work with, but something should've been in place in the notes of our reservation to assist us in getting to PHL instead of leaving us to our own devices to get from Newark to Philly.

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