27 and a PhD

Home » Me » Traveling nightmares, or why is United Airlines against me? – part 2

Traveling nightmares, or why is United Airlines against me? – part 2

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.


July 2010
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This is the second part of my ordeal while returning to Canada from vacation.  Part 1 can be found here.

I started crying then and there. I could not believe that my plane was there, and I was powerless, I could not open the door and get in, I just couldn’t. The plane was there for another 20 minutes. Twenty miserable minutes that felt like an eternity. I had two hours of sleep in me and I was so ready to be home with my family. I was supposed to study even on my winter break. December 25 was supposed to be my only day off, and though I could study at ORD, I was way too stressed to even attempt it. But it doesn’t matter, and it didn’t matter that I got to ORD at 8:40 am, got to my gate at 8:45, and that plane left at 9:05am. I went to the “customer care” centre for UA and tried to plead my case … to no avail. I was willing to be re-routed, even through LA or Arizona or whatever if necessary; all I wanted was to get home on Christmas day. I eventually gave up, but not without screaming at the customer care employee on the phone, which didn’t apologize for the lack of communication among employees of the same airline (at this point I thought it would be logical for airlines to have good and active lines of communication, especially when dealing with passengers who may miss a flight for less than 5 minutes) All he did was offer a voucher for another trip. After leaving me stranded in ORD I was supposed to be happy and giddy about getting on another flight with them and shave off 100$ from my flight! Yeah right.

I more or less waited patiently for the rest of the day. I calmed down and eventually picked up my highlighter and started marking stuff on my papers. My new itinerary had me leaving ORD at around 5:45pm. (If  you do the math that’s adding 5 extra hours of wait time at the airport, and almost 9 extra if we count the 3+ hours I spent before noon). But as usual for UA it didn’t happen (funny note here, on my last flight with them a few weeks ago, the plane was delayed for ~40 minutes and on the plane’s TV monitor was a quote from UA saying that they are ranked #1 in flying on-time …. ON TIME ….how ironic!). We finally got on the plane at 7pm and the plane left ORD after 9pm (UA said they could not find a pilot for our plane so again we had to wait). (Note, this means that I was waiting at ORD for a full 12 hours before we departed, love  how on time they were). I was reassigned to a seat in what they call Economy Plus or whatever section, which was supposed to get me more leg room. As if the leg room was going to erase my entire Xmas day spent at ORD due to UA’s inability to wait for me, or communicate with each other to ensure I got on my flight instead of having me wait for an entire day. I was so mad, and anxious, and in disbelief. I wondered how an airline could still be in business when it treated its customers like crap and “scheduled” for them trips that were completely inconvenient. How they completely ignore customers pleas to be accommodated elsewhere, or at least to notify another gate to please keep the door opened if the passenger at the airport if the plane they came in was delayed. I guess I may sound like a spoiled brat who wants the airline to roll out a red carpet, fine wine and strawberries. It sounds like I have this big ego and a terrible sense of entitlement. But when the employee at the departing gate doesn’t even look at you and tells you, in your face, that the airline has changed you to a 5pm flight, on Xmas day, when it’s almost 9am I think more than one person would feel a bit insulted. To me this situation meant that due to their lack of professionalism, and communication within United Airlines I lost a full day of contact with my family, my boyfriend and the people I love the most. People who I only got to see once (twice if I was extra lucky) during the holidays.


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