It seems like a long time ago, the end of March, but sadly I'm sure what happened to me and about forty other people is probably still going on............
It's time to bring it to light.
Needing assistance now when flying by having a wheelchair ready when I get to an airport, is a real
negative. I have been doing it for a few years and it has opened my eyes, a lot.
Two years ago when I flew into Houston and landed, a wheelchair was there waiting for me as I exited the plane. The attendant took me to a cart which took me to a "holding area" to await someone to take me through Customs and to get my bags.
It was chaos. One has to give a ticket, like a boarding pass, to the ONE person who arranges your movement from the holding area to the elevator and down through Customs. Those who have connecting flights are supposed to get priority. That is the theory anyway, and, as it should be. There was no one in the holding area who spoke any language other then English.
Two years ago it took about an hour for me to get an attendant to take me through Customs and to get my luggage and get to Super Shuttle.
This year was entirely different and NOT in a good way. First, there was no wheelchair although I always remind the flight attendant when I board that I have ordered one and will need one. Somehow it did not happen. The United person outside the plane had me sit on a box until a wheelchair came for me. In addition, there was a really elderly man who was from Mexico also waiting for a wheelchair. When the one for me came, I told them to take the elderly gentleman that I would wait for the next one.
In a few minutes, a wheelchair came. I thought it was a second one. No, they had taken the elderly man to the terminal where he was left to stand, taken the wheelchair and come back for me! It wasn't until they wheeled me to the terminal that I saw what had happened. The man and I waited there for at least fifteen minutes, standing against the wall, until a cart came to take us to "the holding area".
The cart driver got there, jumped off the cart and never told the man what he needed to do about the ticket to give to the ONE person in charge. I helped him.
In this area there were at least SIXTY people waiting. It was hard to believe. Very upset people from many countries with no one to interpret for them. One daughter was trying to let the ONE person know that they had a connecting flight to catch. Another very elderly lady sat their weeping. Nothing seemed to be working. Wheelchair attendants were non existent.
Stressful and sad does not begin to describe the situation. After about an hour, a United pilot came up to me as he was walking through (the holding area is a hallway) and asked me what was going on. I told him. He was furious and said he was going to call someone. Halleleuia!
Then more attendants began to arrive. More then the two or three that would come and take one person and then we would wait for two or three more.
After TWO hours of waiting, someone finally took me down the elevator to go through Customs. There were Custom officers there but it was very slow............Why, I have no idea.
It took almost three hours from landing to finally get to the Super Shuttle kiosk. WOW.
In a humorous note, I had needed to use the restroom throughout this three hours and the minute I got to Super Shuttle and they could handle my luggage for me, I took off for the restroom, on foot, with my cane. I mean I was moving as fast as I could. It wasn't until I left the enclosed stall and a man was standing with his back to me using a urinal that I realized that I had entered the men's restroom. I truly giggled when I got outside.
A few days after the flight, I received a survey form from United asking me if I had had a good flight. I have been a customer of TransTexas Airways which became Continental which became United all these years. Indeed, I answered the survey.
I received a "number" to my response. Then eventually a phone call. The woman who called gave all kinds of excuses why this had happened and that it never happens. Well, if it had not happened to me two years in a row, I would have probably believed her. It was not a cordial conversation.
She said she would do further investigation and get back with me. I explained to her that it was not myself that I was upset about but all the other people who DID miss their connecting flights and no one could communicate with them!
I never had another call from the woman. Instead, she sent an email with a voucher for $150USD for my "trouble". No way to tell you how incensed I was by this...........I deleted the email and the voucher and at this time, have no intention of flying United ever again.
Imagine what those people who were coming to the USA for the first time must have felt and what they must have thought.............