United, we fall: Part Two

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Rant: still on.

United Airlines sucks.

OK, where was I? After getting on my United flight headed from Charlotte to Washington, we were forced back to the terminal for a look-see at the engine. We deplaned and sat around for an hour.

I strolled the short concourse where I was trapped. I chatted with a fellow passenger about how fucked up United was, and told the story of how my friend flew United last year and got stuck in an airport for about six hours waiting for them to get their shit together. They finally did, then promptly lost her luggage.

I snarfed down a few Crispy Strips bought from the harried KFC stand worker. I watched United counter workers – the same bunch dealing with my flight – trying to handle a snafu with a Denver flight. Seems that airline didn’t send an inbound plane big enough for the booked outbound Denver flight. The counter crew was giving away free round-trip tickets to anywhere in the lower 48 to people who would fly later. “The round-trip tickets are great for gifts and graduation presents,” the United worker urged.

The stalwart United folks announced at 12:15 p.m. that the mechanical problem had been “fixed” and my flight “would be boarding soon.” We boarded at 1 p.m.

I arrived at Dulles an hour or so later. I’ve always loved the design of the main terminal. It’s swooping design reminds me of Art Deco architecture, although I’m not sure that’s the proper category for it. Whatever it is, it’s remindful of a time when flying was a playground for the elite and funloving, not the bus-with-wings industry of moving human cattle it is now. They’re doing some major construction on the terminal, by the way.

I hopped the “Super Shuttle,” which promised to take me to my Alexandria hotel for $37.50. Cool, I thought. Save a few bucks.

The problem is that the “Super Shuttle” is a busload of about 12 people destined for Manassas, Manchester and Alexandria. It’s all spread out. The other problem is that the bus is driven by an angry middle-ager who hates himself and takes it out on his unwitting passengers.

I spent the next two hours on a harrowing sight-seeing tour of suburban Virginia. Harrowing in that, by mid-afternoon, the van driver had little more than half a warm Sobe and a few Tic-Tacs to keep his ass awake. Everyone in the van was making snide comments, and occasionally yelling or clapping to wake his sorry ass up and keep us alive for another few miles.

When wakened sharply once, he yelled that everything would be fine “if it weren’t for people who lived all the way up in Manassas where there are so many lights!” Then he laughed to try to take the edge out his stab.

No thanks to United or the “Super Shuttle,” I’m alive and looking forward to watching some marital bliss go down tomorrow at George Washington’s farm somewhere along the Potomac. A full report on how the other half lives to follow.

Rant: off.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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