Business on the Road: A “United” Trip to Houston, Texas

For the third year in a row, I have had the opportunity to travel to Houston, Texas to visit my son, watch the Super Bowl together, and thaw out from the Iowa winter. I make my arrangements far in advance, trying to get the best deal on a flight. The best rate this year was United Airlines.

The gate agent that helped me at the boarding pass kiosk also helped at the gate. Without looking at my boarding pass, she remembered my name and said, “have a good flight, John.”

Well done, Kristin!

I noticed United Airlines has made changes to the boarding process. The changes for boarding look to be modeled after Southwest Airlines. United now has two areas (one and two) for groups to stand in line for when the gate agent calls the group. This change makes it much smoother. Lesson learned, improvements can be made and need not be significant to have a positive impact. Another lesson learned, keep your eyes open as someone else may have the good idea that can have a positive impact on your business.

Since we are on the United Airlines topic, the return trip was not quite as smooth. Rain, snow, and ice from Iowa through Chicago caused some cancellations. We were about thirty minutes late leaving Houston. When we arrived in Chicago, after the flight attendant said it was ok to use wireless products, I checked the United app on my phone. The flight to Moline had been cancelled due to weather.

Kudos to United! I checked my flight identifier and noticed that United had already booked me on a 7:38 pm flight as a stand-by passenger. I had a confirmation the following day on the 10:00 am flight. My son suggested I just go get a hotel room. He is wise beyond his years.

I stopped for a small meal. Airport prices are not kind to the traveler. I asked a gate agent about the last flight of the day. The 9:30 pm flight had a seat come open. The gate agent booked me on that flight. Gonna be home, but late. Me, along with many other waiting stand-by did not get our flight at 7:38 pm.

I am always prepared for delays with reading materials. I would put that preparation to good use. At 8:30 pm, the gate agent announced that the 9:30 pm flight had been canceled due to having no pilot or co-pilot. With this flight, they would have passed their maximum flying hours for safety. I never have a problem when it comes to safety!

We were instructed to head to the customer service center where we would receive a voucher for a hotel room and vouchers for food. This flight was scheduled to leave tomorrow at 7:00 am. Our boarding pass would get us through security, we just had to return to the same gate.

Hmmm. I thought–we should arrive at security about two hours before flight. I needed to plan for the shuttle – as Bob Allbee says, “Sleep Fast!”

This story continues in my next article, only there will be more delays.