An email I wrote Mandi, Lisa and Mom from the LAX airport:
Well, we’re off to a bad start, but I’m hopeful (or at least I want to be hopeful) that the worst is over.
This will be for my journal, so sorry if it’s long. Written from the LAX airport.
Last night I had the thought to call United Airlines to confirm that Lila was added to my ticket. I did first thing this morning, and because of the Houston hurricane, was on hold for 1.5 hours (no joke!) before anyone answered.
The agent said he couldn’t find Lila’s ticket but would add her. It took another 30+ minutes and $90, but he said he was able to do it. By then we were 45 minutes late for leaving for the airport. We planned to leave at 11 am, our flight was at 3 pm, we left at 11:45.
Luckily Dawn, who is a travel agent, was willing and able to help us along the way. During the Uber ride, Dawn was in constant contact with us telling us she could check us in but not Lila — Lila still wasn’t showing up on our itinerary. And, to make things worse, United wasn’t accepting customer service phone calls anymore because of the volume of calls they were receiving.
Also, side note, our Uber driver almost got us in an accident. He slammed on the brakes and the anti-lock system kicked in with only inches to spare between us and the car ahead. Ugh.
So at LAX we had to go to the United terminal to try and get things sorted out in person instead of going straight to the international terminal, which is a tram rode away because of how huge the airport is.
We got to United and in a frantic mess found someone who was willing to help. This woman recruited two others to help (they all admitted to not really knowing what they were doing), and eventually asked for my credit card (again) and then printed Lila a ticket.
At that point we were pretty confident all would work out, if we made it to the international terminal on time. So we ran. And I cried. So much stress! At the door I paused and we took this sweaty picture (attached below), wanting to document that we had MADE it.
We hadn’t. Once in line for Austrian Airlines, United’s partner that we were flying with, things went downhill. We waited in line and then we’re handed off to someone else. There was a lot of back and forth, a lot of waiting, and lots of wondering what was going on because the agent would come and go and hardly update us.
Apparently the airlines were struggling to communicate with each other. Though United added Lila, Austrian Airlines still couldn’t find her. Then when they did, she was booked as an adult instead if a lap child, so they wouldn’t accept her into the system. It was so hard to watch the minutes tick by knowing Lila had a ticket, had been paid for, didn’t need a seat because she’s a lap child, and yet we couldn’t board our flight.
Multiple times pushy people would come up to the counter while we were waiting and the agent, who appeared to be on hold, would help them. One man in paticular stayed and talked with us awhile, but repeatedly cut us and took the agent’s attention.
That started to get old. We realized us patiently, kindly waiting wasn’t working. Eventually that man was helped and even upgraded on the flight he wanted. We were hopeful the same could happen for us. It didn’t.
I finally lost it and started to cry big ugly-face tears. And I couldn’t get control! Darn pregnancy emotions! Ha, I blame it only on that half heartedly. I think anyone would’ve caved eventually under the stress and hunger (by then mind you we’d been at the counter for 3 hours and had obviously missed our flight).
Overall, I just couldn’t believe the lack of customer service. Never once did anyone apologize, act urgently or seem at all concerned with how this was affecting us. At one point the agent put us on a different flight but not sitting at all close to each other. It took 30+ minutes to get that sorted out as well.
In the end, we were finally put on a flight that leaves tonight at 7 for Frankfurt, and then we’ll transfer tomorrow to a flight for Vienna, getting us to Vienna 7.5 hours later than planned.
I should be happy with that. And I am. But I’m still in a state of frustration, and after enduring so much stress and embarrassment (for crying so openly for so long in public) I’m just worn out.
It’s so frustrating to book a specific, direct flight months ago and then endure so much hassle, be charged multiple times by multiple different agents who were “fixing” the last agent’s mistakes, and then end up with an undesirable itinerary arriving much later than planned. And on top of that, to be treated so poorly!
We asked for some sort of restitution for our troubles — its common to receive compensation such as airmiles, free meal stubs, reimbursed travel costs, etc in these cases. The multiple agents acted oblivious or flabbergasted. At one point an agent scolded Lance and told him they were doing us a favor by putting us on the Frankfurt flight for free.
After more waiting, a particularly rude agent came back with a website link (that we could’ve found online ourselves!) telling us we could go there to report our issues. What a joke! She said there was nothing they could do.
Anyway, now we wait. Don’t judge me if I sound entitled or ungrateful in my moments of struggle. It’s been a hard day. Here’s to hoping and praying things get better — and we haven’t even started our 11 hour flight with Lila! Ha. Wish us luck. Love you.
Update, we’ve boarded! At the gate something was still wrong with Lila’s ticket and we were sent to the gate customer service agents, who luckily worked it out.
What an ordeal. I’ve been trying to remind myself that we like traveling .. right? It’ll be worth it, right? Ha.
Attached, cute pictures of Lila on the plane and an ironic fortune in our Panda Express cookie as we waited for our flight.
Ugh! What a nightmare!!! I can’t believe all that hassle! I am so sorry you had to deal with that and then on top of it, had no empathy shown you. I hope that was just a hickup and that the rest is smooth sailing. Love you!
Wow keri! That is crazy! What a horrible experience to have to go through! That would be so stressful. I would have been crying too and I’m not even pregnant. I certainly hope things go better from here on out. It can only get better right? Good luck and enjoy. Will be thinking of you guys!