United Airlines 1115
San Francisco (SFO) – Mexico City (MEX)
10 June 2015
After spending a few hours in four different lounges at San Francisco, it was finally time to board my flight to Mexico City… or so I thought. Initially the flight was supposed to depart at 23:14 but got delayed to 23:59 due to a late inbound aircraft. At 23:30 or so, the aircraft finally arrived and everyone began to queue for boarding once the passengers deplaned.
Most of us stood there in the queue for about thirty minutes and at this point it was 00:00 already and people were getting anxious as to why we weren’t boarding yet… well, the evening can be summarised like this:
The original departure time was 23:14 and the actual departure time was ~02:00, the delay was a bit longer than two hours. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been praising United Airlines so much lately as I finally got some ‘karma’ back.. for loving them. Basically what had happened is that on the inbound flight, the
smart pilot decided to open a can of coca-cola and apparently it sprayed the coca-cola all over the dashboard switches in the cockpit and none of them were functional anymore… The plane landed in San Francisco fine but apparently the switches were no longer working so they needed to be replaced.
The flight kept getting pushed back more and more, and eventually they fixed all of the switches and we were able to board to plane. I’m kind of surprised as to why United just didn’t send us a replacement B737… it is SFO after all, so they should have some spare planes standing by… maybe they thought it wasn’t going to take long to replace the switches? I don’t know, but eventually at 01:40 boarding began.
Once everyone was onboard, something interesting happened: Basically some smart ramp agent decided to disconnect the plane from the ground terminal they have which keeps the plane powered up when on the ground (in the air, the engines provide power). So basically the engines weren’t running yet and they unplugged the cable and basically the whole plane turned off and it was super quiet and pitch black.
Of course I knew what had happened, but other passengers started to frantically panic and actually wanted to deplane and claimed the ‘aircraft was unreliable’. We sat there for about five minutes as they reconnected the cables and finally the plane powered back on. Some passenger came up to the cockpit and demanded an explanation as to what has happened and how she hopes it won’t happen in the ‘air’.
Oh my, what a night… I was just thankful after all of this, the flight wasn’t cancelled. After all of the trouble the pilot got on the PA system and announced “Well.. after everything, we are finally ready to go and the good news is that we will be getting to Mexico City tonight”.
Oh, United… This was actually my first significant delay after about 50 or so segments so far this year, so I figured the delay was much overdue for me and I let it go, plus it’s not like I could do anything anyway.
We pushed back at about 02:05 and made it to the runway shortly thereafter and then departed in the northbound direction and made a turn over the Pacific Ocean towards Mexico City. Surprisingly the meal service wasn’t cancelled and at 03:00 in the morning, I was able to enjoy a ‘dinner’ and warm nuts!
The dinner consisted of some spicy chicken with potatoes and a salad. The chicken was way too spicy to eat, but the salad was excellent. I figured I would eat quickly and then try to get at least a few hours of sleep.
I woke up right as we began our initial descend into Mexico City, where the sun was already rising.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the best landing views of my favourite city in the world as it was covered in plenty of smog.
We were on the ground at about 07:30, two hours after scheduled arrival time. Originally the flight was supposed to land at 05:30, so we would have landed during the night and I would’ve been able to enjoy the nighttime scenery, but oh well.
I’m actually surprised at how United handled the whole delay situation, not ten minutes went by without an update from the gate agents. They did a good job at keeping passengers informed and helped to rebook passengers on later flights out of Mexico City (if they were connecting there).
Yes, delays suck, but in this case obviously it was better to wait than to have the flight cancelled. I would rather sit there for a few hours than have to find a hotel after midnight and fly the next day. Only two hours were lost to the delay and surprisingly we were also given $50 USD vouchers for future United flights. I’d say that is excellent customer service.
I was just finally happy that we landed in my favourite city in the world!