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Massive Air Travel Problem On United Airlines and Other Companies

In light of CNN Ali Velshi's comments on air travel, I had to report my experience of last week. I had deplaned in Chicago's O'Hare Airport from Atlanta, where after waiting "stand-by, non-revenue" I did make that flight into the Windy City -- my home town.

But I wasn't going to Chicago, I was travellin back to my current home in Oakland, CA. My plan was to get on the 6:35 out to San Francisco. But I -- and many other -- discovered that flight and about 10 other flights were massively overbooked and because of a cancelled plane that came from Boston on the way to San Francisco, with one stop in Chicago. It never got out of Chicago.

As a results, a group of 30 passengers -- some revenue and others non-revenue standby like me -- ended up getting bumped from flight after flight. I ended up staying overnight at the O'Hare Hilton. (Here's a tip. If you find that you have to stay overnight in Chicago because of a flight overbooking problem, and you're travelling on United, go to their customer service desk near gate B-8 and look for a pink flyer in a plastic stand that presents an "800" number. Call that number to get a voucher code for the O'Hare Hilton. With the pink voucher, which you present at the hotel which itself is right accross the street from Terminal One, you can get a room for about $90 -- a $200 break of the regular rate.)

The next day, I went back to the terminal and saw many of the same people as one Monday. After trying four flights, I finally got on a specially-scheduled plane sent to San Francisco. United had placed this plane -- a 757 -- into service to releave the giant bottleneck that occured.

During this ordeal, I made a new friend, and saw some interesting interactions between United Airlines staffers at gate B-22. There was one woman working her butt off checking people in with no help for some time until two others came over; but they all were working on three -- not one but three -- flights at once.

This is terrible. I now long for the days when the airlines were subsidized and we could trust the airlines. Now, on the eve of what is going to be the largest travel period since after World War Two, we've got a broken system that may just crush under this new, great weight.

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