On a day when things does not go as planned

My travel back home has never been this stressful !! An incident on how things on a certain day( especially on what you think is an important day) may not go quite as planned leaving you with thoughts on what different you could have done to avoid this situation. When certain things does not go well, It is very natural process for us to retrospect and wish we had done things differently.The funny part is that always make us believe that the outcome would have been certainly favorable to us.Reminds me of classic  “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Be it a small or a big problem, at the instance when things doesn’t go as planned,mind kicks of its process and just cannot stop thinking about the alternate choices you could have made..

Thursday is a travel day and I was more than excited to go home as my mom was coming from India.She was in transit and plan was to meet her at the airport. My flight was around 1.30pm and I reached airport on time ( my definition of on-time is half  an hour before departure) which is typically good enough to get through the security checkpoint as this airport was pretty small.In fact jokingly people say that the TSA agents outnumber the travelers in this airport :). I reached the airport,returned my rental car and rushed to the security checkpoint and tried to flash my mobile boarding pass.To my shock the boarding pass link didn’t work. The message apparently was that it was too close to check in.What the heck ! I had checked-in the previous day and my seat was assigned as well. Frustrated and confused, I rushed to the ticket counter and to my shock there  were no staff to attend as they were at the gate busy preparing for the departure.To add to the woes not much help at the kiosk as well. By then I was really running out of time and patience. I rang a bell at the counter repeatedly and finally an agent showed up. I was hoping for the issue to be resolved and optimistic to make it to the plane if the boarding pass issue is resolved.To my surprise the agent too couldn’t print my boarding pass !! He called the colleague at the gate who hung up in no time without even listening to the problem.I was so desperate to get to this flight as my mother was en route to Chicago and plan was to meet & greet her at the airport and obviously missing this flight would completely jeopardize my plan.The ticketing agent couldn’t help much and the kiosks apparently won’t allow to check in within 30 minutes from departure. By then I was so tired of explaining that I had already checked-in and had boarding pass on my mobile which for their technical reason was not coming up !! I was told that these type of issues happens within 30 minutes window and they could have resolved the issue if I had reached earlier making me guilty of not leaving early to airport and/or making a stop in transit for food which I generally don’t do. No other go than painfully watch the plane take off leaving me. A frustrated me was stranded in the airport for 5 hours…Amid all these drama the fried rice I got was peeping out of the bag teasing me !!

A classic case where things didn’t work out for combination of reasons.In this instance a clear case of

  • Airline issue ( staffing and technical,which was not in my control but still get affected) and
  • Choices you make for which you won’t stop blaming yourself like not leaving early to airport, taking a pit stop for food and depending on Technology to a great degree

If one of these had clicked or If I had made a different choice ,Mind tend to believe that the outcome would have been different.

The day started well and I was more than excited to fly back home. My client site to airport was an hour and half drive and to my fortune that day was easy and fast-moving because of which I thought I still had time to get something packed to eat in the plane. I stopped at a Chinese restaurant and got my favorite Fried rice To Go.Something not very common as I don’t typically make stops while heading to airport due to short time frame I keep. Had I not stopped for food,could have met the agents at the counter and possible they could have printed the boarding pass. Technically they have an issue to print the boarding pass within 30 mins window !! I understand for those who have not checked in, but I still believe they should be able to do it for those who have already checked in,seat assigned and had mobile boarding pass.

It’s no secret that an organization’s cost cutting initiative would have direct impact on the customers,especially in travel and hospitality industries. as much as organizations want to reduce the impact of cost cutting measure on customers, it is inevitable and clearly shows up. Talking specifically about Unites Airlines whose customer service has deteriorated year after year. No wonder they are rated worst in customer service consistently and unfortunately no serious measures has been taken to better it. A research reported that United had an average of 4.24 per 100,000 passengers vis-a-vis 0.25 per 100,000 of southwest. 

The United airlines had two member staff ( newly joined)to work on the ticketing, departures, baggage etc in the airport.I learned from the staff that they would go to gates 30 mins before the departure and god forbid any passengers have ticketing issues,there may not be anyone to attend to. Even though they attend( like in my case) they weren’t trained enough on the system to resolve the issues..Gosh, The system issue they have( message that I have not checked in even though I was checked and had a boarding pass on my mobile an hour ago),better not talk about it..The outcome of it, a very unhappy customer.

What I would take blame on myself is my heavy dependency on technology. If I had printed my boarding pass( traditional paper boarding pass), I could have certainly avoided this situation. I had my boarding pass on my phone and all of a sudden it disappeared. I have heard this from my other colleagues as well. A big lesson for me is to not rely on technology so much..

It is so amusing that a snag in one activity can have such a downstream impact. I missed my flight and the next one was after five long hours. Spent couple of hours on re arranging and coordinating things. Later when things were organized,I looked at my food and was in a dilemma to eat or not as somewhere making a stop also contributed to the problem. However once you come to terms on the issue and also have found some resolutions, food is something you cannot get mad at I peacefully ate my fried rice 🙂 . My wife cancelled all her meetings and rushed to airport.Due to unforeseen delays at immigration checkpoint and baggage claims my mom came out late. So a last-minute arrangement was made to pick up my little girl from day care before they close. Fortunately we were able to get some help there. Finally I reached home around 9 pm, half an hour after they reached 🙂

An action packed day came to an end with some nice talks, relishing home-made savory snacks and unbeatable Mom made food.


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