I was supposed to leave from San Francisco Airport at 7:37pm this evening. The flight started out being marked as about one hour late. That's OK delays happens, it does get tricky though since you are not allowed to land flights after 11pm at Santa Ana Airport so if you get too delayed you will be diverted to LAX. As our delay started getting closer to that deadline I started getting a bit nervous.
However United fixed this by switching a flight leaving in the gate next to ours leaving for LAX a few minutes before us so that we would make the deadline to land at Santa Ana. Great solution! Everybody boards the plane and we are good to go, only a little bit more than an hour late.
Here is where everything goes wrong. The brilliant people at United had forgot that there is one guy quite important to fly a plane. The pilot! There wasn't one that could fly our plane. In the end we ended up sitting on the plan waiting for a pilot to show up until after 11pm before we could start our by then flight to LAX. So not only did they delay the flight originally heading to LAX so that we could go, because they didn't realize that an airplane needs a pilot nobody got to go. Although I did see the LAX flight taxi off long before us, I guess they remembered to bring a pilot.
During our over 2 hours of waiting to take off we were offered a whole glass of water as refreshment. Not only that but there was also nothing to eat or drink even available for purchase. We did have the option to leave the plane and buy things in the terminal and we were assured that we would be let on board the flight again if we wanted to. However several people that heeded this advice unfortunately came back to discover that their seats on the flight had already been given to other passengers.
Also amazing to me was that nobody who was working at United had any information on what was going on. I also realized to my amazement that apparently on this flight the crew on the plane had absolutely no way of communicating with the ground crew so they did not know anything about what was going on. You would think a commercial airline would have some sort of radio or even telephone to talk to someone who knows what was going on. United also had no idea on such basic things as if the parking lot at Santa Ana would be open (Not an unreasonable question given that we would arrive over 2 hours after the airport had closed) or how we would be shuttled from LAX to Santa Ana. Nor did they have any interest in trying to help anybody out with actually trying to find out any information. Granted given that the crew didn't seem to have access to either a radio or a phone I can understand how that would be difficult.
In the end I got to Santa Ana roughly 4 hours late after the bus ride from LAX and got home at around 2am. Awesome since I have a meeting at 6am in the morning. My girlfriend has kept saying that United airlines suck (Something that becomes funnier given that she actually works for them right now) but I didn't think it could be this bad. Should teach me to listen to her in the future