Not Us, – It’s “The Weather!”

In keeping with their policy of always putting the customer last, United Airways and O’Hare Airport Chicago lived up to their reputations and canceled my flight, after keeping me waiting a further two hours in the vain hope it would eventually leave.

I finally managed to jump a late flight to another airport fifty miles from home and eventually made it through my front door in the early hours of Tuesday morning, some twenty hours after leaving Manchester.

It took just eight hours to cross 4,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean and reach O’Hare, but a further twelve hours to travel less than two hundred miles to my home. I can only offer a heartfelt “Thank-you” to both the airport and the airline for once again proving that my opinion of them is one hundred percent accurate.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one affected. Hundreds of commuters suffered a similar fate. Some had no choice but to wait till the next day for a flight out. United Airways offers no recompense for their ineptitude, blaming the cancellations – as they always do – on “the weather”. Few bothered to complain. Most just appeared rather embarrassed that it was American companies turning their lives upside down. After all, had they been in an uncivilized land, like India or even Mexico, such inefficiencies could be expected. Better not make a fuss. It would be so un-American.

Thankfully, I’m British, and much less tolerant when I find myself treated as a piece of dung, or a cow herded to the local abattoir, whether in my own country or elsewhere. Consequently, I complained, and complained, and kept on complaining until eventually it paid off and they found me a flight. I shouldered my carry-on and picked my way through the mass of sleep-deprived Americans, still with that faintly embarrassed smile on their lips while desperately trying to get comfortable for the long night ahead of them.

It may come as a surprise to those from other nations – well-used to US tourists complaining bitterly about the service in their hotel, the lack of air conditioning in their 68 degree rooms, or any number of petty inconveniences most of us would expect when hosted by another culture – but on their home turf the majority of Americans become shy and retiring when faced with the sort of inconvenience heaped on airline passengers as a regular occurrence whenever the names “United Airways” and “O’Hare Airport” are joined in matrimony.

The reason is, I believe, a simple one. It would be construed as unpatriotic to complain about anything American. To many US citizens, the hassles and inconveniences they suffer daily at the hands of shrewd corporates, determined to wring the last cent from them in return for the worst possible service, are minor burdens compared to what they are led to believe is the case in other countries. They have been bred and indoctrinated throughout their lives to accept their nation as the “Best in the World”. Any inconvenience incurred would surely be much, much worse were they in Europe, or Asia, or anywhere other than the “Great America”, wouldn’t it?

For those Americans still clinging to such beliefs, I have only one thing to say:

“Wake up! Open your eyes to what is going on around you and stop playing lame duck to the corporates that are fleecing you. You have a right to complain, complain, and go on complaining until you get satisfaction.”

Believe me, America, the problems you experience are definitely not due to “the WEATHER”.

NOTE: While this article generalizes, the author is well aware that a certain, small, proportion of the American people do not fit the general mold, as described here. It is the author’s contention, however, that his description is accurate for around 80% of the US population.

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4 Replies to “Not Us, – It’s “The Weather!””

  1. And today, United has canceled more flights due to a computer glitch. I’ll bet that was the case when you tried to fly home and they wouldn’t admit it so they wouldn’t have to pay for accommodation. When they do cover a night in a hotel, they give you $12.00 to cover dinner and breakfast. Lots of luck with that at hotel prices.

    Glad, so glad you made it home safe and sound, albeit exhausted from hassling with our corporate malfunction.

  2. In the light of the ever worsening service in the inter continental flights, swimming across the pond has to be taken as a viable option. I can’t believe it, that there really was the time when one looked forward to taking a flight. God, I must be old!

  3. I’m sorry to hear of your troubles, and congrats on having survived them with a modicum of your loveable humour intact.

    At least you didn’t have to suffer my country’s newest lunacy; the ‘no-fly’ lists, imposed seemingly at random and uncheckable… the only way to find out if you cannot fly is to buy a ticket, go to the airport, and try to board. Of course the tickets are non-refundable, because terrorists don’t have to be treated with any respect… even if you have only been accused of being one. Without trial.

    The floundering airline industries must be laughing all the way to the bank.

  4. PM – the phrase “computer glitch” can cover a multitude of sins, can’t it? It’s good to be home at last.

    Pekka – yes, I vaguely remember such times, too. Of course, that was a long time ago, pre-silicon chip. Then, they were unable to utilize the excuse of a “computer glitch”.

    Anan – there were hundreds on the “no-fly” list while I was at O’Hare. Just not the one you mean.

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