Oh, what a day…and it wasn’t spent in San Francisco.
How My Day In San Francisco Turned Into A Day In Los Angeles
First, a very warm thank you to all of you who weighed in on what I should do during my layover in SFO. While the path of least resistance would have been to simply lounge hop or get a room at an airport hotel, we really liked the suggestion of a reader to get some tacos at La Corneta followed by a walk through Glen Park. It does indeed look like a treasure.
But instead of arriving into SFO at 9:30am, I arrived at 5:30pm. The rest of my family arrived at noon. And it wasn’t by choice.
Flights are packed this summer and United is running just four flights per day between its two West Coast hubs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. That means flights routinely fill up and go out with every seat taken.
We missed our flight yesterday morning. When I tired to check-in, my daughter (an infant lap child) was missing from the reservation. No one could explain why. But it took time to fix the ticket.
And although we arrived in time to easily make the flight, we did not leave enough time to deal with the ticketing issue and make it though horrific security lines (even with PreCheck).
It was the stroller saga all over again…
We missed it by only three minutes, but we missed it…and flights were full for the rest of the day. The next flight was not for nearly three hours.
I’m an expert at standby after so many years of travel and kept refreshing until a seat popped open, then was able to get my wife and daughter confirmed.
That left my four-year-old son Augustine and me to play the standby game. With my 1K status, though, we ended up #1 and #2 on the standby list. Even with all seats accounted for, there are always no-shows and I thought I was home free…
But I wasn’t.
Somehow, another passenger was wedged into the standby list between us. He stood next to us in the boarding area and had no status on United and had missed the flight just like we had (and without the excuse we had of the infant ticketing issue).
Any guesses as to what happened next?
I cleared. He cleared. Augustine did not clear.
We sat waiting at the gate until the very last moment, hoping for no-shows, but everyone showed up. Every last person.
Without being demanding, I asked the gate agent how this passenger jumped the gun on my son and she shrugged and said it was all up to the computer.
I didn’t buy it, but there was no point in arguing. Augustine got my seat so he was assigned 24B and my wife was in 12B.
The extremely kind passenger in 24A agreed to switch with my wife in 12B, so the they could sit together.
Meanwhile, I was left behind while Mr. No Status scored an EconomyPlus aisle seat.
I returned to the United Club and asked my friend Bruce what happened. He could not explain either, though he said that airport agents have the ability to place passengers at higher priority, regardless of status, depending upon the circumstances. I wish the agent who rebooked us would have done the same for us…
A confirmed seat opened on the 4pm flight and thankfully I grabbed it.
I used the remaining time to head to the pharmacy (I left an important prescription at home) and get some work done.
I took the bus to the pharmacy…I had the time and it was an easy ride into Inglewood. No one takes the bus in LA! $3.50 r/t instead of $25 on Uber and it took about the same amount of time.
When my 4pm flight became delayed, I just laughed…thankfully the delay only ended up being about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, my wife and children enjoyed a nice lunch at Tomokazu in the SFO international terminal then sat out and enjoyed the terrace.
We finally re-united and that’s when the drama really ensued…
Sorry to hear about your rough day. If you’re heading to Venice or Santa Monica, especially in the era of LAXit, the BBB is a great cheap secret. In fact, route 3 used to stop 2 blocks from my house. I saved thousands on Ubers taking this bus to and from the airport from 2010 to 2014.
I was dreading LAXit this weekend… but a cancelled flight meant I rerouted to Europe on SAS’s new A350 business class, which was absolutely fantastic! I know you’ll be looking for family space out of LAX, but you’ll have much better luck from Chicago (with their Terrible Terminal 5) or Newark
I can’t wait to fly the SAS A350 in J. Had we gone to Faroe Islands, we would have done so, but I’ll probably go with a friend this fall.
So sorry to hear all the great plans in San Francisco did not turn out. Even worse, “We finally re-united and that’s when the drama really ensued…”
I hope there wasn’t a fist fight between you and a big guy with the airport police putting their knee on your back saying that you are on your way to jail.
Stay tuned….same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
If I had a 12 hour layover in SF I would probably get on Grindr, find a hot guy and F his brains out. Of course this is San Francisco so the odds of me flying out with some disease are quite high.
It’s people like you that give our LGBTQ+ community a bad name. Grow up.
@UA Matthew was stuck at LAX, not SFO
@Matthew Sorry to hear it! Did you reach out to UA through official channels? I wonder if Augustine inherited your status (were there other revenue pax on the list?). Sounds like PR codes may have come into play. It is odd that someone could be wedged in between you if you both had 1K status though.
After 20 years without flying United I started flying them again due to my new job. I matched my Delta Diamond status to United’s 1K status but similar to your experience it seems lime 1K and nothing is the same. On two flights that I had a connection, the incoming flight was late and I missed my connection twice although both times I got emails from United saying they were holding the connecting plane for me. BS!! Got to the gate, plane was still there but boarding door was closed. Gate agent ignored me. Also, as a 1K, I was never upgraded in 10 flights so far. Having someone without status on standby list between me and my som would never happen with Delta.
Sorry you didn’t make UA1745, but thanks for letting me sneak onto the standby list ahead of Augustine. Let’s just say the gate agent was feeling some serious Chivas vibes.
Joe, was that you? You look different than your picture!
You’re involved in more drama after all this??
Now I’m not sure I want to read: “Man Faces 20 Years in Prison after Poor Behavior on United Flight”
I was a gentleman. UA staff in SFO…not so much. Stay tuned tomorrow.
By chance was the other passenger at risk of missing a connection (vs. your confirmed flight at 4pm)? I’m not saying it’s fair, but I did get lucky (or cheated the system) once as an AA Gold when any further delay would cause me to misconnect with no way to get to my destination same day, or likely even the next day. AAngles in the lounge did some digging and saw that everyone else would not misconnect or at worse get to their destination an hour or two late. I got bumped to the top of a 10 person list, presumably many of which had higher status than me.
Definitely a debate about what is the right move there….
Could be. I didn’t ask him that.
Honestly you sound like a douche talking about the other person who has “no status”. They have exactly as much status as Augustine did. So maybe that person was actually first on the standby list and you knocked them down? It really doesn’t matter though, in my opinion anyone who gets blown out of shape complaining that another person has no status should be ashamed of themselves. People are people, and just because you tend to fly only 1 airline doesn’t make you more important than anyone else
Augustine carries my status when we are on the same ticket. It’s one reason why people choose to be loyal to one airline. It’s one reason I make 1K status (i.e. fly a whole lot on United). It has nothing to do with human dignity or worth…it’s an economical calculation for channeling loyalty to one airline. The standby list was a mile long. Without status, we would have been way down the list.
I’m offended that an agent would separate you and your son like that. I presume that y’all share the same last name? That kind of thing is an absolute nightmare for traveling families.
You know who’s more of a douche?…people that are offended, and then cry, about every little thing. Moreover when they clearly have no idea what they’re talking about. Do you also cry when the “status” of they flight is delayed? I mean, the airplane clearly doesn’t deserve to be delayed, it has just as much worth as other airplanes, right?? :’(
LA’s public transit is relatively underrated especially compared to the rest of the US, yes there are areas with poor coverage and that are inhospitable to pedestrians but you can get around on the Metro for very cheap to many areas around the County. Can’t wait for the Crenshaw line to open along with the new LAX people mover.
It really worked out well in this case. I’m curious to see if the new train to the train at LAX will be efficient and workable.
The outside terrace /observation deck @ SFO international is really nice – great for plane geeks and a great way to spend an hour before you board, There are both International and domestic flights (mostly Frontier and United) flights leaving from concourse G @ the moment. Enjoy it if you can 🙂
International Terminal G
Gates, near Gate G14. (@ the end of the concourse)
Daily, 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Agreed. Except for the occasional strong whiffs of jet fuel, it is great.
Bruce is the best. I used to fly in and out of LAX twice a week if not more. Seeing Bruce at the Club was always great to see someone you knew.
Bruce is the best indeed!
Waste of time and money. White people problems.
Thanks for reading!
I’m a pilot for a major. I feel your pain about getting “bumped”. I’ve found that having a screenshot of the pax priority coding can help. When they say they have no control or “the computer decides”, that’s code for “I don’t want to deal with this right now”. They do have a measure of control, they just have to work. Granted, gate agents have literally the worst job in the airlines…they’re wound so tight you’d think they were a twitchy NHL goaly, so all they want to do is close the MCD and wave goodbye. I’m sure you’re experienced enough to know that you could have pressed the issue, and probably won, but you’d probably ruin your relationship with that gate agent. But hey, isn’t that one reason people love LA?? Anonymity. You’ll never see that person again.
LOL @ “Mr. No Status!” I’m picturing John Christopher Reilly singing that slowly, with jazz hands and a top hat, as he tap dances.
Why is UA only operating 4/day on LAX-SFO? Once upon a time UA had flights every 30 minutes, and generally it has maintained hourly service. You would think they’d want to maintain that both for connectivity at both ends (there are a few destinations that UA serves only from LAX) and to maintain Bay area and LA area traveler loyalty.
This seems like a foolish choice to run so few flights on a high volume route.
There’s the bus! No friend this time, I’m assuming. 😉
My daughter was traveling with a 10 month old in arms and could not check her family in the day before had to go to the airport (SAN) and wait in line so they could see that the child was under 2…almost missed her plane… crazy United.. too many rules.
Have to say it’s fun to have you reference Glen Park and La Corneta, within walking distance of my home in SF.
You had a crazy day. And, yes, flights are full up and down the West coast.
Probably wouldn’t work for you(Mr. International), but for anything domestic I’ve had many good experiences in and out of Oakland Airport. Large enough to offer top shelf amenities without the 12 mile walk to park/bus/uber.
Just reading this (10:20:21) Of course enjoy your son and his great daddy. But first glimpse of you precious daughter. Hugs to their mother