The day that Terminal A at Dulles finally got me

2007 June 12
by Ryan

I was returning recently from my sister’s wedding (probably a future blog story) and had the distinct pleasure of flying through my favorite airport – Dulles. My origin was Albany, NY and I connected at Dulles for my flight to Greenville. I scheduled my flights so I would have at least an hour and a half layover in Dulles as I didn’t want to miss my flight (the last flight of the evening) to Greenville. Well, the flight leaving Albany was delayed due to mechanical problems (surprise, surprise). After an hour or so of them changing the expected departure time, United finally scheduled the flight to leave an hour and a half late – exactly the time of my layover in Dulles. This was going to be close.

I wasn’t too worried because the earliest that last flight out of Dulles to Greenville had ever left was 30 minutes late. That would still give me 30 minutes to take in the mass chaos of Terminal A. We finally touch down at Dulles and I turn on my Blackberry and go straight to United’s website to check the flight status. It had already left – 5 minutes EARLY! WTF! The one time I want them to leave late they leave early. What flight ever leaves early? Why couldn’t they have left early the 6 previous times I took this flight?

Great. I walk down to the Terminal A customer service desk. As usual, there are about 50 people in line and 1 representative at the desk. F-that. I’ll go find another customer service desk to help me out. I leave the terminals and go to the main United check-in counter. It’s completely empty – not a United employee in sight. It’s about 10:10pm at this time. Apparently, the check-in counters close at 10pm. At a United hub airport I would have expected at least 1 representative there among the 50 meters of check-in counters. Nope. Damn. Maybe I should have waited in that line. Still, I wasn’t giving up.

My next mission was to try to get back into the terminal area and find an open customer service station. I did have a boarding pass, after all – never mind that the flight already left. I walk the 3 miles from the United check-in counter to the security check-in (as you may remember from my last blog, United somehow got the shaft in their own hub in proximity to security check-in). Well, they wouldn’t let me in. Hmmm, now I was getting a bit nervous. I go back to the check-in area and notice there are some customer service phones there. I call up and am able to get my flight rescheduled for the next day (unfortunately, not until the afternoon so I was going to miss a day of work). However, I couldn’t exactly get a hotel voucher over the phone and the representative on the other end wasn’t very helpful in getting me information of where to get that.

The only United representative I could find in the entire airport outside the terminals was in the lost baggage area. So, I waited in line there and requested my hotel voucher at that desk. Luckily, they were able to help me out. As a consolation for wasting time meandering all over the airport they had run out of United Express airport rooms (probably a Motel 6) and put me up in a full-on United hotel room (a Hilton).

When I got to the Hilton I was sure to show them my Hilton HHonors Silver card to get my upgrade to the VIP floor (which in this case was just a section since there were only 2 floors). I watched a bit of TV on my room’s 50” plasma screen TV before drifting off to sleep.

My flight back to Greenville the next day was (thankfully) uneventful. My already low regard for Dulles Terminal A was lowered even more that weekend.

One Response leave one →
  1. Miss_Cinderella permalink*
    June 18, 2007

    Ummm….maybe I should try this airport when I come back to the US (sorry I didn’t stay on my ass in Budapest just as you thought and as I love this country I think I will come back as many times as I can) as I have flown all alone to NY with Delta and again alone from Long Island to Vegas this weekend but I’ve never experienced such things except for a delayed take off yesterday with Southwest….however to tell the truth when I went to Vegas I was a bit afraid that I won’t find my way in such a huge airport…anyway net year I want to explore some other states as well, so might be possible that I will pass this airport. Just for the sake of the experience.
    Anyway congrats for your sister’s wedding.

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