I’m writing this as I fly from Denver, CO to Austin, TX. I had originally been scheduled on a United flight last night but I cursed the aircraft when, upon boarding, I text messaged my wife telling her we were leaving on time. Silly me.
First, the Captain announced a ten-minute delay due to a malfunctioning “AP something or other.” Then, the gate agent started to make an announcement only to be overridden by the Captain who told us that he was not certifying the plane for takeoff due to a safety issue with that piece of equipment. By the tone of his voice you could tell he had vehemently disagreed with the agent and he was upset with her.
Personally, the passengers sided with the Captain. After all, the gate agent was not flying on the plane. We de-planed back to the gate area. During the next two hours the gate personnel kept us fully informed of what was going on. First, they said they would try to find us another plane and they would update us in thirty minutes. This happened several times each time we were told when the next update would be so that we could leave the area if we wanted to. Finally, we were told that we could book a flight on Frontier for this morning if we wanted to, or we could hang around and see if the plane was repaired.
During the entire process the ground crew kept us fully informed. This was unlike a similar experience I had on another airlines when the gate agents were rude and surly.
There are two lessons to be learned from this. First, when you must tell your customers that your product or service cannot be delivered on time, keep them fully informed. The gate agents would tell us when the next update would be and they never missed it. I never noticed any passengers complaining or being hostile. The agents were polite and professional.
Second, never–never– argue with an airline Captain about anything to do with his aircraft. You’d have better luck trying to boil the ocean.