Well, that’s over

Waiting for our flight to Chicago, United abruptly announced that it was canceled — you should have heard the howls of fury from all the people waiting. Then they announced that maybe it would fly anyway. Then they said one of the flight crew was missing so it was canceled. Then they found him! Maybe not canceled?

I was finally able to talk to a gate agent — I needed to arrange our connecting flight from Chicago to Syracuse. They were all canceled! All of them! For the next two days! I might be able to get a flight for the last day of the conference.

So I canceled them.

No trip to AAS this year. I’m disappointed, my student is disappointed, but it looked like we were going to spend days and days in limbo, with no certainty of getting there for any time at the meeting.

Now we’re waiting at the airport for long-suffering Mary to drive out from Morris to pick us up and take us home again.

United Airline sucks.


  1. beholder says

    Maybe the real treasure is the spiders you found along the way.

    You’re right, though. One does not simply fly into Syracuse.

  2. anthrosciguy says

    Well, it’s Minnesota; the winters are brutal. Not sure just how that screws up flights in June, but the winters are brutal.

  3. says

    I’m sorry that you went to all that effort and then missed your conference. I hope maybe you can interact with the conference by computer.
    If there were any honesty and fairness in this failing country, you would be able to get reimbursed for car travel expenses, the entire cost of the convention and the entire cost of your airplane tickets. But, based on news reports and the experiences of friends. United Airlines (which I believe, got tens of millions of taxpayer cash during the height of the pandemic) only wants your money and will do everything it can to refuse to honestly compensate you for their Huge Failure.
    Poetic justice would be if you could breed millions of killer arachnids and turn them loose in the corporate headquarters of all the major airlines. (I guess I am showing how tired and disgusted I am with Crapitallists (along with rtwingnuts and xtian terrorists) destroying any honesty in this nation)

  4. bcw bcw says

    Buffalo Binghampton or Scranton and drive? They’re probably just as hard to get to.

    U Never Intended To Ever Deliver.
    Usually Not Inclined To Eliminate Disasters.

    or you can just know it as UnTied Airlines. or U-Tried Airlines.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    So the Ring returns to Morrisshire? Can the Morris hobbits and elves beat off the Nazgul seeking to retrieve it?

  6. wzrd1 says

    Well, if you’d rather crash in a thunderstorm, I’m sure that a budget carrier would happily brave conditions.
    Although, two days seems a bit odd for such a reason. Maybe United is going with a new slogan, “If it’s Boeing, it ain’t going”. ;)
    Or maybe, given how well they’ve been performing and embracing major PR hits, they simply couldn’t pay the rent at Syracuse.
    Actually, it looks like the lower revenue flights that are going into the weather delay areas in the NE are being cancelled by United. Just rebuilding their reputation for unreliability.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    That does suck.
    But would Liz like to make a video of her poster talk? I’d like to see it.

  8. Waydude says

    Ah well, I’m sorry you had to go through that, I get that it’s very frustrating. As an airline captain, my job is to get people where they want to go and one of my joys is seeing people greeting and picking up friends, family, loved ones at the curb outside and knowing I got them there. This looks like it was due to weather, which yeah sucks

  9. killyosaur says

    Had a similar situation back in March. weather resulted in numerous delays, my wife, 5 yo and I waited for 8 hours before finally bailing. The flight was finally canceled at 8PM that evening…

  10. silvrhalide says

    @8 If it was a Boeing plane that United was flying, everyone on that plane would have been better off on the ground anyway.


    But Boeing never told pilots about one key new safety feature—an automated anti-stall system—or how to troubleshoot its failure. The manual update raised an outcry from pilots in the US.

    Allied Pilots Association spokesperson and 737 captain Dennis Tajer told Reuters that his union members were only informed of a new anti-stall system that had been installed by Boeing on 737 MAX aircraft after the Lion Air crash. “It is information that we were not privy to in training or in any other manuals or materials,” Tajer told Reuters.

    All because the FAA decided that Boeing could design its own tests and grade them too.
    As nomaduke pointed out, deregulation of the industry has been great… for the industry. The clientele? Not so much.

    @6 Loving the acronyms

  11. silvrhalide says

    As much as it sucks to have a trip canceled, you might be better off. Likely the only pilots & planes to continue to fly would have been the smaller, riskier airlines. You know, the ones with the underpaid, undertrained and sleep-deprived pilots. And if it’s pouring out with or without lightening, you wouldn’t be going spidering anyway.

    Do you really want to be flying over upstate NY, with the lake effect and the storm winds?
    Remember this flight?

    Given that the weather forecast is for storms and tornadoes over the southern portion of the eastern seaboard and is for severe thunderstorms over the northern portion of the eastern seaboard, chances are that you would be inside for the entire weekend anyway. It’s a shame about Liz’s poster though.

  12. says

    Yea there might be valid reasons like bad weather for a flight cancellation, but if they can’t even find their crew that ain’t it.

    United has a 90% completion rate, which means a 1 in 10 chance a flight is cancelled, redirected, or severely delayed. That said, the other airlines are even worse. So there’s that.

  13. EigenSprocketUK says

    No less than four evidence-led assertions that flying is just too damn risky.
    Though Mary shouldered twice the mileage in the actual dangerous bit.

  14. says

    simply not edible (#14) –

    Or any rail. Cripes, I looked at google maps (not familiar with the central US) and it’s astounding. NINE major cities that (100 years ago, or even 50) could have been connected by commuter rail, and weren’t: Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago. Hell, add Columbus, Pittsburgh and Buffalo with lines to Cleveland, and to Detroit going through Hamilton, Ontario. At 120kmh, trains from Minneapolis to Kansas City or Chicago would take six hours, which isn’t a hardship. Feasibility wasn’t the issue, obedience to the car and airline industry was.

    Most trips in your own city are short, so are most trips out of town. Why does travelling 300km and 3000km take the same time? A nearby city is where you’re most likely to do business. And unlike planes, trains don’t get grounded and cancelled as much, nor need the same maintenance.

  15. wolja says

    You know the answer. Zoom, Teams or whatever video conferencing you prefer.

    Why add to the pollution by flying. I will never get this networking thing

  16. robert79 says


    U Never Intended To Ever Deliver.
    Usually Not Inclined To Eliminate Disasters.”

    Another one:
    Delta: Don’t Expect Luggage To Arrive

  17. wsierichs says

    If I had been in your place and had the money and time, I would have originally booked a roomette on Amtrak (and one for your student) and ridden in comfort to Syracuse. You would have a bed, sit-down meals at a table, a choice of enjoying passing scenery or reading a book or doing some internet surfing. You’d have a private toilet and sink in your room. I’ve taken several Amtrak roomette trips, and it’s far better and more reliable than an aircraft trip. Plus you don’t have to risk humiliation or abuse by TSA agents. (I’m being polite in calling them “agents.”)

    No, I don’t work for Amtrak. I’ve simply found it to be the most–civilized way to travel. I realize people often don’t have the time or money, but it’s probably not much more expensive than an airplane ticket, especially as all of the potential problems in modern air travel could force you to spend more money, such as an alternate airline for a canceled airline flight or a hotel room while waiting to pick up a flight after a delayed one. I don’t do long-distance travel anymore (I’m at that certain age.), but I am still tempted to try one more trip, a rail trip through scenic places (they’re package tours with mixed train travel and hotel stays at or near national parks.

    Just saw Intransitive’s post, so I second that emotion.

  18. says

    I agree with @14 simply not edible: This is why high speed rail ought to be a thing.
    and @20 silvrhalide: @14 It should, but in case you’ve missed the other news, we can’t even get low-speed rail to work properly.
    and @23 nomdeplume: Ah the wonders of American capitalism eh?
    and @25 Intransitive: Or any rail.
    As I commented earlier on: https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2023/06/26/the-struggle-continues/
    @ 19 mordred said: Modern reliable trains
    I reply: I wish the united states had them. Here, the tracks are owned by Crapitallist Rail Corps. and NOT maintained (see recent rail bridge collapse) the trains must travel at a crawl to prevent derailment and everyone wants to waste massive amounts of jet fuel and be treated like cattle by the airlines just to save a few hours travel time . . . .(adding) so they avoid rail travel and that compounds the problem of amtrak not ‘being profitable’. Amtrak should not have to be profitable, it should be part of the common resources well funded by passengers and the government, like airports! and highways!

  19. says

    PZ, Rats. you put all that work into the AAS poster and didn’t even get to see people ooh! and aaH! over it
    and I agree with @9 moarscienceplz But would Liz like to make a video of her poster talk? I’d like to see it.

  20. says

    @28 wsierichs: wanter: a rail trip through scenic places (they’re package tours with mixed train travel and hotel stays at or near national parks.
    I reply: a few years ago two of us took a trip from the railway hotel in Williams Aridzona to the Grand Canyon on the Grand Canyon Railway. The coaches were very comfortable (rather plush) with good food and drink available and the trip goes through some pretty scenic country. And, it stops so you can take time to look out into the Grand Canyon from the s. rim.

  21. Reginald Selkirk says

    I rode the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward and back. A couple decades ago

  22. Ada Christine says

    the only way to binghamton is through laguardia or orlando now. they don’t even connect to detroit anymore.

  23. billseymour says

    wsierichs @28 mentioned Amtrak, so I started paying attention. 8-)

    Train 8 departs St. Paul Union Depot at 08:50, arrives in Chicago at 16:45.
    Train 48 departs Chicago at 21:30, arrives in Syracuse at 11:42 next day.
    That’s a bit under 27 hours.  Unfortunately, the Empire Builder is notoriously late; and you’d have about an 18% chance of missing the connection based on a year’s worth of data; but that includes travel last winter.  Using only data from March 1 to today, that improves a bit to 14% chance; but still not great.

    Train 49 departs Syracuse at 22:05, arrives in Chicago at 10:12 next day.
    Train 7 departs Chicago at 15:05, arrives in St. Paul at 22:56.
    That’s a bit under 25 hours.  There’s about a 5% chance of missing the connection; but that’s the end of the trip, so it doesn’t destroy the whole trip.

    That wouldn’t be my first choice, and I’m an Amtrak riding geek.  I’d probably take the chance if I were going the other way ’round, from Syracuse to St. Paul and back.

  24. hemidactylus says

    I haven’t needed to fly in almost fifteen years, then for my 98 yo grandma’s funeral. It was over 20 years before that. When I was a kid I flew all the time visiting relatives.

    United Airlines sounds like a clown car operation. We used to fly Eastern back in the day. Out of MCO formerly McCoy Air Force Base. To Logan. Fond memories of grandpa picking us up and riding the tunnels out of Boston. Last time I was there my uncles snarked the Big Dig.

    Sucks they screwed your plans for the spider meeting. And no Chicago dogs, deep dish, or hometown house music on the long layover. I’m sorry for your frustration and disappointment.

  25. wzrd1 says

    We did get two significant thunderstorms here in Harrisburg, PA. Heavy rain, largely sideways, obviously winds, hail.
    So, staying home sounds a lot more pleasant than having overstuffed carryon bags landing on your head.

  26. numerobis says

    HSR is great up to 500 km and OK up to 800 km but more than that, you fly. Morris to Ithaca is 2,000 km. Europeans don’t usually take the train from Paris to Vilnius, or Milan to Stockholm.

    As for flying being extremely dangerous, that’s simply false. The last time a single passenger died on a scheduled flight in the US was in 2019; the last time there were multiple fatalities was 2013, and the “remember this crash” dates back to 2009. Driving from Morris to MSP, now that is dangerous.

  27. billseymour says

    numerobis @39 is correct if the only consideration is time spent traveling.  Some folks have other considerations, like comfort and so forth.

    They’re also correct that blasting down a highway is very much more dangerous than either flying or riding a train.

  28. wzrd1 says

    I dunno, those domestic seats are pretty damned hazardous for long flights.
    Hell, for transoceanic flights, even those slightly more spacious seats can give one the risk of a DVT.

  29. says

    Well, now that we know that flight cancellations were widespread, affected many airlines, and were caused by weather situations, do you intend to apologize to United Airlines?

  30. magistramarla says

    If you happen to be a disabled passenger, traveling with a wheelchair, it gets even worse.

  31. wzrd1 says

    Green Eagle @ 42, why should anyone apologize? It’s incumbent upon the airline to keep paying passengers informed as to the status of their flights in a timely manner, as well as any reasons as to why said multiple flights rendered carriage that was already contracted for canceled.
    Instead, they kept things a mystery to one and all, with precisely zero explanation, essentially proving that travel by air with them is the epitome of unreliability.