No Surprise

One of the worst things that can happen to you while traveling is to get to your destination — but then not be able to get off the airplane.

I remember that happening to me about 15 years ago coming back from Frankfurt to San Francisco on Lufthansa after a long business trip to Europe. We arrived on-time at SFO but a gate wasn’t available at the international terminal and we cooled our heels for an hour gazing at the terminal from 500 yards away.

It happened again this morning on a flight to John Wayne Airport in Orange County. The incredible shrinking airline, United Airlines, appears to have sold off or entered into sharing agreements for its gates at Orange County. We landed and then promptly pulled into a parking area as the copilot announced that our shared gate had an America West flight still on the gate. We sat in the airplane for almost a half an hour waiting to get to the gate and deplane.

All of this from the airline whose CEO writes in the new issue of Hemispheres, the airline’s in-flight magazine, about how United Airlines is trying to surprise and delight its passengers with service. Some surprise, some delight.