I had an interesting experience with the United Airlines iPhone app on our return from the east coast.
I was using my iPhone to check whether our departing flight from Dulles was on schedule. You click on a “flight status” button and it gives you the basics. The flight appeared to be on time. Then I noticed another button which said something like “where is this aircraft coming from?” I couldn’t resist. I clicked.
That brought up a screen showing that the plane was coming in from Albuquerque and was delayed over 90 minutes on the ground there. Since we had to make a connecting flight in San Francisco, and we had just under an hour between the two flights, a 90-minute delay on the first leg would have left us stranded.
So I got on the phone to United reservations and explained what I had found, intending to seek an alternate route if indeed the flight was delayed. That’s where I learned that United’s reservation agents don’t have access to the same info that you get from the iPhone app. The person assisting me could not check the incoming aircraft. She had to ask me the flight number out of ABQ to confirm its status. She found that the incoming flight was indeed late, but that our flight was still listed as “on schedule.”
Then she disappeared to “check with a supervisor,” which took another 25 minutes, while I waited. Finally, she came back and said that although the incoming flight was delayed, their system still showed our flight on time.
“My best advice,” she said in sort of a resigned voice, “is to just go to the airport.”
It seemed good advice, one way or the other.
As it turned out, United brought in a different aircraft and all was well. By the time we were at the airport, the new plane showed up in the iPhone status report.
I just thought it was an interesting example of how much info is now available via our phones. In this case, we had more info than the official reservation system could provide.
It’s a whole new digital world.