Back in September ('06) my good friend D and I decided to fly to LA for the weekend to celebrate our birthdays which are fairly close together. Since it was my 21st my folks were concerned with me going to LA just to drink so they offered me a deal. We could use some of my dad's airline miles for United Airelines, if I promised not to get drunk while in another state. Grateful, we accepted the deal (even though I hate UA).
We live in Colo. Springs, and there's a tiny airport down here that we flew out of. Well actually we flew from Colo. Springs to Denver which was quite hilarious but fun as well since D had never been on a plane. Our flight was at about 5am and we got to the airport around 4am and parked. We got through ticketing, security, etc and after a little wait we boarded our tiny plane. When we landed in Denver, we were told to go to Gate 50 (I can't remember the actual number so I'm just sticking with that for now) and when we checked the boards we had nearly 30 minutes before boarding time began. My friend's a smoker and needed to go smoke, so we left and came back fairly quickly.
We get back to the gate and there's nothing on the screen behind the desk but it all seems to be the same people who were there before, so in our early morning excitement we didn't think much of it. Five or six minutes pass though and we check our tickets to see our boarding time, and it says it should've already begun. So we go up to the counter (where there's a couple people already in line) to ask. When we finally get up there, I tell them we have a connecting flight to Burbank and our tickets say boarding time has started. The lady rudly tells me "You're not flying out of this gate"
So, surprised, I said, "So has the gate moved?" and she says, "Ya think?" (My friend was about ready to smack her at this point and if I hadn't been in a hurry to just get to Cali I would've considered letting her) So I say, "Can you please tell me which gate it's moved to then, so we can catch our flight?" And she rolls her eyes and tells me she has no idea. That we need to check the screens.
We go over to the screens, and it still says Gate 50. So we get back in line. When we get up there we get the same lady but there's a guy next to her. I tell her the screens still say to come here and she tells me she can't help us. The guy looks over and says, "Where are you going?" "Burbank." "Oh that was moved to Gate 4" (Again I don't remember the exact number but it was very different than the gate we were at) So we thanked him and booked it out of there, not even giving time to glare at the lady lol.
So we RUN through the airport (which is hard for an asthmatic and a smoker!) only to get to the gate just as the lady shuts the door. I check the screen, it says Burbank boarding, so we run over to her and tell her we have tickets for this flight. She tells us plain and simple we missed it. We watched her shut the door and were yelling at her from about 20 feet away before the door was closed and we just couldn't wrap our brains around that at this point. It was early in the morning and we just wanted to get on a plane and go to California. So we said "please" a thousand times and she said there was nothing she could do. So I asked her what do we do now? And she points (no words, just points) to a customer service area across the way.
We walk over and explain to them we missed our flight because the gate was mislabled. "Oh that sucks"...yeah ya think? So I ask if they can just put us on the next flight, and when that is. "Oh well that's complicated see. Let me look up when the next flight is and if there's any seats available." So she click clicky clicks her computer and after a few minutes of my friend and I [breathing hard and] rolling our eyes, she looks up and says "There's another one leaving just after noon, and it's not completely booked yet so I'll put you on standby."
So while she's doing that my friend and I are discussing getting something for our trouble. I'm not a very confrontational person and was uncomfortable asking for something for free, but I did think that since it wasn't our fault we missed the flight that maybe something could be done since we were losing half a day in California AND had to run across the airport and miss our flight. So I softly but politely say, "Is there anything else you can do for us? I mean, we were at the gate on time, the screens told us that was the gate to be at, the lady was rude to us, and didn't know which gate to redirect us to. If we had been chatting it up in the bathroom and missed our flight because of our own stupidity or laziness I wouldn't be asking. But we ran all the way across the airport, which was difficult for us and still missed the flight. Is there anything else you can do for us."
She looked up at me and glaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaared. "No."
So then D thinks about our bags and asks what will happen to our checked luggage. "Well it'll get sent on ahead since it made the plane and you didn't, huh?" We just looked at her and asked her where they'd be when we landed. "At the lost baggage area."
She handed us our tickets and told us which gate it'd board at, and told us not to miss this one. I glared back at her and said, "Thanks." So we ate some food, took a couple catnaps on each other, called the car service that was supposed to take us to the hotel, and FINALLY boarded another plane. When we landed, I saw the sign with my name on it and told the car service dude we just needed to pick up our luggage. He was so polite and asked us all about our trip, our flight, kindly asked why we were late and let us vent just slightly on him.
We found united's baggage claim area and their 'lost baggage' area. Which was a tiny room with windows, and a locked door. No one was inside but we could see our luggage. Our driver went over to the other airline baggage areas (for those who don't know Burbank is a pretty tiny airport and he literally only had to take like five steps lol) and asked everyone else working if they knew where the United people were. No one did. So D told me to wait by the door, while she roamed the other areas of the airport, asking any and all airport employees if they knew where the United employees were or how to get in touch with them. The only thing she came back with was news that it was not news for the United employees to be 'missing.' So we just waited for a few minutes hoping someone would show up. Instead we found other people in the same boat as us (missed the flight because they were told the wrong gate) and chatted it up for a bit.
For the most part, we spent the next two hours continuously roaming the airport for anybody who knew how to get the door open. I felt bad for our driver, such a nice guy, but had to wait for us to get our luggage (and did more than necissary for a car service to help us get our bags). All this time one of the other guys in the same boat called UA and just kept getting sent around a phone tree and couldn't even complain, much less talk to a person who could help get someone there to unlock the door.
FINALLY after two hours of looking for people, a guy just strolls up to the door (no idea where he came from) unlocks the door and let's us in. We ran in (and back out because we had the brief thought he'd lock us in there or the door would shut and automatically lock and he'd go missing lol) grabbed our stuff and left.
The rest of our trip was pretty great, dispite losing over half a day in LA, and our flights back weren't fabulous or horrible.