United Airlines bait and switch

I'm really starting to think that United's Charleston-Chicago route only exists on paper and doesn't really fly at all.

Three times I've tried to fly it. Three times, I get to the airport and discover it's been "canceled".

Yesterday capped off a great trip back home to Edmonton with a 19 hour journey getting back to Charleston.

Get up at 4AM MST (6AM EST) and head off to the airport. Get onto my 8AM MST flight to O'Hare and have a nice uneventful flight. I get to Chicago, go check the flight board to see what gate to go to next and see a big red "CANCELED" next to the Charleston flight. Expletives ensue.

Head off in search of a United customer service desk, which I discover now consists of a bank of check-in kiosks. At least they make it reasonably easy to rebook yourself. The first option the system presented me with was an early morning flight out of Chicago through Washington-Dulles the next day. Yeah, don't think so (although if I had done that I could have spent part of the day visiting with a friend in Chicago). Next option was another flight leaving at 6PM (on the same day) again through Washington-Dulles and arriving back in Charleston just before midnight. No sign of the flight direct to Charleston at all. Further utterance of expletives ensues, but I decide to take it.

I end up spending the next 6 hours wandering around O'Hare's C terminal and reading about Monte Carlo simulations, having already finished the other more interesting book I had brought with me. Finally get onto the flight and have an otherwise uneventful and boring trip. Get to Washington-Dulles, check the flight board and find the flight to Charleston has been delayed 30 minutes due to "weather". Expletives. By the time I get to the gate, it becomes a 50 minute delay. More expletives.

Another boring flight that finally lands me in Charleston just after midnight. Go to baggage claim to find my bag, but it never comes out. Expletive expletive. Fortunately I found it stored away in the United baggage office.

My checked bag managed to beat me back to Charleston. WTF.

From all of this, I learn two lessons.

United apparently only pretends to fly between Charleston and Chicago, so don't even bother trying.

If I want to get anywhere fast, I should send myself through checked luggage.

I used to think that some airlines were less painful than others. Now I just hate them all.