Homeland Security officials announced today that they are talking to airlines and helping them prepare for an expansion of the current electronics ban.
The new warning suggests that Western Europe and other regions around the world will become subject to a policy that is currently only effect on a handful of carriers operating from a handful of North African and Mideast airports.
The ban will prevent passengers from bringing electronic devices larger than a smart phone aboard their USA-bound flights. DHS officials in their comments declined to say which regions are being targeted for the expanded ban, but did not rule out Western Europe as one of their primary focuses.
The DHS claims that it is acting on real and reliable intelligence that has led them to consider casting a wider net for the policy. No timetable has been announced for the implementation of expanded ban, but with DHS meeting with airlines to discuss the policy, the timing might be sooner than later.
Related: Electronics ban may be expanded
Last week when returning from a trip to Europe, I had an experience that was relatively new to me but perhaps not to others. As you can probably deduce from the title of this post it has something to do with United.
Let me give you a bit of context as to what happened…..
As I mentioned, last week I was returning from Europe aboard Lufthansa’s LH432 to Chicago. The trip started quite nicely after being upgraded at the gate in Frankfurt from Premium Economy to Business and the flight was as always, too short.
With LH432, I had about an hour to make my connection to a United flight to home in GRR. We landed on time, my bag was the third one off the belt and things couldn’t have gone more smoothly.
Even to the point that though PreCheck was closed at this time of day in ORD’s Terminal 2, when the TSA agent heard by Boarding Pass give off the 3-beep alarm, he let me proceed as though the PreCheck lane was open. Great! Finally a nice TSA experience. At this point my flight should have started boarding and I had 30 minutes to make a 5-10 minute walk. Perfect.
So, as I approach gate F17 in ORD, it was United’s turn to help me through the process and get me home to my Wife and Jack Russells; and thats where we enter the Bizarro World……
As I came to the gate, I noticed that the door was open and boarding was supposedly to have had started 10-15 minutes ago. Not being sure if boarding had started or not, I come to the podium and asked one of the gate agents quite simply: ‘Have you started boarding for Grand Rapids yet?’
‘Check your DAMN Boarding Pass for the boarding time’
Yep, that was the reply…..’Check your DAMN Boarding Pass for the boarding time’, to which I countered that according to the BP, boarding should have started so thats why I asked.
‘Your Boarding Pass will tell you when you will board’
Bravo, madam gate agent….bravo.
It took quite a bit of self control to not drop the expletives trying to force themselves from my mouth, I simply shook my head and walked away. I figured at this point if I escalated the interaction, she was just ‘bitch’ enough to find a reason to not let me board. Fine.
Ultimately boarding did start, albeit 20 minutes after my Boarding Pass told me it would and I did extract some minor bit of revenge when she called Boarding Group 1 and the look on her face when I approached, was somewhat more valuable than a Greek Drachma.
And of course, United couldn’t figure out in an hour how to get my bag on my flight to GRR, but I’ll let that one go…. 🙂
After all, Jeff is far busier marching in parades with rainbow flags than he is ensuring that his managers are putting together the best staff possible at his most important hub.
So, anyone else come across these Bizarro gate agents in your travels?
For those that care, I did send a note sharing the experience to the 1kvoice@United.com email address…..The canned scripted reply was exactly what I expected:
Thank you LH Flyer for being a valuable customer…blah blah blah..
We’re sorry you had a bad experience….blah blah blah.
We work hard every day to make sure passengers like you have great experiences with us….blah blah blah.
We hope to see you on a future United flight…. blah blah blah.
………I wish I can believe even the fake sincerity…. 🙂