Seeking my own damages from United

By Andy Winemiller -

In light of the latest issues which have surfaced regarding United Airlines, I want to levy my own complaints against the airline.

Most seem to know the story of this doctor who was, apparently, dragged from a United flight when he refused to give up his seat.

I’ve never been kicked off a flight, and it would take more than a few bozos to drag me from somewhere I want to be. No. The airline’s crime against me was far more egregious.

I used to fly a lot. I must note it was almost always leisure travel, and my base of operations was usually Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska.

I flew out of that airport more times than I can count. At least more times than I can remember to count. I actually can count real good. I know my numbers almost as good as I know my letters. My memory, however, is not so good — especially of that period of my life.

I was stationed about 10 minutes from downtown Anchorage.

In the infantry, we were pretty much required to take a block leave, meaning the unit, nearly in its entirety, was required to take leave at the same time.

That was bad news for the airport. On one evening, twice a year, thousands of paratroopers would flood the place.

More specifically, they would flood Humpy’s.

Humpy’s Bar and Grill was a favorite destination for many of us. They served a good burger and a great breakfast on the weekends. When I look back on my days spent up there, I often think about Humpy’s and Moose’s Tooth Pizza.

Humpy’s also had a location in the airport. On one of those nights on which just about every soldier in the brigade was flying, hundreds and sometimes thousands would gather at Humpy’s at the airport.

It was the way we all said good bye to our other family. It would be a couple of weeks before we would be back to work during the days and antics throughout the evening hours. Many of us arrived at the airport hours ahead of our flight times to attend the social gathering. It was always fun, and there were always casualties.

We’d count those casualties later. Joe Snuffy missed his flight, or they wouldn’t let Tyler on to his.

Now back to my complaint. It began as one of those nights spent at Humpy’s. One of my buddies and I were on a trip to Puerto Rico.

It just so happened that about five of us were on the same flight. It was headed to Atlanta, where we would hop on connecting flights. We boarded after a few hours at Humpy’s. Three of us were seated together, while the others were scattered about.

We sat down, and it was only seconds until I noticed one of the call lights on. Private Ryan was calling a flight attendant. About three times I watched her walk by and quietly turn it off.

He was getting frantic. He needed help, and he kept hitting the button. They just kept turning it off. What could be the matter of such urgency?

“Sky waitress, sky waitress,” we heard him yell. “I need a beer.”

The poor guy was parched, but their was little compassion in the flight attendant’s answer.

“Sir, we haven’t even closed the cabin door yet,” she spat back.

I had been good, and I remained good. I was drinking, but I also wasn’t obviously drunk. At least, all of the drunk guys told me I wasn’t obviously drunk.

Once we got to altitude, that same sky waitress pushed her little cart down the aisle. Private Ryan was asleep at this point. I ordered my usual in-flight beverage. She handed me my orange juice and two little bottles of vodka, but she had something to say about it.

“I’m going to give you this, but I’m not giving you anymore,” she snapped at me.

First of all, she wasn’t giving me anything. At $6 or $8 a drink, my unencumbered in-flight consumption of alcoholic beverages would have paid her wage. Secondly, I was being good. I was just sitting there minding my own business, just like that doctor was minding his.

What’s worse, she cut our whole aisle off — even the guy who had ordered his first drink of the evening.

That was a long flight, but once I was on my flight from Atlanta to San Juan, it would get better. I was flying first-class.

I sat down on that flight and ordered a screwdriver with my breakfast. I followed the meal with a desirable dessert consisting of a screwdriver.

Then, I learned how the other half lives — or at least how they get cut off. She treated me like a first-class passenger, not like one of the peasants seated in the back. The sky waitress never even acknowledged my presence after dessert. Even when I tried to flag her down, she pretended to be doing something else.

I hit San Juan stone-cold sober, which didn’t last for long.

However, I still feel the pain of that woman’s voice and the coldness in the other sky waitress’ cold shoulder.

Thus, before I take legal action, I’ll give United one more chance to make it right. On my next flight, there had better be four free screwdrivers awaiting me.

By Andy Winemiller

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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