Brad Feld

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For Once, Delivers

Feb 28, 2006
Category Technology

Most people that live in the general vicinity of Denver International Airport (including me) like to bash on our favorite formerly bankrupt airline – United.  Now that they are out of bankruptcy, we’ve lost one dimension on which to kick them around (e.g. no more liquidation jokes.)

I’m usually profoundly disappointed by airline websites for some reason.  United’s is no different – I go on the site all bright eyed expecting to be able to do what I need to do and 15 minutes later say to myself “fuck it – I’ll just deal with it at the airport.”  Today, however, was a success.

At 4:25am, I went online to try to print out my boarding pass for my day trip to Chicago.  I tried to login but couldn’t get my password to work (it must have changed it, but can’t remember to what.)  I used the site’s “password challenge” but failed.  So – I had the site email me a new password.  It didn’t seem to work so I did it again (hmm – so far this is feeling very typical.)

30 seconds later a new email appeared with my temporary password.  I went and tried it – twice.  No good.  Crap.  As I was about to give up, another email appeared with another temporary password.  Ok – I guess both attempts at getting a new password worked.  I logged in and changed my password to something I could remember.

I then went through the print the boarding pass process.  I got to the upgrade screen.  It wouldn’t let me past – I didn’t have enough electronic upgrades in my account.  Groan.  I chose a menu option that looked like it’d get me to a “purchase electronic upgrades” screen.  Voila.  I put my credit card in and bought a bunch of upgrades, fully expecting the systems to be disconnected, resulting in a 24 hour wait for my upgrades to appear in my account.

Wrong.  When I went back to the print the boarding pass process, my upgrades were there (ah – the joy of a normalized database, or at least a working implementation of a message broker like Tibco.)  I upgraded, printed my boarding pass for my 6:30am flight, and then went looking for my evening return flight.  Nope – not there.  Well – I guess something had to not work. 

For once, the web site delivered – mostly.