On-site with United 87 (1755, 1751) from Shanghai to Newark, 7/11-7/14
Yes I was one of those unlucky passengers of 7/11 UA87, stuck in Shanghai for 3 days. I have posted a long summary of what had happened on Sina Weibo, a micro-blog popular in China. Here’s a link:
Most information in this report is correct, except that it was Thursday 7/12 we were promised a plane switch at the cost of passengers of another flight (7/13 UA87).
A few (what I think) important details:
1. Our flight numbers had been: 7/11 87; 7/12 1755 (to be operated by Capt. Johnson’s crew); 7/13 1755 (to be operated by Heule’s crew) and 087D (two numbers simultaneously, for whatever reason); 7/14 1751 (operated by Heule’s crew).
2. Late evening 7/12, UA promised over PA they would bump 7/13 UA87 passengers, clear the entire plane, and board us. Ground service employee Mr. Lu repeated this statement several times and upon request, unwillingly dispatched pieces of papers with official stamp documenting this promise with, however, ambiguous language. This promise was the main cause leading to the riot the next day at gate 71, where UA87 was parked.
3. 7/13 3PM, 30 minutes before our scheduled departure time the gate assigned to us (59) was still empty with no personnel or plane. People from our flight started to block gate 71, asking UA to fulfill their promise. Eventually, around 6pm, all our people went to gate 65 where the fixed plane arrived around 4:45-5:30 PM. UA87 people then got inside their own aircraft.
4. The Heule crew walked past gate 71 around 5:30 PM, to gate 65. I assume that’s when they arrived the airport. We boarded the plane by 6:40 PM. It is hard for me to imagine this “boarding issue” caused the crew to work over the legal time limit of 19 hours. Flight time of PVG-EWR is typically 14.5 hours.
5. UA refused to reroute me on both 7/11 and 7/12. I wasn’t able to find any seat to the states on 7/12 using United mobile app, however, seats to Chicago and San Francisco were available on 7/11 when I searched. I made the 7/11 phone call an hour after the first cancellation when I overheard two elite members calling United US premier line successfully got re-booked. I am a general member by the way.