Ever been on a plane where it runs out of gas? In my case I needed to get from Boise to Columbia, South Carolina, to teach a class to a hundred or so people. The United Airlines flight, on one of those regional jets (2x2), went through O’hare with a change of planes into Columbia. I know better than to fly on United anywhere, especially through Chicago, but no. So I deserved every bit of what happened.

Heading into Chicago there was “weather.” The plane didn’t have enough gas to circle so we flew to Peoria to fuel up. I’m thinking, what kind of airline is this?It’s like a poor person’s version of an airline where they can only afford $10 of gas at a time and didn’t top off the tanks? Or maybe those regional jets have small tanks. Probably the former to save weight and make more money.

We sat on the ground in Peoria for just short of the three hours, the point at which they would have had to let us off the plane or be fined. I pointed this out to the flight attendant. She was, of course, very sympathetic, but told me there was no gates that accommodated that kind of aircraft in Peoria. Actually she wasn’t nice (remember this is United Airlines) and she was lying, but whatever. They avoided their fine.

By the time we got to Chicago it was mayhem with the lineups. The best United could do (allegedly) was to fly me out the following day three hours after the class I was supposed to teach was over. The desk people were not helpful. It’s United! So I booked a flight on Southwest to fly to Charleston. Only problem was Southwest flies out of Midway not O’hare. After an $80 cab ride I managed to board the Southwest flight (full disclosure- I love SWA, because they are rarely late). It was midnight by the time I got to Charleston with no luggage. I then drove a rental car to Columbia arriving at about 2 AM. The $150 drop charge seemed reasonable.

I got up in the morning, taught my class in a tee-shirt, jeans and a suit coat looking like some Romanian gangster. I will walk before I ever set foot on a United flight again.