United merger today goes terribly wrong. Shows a moral about life.

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I called United today to cancel a booking, and make another booking using my miles. What normally would take 5 minutes or so, took nearly 2 hours! The reason was today was the actual day of the United and Continental merger.

Firstly my United mileage plus account was gone. The lady could then retrieve my new Continental One Pass mileage number, but then I realized almost all my miles were missing!

The lady asked if I can go to the web site to create a new pin while she held on the phone. To my amazement, the entire United Airlines and Continental Airlines web site around the world (USA and Japan site) is completely down! The lady told me then that there were so many problems it looks like the web site was completely shut down. Finally after about one and a half hours, the lady could make my booking. But then she couldn’t issue the ticket because my miles are missing. It was kind of a Catch-22 nightmare. Finally the lady (who was very nice, and apologized many times) made the booking and put it on hold for 3 days in the hope that my miles will somehow be found.

This experience showed to me that even the largest airline in the world, which has spent months and months and probably millions of dollars in planning, can completely crash due to complexity. We can learn from this that complexity of life is so multidimensional and nonlinear that it is effectively impossible to predict or control. If we decide to plan for even a small event, we can be caught up in “analysis paralysis” and spend all of our energy to control life. Instead, similarly to Zen philosophy, we should remove our expectations, and stop trying to control life. Instead let life flow, and let our minds and bodies flow with it.