A flight from the East Coast to Japan is long enough without an unexpected and unexplained delay in departure of the connecting flight from Chicago. In hindsight, we should have paid the ANA premium and flown directly from Dulles.
When we checked the departures screen in O'Hare, we saw a mysterious 4.5 hour delay in departure. We walked around (O'Hare's a pretty dull airport) and joined the mass of confused, and increasingly angry passengers at the gate, for an extended wait.
The biggest complaints were the lack information provided to people waiting at the gate regarding why the flight was delayed, and what the passengers should do if the departure delay meant they would miss their connecting flights from Tokyo to Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
After an extended wait, and a growing roar of angry passengers, a United representative finally emerged from the offices and made a half-hearted attempt to pacify everyone. One belated, but nice, gesture was they brought out free beverages, sandwiches and chips to people waiting at the gate.
Found out the original plane could not be repaired in time and the incoming plane from Narita would be cleaned, refueled and sent back as a replacement. We barely made our gate exit window on time before the flight would have been cancelled. It was interesting to watch how fast a few employees mishandling the situation without apologizing for poor service turned into a PR nightmare.