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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home again, jiggety jig

After balmy 72-degree days in Plantation, FL, I'm back at 41-degree Ohio. The quarter-acre woods is blooming and soon will be even more colorful. I can't wait to get out and see what has opened up, but right now I'm knee-deep in laundry.

My trip home was one of the worst I've experienced in more than 20 years of air travel. Whatever happened to customer service? It started out well when the taxi arrived at the hotel 10 minutes early and only took 15 minutes to get to the airport. I thought it was a good sign. The lines at the Delta ticket kiosks were extremely long, but they moved fairly quickly. Even boarding was on time, but everything went downhill after that.

The flight attendant announced that there would be a delay in departure because they had discovered that the plane was 5000 lbs. short of fuel and couldn't take off without it. Then there was something wrong with a valve in the refueling mechanism (I think that's what they said), so we were at least 45 minutes late getting off the ground (might have been an hour, but I stuck my nose in a book and lost track of time). I wasn't worried because I had a reasonable layover time in Atlanta. I'm a pretty relaxed traveler.

They put us in a holding pattern near Atlanta. Heavy rains there and in many other airports had backed up incoming flights. Not much you can do about the weather. It took a long time to taxi into the gate, again because of heavy traffic. I still had time to make my flight, but it was getting tight.

We sat at the jetway for a half hour before they opened the doors to let anyone out. I didn't hear any explanation why they didn't open the door. I was at the back of the plane and it was past time for my flight. Still, I didn't worry, since they said all flights had been delayed because of weather conditions.

When I finally de-planed, I saw that I had 20 minutes to make my connection. We had come in at gate A-1 and my flight was at D-38, so I started to run-walk to D terminal. Well, guess what. The train to D wasn't running. Okay, I ran over to the moving walkway. Guess what. The walkway wasn't moving. I was huffing and puffing when I got to the desk. The plane was still there, but the doors had just closed. They will not open the doors once they're closed.

They sent me to customer service to get re-booked. I was next in line, behind a man who was changing 4 different flights with different airlines. One agent there, helping him. I stood in line for half an hour before another agent came. She announced, "I'll help anyone who needs vouchers first."

No more Mrs. Nice-Guy. I demanded that she re-ticket me first. She said the next open flight to Dayton would be the next morning at 10:30 a.m. What????

I went on standby. I lost 4 flights and the rest of the day. My position on standby was preempted 3 times by someone with "priority," whatever that means.

I was #1 on the standby list for 6:30, but #3 to get the last seat. Someone had taken my seat in the 5th row aisle. It was a scarey few minutes while the flight attendant walked the aisle searching for an empty seat. I ended up in the last row of the plane. But I was on my way home.

There's a lot more to the story, but I'm sure many people have had a lot worse happen, so that's it for now.

I've had plenty of experience with delayed flights, weather, and what-not and it has never bothered me this much. Maybe I'm becoming an old grouch.

I noticed that sweet old ladies in wheel chairs got service and were boarded first.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if you are a frequent traveller who can't afford time delays, borrow a wheelchair and cross your fingers...

8:05 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Yes! I have a friend who always travels by wheelchair ;-)
Sorry about all your hold-ups. Glad you got home safely, 'though.

8:05 PM  

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