Friday, August 07, 2009

Another Humorless Rant

Anyone who thinks that the private sector is always better at running things than the government should try to take a plane trip.

Last week, Son Number Two and his fiance were going to join us in a family vacation for a few days in Pentwater, MI. I arranged for them to fly out of LaGuardia in NYC early in the morning on Thursday, get to Pentwater about noon, and then they would have two and one-half days with us before flying back to New York on Sunday morning. The plane was to leave at 6:00 a.m. and it takes them an hour to get to the airport, so they had to get up at 3:00 a.m. in order to get to the airport an hour ahead of departure, like you have to do these days. Delta had their telephone number to let them know of any last-minute changes. So, what happens, they get to the airport only to find out the flight has been canceled because of mechanical problems (the weather was fine.) Another flight was canceled too, and the passengers for both flights had to go to the same single window to get rebooked. They wound up waiting two hours to get their new flight information. Their plane finally did leave late that evening, about half an hour after the scheduled time, and they got into Grand Rapids at midnight, so the first half day of the two and one half days was gone.

Yesterday, I flew from Chicago to Portland, with a connecting flight at Salt Lake City. We were scheduled to leave at 5:20 p.m. The pilot made an announcement 10 minutes before departure time telling us that we were going to be leaving on time and that the plane was full, so people with two carry-on pieces of luggage should stow one under the seat and one in the overhead bin so there would be room for everyone's luggage. About 10 minutes after we were supposed to have left, the pilot came back on the intercom to tell us that the plane was overloaded because more people showed up than expected (remember just 20 minutes earlier he had told us the plane was full) so they needed 18 volunteers to get off in exchange for $600 in Delta money and accommodations for the night. Lights went on all over the plane as people jumped to volunteer. About 10 minutes later, they told us they had enough volunteers and as soon as the paperwork was processed, we would take off.

After another 15 minutes, we were told they were still processing the paper work, and as soon as it was done, we would be leaving. After another 15 minutes, the pilot was back to tell us they had decided that nobody needed to get off after all because they would take off in the opposite direction than usual on the runway. They hoped the extra wind speed would enable us to get off the ground. They HOPED? Let me off!!! I'll walk to Portland.

The long and short of it is that we did take off and got to Salt Lake City more than an hour late, which would have been too late for the connecting flight, had Delta not graciously decided to keep that plane on the ground until we got there. So, those people weren't too happy to see us, even though I was happy to see them.

This is no way to run a business -- any business.


rdl said...

Hoped!! is right! yipes!
last yr. i got stuck in RI(on the way to the jersey shore) after being deplaned because of a lightening/thunder/hail storm - which was fine with me - i did not want to fly in that. but by the time they told us that we wouldn't be taking off that nite after all if was too late for me to get back hometo MA. and the irony of it was i was going to take the bus and would've been there long before then.

Debra Hope said...

I refuse to fly anymore unless I can go direct. Last three times I connected, I ended up in some strange city overnight . . . give me some Euro-style trains, please. Speaking of which, it would take three DAYS to get from SW FL to Chicago on the train. Sigh.

cile said...

Thanks for the tip about Delta (marks down the Name in her little list of 'never do')..."They HOPED", indeed! Crikey!

forsythia said...

And then there were the folks who spent that memorable night on the tarmac. Folks who think the privae sector does everything right aren't paying attention.