Monday, July 14, 2008

I Can’t Imagine Why The Airlines Are Struggling…

After our stop in North Dakota it was off for some fun in the sun with Jason’s family in Holden Beach North Carolina. We came to the airport in Minneapolis, MN with hopes of reaching the beach by night to begin relaxing the following morning. Little did we know at the time that a certain airline (sounds like fAIR TRAiN) had other plans in store for us this fine day. We arrived at 11am to realize that the flight was delayed by 40 minutes due to bad weather in Atlanta. We thought at the time no big deal, we had nearly a four hour layover in Atlanta so we still had plenty of time to make our connecting flight to Raleigh.

The following is a timeline of events that happened thereafter:

11:45 – bid the family a goodbye hug and best wishes…Niagara Falls ensued

12:05 – wasted $2 on Minnesota lottery scratch games (can’t resist sometimes)

12:40 – received word that the plane had not even left Atlanta yet

13:10 – original departure time came and went; plane still on ground in ATL

13:30 – plane is on its way!

17:10 – we board the plane, things are starting to look up

17:20 – pilot informs us we can’t take off for another hour…forgo previous optimism

20:00 – plane lands in ATL, we wait for a gate to open for another 30 – 45 minutes

20:45 – we get off the plane we join the already existing refugee camp; our flight to Raleigh is delayed as well until 21:35 so we grab a quick bite

21:35 – board changes from flight to Raleigh to flight to Charleston without a word uttered by anyone from suspect Airline…customer service line begins to grow…my favorite line of the night is uttered by the gate agent “I am feeling really incompetent right now but as soon as I can tell you anything I will”

23:30 – plane lands, more refugees join the herd and the board changes back to Raleigh. No announcements made but we’re on the big board!

23:40 – boarding begin!

23:45 – everyone that has boarded walks off the plane, the gate agent says, “I am waiting for a supervisor to come over and confirm but it looks like the flight to Raleigh has been canceled”. Just lovely…

00:00 – There are a total of four (4) agents at two customer service desks helping customers with their respective canceled flights; still no supervisor in sight, and the “Customer Service” hotline is closed. You can however talk to some nice ladies about booking your next flight as the reservations number is open for business!

04:00 – yes, after FOUR hours we are able to talk to a representative and they inform us that they will not be covering a hotel, the next available flight is two days later and there is no chance of flying on another airline – it’s the weather (that ended twelve hours earlier at 14:00 by the way and some flights did get out before and after ours)…could we have announced that maybe? – We opted for a refund on our ticket and stalk off to get our bags – seeking transportation elsewhere.

04:20 – after the trek from one end of the airport to the other (trains don’t run that time of the night) we arrive to another lengthy line to get our bags

04:45 – agent comes out and tells us they are not accepting anymore requests to pull luggage

05:30 – we finally get to the one person in the left luggage section and she informs us that our bags went out on the 2am flight to Raleigh. They are waiting for us there for pick-up! Good think we’re not staying until Tuesday…could this high quality airline have announced this?

06:00 – Louis, a fellow traveler from the Land of Lakes was nice enough to allow us to hitch a ride with him in his rental car up to Raleigh.

13:00 – arrive at the Raleigh airport via car, 26 hours after beginning and 16 hours after our original

arrival time.

I understand there can and will be weather related issues that arise that are beyond a company’s control, but a little communication could have saved not only travelers but employees a lot of time and frustration. The only bright spot is that we saved a little $ by getting a refund on that portion of the flight and finding a free ride to Raleigh – a big thank you to Louis if you ever read this!

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