Saturday, August 16, 2008

Delta Blues (Crisis in Georgia)

[this entry originally appeared in a much longer version, and was edited for content]

1. Flight to Atlanta (connecting to Oklahoma City) sits for 90 minutes on tarmac at LGA. Baby is on board.

2. Connection to OKC missed by 10 minutes. Told by rep that Delta is "not responsible". Our luggage is nowhere to be found.

3. Left to find own hotel room for night in Atlanta with no toiletries, no change of clothes, and three diapers. Ground transportation is a nightmare, so we huddle into an unaffiliated van with other lost souls.

4. Alarm clock in hotel room emits loud digital interference approximately every 20 minutes, making sleep impossible.

5. Arrive in OKC late next morning.

Diet for trip:
Domino's pizza
Char-grilled chicked sandwich w/fries
Potato chips
Salad w/char-grilled chicken
Snickers bar
Breaded chicken sandwich
12" Spicy Italian
10-piece Chicken McNuggets w/fries
Pretzel Nuggets
Oreo Cookies
Philly cheesesteak sandwich
Ben and Jerry's choc. chip cookie dough ice cream
Assorted sodas

6. Return flight to Atlanta sits on tarmac in rain for 45 minutes.

7. Connecting flight to LGA delayed 45 minutes.

8. Connecting flight delayed additional hour. Surrounded by TV sets, none of which are showing the Olympics.

9. Insane woman threatens to stop plane from taking off until someone finds her "fucking bag". Another woman across aisle was thrown off previous flight for smoking in bathroom. Same woman exclaims at one point, "Delta blows!"

10. Home at 1:45 AM.

This graphic ran in the New York Times as part of a feature on the "new Ok(l)ahoma City"...


Lee Mazzola said...

Here's the first part of the original "Delta Blues" entry:

We all know that "we got screwed at the airport" stories are soooooo commonplace, so I'll try to make this brief...

Me, Jr. & the Mizz flew out to Oklahoma City on Tuesday afternoon. At least that was the plan. I've vowed to never fly Delta again several times, but I guess I never learn. Everything was pretty good until we actually got on the plane at LGA. We even convinced a nice girl to switch from the window to the aisle so L.J. could have the end seat.

The girl didn't last long, as she realized what she might be in for sitting next to a 7 1/2 month old boy for several hours. She gracefully ducked out like a freshman that signed up for Real Analysis section 325-- she was plain over her head. She switched with a cheery Australian, who I immediately and privately nicknamed L'Australienne. She seemed into kids, and was actually quite helpful.

Lee Jr. started getting antsy after about 45 minutes on the runway, as we all did. After 75 minutes, we all got downright ornery. The pilot was even pissy at this point, giving the capacity crowd the message quite clear: you're all on your own.

You say, "Yeah, so? Is this the first time you've sat on the tarmac at LaGuardia??!!" No, but it's a little tougher with a young'un in your collective lap. L.J. started to blow his stack about an hour into the actual flight (almost three hours into the ordeal!), requiring immediate attention at every orifice. As always, Mz. was pro all the way. I was too busy finding other people to take my frustration out on.

I thought the steward (who resembled a well-coifed version of Seinfeld's Newman) might be a good candidate (at one point he came over and asked, "Are you nursing him?"... no, she's just holding him with her bra open for the hell of it!), but he turned out to be one of the good guys. Later in the flight, a young child was having a severe attack of plugged-up ears, which Newman handled expertly by demonstrating how to breathe and puff up your cheeks, resembling a demented blowfish. Good stuff for the back seats.

Anyway, it became clear that our connecting flight in Atlanta was in serious jeopardy, baby. At least 75% of the flight seemed to be thinking the same thing about their own connections, and we were in the way back of the plane. We'd only make it if our next flight was delayed as well.

We busted our asses off the flight, sprinted down the gates with baggage and child in tow, and missed the last connection to OKC by about 8 minutes. Of course, Delta did absolutely nothing to help us out, like notifying the gate or even simply telling us which gate to go to! We actually overheard a stewardess tell another passenger in a similar situation that "it's everyone for themselves, at this point".

No evidence could be found anywhere of our OKC flight. I asked one Delta employee at another gate, who looked up the wrong number and shouted, "You're not going to Bermuda tonight!" I agreed, and asked if she'd look up OKC as well. She then shouted, "You're not going to Oklahoma neither!"

I found another Delta agent that looked a bit like the guy in After Hours that lets Griffin Dunne into his apartment. He wasn't nearly as helpful, and somehow managed to put the legal blame on us for missing our connection. Apparently it doesn't matter when your flight actually arrives, as long as passengers were on board on time at the departing airport. Whatever happens in between has nothing to do with Delta. He referred us to a hotel and recommended that we come back in the morning (in Atlanta) to reschedule our flight to OKC. He wouldn't give us a voucher for a free night's stay, because our flight "boarded on time".

He also assured us that our luggage would be right here in Atlanta. First, I had to cancel/reschedule all of our OKC stuff (hotel, car, etc.), and then make sure that a room (with a crib) really was available for us here in Atlanta. Then we'd pick up our luggage and hunker down for the night.

I was laughed at when I presented our baggage claim tags. "Can't you read?!" she said. "It says Oklahoma City!" Yes, I know, but we missed the last flight to OKC, and therefore our bags must have as well. They should be here in Atlanta somewhere.
"Yeah, somewhere!!!"

Another pair of employees were even worse-- they insisted on entering in our information as a team. One (English not first language) would read the numbers off our boarding pass, while the other (English also not first language, and different than the first person) would type in the heard data. This was not effective at all, as it took at least 7 or 8 tries to get the correct number string entered. Don't they have bar codes for this exact reason?

We finally bailed out and took LJ to an area hotel, without clothes or supplies. The "Ground Transportation" platform looked like something out of a disaster movie: crowds of screaming people carrying bags, kids crying, giant buses overflowing with people... OK, it looked like any Ground Transportation area.

KumoD said...

Yikes! Shitty all around, huh?