Everyone knows that with the joys of the holidays comes the dreaded downside of holiday travel. At the very least you will be confronted with people who travel very infrequently leading to amateur hour at the airport, coupled with slight delays and being stuck in a middle seat sandwich with two “husky,” foul-smelling passengers on either side of you. This I can handle. I’m not really big on stressing and can usually roll with whatever debacle comes my way. And trust me, as a smaller person that gets targeted as a seat mate just as intensely as a trophy buck during hunting season, I have sat next to more than my fair share of less than ideal fellow travelers. My face must say, “yes, I would love to share my seat with all of your excess blubber that will clearly not fit in your designated space.” However, this holiday season, travel annoyances ranked right up there with my college spring break disaster (when I had to rent a car and drive from Charlotte, NC to Syracuse, NY) as some of the worst travel experiences I have ever had.
Ok, so a huge storm hit. I get that, and I understand that it’s not the airlines fault. Buuuuttt, I do think that poor management, under-staffing and horribly unhelpful attitudes not only make the situation more unbearable, but also actually add unnecessary delays and obstacles to getting everyone home safely and in a TIMELY manner.
For example, my Sunday flight was canceled on Saturday night. I immediately started trying to call Delta to get my other options (maybe a llama trek? Or re-route through Costa Rica?). To my annoyance, I received a recording about high call volume over and over. Never an answer. So then, Sunday morning I get the Delta voicemail alerting me to my canceled flight and telling me when they have re-scheduled me for. Unfortunately, Ryan’s phone was on silent and he didn’t receive his new flight information. Now, because they would not answer their phone, we had to drive to the airport to stand in line just to see when his flight was. This is dumb and takes up time in the line that could be used for other passengers.
Next, Ryan and I get split up. Ugh! This I will not blame on the airlines. We booked separately so there was no way for them to know that we were traveling together. Still…a bummer.
So, Monday comes along and we get to our gates. My flight is delayed for slightly over 2 hours due to the toilets on the plane being clogged! Are you kidding me?! As a result, I was going to miss my connection. When I went to the counter, they initially told me I would have to wait until Tuesday to get out to DC. Only when I got an attitude and told the woman that it was unacceptable and I was already missing a day without pay because of their cancellations did she actually really try to find me a seat – which she did. Why do I have to be an ass in order to get a seat?!?!?! I understand that these airline employees are not going to turn into superheros and fly us to our destinations themselves; but, shouldn’t they be doing everything they can think of to get as many passengers on planes as possible, thus freeing up space on later flights for other stranded wanderers? Apparently instead, they are trained to stare at the screen, pretend to furiously type and scan the monitor and then tell you that you will continue to miss work, weddings, school, etc.
While I’m dealing with the toilets, Ryan has landed in Atlanta and is spending way too much money on less than mediocre airport food. (Why is it that even the restaurants that are tolerable or good anywhere else will still be nasty in the airport?) I finally land and try to get standby on Ryan’s flight…no go. Ryan boards and is off to DC, or so I thought. Turns out, they waited for a little over an hour because the water wasn’t working in the bathrooms on-board and they are required to have some way for passengers to wash their hands. Despite offers of baby wipes and hand sanitizers from various passengers, the flight had to wait for the arrival of some handi-wipes. A half-full box was finally produced by the ticketing agent who bitterly announced that the employees would no longer have clean hands because she took them from the break room. Apparently the airport doesn’t have water either… As one clever man pointed out to the flight attendant, had they taken off, they would be only 30 minutes away from DC and nobody would have even used the bathrooms. 🙂
Finally, we both made it home around 2AM. The one positive thing is that all of the Deschutes beer and the Shaker’s Vodka that we had so lovingly packed in socks, towels and a giant ziploc (just in case) made it through without one drop being spilled.