Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Clipped Wings

I’m finally decompressing from my five days in Seattle for a business trip. The trip was cool, but getting there and back home again on Monday was a big pain in the butt.

We were scheduled to fly out on American last Thursday morning, but when I called to check on our flight status, I was informed it had been cancelled due to the heavy rain in the region. When I asked about putting us on a later flight, the agent informed me there were no other options for that day and we had been booked on a flight for 6:30am the next morning. Whatt????? Now, I don't know why no one had contacted me with this info, especially when they request both a home and cell telephone number, as well as your email address when you book the flight.

I went on and tried to explain my need to get to Seattle earlier than midday Friday, but was told there were no other options. I was stuck. Loverman suggested I have my co-worker, who was traveling with me, call the airlines. She’s white and he suspected she might have better luck on getting us on a later flight on Thursday. I didn’t agree, especially because all my life, I’d been told I sound “white,” but my co-worker and I decided to give his little social experiment a try. Believe it or not, it worked and she got us on a direct flight to Seattle late Thursday afternoon. To tell you the truth, I don't know if I'd been dealing with a slacker agent or if I'd been a victim of voice profiling, but I could of cared less how I got out to Seattle at this point, I was just ready to get out there to get down to business.

When we finally got on the plane, I found myself sandwiched between a man who slept most of the evening and a woman who was flatulent the entire six-hour flight to Seattle. It was almost unbearable and I couldn’t ask for a seat change because the flight was packed. On top of this, American doesn’t even offer its coach passengers a complimentary beverage--- they even charge for water! I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to finally get to Seattle and off that plane.

On the return trip, we miraculously got on our scheduled plane on time, but as we taxied down the runway, the pilot noticed a problem one of the engines. We made our way back to the tarmac to try to fix our engine problem. About 90 minutes later we were on our way, but knew we wouldn’t make our connector in Chicago. Once we did get to Chicago, we thankfully found ourselves booked on a later flight, which would arrive in Philly only three hours later than our original arrival time.

Sure, I know most folks have air travel nightmare stories to share and in the grand scheme of things, I made out better than most, but the entire travel ordeal exhausted me and I just don’t understand how flying has devolved to the point that it’s like taking the Septa’s C bus down Broad Street.

Gas prices go up and the airlines raise ticket prices and begin to charge for checked baggage. Gas prices go down and I don’t hear a peep from the airlines in eliminating these additional fees. Airlines pack us in like sardines; offer no amenities if you’re flying coach and their customer service is just about non-existent. I used to look forward to getting on a plane, but no more--- unless it’s absolutely necessary, I’ll be keeping my feet on the ground for a while.

No comments: