Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Airline Alert: Don't fly American

That is unless you're that person who doesn't hold with the conventional ideal of arriving both at the destination and on the return home with some or ANY of your luggage. And since I know the world's full of all sorts, somewhere a person would pay money to be locked up on a plane full of strangers with NO AIR CONDITIONING for a couple of hours and breath in the sweat moistened air.

But Mike and I are neither type of person, and our flight going and coming back just sucked.

Going out at a wonderful 7 am (we woke up a quarter to 5am), we arrive and find it's an hour and half delay due to weather, and I'm forgiving them that, albeit we could've slept in, but oh well. We flew into St. Louis and deboarded the plane into what Mike aptly called "a pit of human despair." For one, half of the seats for the terminal were mysteriously gone, leaving some to lean on walls or sprawl on the floor third world style. All the food choices were crappy and we had to go a ways to even get up to the level of a greasy burger king with the busted soda machine. After witnessing a toddler spill a supersized milkshake and the single mother's plight, we returned to the gate to check in.

"What do you mean we don't have seats?"

I recall we paid for them. And they were real seats, we saw on the online diagram that our money, yes, had been for space on a plane.

"The plane was over-sold." That's the phrase they use now, not overbooked. "But you two are the first to call if THE OVERSOLD flight isn't FULL." Does anyone see an inherent problem with the logic here? How can an oversold flight not be full?

Meanwhile, a young highschool age girl is in hysterics because she, like us, had been on the "first to call" list for over 18 hours. If the FAA had a glass box on the wall with a traqualizer for emergencies, I'd have said she qualified for it. Then she overhears them telling us the same thing and with a fevor usually reserved for televangalists she prophetizes our doom to be stuck in St. Louis forever. Mike asked when the next possible flight was, and if we would be guaranteed a seat on that one: first answer - 7 hourslater... second answer: No, we wouldn't be guranteed a seat.

Well, we and the flip out girl all got on the plane. We arrive in CT, and find that Mike's main suitcase is MIA. We file a report and they assure us we'll get it sometime tonight at our hotel. Well we don't, not for 38 hours. Mike had to buy clothes and toiletries to get through the first two days of the trip.

Well, we figure we'd encountered all our travel demons, so going home would be smooth sailing. Wrong. We get on the plane and it's not just not cool and comfortable, it was an oven. It blew hot air in the little twisty vents. Heat was coming off the side of the plane. Why did they think it was ok to put a hundred people in an oven? Hello?!? Has history taught us nothing? I felt lower than cattle, I felt dehumanized. I felt bad for the crew of the plane, too. How bad is the airline industry doing to value it's customer's so little? And believe me, I'd wait 7 hours to fly in a workind plane having lived through that. It was an involuntary jacuzzi experience with total strangers, so bad I had to breath through my shirt so I wouldn't gag on the B.O.

And then we get off the stinking plane and NO LUGGAGE! Not one bag. No makeup, no shoes, no hair stuff for work the next day.

And all along we tried to call the airline to find out what's going on, and apparantly no humans work their phones anymore.

So, pay the extra and fly Jet Blue. Their tag line should be, "We'll treat you like the other big airlines used to treat you before they valued the price of gas and their shareholders more than their passengers."

No comments: