Saturday, September 15, 2007

Home. Finally...


So I went on a 3-day excursion to Madison, Wisconsin. All was well until the flight home, when we boarded our plane at the airport in Atlanta. We're on the runway when a bad thunderstorm delays all flights to the west. The pilot decides to wait... So we get a new flight plan, which will take us down through Mississippi and back up to Memphis. But we don't have enough fuel. So we taxi back to the fuel station to get the extra gas we need to make the extended trip. Lightning hits part of the runway (nowhere near us) and flashes are happening all over as the storm worsens. They can't send the fuel truck out into the lightning storm, so we have to wait for the storm to pass... and we wait... I've now been on this plane, on the runway, for 2 hours (the flight to Memphis takes 50 minutes from ATL by the way). Finally the storm passes, and we get fuel. But now there's a warning light coming on in the cockpit, and we have to get a mechanic crew to check it out. There are none available. So we wait... The crew shows up to fix the problem. We're told that we can get off the plane if we want, but to stay close to the gate in case we're cleared to leave. 2 minutes (and I mean 2 minutes) after a handfull of people get off, the plane (with no announcement) seals the door and leaves the gate. Now we're back on the runway, and after about 3 hours on the plane, we take off!!! Without those people!! We're in the air for about 15 to 20 minutes when the right engine's oil pressure reaches an 'abnormal level.' We turn around immediately, and are forced to land. The people in first class (none of whom bought tickets, but are all upgraded due to points, skyteam memberships, frequent flyer miles, etc) are getting fussy and find the situation 'unacceptable.' There are about 20 of them. So they are given free alcohol, snacks, and who knows what else. The 110 passengers in coach were told only 2 things: Please don't use the forward restroom, as it is for first class passengers only, and we cannot provide any water or snacks or turn on the air conditioner at this time, 'it's just not possible.' Fuck that. People begin to talk of mutiny and rebellion. All this is happening while we're taxiing to the maintenence yard being followed alongside by 2 of those big airport firetrucks! We sit on the plane and wait. We are told that the repairs could take several hours and that "we aren't sure what options we have available." The crew sends its apologies. It's been 5 hours. First class is drunk and happy. The rest of us are devising a scheme. We are told to depart the aircraft. At the gate, they print meal vouchers for $7, and we're told "we don't have another plane, the next flight to Memphis is full, we're not sure if the mechanics have the part needed to fix the engine. Oddly enough, after 6 hours since we first boarded, they found us a plane and scheduled a new flight---in 20 minutes. Jonathan and I grab a stack of meal vouchers ($42 dollars worth) and while we rush to the other gate, begin handing them out to anyone who will take them. Delta didn't give its customers any time to actually use these vouchers, but we wanted to make sure they got redeemed. Lots of Northwest, American Airlines, AirCanada customers enjoyed free food courtesy of Delta last night.
We finally got on our plane, with the same flight crew, and listened to apologies all throughout. The entire experience has come to serve as an example of what NOT to do in a 'customer service' situation. I made it home around 9 last night, about 7 hours after I was supposed to.

3 comments:

H said...

Hmmm, you sound a tad bitter about the whole situation.

JCS said...

Just another day in the aviation industry. You should be GLAD you got there ONLY 7 hours after schedule. Cheap tickets = fewer mechanics = fewer spare parts = shoddier maintenance = more delays. You get what you pay for.

Stacy said...

So now I know never to book a flight through Atlanta or for that matter if I can help it, through Delta. I'm very glad you didn't die and you made it home safely. STUPID ATLANTA!!!!!!!