How on earth can people board before getting on the plane?
OK, last summer one of my early blogs (CLICK HERE TO READ THE DISMAL TALE) was about the general malaise breaking out among airline passengers due to the
difficulty of scheduling, paying for, enduring and surviving flights. On that flight home I had my first person-to-imperson conflict with the Delta Digital Phone Lady. I’m going to call her “Delta Dawn,” because it dawns on you, eventually, that you will never get a resolution. The phone lady is there to take you on a ride aboard Ichabod Crane’s phone tree.
Since then I have had several flights, nearly all related to seeing our granddaughter, now living in Upstate New York. Two of those flights were gifts of frequent flier miles of a gracious and loving friend who simply loves grandparents and wanted to help. Mostly, Delta has worked to keep me from exploding spontaneiously, and, with that low bar of adjustment, has done a good job. And, I might add, my one United experience in the past year was a Birmingham-Chicago-Seattle that turned into Birmingham-Chicago-sorry the door closed and the plane is backing away see an agent-we’re sending you to Washington and back to Seattle-oh, NO, we’re not—Los Angeles-Seattle. It was worse. Flying today, except for Business Class, is abysmal. I think the crews do the best they can.
I saw recently on the news that Southwest only ranked in the middle of the pack with service ratings, but passengers reported the highest satisfaction level, and this was attributed to the fact that their personnel always smile. I am not so sure about that. I have my own system. For me here is how I rate flying. 0-5 on several categories, 5 being outstanding, 3 being “I can stand it for two hours if I close my eyes.” 1 is “Inspired a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.” 0 means, “If walking is an option, take it.”
- Cost and Scheduling. Is it less than $500 round trip and takes less than two days to get there? A five out of five. Today, on a grant related trip during which I am doing a wedding for a member and friend out of state, Last time, I was making a connection on the first flight of the day in Atlanta from Birmingham—a two hour car trip. I went early, had my earlobes biopsied in security, then we sat on the tarmac for half an hour to make a 28 minute flight. A frustrated agent said, “It’s the controllers. They make the smaller airports wait to catch up overflow traffic.” Boil. I missed my flight by five minutes. I went to the agent, who said, “We can send you through Detroit and you’ll get in about five hours later than scheduled. Three hour layover in Detroit.” Uh, no. I don’t do cities that are in Robocop movies. “We can only send you somewhere else that is no more than 100 miles from the original site. Did the Supreme Court rule on that? So where can I go? “Well, I can send you in to Hartford, Connecticutt.” OK, I was renting a car anyway, so I got to hit three states instedad of one. Saw Hartford, the Berkshires and eastern New York state, which was quite nice. Only got in four hours later than scheduled—moral victory, so they got a two. See how it works? Today, they get a 5. Great flights, no hitches. Oh, we did sit five minutes. The pilot said, “We’re turning off the engines to save gas.” Well, how about flying quickly and save even more? Lame. Ok, deduct .5 Still 4.5. Good.
- Will I fit in the seat and will the person next to me be sufficiently medicated? Aisle seat on an MD88 both times, nice people who didn’t say anything andwhen I accidentally grabbed the lady’s knee trying to find and fasten my garrotte around my 57 year old waistline, she said, “No problem.” The other flight I was with two sisters who were married to Baptist ministers of music and we laughed all the way to Atlanta. 5 out of five. Way to go.
- Will they take a nekkid picture of me in security? I have been randomly selected five times consecutively by TSA (REALLY? That’s not very random, guys!) to be searched, wanded, swabbed, probed, background checked and nekkid pictured three times (I am pretty sure is was always by an employee named Doris, but can’t be sure) and made to unpack my apnea machine twice. I have retained an attorney to sue in the event that any of these pictures get out. 2.5 out of 5 But they were nice about it. Add 1 back. 3.5 out 5.
- Check-in and boarding This time, the only hitch was no curbside check-in when I got to the airport. I stood there, but no one came out to help. So, I had to go to the SELF-CHECKIN KIOSK. Readers may remember that the last time Vickie and I did this, Delta got a zero after, with an agent in training’s assistance, Vickie wound up going to Las Vegas and I to ……. It worked this time. I do not like it. I know it’s efficient, but it is not good. BRING BACK PEOPLE. 3.5 out of five.
- Baggage Handling Perfect. Except they made me forget to pack three things. Take off half point. 4.5 out of 5.
- Miscellaneous Evaluations.
- “Preboarding” How on earth can people board before getting on the plane? It’s a strange term. “Those passengers needing assistance, or with small, screaming children, and our Sky-we love you more than these-Priority passengers may PREBOARD at this time. Can’t do it, Bunkie. -1
- Sky priority, First Class Carpet. Today the agent allowed me to walk on the Yellow Brick Carpet twice when I was actually in the Sheep Cabin. -1
- Peanuts. My bag had sixteen full ones and two splits. +4
- I did not have to talk to Delta Dawn. +10
Total this flight: 23.5 points.
Way to go, Delta. It’s looking up.