Traveling is stressful to me. It is way worse when I have to fly. At least when I drive I feel like I have a little control over my destiny. Airlines take that feeling away. Some, like Southwest do a pretty decent job at treating me like a human and getting me and my gear from point a to b. Others, like U.S. Airways, not so much.
On my most recent trip to Canada, I made the foolish mistake of booking with U.S. Airways. I figured they would sneak in the baggage fees like they always do and I was careful to pack and make sure each of by bags was under 50 lbs. The heaviest was actually at 45. Somehow, during the trip to the airport, it gained 8 lbs. The agent informed me it would now cost another $150. I move a couple of batteries around and got it to 49.5.
During the flight, we were given a special treat. For us only, and only during the flight, we could apply for a US Airways credit card, and get some free miles. We could also get “free” miles if we would buy crap out of Skymall. They reminded us of that several times. Towards the end of the flight, they announced as an extra special deal, we could take the credit card apps with us and get our family and friends to apply. I felt bad for the flight attendants.
The return trip was truly a masterpiece in clusterfuckery. For a company that specializes in moving people around, I was amazed at the level of incompetence, it was majestic in scope. The pinnacle of the folly was after I had cleared customs. I got to the gate 20 minutes before the flight was to leave. The flight was being delayed because the crew was lost or delayed. Finally, they began the pre board announcement and told us not to approach the gate until our boarding group was called. They also made an announcement they had sold more seats than they actually had, and who would like to stay behind and get a coupon for a flight the next day. Hooray!
Anyway, I waited patiently for my boarding group to be called. They never went beyond group 1. I approached the gate and asked what was going on. The agent shut the door to the gate and told me the flight was closed and I had missed it. I asked why she did not announce any more boarding groups, and she would only respond that the flight was closed. She would not make eye contact. A few people were gathering behind me asking the same question and she turned her back and was whispering in a phone. After a few minutes the flight was re-opened and we where allowed to board.
While boarding, the agent hissed at me that I would not be able to take my camera bag, that it was too large and it was too late to check. I reminded her that about an hour ago I had specifically asked that very question and she had told me it was fine. I could go on and on about all that happened next and how the attendants treat the customers like stupid cattle. I understand they are under stress as well. I am guessing it is a management problem that is causing the culture of contempt toward their clients.
Anyway, I got home with all my stuff. Our next trip to Canada, we are driving. It will be easier.
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