Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shooting at Clay Pigeons

Recently I took a trip to Minneapolis, MN for the Doomtree Blowout IV. The trip itself was the best time of my life, but I'll save that for another time. Another time just may be my memoirs, should I live long enough to actually have memoirs.

What this is really about is my flight to Mpls, and my flight back from Mpls.

I booked my trip through Expedia.com, and props to them for their great service, so they weren't my problem. My issue is with AirTran. I had some minor setbacks in booking my trip, but I'm not really trying to point any fingers here or there. Essentially, I unintenionally delayed my booking of the trip by about three weeks, due to the involvement of other parties. Not a single party, but a few different ones.

Rather than having a direct flight to the Twin Cities, I ended up stuck on a connecting flight. That's partially my fault, because I opted to spend less money, rather than shelling out an additional $60 or so, to which I later regretted. The flight was to take me from Philly, to Atlanta, GA, to Mpls. The return trip was the exact opposite.

I boarded the plane in Philadelphia, and as the plane was about to take off, the captain announces to all of the passangers that the ceiling has fallen in ATL, forcing us to stay put until further notice. They didn't expect the delay to be long, which is why I would have left anyway, and arrived on-time. Then again, I'm not a pilot. We finally left after I have no clue how long, and made our way down to Georgia. Reaching our destination, I made my way off the plane, but had to run from one terminal to another. On my way I stopped to look at the Arrival/Departure screen to see where I stood in the world. Apparently I stood stranded in Atlanta, because my connecting flight still left at it's scheduled departure time!

Wait a second! My flight gets delayed, because of the weather, no planes are allowed to leave ATL, or fly into ATL, yet after the weather clears up, everything is back on to it's original schedule? I'm plumf***ingconfused here! I understand that delays happen, but for passengers to be penalized for something they have no control over, is absurd!

After the AirTran personnel told me they couldn't do anything for me until the next morning, I scrambled for a way out of Atlanta, because I refused to stay in the airport overnight, mainly because I had an appointment to keep in Mpls the following morning at 10 am, not to mention I still had to check into my hotel. Making my way over to the Delta gates, as they had a flight out to Mpls within the next 20 minutes, I asked for seat availability. The associate at the desk assured me that seats were in fact available, but that I may not want one after he tells me the price. Telling him that he has no idea how desperate I am, I asked for the seat. $379.50! I'll take it. I needed to run down the terminal, hop on a phone, and book the flight with Delta.

I watched the time on the clock tick, tick, tick away, as I sat on the phone awaiting the voice of a representative to aid me in my departure from Atlanta to Minneapolis. With about three minutes to go until the flight was to depart, a voice answered and took my information. With the charges tacked on, the total now came to $399.50! This is where shelling out the extra $60 or so would have come in handy.

The Delta flight was quaint in comparison to the AirTran flight, simply because it wasn't sold out, the seats were nicer, the plane overall was nicer, and there was no sense of clostraphobia present. I had room to breathe, and no reason to feel confined by my seat, the other passangers, or even the recirculated cabin air. Rather than a 10:30 pm arrival in Mpls, I got there around 11:30 pm, and made it to my hotel around 12:30 am.

The return was once again on AirTran. They were already batting an average less than Michael Jordan's when he played for the Chicago White Sox minor league team.

There was a delay in the Twin Cities due to snowfall, so the plane needed to be de-iced before take-off. How long we waited, I'm not sure of, but we made it down south with time to spare. In a sense, I'm happy for that delay, because it kept me from goint stir crazy in the terminal. The flight to Philly is a different story.

To my left on the airplane was a family: a mother, father, son, and daughter. In front of me was another family: a mother, father, son, and baby daughter. Behind me was yet another family: a mother, father, and child who kept kicking the back of my seat. Try to guess how thrilled I was. The baby in front of me was reassuring me that it's quite okay not to have children, as did the child behind me. Every once in awhile, the fresh smell of baby poop would waft in the air, taunting me, knowing that I had no escape route.

What really got me was when the stewardesses were walking about the plane offering refreshments, everyone around was served, but I was ignored. I didn't exist in this woman's eyes. I looked straight at her as she kindly inquired about what the man and his son to my left would like to have, then brought them back to them, but still neglected to look toward the window. At first I thought families were being served before the rest of the plane, but it turns out that everyone was actually being served—just not me.

Between the neglect, the screaming/crying/pooping baby, the child kicking my chair, being pressed up against the window in an uncomfortable seat, hunger, thirst, overheating, and knowing that your breathing the same air in as all these other people, irritability sets in, and it's enough to drive a man to near meltdown.

I have always loved Philadelphia, so seeing the city from the sky, was a welcomed sight. Stepping foot off the plane was enough to make me want to kiss the ground. And I would have, should Philly not be so damn filthy.

I called AirTran to complain, and as I suspected, they told me that they weren't responsible for the weather, blah blah blah, so there's no compensation or anything else. As for the lack of service on my way to Philadelphia, they gave me a $25 voucher for my next trip with them, which is good for a year from the date of the incident.

Hooray, a whole $25 for an airline I refuse to ever do business with again. Disgruntled people suck, because they do things like this, and recommend to everyone they know not to use a particular group's services in the future. That's pretty much what I'm doing.

AirTran, you lost a customer, and potenially a lot more.

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