Friday, March 06, 2009

It's So Hard to Fly to Indiana (Part 3)

In our last episode, The Binjo Ditch was in Atlanta, where Delta was frantically trying to find the plane it lost. Delta could have sworn they had it when they left the hangar, but when they checked their pockets, it wasn't there. So they had to retrace their steps and see if they could track it down.

Ultimately, at about 11:15 (remember, departure time was 2:42), they get the plane to the gate. This means that we just have to wait a few minutes for the security inspection, and we'll be on our way. The inspection goes without incident, and they start boarding, with a sigh of relief from all the passengers. I get on the plane, and trade places with the wife of the man I had been sitting next to on the flight that blew up. We're all kind of milling around in our seats getting ready, and we notice there are far fewer people than there had been on the original attempt. We chalk it up to people having given up and getting a hotel room, and we start switching seats, and kind of joking about lying down and taking naps on the flight. Unfortunately, this is when the flight attendant comes down and informs us that we're going to have to deplane.

You see, the FAA has these regulations that bar pilots and flight crews from being on duty for more than X hours. Because of the delays and the plane blowing up, our plane's flight crew went over their allotted hours and were unable to fly us at 11:45 at night. They don't have a replacement crew and therefore we are not going to be able to fly out Monday night. My interview is at 1 on Tuesday afternoon. This is perfectly understandable and a very easy mistake to make provided you are completely incapable of doing basic math. I don't quite understand why they started boarding the plane, or even continued to attempt to get the plane before yanking out a calculator to see if the crew could do their job. Hell, we had only been there 11 hours, fingers and a nose should have been sufficient. But apparently the Delta staff at the Atlanta Airport never mastered counting without help.

Anyway, we are told we have bad news and good news. The bad news is that we're not going to be able to fly. The good news is that they are going to give us free hotel rooms! And they're goign to have a special flight at 8 the next morning! It's now midnight. Even better news! They are going to let us have our luggage so that we can change our clothes! Now I have never, technically, *won* the lottery, but I imagine if I did, the joy I felt would pale in comparison to the pure unadulterated glee that this good news provided. Well, it takes us about 45 minutes to get our tickets processed so that we can get on the 8:00 flight, and then we get our luggage and take the shuttle to our hotel. I get checked in to my room (at the end of the hall at the end of the hall at the end of the hall on the top floor, natch), and set my alarm and set up a wakeup call for 5:15 so that I can be sure to get to the airport at least 90 minutes before my flight, lest it leave without me, though I'm not sure anything leaves Atlanta at this point. I finally crawl into bed at about 1:30 and have a terrific catnap.

The good news is that our flight in the morning was only 10 minutes late taking off, which is a minor miracle.

So I call Delta after this debacle and complain about the quality of my flight, and the fact that my compensation so far has been a free hotel room that I wouldn't have needed but for their inability to get a plane that works where it's supposed to be in under 10 hours. Delta, in their magnanimous, supplicantive way, offers me a $100 travel voucher. You can't fly anywhere with $100. What this is is a discount on your next flight. Delta will still make money off of me if I use this, no matter where I fly. It's an absurd attempt at compensation. They wouldn't even give me a first class upgrade over the phone. Fortunately, I got an upgrade when I asked at the check in for my return flight, and let me say, it was nice. But it doesn't make up for the piss-poor service that I received flying Delta Airlines.

Now that you know how the story ends, go back and read parts 1 and 2 of this adventure in absurdity. I don't think I'll fly Delta again, which is a shame, because they're merging with Northwest, and I always had a soft spot for Northwest.


Jamie said...

Wow. At least the engine decided to explode when you were on the ground. How "thoughtful" of Delta to give you a $100 travel voucher for a near-death experience.

How did the interview go?

particleman said...

flying sucks. i feel like the last few flights i've taken have all been delayed. thanks southwest for over-scheduling your flights and dropping the least-booked planes from the schedule!

also, how did the interview go?

Steve said...

The interview itself went all right. I think I was somewhat less nervous than I normally would be going into one because of all the problems getting there, so I was able to be more relaxed speaking with the board.

I didn't knock the interview out, but I didn't crash and burn, either. That said, I don't anticipate an offer forthcoming, but I would not be really surprised if I were to get a call...

DB said...

Holy crap. This is a real trip from hell! Out of all my horror stories of flying, I have yet to have this bad of an experience.

Hopefully the interview yields some results making this adventure worth it.