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Monday, April 6, 2009

Travel Travails

I managed to quite luckily make it home to Salt Lake last night around 8:30PM, roughly 4.5 hours later than my scheduled arrival, and 11 hours after I got through security at the Sacramento airport. I'm pretty sure I got the last seat to Salt Lake from the west coast for the next day or two, in fact.

You see, the plane that was scheduled to pick me up at 1:PM in Sacramento yesterday was too small to carry all the ticketed passengers. This is because the plane that was supposed to take us had mechanical failures, so the geniuses at Delta sent a smaller plane to take the previous flight. This new plane was about 6-8 rows shorter than the plane we were supposed to have, and wouldn't you know it, I had a seat in one of those missing rows. Scheisse.

Instead of doing the fair thing and reassigning everyone's seat on a first-come-first-served basis (which would have included me, since I was 3 hours early for my flight because I was so anxious to get out of Sac-town), Delta decided to have everyone keep their seat numbers, so the dozen or so of us in the back of the plane had to either be rerouted to our final destinations or wait for some volunteers to come forward for a $400 voucher so we could have their seats. I think maybe 1 person volunteered, and I was not the lucky benefactee of this seat.

I was completely furious and frustrated, and had a difficult time holding in my emotion when I learned I wasn't getting on that plane. If this had happened in Portland, I would have shrugged my shoulders and stayed an extra night, but I was so bored with Davis/Sacramento that I just did not want to stay another day. Not to knock the city, but it just has such a contrary vibe to my own personal vibe that after 2.5 days the place had really gotten under my skin and I wanted out.

I stood with about 6 other people working with two flight agents trying to fix us all up. The problem is that SLC is a main Delta hub in the west, so flights all over the country have connections in my town. So even people who were not trying to get to Salt Lake as a final destination had little option other than to get a flight through there.

When it was my turn with the agent, he tried to sell me on a flight the following morning, but I had been listening in on the previous patrons, who were discussing the option of taking a super shuttle to the San Francisco airport to catch the last flight to Salt Lake there. I wanted to do that, and I told the agent as much. He was able to book me the last remaining seat on that flight, and I got a $400 voucher to boot. (Since I was not actually a volunteer, and $400 was the volunteer price, I think I deserved something more like $500 and a First Class seat, but by this point I was just so desperate to get home that I wasn't willing to argue.)

They sent our party of 6 down to the super shuttle counter in the airport lobby, but they neglected to send us with the correct boarding voucher for the van. The old curmudgeon at the counter was adamant that we could not take a van without the right boarding pass, and he claimed he had no way of calling back to the Delta counter for us. Are you serious? You guys all work in the same airport. Let's get a little integrated with one another, shall we? So one of us ran over to the lower Delta counter and one of the agents who had been helping us above happened to be there. He came right over and straightened everything out.

By this point it was about 2:PM, and my new flight in San Francisco left at 5:30. We estimated it would take about 2 hours to get there in good traffic, so if no problems happened, we should make it with about 30 minutes to get through security before boarding began.

It was a tense van ride for me. I had a book I could have read or some episodes of Gossip Girl I could have watched on my iPod, but I was so nervous about missing this next flight that I could do nothing but sway nervously in my seat while watching the barren scenery as we made our way to the Bay Area. We ran into a bit of traffic once we crossed the bridge over the Bay, but we still managed to make it in just over 2 hours. Relief! I tipped the van driver with a hearty thanks and booked it into the airport. Security was practically empty at the time, and so I breezed into my terminal without incident.

Not long after I arrived at my gate and procured a sandwich, several people started to come up to the gate counter trying to get a seat on my flight. Apparently some other flight to Salt Lake was cancelled at SF, and now there were about 65 passengers who desperately wanted the seats on my little puddle jumper. I wondered why, with such a demand, they wouldn't just pull a larger plane out of a hanger and fix everyone up. To me, that would be more cost effective than giving all these people vouchers and hotel rooms for the next day. But, hey, that's just cause I'm a practical person.

Still, with all those desperate passengers hovering, I became worried that somehow I might be booted off this next plane. So I sat very anxiously, wishing for a drink, or one of the couple Xanax tablets I had burried deep in my bag, but instead I just rocked and tried to breath. I don't think I fully exhaled until I was on that plane.

By the time I got into Salt Lake, I could have either flown to Europe or kept my rental car and driven home. God, I hate flying. I hate it now more than ever.


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8 comments:

sov said...

It makes one wonder, with the complete ineptitude that is rampant in the airline industry, how they continue to function as a viable business. Factoring in vouchers and hotel rooms, how much did this little issue end up COSTING Delta in the long run? This doesn't even take into account the feelings people will develop about the airline, which will cost them additional future business. It is GROSS mismanagement of the worst kind, and is very representative of the kinds of mismanagement that has brought our country to fiscal ruin and made us the laughing stock of the entire world. When does it end?

Sadly, your experience is common. I've flown all over the place, and I saw situations like your occur in airports on a regular basis. I've also heard horror stories from other passengers that were strikingly similar to yours quite frequently. It's a mess.

I'm glad you made it back ok though. Too bad Cali didn't turn out to be a pleasant experience. Now that all the dust has settled and the path is clear, it's time to start making plans! I'm excited for you.

Dena said...

I understand that flying is sometimes more convenient and, as many people tell me repeatedly, much safer than driving. But stories like this (and stories of planes fireballing into cornfields) keep me in my car and on the interstate, where I can wander off at any given place and time and maintain complete control.

Obviously, I'm a control freak. Glad you made it home safely :)

Natalie said...

your trip sounds quite a bit like several i've taken over the years. glad you made it back safely.

sorry i have been such a lazy commenter. i promise i have been reading though. excited about your law school adventures!

natabird said...

I think they make you take a common sense test when you apply for a job in the airline business and if you pass, they don't hire you... I've had similar experiences when trying to fly. I'm glad you made it home in one piece.

I would have taken the Xanax.

Sra said...

It's disheartening to me to hear that you all have had experiences like this or known people who have. I really didn't think it was all that common. This is the first time anything like this has happened to me, anyway.

On the bright side, the voucher paid for most of a flight Ian and I will be taking to Portland in June to look for possible places to live.

nancy said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Betty

http://desktopmemory.info

Sra said...

It's disheartening to me to hear that you all have had experiences like this or known people who have. I really didn't think it was all that common. This is the first time anything like this has happened to me, anyway.

On the bright side, the voucher paid for most of a flight Ian and I will be taking to Portland in June to look for possible places to live.

nancy said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Betty

http://desktopmemory.info

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