Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Rant Against #@%^$@!% Flying

Back from NYC, brutal head cold, 6" of snow coming down, paperwork backed up (no hope of writing any time soon).

Did you know that 2007 was the 2nd worst for on time flight arrivals?http://www.startribune.com/business/15310591.html

Let me prove it to you. I've flown three times (11 different planes) in the last 1.5 months.

In December my wife and I flew to MN for Christmas. Then in early January to Mexico for a vacation. Then this weekend to NYC for a conference. ALL flights by Northwest, except where they gave up and put us on United:

December: 12/23 flight delayed ONE WHOLE DAY. We sat at the airport for 6 hours waiting. They kept pushing back the departure time until finally they just cancelled it and rebooked us. We arrived only a few hours before the Christmas Eve party on 12/24.

January: Ah, Mexico. Ah the 2 flights there, the three back. Customs in Houston was straight from HELL I tell you, (see below). We had a 3 hour layover in Houston and just barely had time to snarf down McDonalds before our 2nd flight left to MPLS, so redundant and long and confusing was the immigration processing (see below). Once in MPLS, we had a three hour delay until almost midnight because they were changing the plane's tires. Don't you know ahead of time that this needs to be done? Don't you have other aircraft to use? We got home around 12 or 1am after having been traveling for almost 14 hours (you wouldn't even expect it to be that long if your were flying to Europe....)

February: Leaving for NYC, our first flight out to MPLS was cancelled. Then the replacement flight was delayed and delayed and delayed till Northwest put us on a United flight SEVEN HOURS LATER to Chicago. I hate Chicago, but it worked this time. Usually, MPLS is the way to go. We arrived in NYC at our hotel 8 hours late, at 1am, and I had to get up at 7:30.

Then, on the way back, our 2nd flight from Detroit to Lincoln was delayed 40 minutes waiting for a co pilot. Hmmm, a plane needs a co pilot? That just came out of the blue, hence the delay. It's like tires. Or wings.

Now I'm sick, probably picked something up from one of these nasty, unfiltered air plane cabins.

Don't get me started about the INSANE just friggin' INSANE cabbies in NYC. Thought I was going to vomit all the food I ever ate in my life. How THEY don't die before 30 is beyond me, so stressful and angry is their job. GIVE ME A HIGH SPEED TRAIN.

Ok: Houston immigration? Anyone?

1) If you arrive on a regional jet, as we did, you get off on the tarmac, and take a bus to the terminal. There you literally weave for miles through confusing passageways with other plane loads of exhausted passengers--very little signage directs you, so they had employees yelling at you (in fact, we were yelled at so often I thought soon we would be stunned and decapitated and our parts sold in grocery stores).

2) You stand in a VERY long line for an hour, the whole time listening to triumphant music (no kidding) as if you just made it to the shores of the most remarkable country ever, as if just past the agent God himself waits with grapes and figs and gold and cool water. Nope. Didn't even get a stamp in the passport. Did I mention they have videos playing, showing "diverse" Americans doing "American" things? Too cliche, too trite, too obvious.

3) You get to pick up your checked luggage and CARRY IT DOWN A HALLWAY and hand it over to some dude who puts it through a scanner and rechecks it. WHY THE HELL can't this be done automatically? So many people were confused where to picks up our bags, why we were, and where to go once we had them. One guy from Australia was ready to nuke our country had he been given the button to push.

4) Not done yet. Another 30-45 minutes in another line where you get SCREENED YET AGAIN. This already happened in Mexico (where they hand checked EVERY passenger's checked and carry on bags, carry on bags got checked again at the gate).

5) Then you walk a mile to a shuttle bus that comes whenever it feels like it, it's mercurial that way. You take this shuttle to the terminal for your next flight, which happens to be the last stop on the shuttle. Here, they drop you off on the tarmac, and you climb stairs to a jet bridge to get in to the terminal. Stairs and stairs everywhere.

I'm going to take a nap.


Kathy said...

Things probably won't change until so many people stop flying that they feel the need to woo back the customers.

Benjamin Vogt said...

That'll never happen, alas. Any other business would be bust by now. And will things get better when / if NWA merges with Delta? Unlikely. I also like United's new $25 surcharge on a second piece of checked luggage, and $100 for the 3rd and 4th piece.