Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Tale of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...

Ok, there aren't actually any trains in this story, but it's still a doozie. Last week, we traveled to Buffalo to visit relatives for Fall Festival. The trip out was uneventful (other than the fact that we had to pay $20 for our checked bag and on top of that they charged us an extra $90 because it was 10 lbs overweight.) Ironically, on one of the legs of our trip, they announced that we would be delayed a bit while they loaded SAND BAGS onto the plane because the luggage didn't weigh enough...

Our stay in NY was wonderful, though. Lots of fun with friends and family, beautiful fall colors. The troubles began on our way home.

We get to the airport with hours to spare (very unlike us, I might add, but ironic considering what came next). Although the weather was clear in Bufallo, our flight was delayed again...and again...supposedly due to bad weather. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but our connection in Atlanta was close to begin with. With the "weather" delays, we would have exactly 16 minutes to make our connection back home to Portland, OR.

We begged the personnel at the desk to inquire in Atlanta as to whether they would hold the connection for us. Otherwise, it would mean staying in Atlanta overnight, missing work the next day, paying for a hotel ourselves (because of course the airlines don't pay for hotels when it's due to "weather"), etc... And, did I mention that we were all in various stages of battling a bad cold/flu? Needless to say, they would not even consider calling ahead for us, despite the fact that there were 7 of us on that flight trying to make the same connection.

We arrived in Atlanta 5 minutes before our next flight was to depart. Even then, would the gate agent call to the other gate, and ask them to hold it for an extra 5 minutes so we could get there? No can do... (Oh, and by the way, the weather in Atlanta wasn't delaying the departures, so still not sure where the "bad weather" actually was...)

So, we missed the flight and get to wait in line with dozens of other angry customers. When we finally make it to the front of the line, they tell us that the airline only has to get us "as close to our final destination as possible". Yes, you heard me right. Apparently, even when you pay over $1000 for 6 tickets, they only have to get you "close" to your destination when weather crops up and you miss your connection. In our case, it meant that they had booked us on a flight to Seattle. Our final destination was supposed to be Portland, OR. Hmmm...that's like 200 miles away.

So, we (reasonably) asked them, how are we supposed to get from Seattle to Portland? And, what's going to happen to our luggage? Well, the luggage would travel with us to Seattle (sounds good). But, we were on our own to figure out how to get to Portland. They (unhelpfully) pointed out that there might be trains or rental cars we could consider...but they would not get us seats on any of the numerous carriers that operate between Seattle and Portland.

By this point, we (sick kids included) just wanted to get home. So, we hop on the flight to Seattle, and reserve a rental car (on our own dime, of course, because the airline can't assume the liability of renting us a car, and recall, they were at least getting us close to our destination).

We arrive in Seattle at 1am. Did I mention that we sat in the plane for almost an HOUR at the gate in order to accomodate connecting passengers whose flights had been delayed?! (But, they couldn't have held our original flight for 5 minutes...I guess dealing with all the upset people from that first go around at least helped the later travelers).

So, we are waiting at the luggage carousel and of course our luggage never arrives. Another line to wait in to see what happened to our luggage (it was still in Atlanta) and where it was going to be sent (yes, you guessed it Seattle)... Quite reasonably, I told them, if it was still in Atlanta, it would make more sense for them to send it to Portland, since THAT'S WHERE WE LIVE!!! But, they said it was going to go to Seattle, because that's where we flew to. I told them there was no way we were going to drive back up 2 1/2 hours to retrieve our luggage, to which they said "Oh no problem, we can arrange to put it on a different carrier and send it to Portland". I, of course, wondered why, if they can do this for luggage, they couldn't have done this for their passengers... Apparently, Delta treats their customer's luggage better than their customers.

Anyway, we finally got into our rental car at 1:30am (another $150 to our growing tab due to Delta), and my wonderful husband drove the 2 1/2 hours home arriving at 4am... Later that night, my husband returned our rental car and picked up our car from the economy parking lot (where we got to pay an extra day due to Delta). Our luggage arrived at 9pm that night, a bit muddy but otherwise no worse for wear.

Needless to say, we will not be flying Delta ever again. I know people often say these kinds of things, but every step of the way, we were told time and again, these are the corporate policies...we have no control over them...

I actually believe the ticketing and gate agents. They don't make the policies. Corporate leadership at Delta does and they let their poor employees deal with the fallout and all the angry customers. More than how they treated us, that is why we will not fly Delta again. What kind of company creates these terrible policies, blames all delays on air traffic control and/or bad weather, and then lets their employees take the heat? (By the way, we even overheard them originally saying that the delay was due to a delayed crew. I guess when it became apparent the delay was going to adversely affect lots of passengers, the excuse became "weather" and "air traffic control" because then, they are not obligated to help their customers.)

Give us Alaska Airlines and Southwest any day.


  1. GEE i will be taking a trip to portland in early Nov. and i have my flight with NW...who is with Delta now...and i am scared! At least i will be traveling alone, and will take lots of knitting with me!!

  2. Please please please write them a letter telling them what happened! My dad got stuck on the tarmac for hours one time and he wrote a letter and I think he was either reimbursed or given a free ticket or something! Not that you would want to fly on Delta again, but you should at least be heard.

  3. Hi there - I would LOVE to know how you knit up your avatar - the pink doily you show - can you let me know?
    Thanks so much,

  4. I'm glad you like it! It's actually a blanket that was freeform knit and crochet (i.e., made it up as I went!). You can see larger pictures over in ravelry ( or flickr (

  5. Man! What a horror story! Did you ever get satisfaction from Delta?

    Man! Still bummed for you.