Sunday, May 20, 2007

Delta can bite me

Yes, there were good parts to my much needed vacation out to Vegas. The weather was gorgeous, room perfect, and I found out that Las Vegas is one of the strangest places on the face of the planet. More on that in a later post, but now I have to rant about the perils of flying.

I am convinced that Delta Airlines is the worst airline in the country. I have had my problems with Delta, but NOTHING can possibly compare to my trip home. It took me 22 HOURS to get back home. 22 hours, that is not an exaggeration. Here is what happened:

Getting out of Vegas was easy enough. My flight to JFK was delayed for about a half hour which was no big deal. I sat to a very pleasant British couple who had spent ten days in Vegas and were going to spend another four days in New York before heading home. That was the good. I got to JFK and because of my bum knee needed a wheelchair to get to my next gate. A miracle happened and it was actually waiting for me, but had to wait ten minutes to leave for my next gate. When we finally got going, the woman pushing me along stopped TWICE to chat with her friends. Grrrrrrrrrrrr, no tip for her.

The insanity really began when I got to the gate. First off, at JFK Delta has about 15 flights going through one gate which leads to mass confusion. Passengers have no clue what is leaving when, when flights are boarding, etc. Anyway, my flight was delayed, and when it came to boarding, Delta was looking for volunteers to give up their seats because my flight was overbooked. Considering I would have had to go to Manchester through Syracuse, and then take a bus to Burlington, there was no way I was doing that. After another plea from Delta, they finally gave up and started boarding the flight.

When I got on, the flight was delayed even more because of the fact Delta does not know how to count. When booking the flight, Delta gave the same two seats to four passengers!! So, we spent another 20 minutes trying to figure that out. When that was straightened out, they needed volunteers to give up seats because of a "weight imbalance". I decided to be nice and took the offer of a $400.00 voucher, meals, and a CONFIRMED seat ("Confirmed seat" comes into play later on) on the 3:45 into Burlington. That was my first mistake.......

I get off the plane and go to the gate to be booked on the 3:45 and waited for 15 minutes before being told I needed to go to the Customer Service desk to be booked and to get my goodies. Then all hades broke loose.

First I was told the 3:45 flight didn't exist. When told the agent what I was told she said, "Do you want me to lie to you and tell you there is a 3:45??? Fine!! There is a 3:45; are you happy now?" After another 15 minutes of just waiting around, I found out not only was there a 3:45, but there was a 1:20 as well. Hmmmmmmmm, this popped up out of nowhere didn't it? I finally got to a supervisor who told me that instead of being confirmed on the 3:45 I would have to go standby, and I could go standby on the 1:20. I was then told I could get a $200.00 check instead of vouchers, which was good considering I will never fly them again anyway. So, another 15 minutes later, the checks finally arrive and of course, the two agents cannot figure out how to fill the things out. That took another ten minutes or so, and my patience was just about shot. Meanwhile, a supervisor was supposed to be trying to find out if I could fly on another airline.....She forgot. Oops. When the agents finally figured out how to fill out the check, I was told I could cash the thing at a Citibank inside of the terminal. I needed it since I had been in the same clothes for 24 hours and I was beginning to stink just a bit. Anyway, I guess they told me about the alleged bank to get me out of there as it didn't exist!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

So, I grab breakfast, try to find the bank and couldn't, and then caught five minutes of sleep on the floor with about 100 other passengers who will never fly Delta again. I can't sleep on planes, so it was the first time I had shut my eyes in about 24 hours. So anyway, the 1:20 comes and I ask where I am on the standby list. I was told to wait around, I did, and at about 2:00 with the flight still showing as boarding, I ask the gate agent if I got on the flight. I was told, "Oh, that left 10 minutes ago." Thanks for sharing moron!!

Finally, I found a Travelers Aid place that would cash my check, so I cashed the bugger and got all touristy clothes to cover up my stench and then grabbed some lunch. Well, the 3:45 came, and of course that was overbooked and had another one of those infamous "weight issues". FINALLY, one of the supervisors actually decided to be helpful and arranged for me to be on the 7:00 out of LaGuardia on USAIR. He arranged for a cab, which he said would be paid for, and I took off in hopes I would make it home by Memorial Day. Guess what?? The cab wasn't paid for!! Another 50 bucks I am out, and I head to check in for the 7:00.......

PROBLEM!!!! The guy didn't book me on the flight!!! I was standing at the desk with my eyes rolling into the back of my head and I started drooling and dreaming about shots of something very strong and plotting death against Delta. The US Air agent actually managed to get me on the 10:00, so I had some serious waiting around to do which gave me more time to plot death against Delta. After a full body cavity search at security, I headed off to the bar where fellow travellers and I plotted more death against Delta. It turns out that I won the travel hell story of the day award, so the bartender kept me well fueled with a good Riesling out of some country. Normally I would retain this information, but at this point I was reaching 36 hours without sleep, so I barely remembered my own name.

Mind you, my beloved wife had problems of her own. We had to take separate flights since she was on business and I was on a free ticket from Delta because they had screwed something else up. I know, that is a real shock. She was wonderful as she knew my trademark patience was gone. To make this LONG story short, I got a standby seat on the 9:00, that had been delayed, and when they called my name I cheered. By the time I got to bed that night, I had been in transit for 22 HOURS!!!!! I think when I called a Delta supervisor, who gave me 5,000 frequent flier miles for my horror, I called the nightmare "Horrendous ineptitude" and she agreed. I still have to call them again with the US Air and cab debacle. I want my 50 bucks back!!!!

I learned that I cannot stand New York because of the utter rudeness of the people there. Granted, there had been delays and cancellations from the previous day, but they were just NASTY!!! Not only did they snap at me a few times, but passengers who were having the same problems were getting brushed off and snapped at. Note to self, avoid JFK and Delta at all costs. Walk, run, crawl to your destination if you have to, just DON'T FLY DELTA!!!!!