Coffee, Tea or Airline Jerkery?
One disadvantage to life in Tidewater, Va. - or anywhere with a small airport, I suppose - is the choice of airlines.
Rather, the lack of choice.
We’re captives of whichever carrier flies where we need to go. Unless we want to brave clogged tunnels and congested interstates to drive to Richmond or Dulles, that is.
Southwest is the best Norfolk airline. In addition to no-change fees and free bags, SWA employees never act like they’re working on a chain gang. They seem to enjoy their jobs. Shoot, I’ve seen pilots on the runway cheerfully helping to load bags to speed up departures.
At the other end of the spectrum there’s Delta, which recently began assessing fees for assigned seats. Those of us with cheap tickets can wait to get ours at the gate.
I love sitting in the middle of a row by the toilets. Don’t you?
I’ve flown Delta a number of times because it went places Southwest didn’t. I even praised its skilled flight attendants in September of 2016 when I was on a flight to Atlanta that had a fire on board.
OK, I also heaped criticism on the carrier this spring when I spent 57 long minutes plastered against a window on a flight from New Orleans while my supersized seat mate enjoyed a seat and a half.
I found myself flying Delta again this month when I was headed to Kalispell, MT with a change in Minneapolis. I couldn’t help it. No other way to get there except by Greyhound or Amtrak.
Trouble began when the first leg of my return flight was more than two hours late.
My layover - did I mention the Minneapolis Airport is vast? - shrank from more than an hour to mere minutes.
The nice Kalispell gate agent (everyone in Montana is nice) told me to remind the flight attendants to make an announcement telling passengers without connections to remain seated while those of us who had to sprint nearly a mile to our next gate - no exaggeration - got off first.
I did. Here’s the response I got:
“Sorry, that’s not Delta’s policy.”
In other words, a stampede off the plane, with first-class dandies taking their leisurely time gathering up their Kate Spade carry-ons, and the hoi polloi jamming the aisles with their therapy chickens and steamer trunks, would proceed as usual.
I was livid.
And I knew just what to do: I unleashed a Trumpian Tweetstorm as we sat on the runway:
Hey @Delta my flight is delayed TWO hours out of Kalispell and it’s “not Delta policy” to ask passengers to stay seated and let those with tight connections off first? Enjoy paying for my hotel in Minneapolis tonight. #delta
When I’m really peeved I make up words:
Common sense in short supply @delta where a TWO HOUR delay still means you get to exit the plane behind the first class swells. Flying from Kalispell to Minneapolis and will probably miss my Norfolk connection thanks to this jerkery.
My anger even carried over to the complimentary tidbits they distributed to apologize for the delay.
I don’t know if my digital harping worked, but a flight attendant came on the intercom as we hit the runway with a vague reference to the fact that some passengers would have to rush to make their connections.
Nevertheless, every single person in first class moseyed off the aircraft before those of us in steerage could budge.
I fought my way through livestock, backpacks and strollers to miraculously make my next flight. Fortunately, that, too, was delayed a few minutes.
Yep, this is what happens when customers are carrier captives and airlines have nonsensical rules.
As luck would have it, Norfolk has a new airline: frugal Frontier, which lards charges on virtually everything.
Nevertheless, I’m going to Orlando next month on one of their $29 flights. (Hey, I’m unemployed.)
Look for another ripe rant after that trip.