Dec. 29th, 2009

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
This is probably my first experience flying Delta, and I have to admit I'm rather surprised at just how terrible it's been.

Let's start out with Fargo!

Janine and I got to Fargo well early of our flight. First problem: we tried to check in to the flight, but it only showed one seat available on the plane. Janine got an assigned seat, but I got a boarding pass that said "SEAT REQUEST". I did not get a boarding pass for my second flight. The person behind the counter had to get someone else to figure out what was going on, and the answer was "well just go talk to the gate agent". Great.

So we went there, past security, 75 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 5:30 PM. But there was no gate agent. It's a small airport so I figured one would show up sometime later, before the beginning of the flight. When 5:00 PM rolled around and we still had no agent and no boarding time, I went to find another gate.

At gate #1, I found a helpful, friendly agent who told me that she was scheduled to go operate our gate, but she was busy with the gate she was at. A gate that was oversold and she had to arrange vouchers and flights for four different people.

It wasn't until 5:30 PM that someone actually showed up at our gate (a different woman). Then there was some major confusion as they tried to sort out seats for Janine and me. One quote was, "Delta's computer systems have put us 18 years into the past" and it was obvious just how terrible Delta's computer system is from the trouble they were having releasing seats, assigning seats, and basically managing their gate.

We didn't leave until 6:15 PM, much later than expected. The pilot tried to make up a little bit of time, and we made it to Salt Lake City at about 7:30 PM. With our next flight scheduled for 7:50 PM. We landed in terminal E, our flight was in terminal B.

Janine and I took off, going as fast as I possibly could for such a long distance. We made it to the gate (B06) at 7:45 PM, but there was no agent. We could see the airplane, and see people in the jetway getting on, and there was an airport staff member there too. We tried to get him to go down and tell the agents (who were down the jetway) that four of us (FOUR of us!) were standing here, ready to board.

He refused.

A few minutes later, Mike M. and someone else came up out of the jetway and us (the four of us) tried and begged to get onto the plane. Nope. Refused. Wouldn't help. The airplane was sitting there, all of us with confirmed seats, and he refused to let us on.

We watched the airplane roll away. The four of us then tried to get tickets onto another flight -- nope, the next SF flight was oversold by 7. San Jose flight was similar. Oakland flight was oversold by 1, but nobody on Standby, so we put ourselves on the list and went over there.

I'd like to reemphasize at this point that if the gate agent had taken 60 seconds to run us down there and put us on the plane, we would have all made it home tonight.

Next we waited two hours until the Oakland flight was ready to go. We watched it board, board, final boarding, final boarding, and then it was full. No flight for us, but our baggage "probably" made it to "either SFO or OAK or it might be here and will go with you tomorrow". Monique (at E79) couldn't tell us. Had not a clue. Although she felt sure our bags would be waiting for us in Oakland tomorrow and if not we could call someone or file a claim.

Great.

She hooked us up with a voucher for the Ramada Inn and four $7 "meal vouchers". Because you can really buy a meal for $7. Yes, right.

We then went outside and waited for the shuttle in the freezing 10 degrees Fahrenheit weather. Eventually it showed up and it was packed and rattly and uncomfortable. We got to the Ramada and the only had one agent at the desk and it was a long line, but I almost ran inside and we got second in line, so the wait wasn't so bad.

Of course, the Ramada has got to be the worst hotel around. No elevators. Stairways that creak, creak, creak. They didn't ask if we wanted one bed or two, or if we wanted smoking or non, just tossed us in a room. The appliances are ancient, and they have no shampoo. "Shipment was delayed due to the holidays." I'm sorry, in my book you know that Christmas is on the 25th every year, so you plan around it!

That brings us up to the present. Sitting in an old Ramada Inn waiting for the morning to come. Have to get up at 5AM, yay. Or not.

Don't get me wrong, the Delta agents were nice enough in theory, but the complete failure to get four passengers onto the plane they were standing in front of watching be boarded is just maddeningly stupid. The further failure of their computer system (or training system), causing our original flight to be delayed as much as it was, just compounds the problem.

I pray that we actually can get on the flight tomorrow, and that we actually make it home. And that our baggage makes it with us.

Grrr. Next time, people can come to me. Screw us always being the ones to fly to visit people.
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
Of course, after much work yesterday to ensure our bags would be sent to Oakland (which is where they were rebooking us to), they actually sent them to San Francisco.

The gate agent here (Todd, gate E68) says there's nothing he can do about it, we have to wait until baggage services in Oakland or SF opens and give them a call.

Figures!

At least we're already checked in for our Oakland flight, and we have guaranteed seats. We're also here and ready to go so there's almost no chance of us finding another failure mode. (But it's always possible.)
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Dec. 29th, 2009 09:32 am

Next!

zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
Delta Air Lines Baggage Services, upon being called just now, says there's nothing they can do about sending our bags to our house. We have to physically go and file a "Delayed Baggage File" or something like that. But they were happy to tell us our bags are in San Francisco.

The big kicker, though, is that our Oakland flight is now delayed by two hours. It was originally scheduled for 8:34 AM, then at 8:00 AM they announced it was delayed to 10:00 AM. We went up to the desk to get more details and found out that it hadn't even taken off yet (from Omaha).

Let me get this straight ... the flight hadn't even taken off yet and they didn't tell anybody until it was time to board the non-existent airplane. I know that weather happens, so the fact that the plane isn't here isn't their fault, but the fact that they knew over an hour ago that it was delayed and didn't tell anybody? 100% totally, completely their fault.

It looks like the flight is delayed to 10:30 AM now, though. But our bags are still in San Francisco. Nicole is going to drive to Oakland to pick us up (oh my god THANK YOU) and then Janine has volunteered to drive up to SFO to pick up our bags instead of relying on Delta to get something (anything) right and deliver them to us in a timely fashion.

I attempted to get us on one of the half dozen other flights. San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento all had earlier flights ... all full. Packed. They offered to put us on a later SFO flight... we said no.

Oh yes, and the Ramada Inn's breakfast was terrible. Fake eggs (we think, they were pretty bad) and the bacon was bland as well.

My mom says this is turning into a regular ol' Griswald Family Vacation.
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zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
Okay, time to finish up the story.

We managed to board the airplane at 10:40 local time, a little over two hours late. We got aboard uneventfully, took our seats, and waited. By this point the snow was coming down pretty nice so we had to get deiced. Of course.

Meanwhile, the captain told us that the heater for the airplane was broken, so we had to sit there and enjoy the cold. It was pretty cold (20 degrees out) so the airplane was chilly. Everyone just kept their jackets on. The deicing process took close to 45 minutes to get sorted out before we could get into position to take off.

The captain told us "we're now second in line for takeoff" and we were happy! Yay! We might go somewhere! Then a minute later he came back and said "actually...they just told me they had to close a lane for snow removal, so we've been shuffled back to fourth." Well, we managed to take off fifteen minutes later at 11:40 -- three hours late, an hour of which we sat on the ground in an airplane with no heater.

The flight itself wasn't bad. I slept through substantially all of it but Janine said it was bumpy enough to keep waking her up. When we made it to the Bay Area airspace, we were approaching Oakland, and I saw this drop of water go through my vision. Blink, blink. Upon closer inspection we realized that the ceiling above us and the emergency door (we were in the exit row) were leaking water. It wasn't a lot, but it was just insult to injury. (It was dripping on Janine.)

We managed to offboard, found Nicole, got some lunch, drove to SFO, got our bags (that was remarkably quick and easy, except for the having to drive across the Bay to another airport), and then got home.

We're home. We've got our stuff. Delta Air Lines is abysmal, and I hope I never have the misfortune of flying them again.
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Mark Smith

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