Travel Woes

I am back from latest business trip. This was supposed to be a quick and easy trip, but as usual things happened.

The plans called for me to fly to Virginia on Wednesday morning and then return late Thursday night. I was a bit fearful when I made my plans to fly on Delta Airlines. I much, much prefer American Airlines (or Continental, or US Airways…) as I have had lots of bad luck on Delta. However, there wasnt any real options on American or other airlines, so I gambled with Delta again. I should have just gone to Las Vegas, my odds would have been better. My itinerary also had a connection in Atlanta – again, not one of my favorite airports.

The flight left Tucson on time and even arrived into Atlanta a bit early. I checked the boards and even went to the gate before grabbing some lunch. Both indicated the flight was on time and that the plane was already at the gate. After lunch, I proceeded to the gate with about 20 minutes to boarding time. The flight crew arrived and went down to check the aircraft. The flight was in terminal C and was on a regional jet, so you have to walk outside to get to the aircraft.

A few minutes later, the crew returned and said they couldnt find the plane. The gate crew checked and said the plane was supposed to be there, so she went out to find it. She returned empty handed. After doing some checking, it was determined that the plane was actually still in the hanger. Supposedly, there was nothing wrong with it, someone just forgot to move it to the terminal in the morning. They said it would take 15 minutes to move it to the terminal.

Well, about 15 minutes later they came back on and said they were just going to give us another plane. There was one landing that they would send to our terminal. Another 15 minutes passed and they announced that we had a gate change. Luckily, the walk was only about 5 gates away. We all walked to the new gate and watched the arriving plane’s passengers get off expecting a quick turn and we would be boarding.

After 15 more minutes, they announced that we would be delayed further as they no longer had a Captain to fly the plane. They said dont worry, he was inbound and landing any minute and he would get hustled to the gate. Every 15 minutes for the next 2 hours they told us we were delayed for another 15 minutes. It was laughable and we could set our watches by it. We finally got to our destination over 3 hours late.

The meeting Thursday morning went great and we headed to the airport for our evening flight back to Atlanta and then onward to Tucson. We were scheduled to get into Tucson at 10:30 pm. Late, but Friday was a day off and I didnt want to travel on my day off. We stayed in the Crown Room at the airport until about 20 minutes before boarding. Upon getting to the gate, it showed a delay of 15 minutes. Oh no, that number again…

A few minutes later they announced the aircraft in Atlanta (it was going to be doing a turn) hadnt left yet. The good news was that it was loaded and sitting on the tarmac. Good news for who? Anyways, they announced it had left about 45 minutes later. They also announced that folks were going to miss connections and they were rebooking those folks. We had a two hour layover, so it appeared close for us. I also knew that there were no other options to get to Tucson that night. A bit later, they announced that all flights with departures before 8:40 pm had been rebooked. Our scheduled departure was 8:43 pm. They felt we would get in with about 40 minutes to spare on our departure. We would make it easy they said.

As we were en route, the pilot announced that a headwind was going to cost us some time. I wonder how much it could have changed since he came the other way 20 minutes earlier? He added 20 minutes to the arrival time, so we were down to 20 minutes between. After taking some “shortcuts to speed us along” we entered Atlanta airspace with 10 minutes to spare on our departure. That was quickly eaten up as we circled the airport twice.

We deplaned at the time our other flight was leaving. There was 6 people on our plane that were also going to Tucson. Our only hope was that they would hold the plane for 5 minutes for that number of connecting passengers. Nope, the plane was backing out of its slot as we all pulled up to the gate. I had just earned a free night in Atlanta courtesy of Delta Airlines. Oh, and they gave me $7 to cover my dinner. One of my choices for hotels to stay at was a Motel 6. Nothing against Motel 6, but I would expect better if you are trying to take care of your customers when you screw up.

The first flight out for Tucson was until 11:00 am. And of course, it left almost 45 minutes late too. All of these delays were non weather related. The worst part was the crappy, unprofessional manner in which they relayed (or more accurately kept secret) information to the passengers. I lost half of my day off getting home today.

It is really, really going to have to be extenuating circumstances before I fly on Delta again. I am just tired of getting screwed or having bad luck with them and their partners.