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June 03, 2003

And Again, Ugh

Well, the meeting was actually enjoyable, or at least as close to such as all-day business meetings can get. And the flights down and then back from Greensboro to Philly went well. Despite the storms that had many NC flights being cancelled or delayed, we arrived in Philly 5 minutes early. But then...

(angry anti-airline grousing to follow... read on only if you don't mind a bit of aggravated bile.)

45 minutes (5 minutes longer than the expected flight time!) waiting in a line to take off from Philly, complete with the pilot apologizing for the delay (30 minutes after telling us there would be a 20 minute wait... thus 15 minutes before we actually took off). And all the while acknowledging that this is a common problem. If so, why hasn't it been solved yet? I realize it's crowded with NYC's airports to the north and DC's airports to the south, but if the schedule is so crowded that they can't keep it, they need to stop lying to themselves (and us) and make a schedule they can actually stick to.

And then there was no snack/beverage service outside of first class because, briefly, there was some turbulence (which lasted less than the length of the pilot's announcement). Of course, that makes perfect sense, right? We're 60 minutes into our 45 minute flight, so what better time to announce that there won't actually be the usual tiny offering of pretzels and liquid-of-choice? And all made worse by them then re-starting service 15 minutes later... to the first class passengers who wanted seconds.

I'll admit, my last trip on Amtrack was worse. Apparently, the line from Cleveland, OH to Albany, NY is Amtrack's notoriously late line... My experience then featured a full 6 hours of delays, including the train running short of fuel (thanks to earlier delays) and needing another engine to be run back to assist us. The concession made by the line for this... Free ham sandwiches, chips, and soft drinks from the dining car. Ahh, we were stunned by their generosity.

And my coworkers and family wonder why I'm usually happier to drive... I love my little white Prius!

Posted by ghoul at June 3, 2003 10:53 PM

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Dearie, 45 minutes ain't nuthin'. Count your blessings. Loudly and repeatedly.

I've been stuck overnight more places than I want to tell you about.

Glad you're home and safe, though.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo at June 4, 2003 08:58 AM

Oh, I've been stuck longer stretches, too (never quite overnight... I think the longest airline flight delay was 2 hours as they replaced the cockpit door for some reason). I dislike that less, though, if only because then the airline has to admit it was a delayed flight. By rolling us out of the gate "on time" (that is, less than 15 minutes late), then making us wait in line for a runway for 45 minutes (all belted in, because if anyone stands up and walks around the plane can be pushed back in the queue... I've experienced that before!), they can file to the feds an on-time flight even though it actually arrived around an hour after it was supposed to.

It isn't the scale of the individual slight that bugs me (it was fairly small, I'll agree), it's the complete indifference of the airline to what happened. They didn't even change their standard sales pitch at landing by a word to simulate an apology.

Posted by: Ghoul at June 4, 2003 09:56 AM

I thought the stats were on-time arrivals rather than departures? Surely the feds aren't *that* stupid.

Point about indifference well-taken, however.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo at June 4, 2003 01:45 PM

On-time arrival is the most quoted stat... but, as I understand it, if your departure was more than 15 minutes late, late arrival is blamed on you. Otherwise, it is blamed on weather/conditions beyond your control, allowing people to "hide" from some late arrivals by squeeking out last-minute departures.

Checking the fed's stats (http://www.bts.gov/ntda/oai/SummaryStatistics/), the Philly *average* taxi out time for US Air this year (Jan thru Apr) is 31 minutes (vs. their national average of around 20), so our pilot likely wasn't lying that 45 was hardly unusual.

Posted by: Ghoul at June 4, 2003 02:26 PM

Aha. Slimy. Not surprising, but slimy nonetheless.

I don't miss traveling at all at all...

Posted by: Dorothea Salo at June 4, 2003 10:46 PM

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