Those un-friendly skies…

This is my response to a prompt from For The Love Of BlogsPrompt Me…writers workshop about…Flying.

 

My worst flying experience began a few years back as I stepped onto a Delta flight that was scheduled to leave Tampa. 

                       

Scheduled…the operative word. 

Okay, I’ll be fair; it was a hot and stormy July evening, typical of Florida weather.  Not the fault of Delta, or any other airline.  Rain rolls in fairly often every afternoon but usually clears within a short period of time.

Not that night. 

Bolts of lightning shot out of the sky like fireworks as our pilot announced a delay to the fully loaded flight that was to return to New York…after a connection in Atlanta.  So…we sat.. for a solid hour in that aircraft as temperatures started to climb  and tempers started to flare due to faulty air conditioning.  One more announcement came from the cockpit that we would soon be taxiing out for takeoff and we were like #22 in the long line of flights waiting to depart.

At that point,  I’m sure that pilot was fearing that the passengers were about to declare a mutiny but his announcement managed to bring some calm to the packed cabin.  We prepared for take-off.

                      

Suddenly, another storm, worse than its predecessor, lit up the evening sky and rain came down in torrents.  We sat through one more delay that lasted more than 45 minutes as the pilot instructed the flight attendants to pass out bottled water to everyone.

They ran out, three quarters of the way through the aircraft and when passengers asked for soda, the attendants claimed that they could not distribute cans of soda until we were in the air.  WTF?

                                               

People started demanding to be returned to the gate, things were getting ugly.    One flight attendant made the mistake of getting “snippy” with all who were complaining, arguing loudly with one irate passenger when the pilot again announced we were ready to fly the un-friendly skies.

A 6:30 p.m. departure was now approaching almost 9 p.m. as we joined the long line of bumper-to-bumper jet traffic waiting to take-off and finally, we were airborne!  The flight to Atlanta was un-eventful but the cloud of passenger dissent was everywhere.

We landed at Hartsfield Airport (another nightmare that makes O’Hare Airport look good, even on a bad day) and were told to rush to our connecting flight to New York.  Like a group of crazy people we sprinted through the airport to our gate and were ushered through faster than the chocolate on the conveyor belt from that “I Love Lucy” show.

               

Delta was in such a rush that the plane which was our connecting flight had not been cleaned.  To this day, I swear that once everyone boarded, the pilot gunned the engines and took off  like a bat out of hell only to suddenly slow down and turn off the departure runway back to the terminal.  Passengers started yelling as a garbled announcement was heard stating that it was necessary to return to the gate.

Necessary?  I’d say it was more than that!  The plane was never fueled back at Hartsfield in the frenzy to get the flight loaded and in the air.  It took the pilot until minutes before take-off to check the gas gauge. 

And men talk about women!

Once in the air, another of the flight attendants made the fatal mistake of sharing this announcement….”Thank you for flying Delta; we apologize for the delay and inconvenience.  Delta has been having a really bad day today!”  Before a lynch mob could grab her, she quickly disappeared into the cockpit and the pilot made one more announcement…“Sorry for the delay folks, drinks are on Delta for the remainder of the trip.  Bottoms up, everyone!”

                        

Amazing logic.  Angry, hot and tired, passengers consuming large quantities of alcohol prior to landing at their destination, with many driving themselves home.

Around 1 a.m., the Delta saga of stupidity ended with our arrival at Stewart Airport in upstate New York.  Families and friends that had been waiting, for hours, were panicked and frustrated, having been given mis-information for the duration of their airport vigil.  Delta’s boards listed our hapless flight as having departed when, in fact, it was still in Atlanta, waiting at the gas pump.  Had I not turned on my cell phone, mid-flight, to call my husband, he would have had no idea as to the status of my trip. 

 

Most, if not all, airlines have their issues; that is a given.  Search on the web and the consumer complaints are everywhere with Delta holding its own in the top five worst airlines with Southwest (often called the “Chicken Bus”) and Americanleading the pack ..frequently. 

Hey,  weather happens and the only control lies within the judgment of pilots and airports as to the safe travel of  flights around the world.   But, in these days of skyrocketing fares, one would think the level of customer service would improve; sadly, consumers are getting less for their money with each passing day. 

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Comments

  1. Poekitten says:

    I hate flying in the US. I'd much rather fly overseas, where the flight attendants are friendly and you don't get charged for every little thing. Some airlines still give you a complete meal on a 2 hour flight! Amazing how they can do that! This sounds pretty bad…glad you got to NY safely!

  2. Patty says:

    It was a horror, PK. I can't tell you how many people got off that flight and went to Delta's spot at the airport for some type of compensation but received absolutely nothing. No vouchers and just a generalized apology.

    That was in July of 2001……I flew back from Tampa again on September 10, 2001, this time on American and it was a dinner flight. I got into NY around 9 that evening.

    The next day was 9/11.

  3. Vic says:

    WOWZ! i haven't flew with Delta for many years now due the craziness of all the experiences we ever had with them. I refused to ever fly with them ever again…..the whole drinks not allowed until in the air reminded me of when we almost landed and i got so nauseas that i had to go the restroom or else, the flight attendant was like, "You can't get up, stay in your seat." I barged through her as she stared at my white face and was like, the hell i can't! so disgusting! i hate flying…i want to drive everywhere from now on….ps. the fl storms are still going on—thank you hurricane season. so annoying! i wanted to drive to NY this weekend but Bryan is being a stubborn ass and won't drive with me. I don't want to go alone with just me and the girls. We'll see! glad ur here to talk about these nightmares, we all need to drive now:)

    • Patty says:

      I'd hate to see you and the girls driving up here alone too….maybe Bryan will have second thoughts.

      My Jen just left SanFran a few hours ago after a Principal/Asst.Principal summit there (Hillsborough County public schools got an award, yayyy), stopping over in Vegas on her way back to Tampa. She's on the "Chicken Bus"…Southwest. Waiting to get text updates from her now.

      These airlines scare the everlovin' crapola out of me; you never know what garbage they'll put you through. I've thought about getting in my truck and just driving down to Florida but, let's face it, with the price of gas…flying is cheaper, even with all the nonsense. Truck would cost me inside of $800, round-trip…maybe!

      Anyways….thanks to you ladies for a fun prompt! Hugssss!

  4. Cherie says:

    That really sucks!! Nothing worst than being behind 22 planes waiting to take off with a angry mob of people onboard!! But knowing you Patty, I am sure you spoke your mind! I have tons of flying stories due to being married to The Captain and his sister was a flight attendant for many years ~ flying back and forth to Europe. What a crazy mixed up mess!! But told as only you could have done!

    Love the I Love Lucy line…

    • Patty says:

      I honestly feel for both the Pilots and Flight Attendants, Cherie…it's a rough job, all around. When they have to deal with a flight containing miserable people, it stinks. Our flight, that evening, was relaxed to begin with; people talking, laughing and then, as events took place, attitudes spiraled downward, just with the poor attitude of that one FA. She was called up to the cockpit so many times during that flight, I can imagine that the Pilot wanted to beat her senseless. The other attendants kept apologizing but offered little else.

      To say the passengers, who all went through from Atlanta to NY, later on, weren't justifiably pissed-off when the plane almost ran out of fuel is still an understatement. Anger, disbelief and a helluva lot of fear at that point.

      Glad you liked the Lucy bit….it fit perfectly, lol

  5. ArtsyNina says:

    I hate flying and have only done it three times 🙂 AND I've flown with the same rinky dink airline every time- our local Sun Country. I kind of expect 'Airplane' shenanigans. Hehehe, I'm such a country mouse!

    • Patty says:

      It seems that all the airlines are operating with the same rinky-dink attitude; so few that get good ratings anymore.

      I agree….expect the worst and be nicely surprised when things go well. The only way to fly….

  6. Shalyn says:

    Wow. That is an awful story. My father-in-law had something similar happen to where he had to cancel his flight with Delta because of their stupid mistakes and they did absolutely nothing to ensure that he wasn't going to walk away with a bad taste in his mouth. Customer service really has gone down the tubes! Great post!

    • Slidecutter says:

      It was an on-going comedy of errors, Shalyn! For that FA to openly state that poor excuse about "Delta having a bad day" for all of airline's horrific issues that day was pure stupidity.

      Sadly, even these few years later, it hasn't improved.

      Thanks for visiting!

  7. Missy says:

    That sounds awful!! I do love your photos on the plane though ahaha!! Everyone kicking off and you're getting funny pictures!

    I have to agree though, Delta are pretty bad. I had my seat cancelled 4 times earlier this year which is fine but me and a friend had tried to sit together on an 8 hour flight (urgh) and then we sat on the tarmac for nearly 45 minutes to go from Boston to NYC. So stupid. Unfortunately I am flying Delta again next week going to the states so hopefully this time will be a little better!

    • Slidecutter says:

      Incredible, Missy! Boston to NYC is a no-brainer flight….45 minute wait before take-off is criminal unless, of course, it was storm-related and not airline stupidity.

      Keep me posted on how this trip went when you get back!

  8. WOW – that sounds like quite the ordeal. I can't say I don't envy the free booze, but, dang, that's IT? I'd want like a voucher or something for all that craziness.

    My worst experience was flying from Colorado to Georgia. There was a thunderstorm and when we got to Georgia we just circled the airport for over an hour, and then had to go back to Kentucky to re-fuel. Where we sat on the ground in our freakin' seats for another hour. By the time we did make it to the actual airport we needed to get to, the flight attendants were basically begging us to take snacks to calm us down. LOL, sorry but peanuts aren't going to make anything better. They were polite to us, though, and only fought with each other (one of them said to another right beside me, "Don't get an attitude with me right now. I'm not in the mood and I don't really give a shit about this job." Woah!)

    • Slidecutter says:

      No voucher, no nuttin', Rachel! And, like I said, a weak, generic apology was it!

      Funny on the peanuts; like that would have been a calming influence! I can well understand that it can be a thankless job at times for the FA's but, when they signed-on to play these roles, part of their job description is that, at times, things will go awry and they're supposed to grin and bear it and assist the passengers.

      Amazing.

  9. Katie says:

    Horrible!!! It's amazing to me sometimes the pitiful level of customer service given when these kinds of delays happen. Absolutely ridiculous…sorry this experience was so bad, but it was certainly entertaining to read 🙂

    • Slidecutter says:

      Looking back, there were some "entertaining" moments, Katie. I'm surprised still that, after the "oopsie, forgot to gas up the plane" incident in Atlanta, that the FA's spoke so freely about it to the passengers. Honestly, some people had a look of panic on their faces, others shook their heads and went back to reading….or drinking!

  10. Meri says:

    Once we were flying to Arizona and our plane got struck by lightning. That was the worst flight I've ever been on- with all of the turbulence by the time we got there I was about ready to barf. Plus, I was half drunk from drinking whiskey to cope so that DIDN"T help with the nausea haha!

    Nice to find your blog, seeing as you can relate 🙂 I'm a new follower!

    Meri
    http://merigoesround.com

    • Slidecutter says:

      Wow, Meri! I think that is always a fear of flying, lightning strikes! I can understand why flights are delayed because of severe storm issues but to have something like this happen mid-flight….positively frightening!

      Thanks for visiting and following!!

  11. I've never been on a plane, but am pretty sure that if I was and it was storming, I would want them to delay the flight.

    • Slidecutter says:

      I agree completely! Certain things are unavoidable but, keeping passengers informed and calm during such episodes should be a priority. In Delta's case, the whole "calm" thing went down the loo.

      Thanks for stopping-by!

  12. Ms. Blasé says:

    Never heard of anyone using alcohol to quiet an angry mob before. If anything, I would think booze would make the masses even more ornery and boisterous… Of course, that's just my way of thinking since I live near so many colleges and universities.

    Note to self: Avoid Delta like the plague.

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