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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