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Airline Service Frustrations

Travel story for the week of June 18th.

1. Arrive at airport at 6:43 AM for 8:10 flight.
2. Go to self-service kiosk for airline boarding pass (in line with about 100 other travellers).
3. Airline self-service system cannot find ticket based upon my name or destination city.
4. Go back to airline terminal entry and retrieve flight number from monitor.
5. Input flight number in airline self-service kiosk (after waiting turn a second time, there are 100 other travellers in check-in line) - still no workie.
6. Go to airline baggage counter and ask for assistance from airline agent. "We are too busy, get in check in line for assistance" was told. Line is about 20-25 deep and moving 1PPH (1 Person Per Hour).
7. Get in checkin line and call 411 for number to airline reservation desk. 411 operator short with me because I do not know the city of number requested.
8. Five minute hold with reservations. Airlines reservation attendant says try this code for flight at self-service kiosk. Two minutes later, I find my flight reservation. But it is now 7:23 AM, too late for check in for flight. Reservation lady on phone says reschedule for 1:55 PM flight later that same day. Bzzt! Have meeting at noon. That is a no-go so I cancel my flight.

I ended up taking a 8PM flight that evening (on different airline) and rescheduling the meeting for the next AM.

Note to self - print e-ticket before leaving for airport.
Note to airline - Dear Airline CEO, please visit Gate B at your hub. It is a testament to disorganization and customer service apathy.

The next day ... Coming home...

1. Arrive early at airport for 7:15 flight. Rain delay, flight leaves at 7:30 instead.
2. Arrive at connecting flight airport with 20 minutes to take off - 9:20 take off now 10:20.
3. Connecting flight delayed again until 10:55.
4. Pilots not on plane until 10:26, flight delayed; boarding commences at 10:55.
5. Traffic jam at gate prevents the plane from pulling back for 30 minutes.
6. Pull back from gate and wait an additional 30 minutes for slot on runway.
6. Arrive at home airport at 2:30 this AM.

Air travel has devolved in the U.S. from glamourous and exciting to third world conditions. Some days I expect someone to board my flight carrying a goat or a cage of chickens. Nearly every flight I have been on in the past six months has been delayed or cancelled the day of the flight.

When I voice my frustration, my fellow passengers shrug their shoulders and say the same thing, "What can you do about it?".

I don't blame the flight crews. They do a great job with positive attitudes despite having to deal with layoffs, missing benefits and salaries (not to mention surly passengers).

I don't blame the gate or ticket agents, most who do an incredible job keeping a half dozen balls in the air at any time.

Rather, I blame the airline management for squeezing every dime out of customers without showing the minimun amount of respect to the people who pay their salaries.

I blame the FAA and federal government for creating as many idiotic rules and obstacles as possible most of which only serve to incapacitate and inconvinience law abiding, taxpayers.

Hint for airline management: If a flight is late, for any reason, don't blame the feds, the unions or the weather. Empathize with your paying customers and toss them a bone. Maybe a gift card, a sandwich, a few hundred frequent flier miles.. any act which says "I appreciate your business and I realize you are late to a business meeting or getting home. I can't change the world, but I want to make you feel a little bit better by showing our appreciation". How hard can that really be?

As for the feds.. please seek advice from airline gate employees about security, neccessary safety rules and proper procedures. They have some great ideas. Also, apply a little common sense at those security checkpoints. Please.

I will still fly. I have too. My job depends upon it. I would only like to get to my destination on time occasionally and with fewer problems.

Please consider the paying passenger and figure out a way to make travel a little more fun and glamourous. Like it used to be.
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