Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tips on Etiquette from Delta? Now THAT’s funny!

It is amazing to me how oblivious any and all of us can be to our own behavior. At one time or another all of us have been guilty of trying to remove the splinter from our neighbor’s eye before removing the beam from our own. But this morning I read something really, really ironic and couldn’t keep quiet about it: Delta Airlines has created a series of animated videos to help airline passengers understand the rules of etiquette when traveling. (Read about this yourself at http://www.cnn.com/2007/TRAVEL/12/12/air.etiquette.ap/index.html.)

I found this ironic because at the end of last summer I had to travel on Delta (not my choice—the flight was booked for me) because I was a witness in a murder trial in Alabama. To make sure that I would not have to deal with lost baggage, since it was a quick overnight trip, I only took one change of clothes and my very small toiletry kit, and my laptop computer, all of which I packed in the smallest roll-around suitcase available.

I had intended to take this as a carry-on bag, but when I got to the departure gate (a half hour early, according to my itinerary) I discovered that half of the people on my flight had been sitting at the wrong gate because Delta had printed half of the boarding passes with the wrong gate number on them. Some astute Delta gate agent wondered why half of the flight was still missing when they were making their final boarding call, and started walking down the terminal to the other gates to find out which flight people were waiting for and discovered all of us at the gate printed on our boarding passes. She quickly herded us to the right gate and we all began to get on the plane.

When we all made it down the sky walk to the plane, the cranky flight attendants told us all that we would have to check our carry-on luggage because there was no more room in any of the onboard luggage compartments. She explained this in a scolding tone that suggested this was our fault because we had waited so late to board the plane, even though it was Delta’s fault that we had been sitting for so long at the wrong gate wondering why we weren’t being called to board. She would have none of this back talk and told us that we would have to get on another flight if we wanted to carry our luggage on the plane, so of course we all reluctantly checked our baggage. (I’ve wondered how only half the flight’s passengers could fill ALL the on-board luggage compartments, and have come to the conclusion that the cranky flight attendants weren’t diligent in making sure that the first half of the passengers had carry-on luggage that followed the rules; so the rest of us had to suffer because of the rudeness of those people and the negligence of the flight attendants.)

I had a very bad feeling about this, so I retrieved my laptop out of the suitcase and let them check my bag. As it turns out I was right to have the bad feeling, because the person who filled out the hand-written baggage ticket only wrote in the first leg of my flight to Atlanta, and not the last leg of my flight in Alabama. So, of course, my baggage never made it out of Atlanta. As it turns out, that was a “Level Orange” Homeland Security alert day, so my bag was picked up by TSA in Atlanta as a suspicious parcel when it kept going around and around and around the baggage carousel and was never picked up.

Needless to say, my luggage never arrived in Alabama. I had to go to Wal-Mart on the way to my Aunt’s house so I would have a clean change of clothes and underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. (thank goodness for those little $1.00 travel sizes you can get now!) for the trial.

The next day, while I was waiting to be called to the witness stand, I had to keep calling the airline to check on my luggage. Each time I called I had to start my story from the beginning—no one that I spoke to had any record of my “lost baggage” complaint, nor did they have any notes available to tell them that I had already called umpteen times before to check on my lost bag. Thank goodness I had thought to take my laptop out of the suitcase!

I got back to Baltimore and spent two more days trying to locate my bag. No one was willing to help me or even seemed concerned that I had been inconvenienced. No one offered to compensate me for the clothes I had to buy to appear in court while I was in Alabama. No one even apologized for the error, or even acknowledged that any of this had been their fault. I finally gave it up as a lost cause and decided that when I stopped being angry about it I would write a letter to the Delta corporate office and complain and request that they compensate me for my lost luggage and its contents as well as the replacement items I had to buy because of the series of errors on their part that led to the loss of my belongings and their poor customer service.

Finally, after I’d given up on the whole thing, two days later a guy from Delta showed up on my doorstep with my suitcase.

I will never fly Delta again. The “friendly skies” were as unfriendly on that trip as I’ve ever experienced them, which is why I find it ironic that Delta is going to teach its passengers how to behave. Perhaps they should start with themselves and do a little in-house customer service training before they put the onus on their passengers to behave themselves. The beam in their eye is obviously blinding them to their own bad behavior.

1 comment:

Opbaa said...

this is what mama called the pot calling the kettle black!