So, you thought that my bad travel experiences last month were and isolated incident, right?
Will couldn't POSSIBLY have ANOTHER bad trip so soon. Man, oh, man...no one is THAT unlucky, are they?
Well, folks, it happened again.
I was supposed to present at a conference at the University of Akron last weekend. I was flying out of Madison on a Northwest Airlines flight that was to leave at 7:00AM and arrive in Detroit at 9:34AM. I then had a lay-over in Detroit, boarding my connecting flight to the Akron-Canton Regional Airport at 11:04AM. I was supposed to arrive in Akron at 11:59AM, in plenty of time to check in at the hotel, slap on a tie and make it to the University of Akron for my panel at 5:00PM.
Everything went to plan that morning. I was packed, showered, in a new sportcoat and on my way to the Dane County Regional Airport by 5:15AM. I checked in and went through security without incident (the TSA staff in Madison was courteous, professional and quick...drive down to O'Hare and teach those assholes a lesson, why don't you?).
I got to my gate, sat down, drank a pop and read the paper. I even ran into someone I knew, so I would have someone to pass the time with on the plane. 6:45AM rolls around and they announce the pre-boarding call, so I get up and begin to make my way toward the gate (I was in Seat 6B, so I would get on first).
It was at this point when the suckitude began to ooze to the surface.
They announced that the plane was having "mechanical problems" and that we would be "slightly delayed." No problem, I thought, I had a sizeable lay over in Detroit, so this was just eating into the time I would have to kill in Detroit.
A half an hour passed (it was now 7:30AM) and the next announcement of dissapointment came. The plane required a part that they didn't have in Madison. It had to be flown in from Minneapolis on a flight that would arrive at 11:00AM. They were also having a mechanic drive in from Milwaukee to work on the plane in Madison with the part from Minneapolis.
Now, come on. Not only do you not have parts to fix the planes in service from Madison, you don't have a mechanic that can fix the plane? Isn't this an airport? Aren't you an airline? Isn't this, I don't know, what you fucking do?
It gets better (if by better you mean more suck-filled).
They announced because of their, ahem, maintenance arrangements, the flight would be further delayed. The flight to Detroit, originally scheduled to leave at 7:00AM was now going to leave at...wait for it...1:30PM - at the earliest.
Before, the delay was not a problem. Now it was a big, hairy, shambling, red-cheeked fucking problem.
I would now miss my connection for sure. I had to rebook, if necessary on a different airline. I called the airline and was immediately mired in what my dad appropriately calls, "automated attendant hell." I guess it is a different sort of hell than the people waiting in line at the gate. An entire plane of people being rebooked and rerouted by a grand total of two slow NWA employees.
When I finally reached a human being (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), I calmly described my problem and asked what could be done. I was brusquely asked if the flight was cancelled. I said that it was (people were to collect their baggage and make other plans). I was then all but accused of lying about the cancellation and asked again about the status of the flight.
Look, madam, you work for the airline. You have the schedules for flights of yours and other airlines a keystroke away. I'm stranded in a fucking airport. Who is in a better position to answer that question, asshole?
I then asked if there was any way, connecting through anywhere, that could get me to the Akron-Canton Airport by 3:00PM. After a short pause, the disembodied, snotty voice on the other end said, "not a chance."
Hey, I don't expect you to kiss my ass. I also don't expect a triumphant air of near joy in telling me that my travel plans are now ruined. You know who does things like that? Petty little shitheads with nothing to do in their lives except make other peoples' lives miserable.
I should have just accepted my refund there. But, no. I had to have the foresight of a back-up plan. I asked Her Assholiness if there was a way to get me to Cleveland sometime early this afternoon. I could fly to Cleveland, rent a car and drive to Akron (they are not at all far from each other).
After no pause at all (which tells me, dipshit, that I know you didn't check this out), I was informed, "Uhhhh, no."
Northwest Airlines and Their Unhelpful Employess and Bad Maintenance, 1: Will Shannon, 0.
I gave this woman my address to get my refund. She then had the audacity to ask me if I wanted it as a check or credit toward future travel. She opened the door and I walked through.
"Well, seeing as I never plan on flying your airline again," I declared, "I think I'll go for the check."
"Well, I'm sorry to hear that," she said, reading right from the goddamned script that these dipfucks are given.
"Are you?" I asked.
"Thank you for flying Northwest Airlines. Good bye," she said as she hung up.
I suppose she was interpreting the term "flying" rather loosely seeing as I NEVER LEFT THE FUCKING AIRPORT.
Well, I went home and have never felt as "dressed up with nowhere to go" in my life. I was in a sportcoat and tie, with a packed bag, standing in my apartment and it was 9:30 in the morning. I ended up having a topping day nonetheless. I played golf, took a nap and hit the town with the Shealy brothers. Thanks, Greg and Drew; you helped wash the Northwest Airlines shit taste out of my mouth. All the beer, whiskey and gyros helped.
I could go on about why I think airline service is so bad today (after deregulation in 1978, which was overall a good thing, airlines no longer had to compete on service at lower price points). I could lament the plight of the legacy carriers and their failure to adapt to a changing market.
But I won't. Don't want to spoil a good rant with any clear thinking. Not in this case, anyway.
So, to Northwest Airlines, I say your people are as bad as your service and you ruined a trip that I actually wanted to take. Your ill-mannered employees and shoddy ground procedures put me out and wasted my time and money. The next time I am presented with the choice of travel on your airline or walk there, I'm opting for the old Heel-Toe Express.
Oh, and the next time I want to get dressed up, spend a lot of money for nothing and get blue-balled, I'll try to go on a date.
At least then the woman rejecting me will be in person.
Year in review
2 weeks ago