Saturday, August 05, 2006

More From Montana: The Return Trip

My trip out to Montana went smoothly--connections made in Atlanta and Salt Lake City. On the return trip, though, I wasn't so lucky. We sat on the plane in Missoula for a half hour while the pilots sought clearance from Atlanta to take off without a functional de-icing system. The system wasn't necessary for the trip, but apparently the FAA requires all planes to have working systems. Once we received clearance, we enjoyed a normal flight; but upon landing in Salt Lake, there was no place to park the plane, so we sat on the runway for thirty minutes.

Needless to say, I missed my flight to Cincinnati, and with two travel companions, it wasn't going to be easy to accommodate all of us on the same flight. I picked up a Delta Direct phone and was soon connected to one of the most unhelpful agents I've encountered. Announcing that all flights to Cincinnati were full, he said the best he could do was put me on standby for the next flight. After much haggling and threatening on my part, he finally connected me through Atlanta (why he didn't offer to do this right away I'll never know) and even put me in first class. As this was transpiring, my companions spoke to an agent with an entirely different plan: she wanted to route them through Nashville, then to Cincinnati, then home to Charlottesville. She told them to rush to the Nashville gate, but when they arrived, the agent said the flight was full. Back on the phone, they were then instructed to hop a flight to Tulsa, then Atlanta, then Charlottesville. Aggravated and exhausted, one of the women got serious and finally persuaded an agent to prioritize them on the standby list on my flight to Atlanta. So, after airport acrobatics of all kinds, we made our way to Atlanta--together--only to find that the flight to Charlottesville was delayed due to storms. Having finally boarded, we found ourselves 250th in line for takeoff and arrived into Cville at 12:30 AM, 6.5 hours later than my original itinerary (the one through Cincinnati) dictated.

Furious at the apathetic agent who wanted me to fly standby, a strategy that no doubt would have left me stranded in Salt Lake (one flight to Cincinnati was overbooked by thirty passengers), I called customers service and they issued me a customary $100 voucher which, combined with the first class upgrade to Atlanta, compelled me to forgive Delta once again. The first class service was fantastic, and this particular 767 was outfitted with on-demand television, allowing me to watch dramas and sitcoms that, in my opinion, pass the time much faster than movies (especially when the movie is Cheaper By the Dozen II or, even better, Big Momma's House II). Dinner, a mushroom topped and stuffed ravioli, proved surprisingly tasty--as did the red wine and mojitos. By far the best meal I've had upon a domestic flight!


Post a Comment

<< Home