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An uncomfortable journey, all around.

  • Aug 17, 2010
I think it's fair to say that most people's expectations of airlines are pretty low these days.  We pay more for less, but it's a necessary evil so you just sort of take it.  Being in that mindset, I haven't really been thinking very critically about my airline experiences for the past few years.  It gets me from point A to B, which is about all I ask at this point.

Even WITH those very low expectations, my experience this summer on Delta airlines was pretty poor.  I typically fly Continental, Southwest or Virgin, so this was the first Delta flight I've taken in years.  Here are the most notable points of my experience on our July flight:
  • Really Uncomfortable Seats.  They were the old-school seats without a separate headrest portion - just one big flat slab for a back, done in that very uncomfortable pleather.  Now I'm not asking for individual DirecTV monitors in every seat or even power outlets.  Just something that one could reasonable expect to sit in for a 5 hour flight, without physical pain.  Also, I couldn't recline my seat without literally crushing the poor gentleman behind me, as he as an averagely tall man.
  • Flight Attendants : Apathetic at Best with Some Highlights of Flat Out Rudeness.  Especially considering we were traveling with a toddler (a very well behaved one, mind you), one would expect some slight modicum of courtesy, right?  On my way to an urgent potty-break, with 3 year old in my arms, I politely ask the flight attendant if we can pass by the food cart when she gets a chance.  She responds by rolling her eyes, huffing, and snapping *grumble* UGH, JUST A MINUTE *grumble*

    Wait... seriously?!  That's the best you can do?  Did you just find out what your profession entails this very moment?  It's all in the delivery, and even if she had needed to say no - it could've been done with a lot more grace and a lot less attitude. 

    There were several other instances of this gruff attitude, which I'll spare you.  You get the gist.  Being around people who appear to hate their job is such a buzzkill though, that much I will say.
  • Damaged Stroller at Gate-Check.  I've been gate-checking strollers for nearly 4 years now, on a variety of airlines to a variety of destinations.  Never once have we had any damaged gear.  Delta however, managed to completely break one of the handles on our $300 stroller. 
  • Poor Solutions for Resolving Problems/Claims.  Because we were on a red-eye with a toddler, I chose not to attempt a go with the baggage claim folks at 5am regarding the broken stroller.   Instead, on our return flight I brought it up with the airline staff.  They were very nice and helpful in telling me that the damage had to be inspected in person, and they could do nothing other than note my file that I would be stopping in the baggage claim area to show them (ie. prove?) the damage.  Well, again we were with a tired child and it was after 11pm at LAX --- but I still soldiered through in an attempt to go show my evidence.  Couldn't find a counter or representative after 10 minutes of searching though, and gave up... eating the loss.
  • Inaudible, Unintelligible Pilot.  During several points where we needed to hear relevant information, the pilot was mumbling and practically whispering, making us miss out on knowing why we were endlessly taxing to the gate, and on the return flight, whether we'd made up for our late time in-flight.  The flight attendants were perfectly audible, so presuming it's the same audio system, I'm blaming the pilot.
Overall, it wasn't the worst flight experience of our lives, by a long shot.  But it was pretty lame and I find it really sad that this type of experience is just the accepted norm in air travel today. 
An uncomfortable journey, all around. An uncomfortable journey, all around.

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October 31, 2010
Excellent review. The stroller experience sounds particularly horrible. Standing around waiting with a young child is impossible. How convenient of them to demand it. And the cost of a damaged stroller is considerable. What a miserable experience.
November 01, 2010
Thanks for the comment - it really was a bummer. Wish there were a way to avoid crummy air travel experiences like this, but that just seems to be the state of that industry these days, unfortunately. Hopefully something will shake up the status quo someday, so customer service can return to air travel.
August 18, 2010
Thanks for sharing. All of us have our own tales. My recent trip with Delta I had to wait over an hour in the baggage claim area for a bag that they charged me $30 to check. If they are charging me for my bag, can't they at least make sure that it is brought to me in a reasonable timeframe? Both of my kids are teenagers so I don't have to worry about them anymore when we are on the plane but I remember their toddler years on those long flights. Now I take a good book, my crossword puzzle book and my ipod and I just ignore what is happening on the flight rather than being tortured for 5 hours.
August 18, 2010
So true about the baggage fees. I've really tried to just get to a zen place of not focusing on what utter crap it is that we have to pay extra for worse service - but the baggage fees are such a harsh reminder of that. Love your tune-out approach though : )
August 18, 2010
With bummer after bummer experiended on Air Canada, I'm beginning to believe that European and Asian companies are the only airlines that have an understanding of the concept of professionalism and customer service. The last flight I had on Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Toronto was wonderful.
August 18, 2010
You may well be right - it reminds me of what an AMAZING trip I had on Air Italia years ago... I'd forgotten all about that actually. Thx for the comment!
August 18, 2010
I can't help but agree with you on Delta. I was on Northwest frequent flyer miles for the longest time, but as soon as it's bought by Delta, I don't even bother! My parents lost their luggages on this airline once and you can probably guess by now how the airline responded to this. Ultimately, they gave up even trying to trace them since there really is nothing that important in there. I only took Delta once to one of the S. American country on a free ticket, probably never again too :) Don't think I'd ever bother to pay for this airline...
August 18, 2010
It's a sad state, isn't it? For years I had pretty good experiences on American, but then my travel shifted to routes that frequented Soutwest and Continental - neither of which would I rave about normally, but compared to Delta they were MUCH better.
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Melissa ()
Really loyal, a little more lippy than I'd wish, love love love the beach and all things tropical, sneeze freakishly loud, love the F word, came of age in the Midwest during the 80's, get a lot … more
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Delta Air Lines, Inc. is a United States airline based and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Delta operates an extensive domestic and international network, spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Australia. Delta began service to Sydney, Australia from Los Angeles in July 2009, which made it the only current American carrier to serve every continent except Antarctica. Delta and its subsidiaries fly to over 375 destinations in 88 countries (excluding codeshare), across 6 continents. Delta, as of November 2009 is the only major U.S. carrier that flies to Africa and operates the longest non-stop route of all U.S. carriers from Atlanta toJohannesburg on the Boeing 777-200LR.

Delta operates its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and also maintains hubs at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Salt Lake City International Airport. Delta's Atlanta hub is the busiest airline hub in the world.

On October 29, 2008, Delta completed its merger with Northwest Airlines to form the world's largest commercial carrier. In February 2009, the airline began consolidating gates and ticket counters at airports where both Delta and Northwest operate. The consolidation will be completed by February 2010. Delta carries more passengers across the Atlantic than any other carrier worldwide. As of October 2009, Delta expected to receive...
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