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Friday, November 10, 2006

Air Travel Made Easy Part 2

Before beginning this post read "Air Travel Made Easy" below.

”What?” came the first reply. They were not pleased, I believe that is when the woman declared all out war on me. “You got a problem?” My mind raced and I began thinking about all the ruling against un-ruley passengers and began to think, am I acting like one of them? In case I lost you, approximately 7 to 10 years ago a new term was coined “air rage.” It was not long after “road rage” and slightly before “bowling rage” (okay, the last one I made up).

Where was I? Oh yeah, explaining why I am stuck in Newark. After a brief argument with the woman and the man (who chimed in at the end) I was standing with my case in the same place I had stood for the last 20 minutes. “Okay, look I’m sorry” I said, groveling, hoping for them not to deny me a seat on the flight, after all I had read about Courtney Love, The guy from Lock Stock, and Dianna Ross, all being handcuffed as they deplaned. “Can you just check my bag…please?” I asked. “You gotta take it over there to security!” she said, now quite perturbed. “You know, there are new rules in effect!” “I know, I just flew last week.” I had just flown from Seattle to New York the week before, and only about 2 weeks before that I had flown from Seattle to Manchester, England, and from Manchester to Warsaw and so on. I was well aware of the “new rules.”

”Maybe it was a different airline!” She was determined to come out the winner. Now she was just being rude. I realized what they were telling me, they didn’t take the bags and turn around and put them on the conveyor anymore, at least not this airline. So I picked up my bag and gathered my thoughts as well as my things. As I took the first step away from my two biggest fans I heard, “HAVE A NICE DA – AY!” I walked to TSA (another story completely) gave him the bag to run through security, then I turned around and walked back to her, “What is your name?” I said, looking at her badge. It’s Lat-oy-yah!” She bitched back, “Do you want me to spell that for you?!!!” “No, I’ll manage.” I walked away trembling as my blood boiled, with her face, name badge, and smirk etched in my mind.

I understand there are unruly passengers, I understand there are threats of terrorism, and I understand that airline employees may have been treated badly at some time in the past, but that does not give them the right to treat passengers badly now. Try flying most any other carrier outside North America and you will find a very different situation, most of the people working on these airlines want to help and seem to enjoy their jobs. If KLM can treat their passengers with dignity and respect why can’t Delta, Northwest, or Delta?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Air Travel Made Easy

It seems to say the least ironic that my most recent run-in with the air industry comes on a day that I read “Face the Nation” in this months issue of GQ, while…wait for it…sitting in the airport! Jim Nelson the periodicals Editor and Chief writes a witty yet poignant piece about how we can no longer carry our much needed grooming products making us feel much safer in the air these days.

While he was at JFK, I am at Newark. (A vast improvement, if he ever sees this I am sure he will be quite envious to say the least!) I am sitting perched in a very uncomfortable chair where an internet connection costs $7.95 whether you use it for 3 seconds or 23 hours! I had the sheer fortune of traveling over 20,000 miles in the last month, and every airline as well as every airport has their own version or their own interpretation of what the new security measures should be, or rather ARE!

At some point I should let you know the approximate cost per hour of living in an airport, those guys at $50 (“Frommers”, the publication that puts out books such as, “England on $50 a day.”) would have a very hard time here.

So back to the point behind my writing this bit. After being shunned at the NWA (no not the rap group from the late 80s) I find out that my flight is cancelled and I will have to take the next one which is due to take off in 12 hours! So I get to the ticket counter well in advance of the requisite two hours before my flight is scheduled to depart. I lug my cases to the counter where two ticketing agents are engaged in extremely important conversation with a security official of how Britney managed to lose the weight without pills OR a trainer! I approached and asked to be helped; I was shunned to the machine to check in electronically, although there were approximately 5 agents at 3 posts not attending to anyone. I followed orders like a good little soldier, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit rejected and also bothered by the fact that these people were doing nothing. I can understand using this policy when you are very busy, but when you have nothing to do, it seems you would want to service your customers hence the term, “customer service”.

Okay after a couple of failed attempts I managed to get the machine to accept my reservation and passport. Then I had to return to the agents to check my bag. “Hang on its printing.” said the agent rather in a rather curt fashion. I waited. It printed. They asked, “You going to Tee-gel” “Sorry?” I replied. “You going to Tee-Gel, we need to see your passport.” One said. “Oh…”I replied, reaching for my passport, “Why did you have my go through the machine, it wanted my passport as well, could you not have saved time by just checking me in here instead of having a chat with the security officer?”

Stay tuned more to come!