Friday, April 13, 2007

Airlines, how do they do it?? (Very long)

One unfortunate part of Dave's job is travel. When we first met and started dating, he took 1 (at most 2) trips a year and at the time, he said that was a lot. 7 years later, he travels at least 4 or 5 times a year and it's usually international. This month is no different.

He had a 2 day stint in Washington, DC on Monday and Tuesday. Since he was only gone overnight, he did not check any of his luggage. It was a small plane, and on the way home his bag would not fit in the overhead bin. He gave it to the attendant at the door at the plane and was assured it would be there when he got off (kind of like you do with a stroller when you are flying). Well, it wasn't. He landed at home on Tuesday and the unchecked bag didn't. All of his toiletries and prescriptions were in the bag, along with his tennis shoes and other necessities. He was told that his bag was still in DC and that it go out on the next flight and we would have it "first thing in the morning". He then needed to go to the pharmacy to get an emergency refill on his prescription since he needed it that night and would need it to pack for Australia (whose flight left on Thursday).

What we consider to be "first thing in the morning" came and went on Wednesday and we made another call to Delta's baggage claim center at about 11am. The bag was, in fact, still in DC and would not arrive here until at least 1:30pm, after having made a trip through Atlanta, first, of course. I mean, really, isn't it obvious that an overnight bag would have to travel an extra 300 miles in the opposite direction before reaching home?

We make one last call to the baggage claim center around 2:30pm to make sure the luggage was at least in the right state. We were told that it was out for delivery, to which Dave asked "When can I expect to see it? What's your delivery window?" Evidently that's not a straight forward question, because they put him on hold. When they come back, they now said it was scheduled to go out for delivery by 3:00pm and that there is a TWELVE HOUR WINDOW! Seriously? 12 hours? How many bags do they lose that it takes them 12 hours to deliver them all???

Fed up, Dave decides to go out and buy new toiletries just to be on the safe side (just in case 12 hours wasn't enough time to bring 1 overnight bag). While he was gone, the bag showed up. So that drama ended. Finally.

Fast forward to Thursday. The first leg of Dave's flight to Canberra, Australia is scheduled to leave at 1:30pm. We decide to drop Jake off at preschool, drop Emma off at the sitter's and go have breakfast together. Amazingly, that all went as planned. We picked the kids up at 11:30 and then went straight to the airport to drop Dave off. That's never an easy thing to explain to the kids that they won't get to see Daddy for a week. This time as we drove away from the airport, Jake's response was "Mommy, I want to see Daddy! He's sooooo cute!" I agreed that he was, in fact, very cute but that we still wouldn't be able to see him for a week. He sighed and then didn't talk the rest of the car ride home. Emma just kept saying "Where's Daddy?"

Once I get home, I get a call from Dave that his flight has been delayed by an hour. Not a surprise, I can't remember the last time one of his flights WASN'T delayed. So I told him to keep me updated. He finally gets to Chicago O'Hare and finds out that his 5:30pm flight to Los Angeles is delayed. And keeps getting delayed. Later. And later. Until it is so late that there is no possible way for him to make his connecting flight out of LA. And, oh yeah, there's not flights out of LA to Sydney, Australia until 10:30pm on Friday. Awesome. So finally, at 10:30pm Thursday night, his 5:30pm flight is "rescheduled" for 8am on Friday morning out of Chicago to O'Hare. At least he got a hotel voucher.

The reason for the delay? They couldn't find the plane. Then once they found the plane, it was dirty so they had to clean it. By the time it was found and cleaned, the crew was gone. So they had to find a new crew that wasn't exhausted. Apparently, that never happened.

During all this, he kept trying to call the American Airlines customer service number to see if he could get information on different flights (the attendants at the gate were giving less than NO information). At one point, the lady on the phone told him to double check his flight number because the flight that he was referring to already left Chicago at 6:20pm. He assured her that they had not left and that he had 400 people sitting around him to back up his story just in case she still doubted him. She didn't.

Once he found out that he was not going to make his LA to Sydney flight, I had to call the hotel in Canberra, Australia to let them know that while he was going to be late, he was still coming so please don't give his room away. Three international phone calls and 5 people later, I was assured that there will be a place for him on Sunday, but since he cancelled so late, he would still have to pay for Saturday night. Great. Thanks for understanding.

So as I write this at 11:44am on Friday morning, my husband is somewhere between Chicago and LA, his original flight delayed 14.5 hours. Hopefully he won't have any more delays after this - he still has 2 more legs (LA to Sydney and then Sydney to Canberra) before he reaches his final destination. His delay in Chicago was longer than the entire flight from LA to Sydney. He is going to Australia for a 3 day conference. On one of those days, he has to give a presentation. How long of a presentation, you ask? 17 minutes. He has gone through all of this to talk for 17 minutes.

I don't even want to think about where his luggage might be...

2 reviews:

Beth said...

What a nightmare. It's a shame that airlines really don't feel the need to excel at customer service. Well, at least all airlines don't feel the need. I hope his trip home is VERY smooth and that your time as "Lone Parent" is not too difficult!

(it's funny, I live near O'Hare, and Brian is going to LA on Thursday!) separated at birth, I tell you.

Sue said...

Oh my gosh. Your poor husband. That is just unbelievable - wait, no it isn't - we are talking about the airlines. What a nightmare. I hope he makes it at least in time to talk for his 17 minutes. :)

I hope the kids do ok.