As you can see above, a combination of circumstances led to my first ever missed check-in and subsequent reticketing on a later flight.
On Wednesday afternoon I knew that we already had Winter Storm Warnings issued well in advance for Thursday morning at 4 AM through Friday afternoon. I planned for this by getting my car ready with plenty of gas and gas treatment, making sure that my ice scraper/snow brush was handy, and packing in advance. Unfortunately that was not enough.
After getting up on time, I headed out to my car to find four inches of snow on it. No big deal - snow brush in hand I cleaned everything off and got into my car. Then the trouble started. The roads were slick and everyone was driving at about 20 mph, tops. I got to the highway and it was even worse. People weren't going more than 35 mph and two vehicles skidded off the road in front of me. I realized that I was getting very close to my check-in time, which I thought was a minimum of 20 minutes, so I decided to park in the Airport garage instead of at the train station like I normally do.
I pulled into the Airport and the first (and cheapest) garage was full and closed, so I had no choice but to go around to the hotel parking lot. This means driving out of the airport and around the parking lots on a little-used and poorly maintained road. At a maximum of a 1/2 mile loop, it isn't a huge detour, but if you're already running late it is aggravating.
The hotel lot is $2 more per day than the long-term lot but it was jammed, too, so I ended up having to go all the way around to where I started and head into the short-term lot. At $13/day it is less expensive than the premium off-site lots but more than what I'd like to pay for each of four days away. It seemed I had no choice as I was now coming up on 30 minutes prior to my flight. I managed to get a space on the first level without driving around in circles and I ran into the terminal.
At the time I got in line the clock read 7:15 AM. This is where I made my biggest mistake. I thought that Continental's check-in limit was 20 minutes, not 30 minutes, and when I got up to the desk (which is now all computerized kiosks) I was frustrated by the non-standard "keyboard" that appeared on the screen. I said to the agent who had directed me to the kiosk, "this keyboard is weird." After typing in my confirmation number, the screen said "there is a problem with your check-in."
This is when the fun started. The customer service agent working my kiosk said "You're late." I said, "I'm within 20 minutes," and she repeated "You've missed your flight." Of course I was frustrated (as anyone would be) and I said, "You gotta be kidding me! I confirmed my reservation. I'm here more than 20 minutes beforehand." I really didn't think that merely saying that constituted a but apparently she did.
The agent who had directed me to my kiosk interjected from the side "You're too late." That really set me off, because if there's one thing I hate more than interruption, it's being interrupted by someone who has nothing to contribute when I am already trying to comprehend a difficult situation. I looked at her and said "I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to her, so please don't interrupt me again."
I looked back at the other agent and asked again, "What is the check-in time? I confirmed my reservation and worked hard to get here." By this time, the woman had completely lost her sense of the definition of "customer service." Instead of answering my question, she said I was yelling at her. I then said that I was frustrated because I was trying to get to my grandmother for Thanksgiving. She said she would get me on a later flight, which I didn't argue about, but then she said "I'm working on Thanksgiving, so don't complain to me," and she put her hand out in my face.
That was enough. "What is your name? I'm going to complain about this." So she tells me her name and then she says she's going to write me up as a bad customer. At that point I asked for her manager and she called the manager over.
Now I was speaking with the manager, who was working on my itinerary and I was crying because this supposed Customer Service agent was antagonizing me. I told the manager what happened and the CSA interrupted her and said I had been screaming at her. I said to the manager, "I haven't raised my voice above what I'm doing now. This is ridiculous. Now she's interrupting our conversation." The manager seemed to understand me better but I was still very upset because of the threat to write me up as a bad customer. Luckily I got the manager's name as well so that I could write in reference to both of them.
I got my boarding pass for a new flight and at that time the nasty CSA was typing something in the computer so I was confused again. I stood there, waiting, and finally I said, "When can I go?" The manager was still there and she finally told me I had everything I needed and that I could go wait for my flight.
I suppose I should be thankful that I got on another flight at all, and that it wasn't a next-day or much later than four hours... But I'm still steaming that there was absolutely no understanding or attempt to explain things when I was obviously confused and frustrated. I'm writing my complaint letter tomorrow.
At least I got to move my car to the free rapid transit lot.
Immediately after I got my boarding pass I went out and moved my car from the parking garage to the free rapid transit lot about one mile away. I took the train back to the airport ($3.00 round-trip with free parking as opposed to probably $50 in parking fees if I had left my car in the garage) and immediately headed out to Concourse D.
At Hopkins Airport there are three security checkpoints, all run by TSA, but they all dump into the same main departure area with the three concourses branching out. (The fourth, Concourse D, is attached by underground tunnel to Concourse C.) I went to the Concourse C checkpoint and, fresh off one frustration, encountered one of my pet peeves – Continental Airlines Elite and Business First passengers get their own screening lines. I have always and will always think this is unfair. Everyone should be assessed for the same security risk and therefore there is no reason to give those passengers preferential security lines. In any case, I went though that line since I was already there and didn’t want to walk back out and around to the middle checkpoint. After getting through without difficulty I headed up to Cinnabon and got my favorite airport treat.
After making my way out to Concourse D, I went and sat at the gate for two hours. I had a newspaper and quickly made my way through it. I kept a watch on conditions outside. They went back and forth from light snow to nearly zero visibility and back. I was on the west side of Concourse D so I could see both mainline and Express/Connection flights lining up for deicing between the concourses. The monitors weren’t showing cancellations, but there were a few delays. With generous schedule padding I’m sure that Continental and its partners didn’t experience many recorded delays.
As I sat there I struck up a conversation with another passenger, a 20-something man who was connecting from Detroit. He had also missed his early morning flight, which I think was supposed to be a non-stop DTW-HPN on Pinnacle, and was rebooked through CLE on Continental. We chatted about a variety of topics and he was impressed by my knowledge of the aircraft taxiing by. I chuckled and told him that it wasn’t so difficult to memorize the aircraft at our airport. Eventually we found out that we would be on the same return flight.
Our aircraft arrived late to the gate, after our scheduled boarding time of 1000, but we still managed to board quickly via jetway. Seat 14A is the rear bulkhead seat, a single seat which would be 13A if it wasn’t for persistent superstitions. This seat has an excellent view of the port wing and the intake of the port engine.
We pushed back from the gate and since there was a lag in snow squalls, we didn’t need deicing. Surprisingly the pilots started both engines before taxi – starboard first, then port – and we taxied out via Juliet to Whisky intersection on Runway 24L. The intersection departure was necessary due to arriving aircraft on the crosswind Runway 28. We were #2 in line when we reached Whisky and after another ERJ we departed off a 3000 ft roll.
The first 1000 ft were turbulent with yaw and bumpiness and from there moderate turbulence continued up to 3000 ft. Conditions improved to mild turbulence and as we punched through the Lake Effect clouds we bumped around again. At 1204 we reached 10000 ft and the flight was smooth as silk from there until we began our descent.
Our Flight Attendant, Pam, served drinks and pretzels, while Capt. Randy and F/O Derek flew smoothly. One of the pilots announced (prior to departure) that we were going to fly northeast along the Lake Erie shoreline to Erie, PA, then cross over Jamestown, Delancey, and Kingston, NY, before turning south for approach to White Plains. Once we were up in the clouds it was apparent I wouldn’t be recording any landmarks. I got one glimpse of an angry Lake Erie roiling with whitecaps under high northwest winds before the clouds thickened for good.
I dozed a little bit but spent most of my time working a crossword puzzle mixed with chit chatting the occupants of 12B and 12C. We started our descent from an estimated 24000 ft into cloud tops at 16000 ft where the turbulence resumed in earnest. The pilots elected to bleed off speed with spoilers and our descent was made in steps rather than in a smooth glide. As we traveled through smooth, gauzy cloud tops, we emerged along the New York/Connecticut border just north of Brewster, NY, with the East Branch reservoirs in view. Crossing over the intersection of I-84 and I-684, we headed southeast along the border to Stamford, flew southwest to Port Chester, and then turned northwest for our final approach.
At this point the yaw and roll became nearly nauseating. We were experiencing high winds (roughly 25 mph sustained) and I wondered if we would have to go around. I braced for a hard landing but in the last 100 ft ground effect must have helped and we touched down smoothly. After a turnoff at Charlie and taxi back to the terminal on Alpha, we found that the ground crew was not ready for our arrival and we waited about five minutes on board before they brought over a set of stairs.
These two aircraft were parked at HPN (Independence Air at the FBO and US Airways Express at the south corner of the main terminal):
F27XXX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2762 times:
OK thats a new one one me .... an airline Customer service Agent writing up a PASSENGER!?!?
Do fire off a serious letter to CO about that idiot - and the other one that ganged up on you with her - i know its a tough job (i did it for more than 9 years) but there is never, ever an excuse for someone to treat you that way - much less threaten to write you -the customer- up as a 'bad passenger' .
(And i have to admit, if I ever got a hand in the face in a situation like that, the temptation to snap her hand off at the wrist would be VERY hard to resist! LOL)
Turnit56N From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2665 times:
Sorry to hear that you didn't have a better experience with XJT. Although it's not an excuse, passengers tend to get very obnoxious around the holidays. With the weather in CLE on Thanksgiving and the passengers all stressed (and so many infrequent passengers who don't know what's going on but still feel like yelling at the CSAs) the CSAs in CLE were stressed beyond belief on Thanksgiving. I'm sorry that you had a bad customer service experience, but bear in mind that that agent had had an unbelievably horrible day with that kind of weather in a hub on a holiday. On any other day things would have been very different. It stinks for the passengers and the CSAs, but unfortunately we're all only human and tempers do run hot during holiday travel.
Quoting Redngold (Reply 2): With generous schedule padding I’m sure that Continental and its partners didn’t experience many recorded delays.
Actually, we don't pad schedules. We can add a certain amount for taxi and takeoff based on how long that historically takes (usually around 20 minutes), but we can't just show an hour flight scheduled for three hours. When we have to deice (and CLE is notorious for slow deicing) we have to haul booty to make up the time.
Quoting Redngold (Reply 2): The pilots elected to bleed off speed with spoilers and our descent was made in steps rather than in a smooth glide.
Unfortunately, this isn't really our decision. If we go down in steps, it's at ATC's request. We'd much rather be given an instruction to be at a certain altitude at a certain fix so that we could plan our own smooth descent. Also, when the aircraft enters icing conditions the engines kick up idle a notch and it's a lot harder to slow the ERJ down. In the summertime I rarely touch the speedbrakes, but in the winter time in the east when ATC is asking us to slow down and go down it can be difficult to get the speed back without using the brakes. I unfortunately find myself using them quite a bit in the northeast in the winter.
Redngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 47 Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2646 times:
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 4): With the weather in CLE on Thanksgiving and the passengers all stressed (and so many infrequent passengers who don't know what's going on but still feel like yelling at the CSAs) the CSAs in CLE were stressed beyond belief on Thanksgiving.
It wasn't really a problem with ExpressJet... just that one woman, and the other who didn't make things any better. I understand all the mayhem but come on! I wasn't screaming or yelling - if I had been, I would have attracted the manager's attention by myself. She was clearly at the end of her rope before I even got there. Maybe that's why, when I passed the desk on my way to the security checkpoint, she wasn't there anymore. She needed a break.
Based on my personal experience: Either I'm flying on exceptionally good days (which I doubt) or the average time added in for CLE-HPN is probably way too much for that route. I've always arrived early after an on-time departure, or on time after a departure delay - both with Continental and USAirways. In fact, every time, we've gotten to HPN so early that the ground crews have not been ready for us. One time, on USAirways, we got there so early that the previous departing plane was still at our parking spot! See my return flight report - we got back to CLE early, too.
etc... about the speed brakes...
Thanks for the info! I wondered about this. I figured that the descent in steps was either due to ATC or due to the winds. It's the first time I saw the speed brakes up on a plane that small.
We were also bumping around a lot by then, and the stepped descent made it feel worse. I know y'all work hard up front to do the best job you can, but after reading through my glossary again, I've determined that we had a healthy Dutch Roll going all the way down from roughly 5000 ft into HPN. Does the E135 have a yaw damper?
Turnit56N From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 2622 times:
Quoting Redngold (Reply 5): Either I'm flying on exceptionally good days (which I doubt) or the average time added in for CLE-HPN is probably way too much for that route.
The flight time isn't always calculated on the maximum speed we can do. It's often calculated based on the most fuel-efficient airspeed. Fortunately for us, CO and XJT are concerned about fuel costs, but they'd still rather see us early than saving a little bit more fuel. Enroute, we usually go full-tilt as fast as the plane will go before it yells at us. That's often a bit faster than the calculated fuel efficient speed, which results in a shortened flight time. Also, the flight time is calculated off our filed flight plan. When we're enroute ATC will usually clear us to fly more direct routes when they can, which shaves another few minutes. We also try to keep things moving on the ground (by starting up both engines on the ramp as you saw if we don't think we'll have a long taxi) to shorten our taxi time. So while we don't intentionally pad our times just to make us look good, we can and do speed things up to get in early.
Quoting Redngold (Reply 5): It's the first time I saw the speed brakes up on a plane that small.
All swept-wing turbine aircraft are highly aerodynamic regardless of size. The ERJs are a speedy little dart when they're descending. If we don't have the option of doing our own descent planning we often end up having to pop the brakes in the wintertime to slow up when ATC dunks us.
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 4): I've determined that we had a healthy Dutch Roll going all the way down from roughly 5000 ft into HPN. Does the E135 have a yaw damper?
Yes, they all have yaw dampers. The 135 really isn't much different from the 145 except for the length and thrust-to-weight ratio. What you were feeling was probably just the winds kicking the airplane around. Unfortunately you do feel the bumps more in an RJ. If you were to have a Dutch roll in our aircraft it would more likely be at high speed during level cruise.
F27XXX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 2613 times:
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 4): I'm sorry that you had a bad customer service experience, but bear in mind that that agent had had an unbelievably horrible day with that kind of weather in a hub on a holiday
This was 7:30 in the morning - she hadn't had any kind of day yet at that point. Next excuse?
And dont say 'because tempers run high on weather holidays due to handling too many rude passengers'.
There is never, ever an excuse for the kind of treatment we read about. This is not an agent (two, actually) who deserve to be defended.
Your customers pay your salary. Pure and simple. You cant deal with it? Do something else.
Turnit56N From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 2596 times:
Quoting F27XXX (Reply 7): This was 7:30 in the morning - she hadn't had any kind of day yet at that point. Next excuse?
Do you know what time she had started? By 7:30 in the morning she could have been there for two to three hours. If you were a CSA for nine years you know what two hours of dealing with hundreds of folks who have been battling bad weather, missed their flights, and now aren't going to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner can do to you. Again, I'm not excusing her behavior, just saying that perspective helps.
Quoting F27XXX (Reply 7): And dont say 'because tempers run high on weather holidays due to handling too many rude passengers'.
There is never, ever an excuse for the kind of treatment we read about. This is not an agent (two, actually) who deserve to be defended.
Note that I specifically said it's not an excuse. I don't think she had a right to yell at a customer, but sometimes a little understanding goes a long way. I have no doubt that the original poster was very stressed after spending hours on icy roads and missing her flight. The CSA no doubt misunderstood her agitation and stress for hostility. She shouldn't have done that, but by 7:30 she had already dealt with hundreds of people in the same condition who had been taking their pent-up stress out on her. I'm not saying that excuses her, but we are all human. The passenger that blows up at a CSA because they just missed their flight due to no fault of either one of them is only human. The CSA that has had enough after two hours of this nonstop is also only human. I firmly believe that a bit more courtesy on all sides would make life at the airport much easier, but I also understand how the stress of holiday travel and the stress of working holiday travel gets to everyone.
Quoting F27XXX (Reply 7): Your customers pay your salary. Pure and simple. You cant deal with it? Do something else.
Since when does paying for a ticket give people the right to forego common decency? I see this all the time at the airport (usually EWR) and I don't get it. Buying a ticket does give you certain rights, including quality service and a comfortable ride, which we do our best to provide. It does not give you the right to be rude and obnoxious to our CSAs, who normally do a spectacular job of customer service and 99% of the time had no control over the circumstances that ticked you off. Again, as a former CSA I'm surprised you feel this way. [Note: This was not directed at all at the original poster, who I think was understandably stressed at missing a flight and dealing with bad roads. It's a general observation.] Edited for spelling.
Redngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 47 Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2577 times:
Okay, tomorrow I'm going to post Part III.
Turnit, I appreciate your thoughtful responses, but the "yaw left - yaw right - roll left - roll right" sequence with a period of about 10 seconds, no matter how bumpy it was, indicates a Dutch Roll. We were dealing with very high winds which would have increased the relative airspeed. I'm sure the pilots were fighting this all the way down the glideslope.
Even the flight attendant mentioned that it was a very rough approach.
As for common decency, you're right - and this is why I didn't curse, yell, shout, or scream, despite my overwhelming urge to do so. If I raised my voice at all it was because there were 200 other people talking loudly around me and I've got poor hearing in those conditions. However, if this CSA was in that bad shape, she should have done something to take herself off the line. Thinking back to her body language, she was hostile towards me from the beginning. She kept her face buried in the computer screen until I asked for her name, and at that point she made eye contact with me only to make the gesture. She never looked at me again after that. The other CSA never did, either. The manager, however, *did* look at me, and I think that's why she understood that I was frazzled, confused, and upset.
Making eye contact is hugely important when dealing with customers. It gives you a sense of their state of mind as well as showing each customer that you are dealing with him or her - right now - and nobody else. That's why I make the effort to do so at work.
F27XXX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2575 times:
OK TAKE YOUR SEAT; CLASS IS NOW IN SESSION.
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 8): Do you know what time she had started? By 7:30 in the morning she could have been there for two to three hours. Trust me, with holiday crowds that's all it takes.
First off, you're a pilot. What do you know from dealing with passengers? Secondly, read my profile and tell me I don't have more experience dealing with the travelling public on a customer service basis than you do. I'll save you the trouble -- i worked the front lines for 9+ years with US both as an agent and as a Passenger Service Supervisor. Prior, i was a F/A - - so I thinkI know a little about how passengers "can be". And if 2 hours into a shift, this agent "had already had enough", then she can't cut it and should be workin the drive-thru at BK. Employees like that are a very serious detriment to your airline (and i think CO's a darned good one--) and they should make you damned mad.
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 8): I don't think she had a right to yell at a customer, but sometimes a little understanding goes a long way. I have no doubt that the original poster was very stressed after spending hours on icy roads and missing her flight.
She hadn't missed her flight. She was there more than 20 mins prior. Re-read her report. And no, i'm sorry - when an agent is blatantly lying to you (either because she didnt wanna admit the flight was oversold and handle it that way or she just plain didnt feel it necesary to move above the certain speed most agents and F/As nowadays feel obligated to) and sticking her hand in your face .. and not even answering questions by the pax, she's NOT due any understanding. She is PAID to be the understanding one.
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 8): Everyone tries to be civil, but hang around the airport for a few days during peak holiday travel and you'll see what I mean.
I was not only hanging around in airports, but working behind the counter (and at he gate and on the ramp) during peak holiday periods back before you were probably even in flight school. Dont even try giving lessons in the "Airline Customer Battlefield" topic.
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 8): It does not give you the right to be rude and obnoxious to our CSAs,
This passenger was there in time- THE AGENT(S) CAUSED HER TO MISS HER FLIGHT. AND THEN THREATENED TO WRITE HER UP!??!?
If this sounds condescending, then good. I meant it to. Stop defending BAD employees.
N766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8039 posts, RR: 25 Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 2572 times:
Quoting F27XXX (Reply 7): This was 7:30 in the morning - she hadn't had any kind of day yet at that point. Next excuse?
I dunno about your job but by 7:30 I've been at work for 3 hours already, in fact it's about the halfway point of my day. That's more than enough time for delayed flights, packed airplanes, and agitated passengers to get to you.
Redngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 47 Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2507 times:
Quoting F27XXX (Reply 10): This passenger was there in time- THE AGENT(S) CAUSED HER TO MISS HER FLIGHT.
As much as I wish you could be my defense lawyer, you are in fact wrong about this - so please don't continue this argument.
I was not there in time. Continental Airlines changed its policy at least several months ago so that minimum Check-In time is 30 minutes. I was there more than 20 minutes prior, but not 30 minutes prior, so I had missed the check-in threshold. Unfortunately, I didn't know about this because a) I hadn't read the requirements, b) I was relying on an old policy, and c) I hadn't asked when I confirmed my reservation. In other words, I was working on a bad assumption, and I was in the wrong when it comes to the time I arrived for check-in.
I would have been content (albeit still frustrated) with the rebooking if the CSA had calmly told me that the threshold was 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes, instead of ignoring my questions, and if the other agent hadn't interjected with an irrelevant answer.
DeltaGator From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 6341 posts, RR: 14 Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2489 times:
Quoting Redngold (Reply 2): encountered one of my pet peeves – Continental Airlines Elite and Business First passengers get their own screening lines. I have always and will always think this is unfair. Everyone should be assessed for the same security risk and therefore there is no reason to give those passengers preferential security lines.
I'm not sure what your logic is here but we get the same searches and go through the same metal detectors and get our bags searched by the same group of inept TSA workers (if you can even call some of them that.) We are treated to somewhat shorter lines becauuse of our allegiance to an airline (in my case Delta.) If you buy a inexpensive ticket or fly infrequently why do you think you should get the same conveniences that those of us who are the money makers for the airline and spend a large amount of time in airports? In today's airline world you get what you pay for but you never should have been treated as rudely as you were.
Quoting Redngold (Thread starter): So she tells me her name and then she says she's going to write me up as a bad customer.
Uh oh. You know this is going down on your permanent record. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where something got put in Elaine's medical record.
"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
DeltaGator From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 6341 posts, RR: 14 Reply 15, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2446 times:
Quoting Redngold (Reply 14): Why would the TSA allow an airline to get preferential treatment for its passengers, even if it is "just shorter lines?"
In the pre-TSA days the airlines paid for the security screening at an airport. I'm not sure if it is still this way but I would guess so since I have that convenient "9/11 Security Fee" aka "another freaking tax!" on all my tickets so I would assume (that sometimes gets me in trouble) the airlines have sway on the screening lines.
Like I said we get the same shoddy screening every one else does. The only benefit we get is to stand in a shorter line to get to the same screeners. I don't wear a badge that says "Hey! I'm special. Don't search me because I make lots of money for the airline." In Atlanta the line for premium passengers is sometimes a longer wait than the regular line so I skip it plus we all end up at the same set of fast food reject screeners.
If I didn't want to get additional screening I should get a better tan, wear arabic clothes and grow a long beard and wear a prayer cap. Heaven forbid we profile passengers and offend someone. Goodness knows TSA is an embarassment and searches for the weapon instead of the terrorist but I don't want to get off on a rant.
That said, I'm still sorry you had a bad experience with CO. They are better than that and I have enjoyed my trips on them when codesharing with DL.
"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
MarshalN From Hong Kong, joined Sep 2005, 1521 posts, RR: 0 Reply 16, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2430 times:
I think I can tolerate bad customer service up to a point, but if a CSA puts her hand up in front of me and says something like "don't complain to me, I have to work Thanksgiving" that's just inexcusable regardless of any circumstances. That's not acceptable.
Redngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 47 Reply 17, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2405 times:
Add to Part II that we pulled in for arrival at HPN's Door A.
Monday, November 28, 2005
ExpressJet Airlines dba Continental Express
Flight 2983, HPN-CLE
Embraer ERJ-135, N16502
Scheduled Departure: 1035, actual 1036 (t/o 1041)
Scheduled Arrival: 1210, actual 1155 (t/d 1147)
Seat Assignment: 6B (aisle seat, starboard side)
Departure Gate: Door A
Status: ON TIME
I arrived at HPN at about 0830 because I caught a ride with my mother on her way to work. There was nobody at the Continental Express counter (there's no mainline service to HPN, so it actually does say "Continental Express") so I headed upstairs to check out the observation deck. I was disappointed to find it locked, but after I looked more closely I realized that it's pretty much exposed to the elements. The deck appears to be about 40 by 60 ft. with three picnic tables and a few bucket seats on a concrete floor. There is a greenhouse-type roof. It was probably "closed for the season." The interior observation lounge is set back from the exterior wall, sort of a balcony to the boarding hall, but there are wide windows both immediately in front of the seats and built into the exterior wall. You could easily see the midfield portion of both runways, and I watched several bizjets take off plus a United Express E170 and an American Eagle CRJ-700.
At 0845 there was heavy fog at the field and visibility was 1/4-1/2 mile at best. There were two CommutAir Beech 1900s sitting off of Doors E-H. One of them, assigned to an early BOS trip, didn't go due to the fog. I could make out the silouhettes of bizjets sitting at a hangar directly across the field from the terminal. At about 0900 I decided to go back downstairs and try to check in. There were already several people in line for my flight.
At HPN, everyone's checked baggage gets swabbed and hand searched right there at check in, before you even get to the desk. The TSA agent was a Polynesian-looking man who was very nice. I saw him looking through the baggage and made a comment to the person next to me that I hope he didn't have to search my suitcase, because I had practically had to sit on it to get it closed (thanks to a new robe I bought while on my visit.) He overheard me and when he started searching my bag, he said "If I have to, I'll have you sit on it again" with a smile on his face. The woman next to me said that it was sad that the agents had to go through our dirty laundry, and I laughed and said that was why I had done laundry the night before. The TSA agent managed to get everything back in and to zip up the suitcase with relative ease. My baggage was returned to me and I went up to the desk.
I was initially assigned seat 12B but either someone had requested a change or the computer had reassigned me to 6B. My request to change to a window seat was denied because the flight was full. "Oh well," I shrugged my shoulders and headed to get a snack for the flight. I went to the Cloud Cafe (one of HPN's two food concessions) and picked up a bagel with cream cheese (already smeared and wrapped together) and a bottle of grape juice. Yummy.
I then engaged in about 1/2 hour of another one of my hobbies: collecting payphone numbers. In airports I have to be discreet because, just like spotting, collecting payphone numbers might arouse suspicion. My trophy was a list of roughly 30 numbers to add to El Jefe's Payphone Directory (available on-line, easily found by an Internet search.) Next, I headed through security - there are two lines at HPN, with no regard for Frequent Flier, Business or First Class status - following an elderly man who could not go through the metal detector and required a wand/hand search.
Out in the boarding hall I checked out some interesting planes. We had an Air Alliance (Air Canada 3rd tier operator) Beech 1900 headed to YYZ; another American Eagle CRJ-700 headed to ORD; and another United Express E170 arriving from IAD. Just before boarding, the young man who had been on my Thanksgiving day flight arrived with his iPod firmly implanted in the ears.
There were persistent problems with Door A's LED sign. The previous arrival, Continental 2370 (deja vu), was displayed instead of our outbound flight number. When the gate attendants called the board service the flight number was changed to 2389 - still wrong. The lady on the other end of the radio transmissions finally got it right just as the last of us were heading through the door. The departures screen still showed an incorrect departure flight number and time - 2370 departing at 1030. "Oh, well..."
For some reason, I can never keep my mind on task when I'm walking out across the ramp to my aircraft at HPN. There are too many distractions - such as the red, white and blue Colgan Air Saab 340 at Door D:
By this time the fog had cleared significantly and I expected that we would take off without a huge delay. Earlier, the first United E170 I saw had taxied out and then waited about 15 minutes before takeoff, behind three bizjets. That's about 5 minutes in trail - very good considering the poor visibility and proximity to LGA's arrivals.
I was settled into my seat at 1020 but the familiar man was having difficulty finding his seat - "It doesn't seem to exist." I asked him if it was 14A and when he nodded I said, "Last one on the left - there are no seats across the aisle." That wasn't convincing enough and in a moment F/A Sheila motioned him back with the explanation - "There's no Row 13 on Continental." His seat was directly behind 12A. I guess the airline industry still has a serious case of triskadekaphobia.
With everyone finally settled, F/A Sheila closed the door at 1025. It seemed that we were pushed back a little at 1027 - the plane jerked for some reason - but we didn't actually start taxiing until 1036. Once again we had two engine start at the gate area. On the way out I saw a number of bizjets parked at the FBO (N340EJ, N34CM, N726DC, N819AP, and N919RS) plus the following at the NetJets hangar (N28QS, N426QS, N383QS, and N624QS.) Prior to our takeoff, a private BBJ took off, too quickly for me to get its reg. number.
We taxied out Alpha to the full length of Rwy 16 and after a 30 second hold we roared out of there with a full load of passengers. We had a smooth climb through the clouds at 1000 ft with a gentle bank to the west, without apparent noise abatement procedures. At about 10000 ft we encountered mild bumpiness, but after climbing through 17000 ft everything smoothed out.
I sat in my aisle seat (with no view of the wing and a relatively poor view out the window) next to an elderly lady who was returning home to the Cleveland area as well. I had my snack, and declined F/A Sheila's offer (apparently HPN's agreements with the airlines requires that passengers get a snack.) With absolutely no view except clouds below and blue sky above, I tried to doze but I kept jerking awake and I decided that this probably was making things uncomfortable for my neighbor. We had a discernable change in attitude at 1106 and I thought we might be starting our descent - but that came later, at 1133. There was a weird, vertical cloud next to us in the mean time, and I thought it might be a contrail from another aircraft ahead of us. Who knows?
At 1133 we went nose down and headed into the clouds soon after. We came through the clouds at 1142 approximately 10 miles south of a single runway airport - CGF. We continued straight and the bright orange Home Depot facade at Severance Town Center slid by about 5 miles north. We were coming in roughly along the Harvard/Denison corridor. Eventually we turned southeast, dropped the landing gear at FOORD and Dutch Rolled our way (again) down to Runway 24L with touchdown at 1147. Our turnoff was at Hotel and we took Kilo all the way in to the gap between Concourses C&D, where we turned in and stopped dead between gates D14 and C24.
Our pilot welcomed us to Cleveland at a temperature of 64 degrees with strong winds from the south "which is why it was a little bumpy coming in." It was 1151 and "we're here 20 minutes early so there's still a plane at our gate. They're going to try to give us another gate." That happened very quickly and we turned around, taxied back around the end of Concourse D, and parked at Gate C18 for an early arrival time of 1155. However, the ground crew was not ready for us - again - so we waited about five minutes until a jetway driver arrived.
All in all, this was a decent trip. Hey, I got there on Thanksgiving, saw nearly every cousin who lives in southeastern Pennsylvania, had a great visit with my grandmother, ate turkey, and got back in time. "Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing."
Redngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 47 Reply 18, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 2374 times:
Addenda again, to Part II: Pam, the F/A on Flight 2270, saw me again at baggage claim and we chatted while we waited for our bags. She said that I was lucky to get a seat on that flight, because the combined conditions of high winds and probable icing limited us to 35 passengers out of a possible 37. I was the last person to get a seat. This is also when she agreed with me when I said, "I'm not usually sensitive during flights anymore, but it seemed to me we had a rough approach."