This is my very first Trip Report, I only wish I had taken pics.. next time I'll be sure to! We have another trip to PBI
planned for end of OCT (also on SONG) and then AMS
in January, so I'll make up for this report's single pic with many more from those trips !
The next paragraph is what helps to illustrate just how much we appreciated the efforts and service of all the wonderful SONG staff, from the res agents who helped me with a date change, to the gate agents at LGA
to the absolutely wonderful F/A's on board. Thanks to all these dedicated people, a trip that we were both frankly a little nervous about undertaking turned into such an absolute pleasure.
My partner and I decided to treat my younger brother who has Downs Syndrome and who is now partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound due to having been diagnosed with a brain tumor almost two years ago. The surgery was a success beyond any of our wildest dreams, as we were prepared for the fact that "even if" he survived the craniotomy procedure, he'd likely be in a coma indefinitely or at best, totally paralyzed. He's a tough little guy, and not fully being able to understand what he was up against (or what he wasnt supposed to be able to do -), was a blessing .. as every day he got stronger, regained use of his entire left side (though not as fully as pre-tumor) and now is at the point of almost being able to walk again on his own. He's our miracle and every day with him is such a gift and a treasure. I should also mention that only one month after my brother finally got released from the hospital/rehab center, our mother passed away from a long battle with lung cancer. It's been a rough couple years for us all and we needed a vacation!
A close friend of ours who owns a little house in West Palm Beach offered us the use of his place, as he was going to be away for an extended period. That's all we needed to hear! A house with a pool (and it turned out that the house was just near PBI
so laying in the pool plane-watching ... whats better than that!? LOL!) And the house was to be ours for as long as we wanted? Getouttahere!! I searched the internet and found SONG to have great fares .. just $69 each way ! Spirit matched, but as we had been flying Delta Express and Delta primarily, we thought it best to use the SONG itinerary and continue earning miles toward that free ticket!
Up to this point, Delta was always just like all the other major carriers in my eyes. Reliable for the most part, some good days, some bad days, some situations handled well, some not so well, but hey that's the nature of any business where the main component of service is people, right? But then we did this trip on SONG and i was so blown away by the difference in attitude between these folks and the typical jaded (read "overworked, underpaid, harassed") airline people we are so used to dealing with. It's a total breat hof fresh air - like Southwest is, in it's own way, tho (and I mean no disrespect to the WN
folks out there), but SONG does it with a little more class overall. For example, I dont picture SONG F/A's starting toilet paper roll races on their flights LOL! In any case, its so nice to see an airline where the people are encouraged to have fun and to "lighten up"! It creates such a relaxed atmosphere all around and it's really appreciated -- especially on the dreaded "KosherKipper" routes ! This is the affectionate (?) term airline people give any flight leaving the NYC metro area to either MIA
. And for those of you who arent aware, its name comes from the large contingent of elderly, demanding, cranky, demanding, whiney (did I mention demanding?) shall we say, uh, "Boca-goers" that take those flights. They's MEAN
and when trapped en-masse in a plane heading south (or worse, north .. because then they're coming home to the cold northeast .. OY !), those traits get just a little more exaggerated, even! I've always thought fllight crews working these flights should get hazard pay! And I'm not slamming Jewish people here ... the special assist WCHR conga-line (there were no less than 35 on our flight !!!) is a mosaic of all nationalities, races and religions ... and all over 80!, all not showing their love of flying and all taking verbal swipes at every airline employee within earshot whenever possible! Fun Fun Fun !!
SONG Flight 2042
Boeing 757 (unknown reg)
August 16, 2005
We live in Connecticut and caught more than just the tail end of rush hour .down our stretch of I-95. I'm the type that believes in a nice early check-in, a leisurely pass thru security and a cocktail while plane spotting before boarding. My partner is of the "pack that morning and cut it to the last possible second" belief. Suffice it to say i was a little stressed sitting in that traffic especially since we still had to see about getting our seats re-arranged together as we weren't able to in advance. At 10:30, we curbside checked our bags and we walked into the DL LGA
terminal which was teaming with people - and it was HOT
! The lines at the counter were impossible, so I figured we'd have to sort out the increasingly dim-looking seat change problem at the gate. Then I looked at the massive buildup of humanity that was the linefor Security and i almost puked. I couldn't even imagine getting on the plane and having to ask the F/A's help in getting my brother next to at least one of us, but on top of everything else, he's a nervous flier and would not handle 12B very well while we were in 4C
and 8A ... but then a DL
agent came up to us and cheerfully said "C'mon this way -- let me get you thru that line a little quicker " and escorted us to the checkpoint for wheelchair pax. I've not flown with my brother since his becoming a "wheelchair pax" so I wasnt aware a special area exists. Thanks to that sweetheart of an agent, by now my blood pressure was starting to move back to normal and even though I didn't have time for my standard pre-flight cocktail, i was starting to relax! When I got to the gate and saw the aforementioned WCHR assist line i chuckled to myself and thought "this outta be interesting!". Surprisingly there was no one waiting at the podium, as it was almost time to start pre-boarding and I was greeted with a smile (this was LGA
- New York City .. i almost had to go and sit down - this was twice now I was greeted with a smile!) and in the matter of seconds the agent somehow got us a row of 3 seats together 6DEF. I overheard him say to another agent "just call these two non-revs back up, I had to re-seat them to accomodate these 3 gentlemen". I was very impressed by his kindness and willingness to even attempt that as it was boarding time! Not only that, he offered to bring us on right then - - and proceeded to wheel my brother right past he KosherKlipper Conga Line to the doorway and down the jetway ... can I just tell you about the looks we got as we passed them all by!? I almost felt guilty - almost - and it passed quickly LOL!
We thanked the agent for his great service and were greeted by Yolanda and Ann at the door. Big cheerful smiles, and both asking what they could so to help. My brother can walk with assistance and thought hey had an aisle chair standing by in the jetway for us, it wasn't necessary since we were only a few steps away from our seats so I walked him p ourselves and they gate checked his wheelchair and stowed it below. What struck me immediately was how COOL the interior of the plane was. Absolutely spotless, contemporary music playing, and plush grey leather seats each with the side rim of the seat in a hot color ... some orange, some electric blue, some lime green and the colors extended to the bulkhead walls too. I love that idea, because nowadays too many carriers opt for that white, colorless bland bulkhead look and its so sterile and troopship looking. This added so much to the decor of the cabin. The crew exuded charm and a laid back but sincere friendliness without going over the top and beong corny or goofy. You could tell they enjoyed their jobs and were proud of their company and their plane. They even managed to make the standard "puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeeez get outta the aisle and sittttt downnnn so we can get outta here" announcements in a friendly way without sounding snotty and b*tchy like most crews unfortunately do on other carriers (including mainline DL
). Everyone on board and buttoned up and every one of the four F/A's indidually had come up and said a little something nice to my brother who they could tell was nervous. He eats this kind of attention up, of course (who doesn't!!?) and was starting to enjoy himself too. I, of course, still in such a state of shock over how incredibly smoothly things went from the minute we got into the terminal up to that point was now in full vacation mode (whats that song? "Dooon worry ... be happy ... " LOL)
Then the bad news from the Captain - - we were 16 in line for take off. Hey .. no sweat, we had no connecting flight to worry about and I had supplied myself with my junk reading (things I only read when I fly: The Globe, US, The STAR, National Enquirer, Weekly World News). But then after a good thirty minutes of hobbling forward and stopping after each plane ahead of us trickled out, both engines shut down. I knew this couldn't be good and it wasn't - the Captain explained that weather enroute meant he had to file a different flight plan with dispatch and ATC and would keep us updated. And he did - every few minutes for the next hour even when there was nothing new to report, he came on and said so - - and as anoying as weather delays can be, it made all the difference to hear from him throughout the delay rather than to just sit there for all that time now knowing anything. It's little touches of professionalism like that that say an awful lot. It shows that their passengers matter to them and for pilots , who are for the most part isolated up there without really any pax contact (lucky them LOL!) its often not a priority for them to worry about keeping the people in the back up to date. I'm sure the F/A's appreciate it most because then they dont have nasty old f*rts jabbing them with their canes going "Oy stewardesssssss! Are we ever taking off or whaaaaaaat?! See Harold? Sophie told me nevah to floy on this aihline ... ecccchhh!" (of course talking to Harold - who may or may not have even been sitting there- while still glaring at the F/A) LOL!
Yolanda, Ann, Cheryl and a fourth (who's name i didn't get) kept a great lid on things and kept tempers from flaring and after a while we finally got our clearance. Engines started and we were soon slamming our way down the runway and up. I had forgotten the awesome climb on the 757 even when fully loaded like this .. and we made a sharp bank over Shea Stadium which was a really cool view (can you tell who's the real kid when flying!?)
Service was the best and most genuinely welcoming and friendly as I have ever experienced in my years of flying. These F/A's were unbelievable -they chatted and kided around with people, all he while getting drinks and meals served WHILE our charming fellow passengers were busy trying to unnerve them with "Miiiiiiiisssssssss . its freeezing in heyah - i need a blanket or im gonna doyyyyy!" to "Miiiiiiiisssssss .. moy husband needs a pillow right away" to "Miiiiissssss . moy husband needs to get to the bathroom right away but you're in the way and he has to go right now, what with his condition and all ....." to complaining TO
THE F/A's about how the passenger behind them "is kicking our seats incessantly and this extra discomfort contributes to moy husband's anxiety problems in enclosed social situations .." and on and on - AHHHHHHH! Mind you this was DURING the service - - and kept on all the way to PBI
. We were in the comfy forward cabin with just 8 or so rows .. i can only imagine what it was like as these poor F/A's continued back into the main cabin and had to deal with another sea of these malcontents! But from what I saw they handled everyone with as much polish and class as I have ever witnessed. Of couse these old bitter-nasties kept grumbling and whining about other things - but was in awe of how this crew kept from even snapping back or getting impatient even!
A word about the food for purchase - the special featured meal that day was a large Spinach Salad with crumbled bacon and bleu cheese and, i think even grilled chicken strips , also a Chicken Breast over Sesame Noodles salad plate, a Jerk Chicken Sandwich plate, a Fruit and Cheese Plate, a Picnic Basket (assorted cheeses, cold cuts, i think, crackers and some fruit and a sweet) each were $7 ... we sampled the Spinach Salad, Fruit and Cheese and the Picnic Baskets and thought they were terrific and worth the $7.
the most amazing thing to me .... they SHAKE MARTINI'S RIGHT AT
!!! This floored me!! And theyre not served in a mere plastic cup - - but a plastic funky colored Martini "glass" to boot ! We had to pick up a rental car upon arrival so limited ourselves to one (we were on vacation after all!) but I have never ever seen this done even in FirstClass ... much less on a "LowCost operator!"
The PTVs at each seat show 24+ channels, i think and have the flight follower and music channels and PayPerView movies. This is s o much more fun (and so much more along the lines of amenities!) then mainline DL
(or anyone else for that matter!). After the meal service, the F/As did another pass with the beverage cart. This time it was a coffee tho!
All too soon, we were descending and landed about 2 hrs late but who cared -- we had a fantastic time and found ourselves a new favorite airline. The crew and the Captain again apologized for the delay ( a nice touch, since clearly it wasnt their fault!) and thanked us all again for flying SONG. And they meant it! In no time, my brother's chair was brought up in to the jetway and one of the F/A's insisted on taking my brother herself to the door (he was beaming over this !) and helped him into his chair.
This crew went SO far above and beyond not just for us, but for everyone on that plane, that I thanked them for their wonderful service and kindness and told them what a difference they made and that DL
should be proud. I only regret that I didnt get the fourth F/A's name ,but the complimentary letter I wrote to DL
showed the flight numbers/dates etc so hopefully she got an 'attagirl' too!
SONG Flight 2044
Another rush to the gate, as I forgot to fill the rental car wit hgas before returning it - - again here we were running into the airport at 10:30 for an 11:15 flight! Again with seats not together - - only this time even worse - - 21A, 11A and 4E, i think! HOSED! By the time we cleared security, we got to the gate but they had already started general boarding and there was no agent at the podium. I thought that this time we were really goingto have to fend for ourselves and rely on the kindness of other pax (on this flight? the reverse KoskerKlipper? these same pax even more sour because they had to leave Boca and go back to Brooklyn?!) But one of the agents looked over and saw us and asked "are you gentlemen the Ward party?" to which we nodded our heads and she said "we noticed you werent together, but we took the liberty of reserving 2DEF for you, will that be OK
?" Again i was floored by the consideration. We thanked them profusely and headed down the jetway as they kindly held up the pax behind us just for a minute or two so we wouldnt feel rushed transferring my brother from his wheelchair into the cabin.
Another wonderful crew (Mario being the standout here -- he's an absolute rit on the PA! and even did a little Flamenco-like dance in the aisle during the taxi out!) , we loved the PTVs, there was no delay whatsoever , and soon enough we were home. I still had my SONG shaken-at-seat martini, as my partner and I decided that will be our new tradition when on SONG! I just wish we could fly everywhere we might go on them as this was a wonderful experience all around.
We wish Delta all the success it rightfully deserves as we know its a financially troubling time. But they truly have a winner with SONG and we thank them and all the employees we had the pleasure of being so well cared for by our most sincere thanks. They made what at first seemed a daunting experience (my brothers physical condition and requirements - and not knowing really how difficult it might be) a wonderful one for us - particularly my brother Russ, who came such a long way and who really deserved this trip! He's now got his DL FF
card and is ready for the next trip on SONG at the end of OCT! And for his big brother: SONG , get that shaker ready!!