I recently had to go see my parents so I could get out of actually being there for the Christmas holiday. For the first time in several years I took USAirways. First it was price. Everything else was over $200 more and it was a connection... which leads me to the second reason - nonstop. I would normally have avoided US at all costs but I figured it'd been enough time since I'd flown them that they HAD to have gotten their act together.... right?
Gate: 30something (this boarding pass I can't find)
I started watching this flight on rlmsoftware.com to make sure that it would actually be taking off on time. One nifty thing when you have access to a CRS is USAirways posts the UPFLT so you can see what flight will come in and grow up to be the flight you're going to take. It gets handy when there's weather in the northeast. This particular aircraft was supposed to fly DCA-MHT-DCA-PBI. Before that it did DCA-RSW-DCA. All of the flights went off without a hitch until mid-afternoon. We'd gotten a little snow in the Washington area so I was concerned that the flight would either take a heavy delay or cancel outright. By the time I left work the sector to Manchester was heavily delayed. I figured I was in for it but since I live so close to DCA it would pose no problem - I'd go home and cuddle up with the dog.
Eventually they cancelled the MHT portion and stubbed the flight. The plane never left and sat there at DCA waiting for ME.
I got to the airport about an hour prior to departure and went straight through security. I went down to the gate and there was mass pandemonium. All of the flights to the northeast were either cancelled or delayed. Even the shuttle flights to LGA were running behind which is rather unusual. Given the amount of abuse your average Washingtonite can dish out I'd say that the USAirways staff handled it rather well. They were nothing but friendly which was quite a change from the last trip I'd taken with them... four years before.
The flight was called, everyone was seated, and we took off. The inflight staff were very friendly and came around with the inflight service at least twice. The interior of the aircraft looked new and there appeared to be plenty of legroom. Things were definitely looking up. We landed all of 10 minutes early which is always a bonus. Unfortunately I was due to be picked up by my brother who, instead of making being late a mission, has made it a lifestyle. Lucky for me he wasn't feeling all that great and my sister-in-law pushed him out the door to meet me ontime.
*INSERT FAMILY DRAMA HERE*
I was supposed to meet KFLLCFII and SHUPirate1 while I was down there but...
*INSERT MORE FAMILY DRAMA HERE*
I grew up in West Palm Beach.. and spent most of the weekend going down memory lane. The place sure has changed. The house that I grew up in is still there - and my parents still live in it. Unfortunately after almost 40 years they've decided to sell it. This means 40 years worth of hoarded junk to go through. I'll have to head down again because there was just way too much of it.
I'm sure you're wondering why I'm including gate numbers... it has everything to do with the next thing that happened.. and how USAirways almost shattered any possibility of me spending a red cent to avail myself of their services ever again.
I got to the airport around 9 with my dad. One thing about my dad is he's 71 going on 4 most of the time. We love the man to death but he'd begun to wax historical about as far as I could take. We sat down and had a quick bite and I went to go get in line for security. The security line for the B terminal at PBI is around the corner so you can't really see it unless you're almost ready to get in it. When I got there it looked like something from one of Escher's worst nightmares. There were people everywhere.. and not a one of them had any common courtesy in them at all. People were jumping ahead in line and generally pushing other people out of the way. The TSA were about absolutely worthless. They had SIX lanes open and processed about 2 people every 10 minutes.. or so it seemed. After tripping (yes, you read that right, TRIPPING) some guy in his late 50's who seemed to think he had the right to get to his gate for his Newark flight before everyone else and calling security (who subsequently did nothing).. A man in front of me an I spent the rest of the time taking up as much space in the habit-trail lines as possible as to keep people from rope jumping and generally delaying people. Line ettiquete is essential in situations like this. I tend to view line jumpers similarly to how I view people who take candy from babies anyways.. but in a slow moving line that MAY make me miss my flight... all I can say is "bring it on".
EVENTUALLY I got to the X-ray machine and they called last call for my flight. Mind you I'd been in the 7th circle of hell for the last hour. I'm also used to TSA security at DCA first and foremost.. and at other MAJOR airports elsewhere in the country. Say what you want, they AND OLD: Guangzhou - Baiyun (CAN / ZGGG) (closed), China">CAN move people. Apparently everyone who failed the quickness test got assigned to PBI this bright and sunny saturday in December. Some guy - out of nowhere - came flying up yelling "they called 240 - I HAVE TO BE SCREENED NOW". I retorted with "GET IN LINE PAL, I'VE BEEN WAITING HERE LONGER THAN YOU HAVE.. AND *I* WILL NOT MISS MY FLIGHT BECAUSE OF YOU". This is where I turned a lovely shade of purple. He then proceeded to push his way in front of me and UNPACK HIS ENTIRE ^@#$! HOUSE on table in front of the x-ray machine. I gave him a slight tape on the achilles tendon with my shoe, cut in front of him and got through the metal detector.. only to be stopped by the useless lump of protoplasm that was watching the X-ray monitor - looking for God-Only-Knows-What. She began yelling "BAG CHECK LANE 5" over and over again.. but (and I know you'll all be surprised) nobody came.
A couple of minutes later yet ANOTHER last call came over for my flight.. but nobody came to help with BAG CHECK LANE 5. I did notice what the problem was.. I heard the supervisor who was supposed to be helping with BAG CHECK LANE 5 talking to another supervisor who didn't want to help with BAG CHECK LANE 5 because she did the last one. Supervisor one starts asking the people who are now at a total standstill because nobody will help with BAG CHECK LANE 5 who wants to go to lunch first. I asked the man - very politely - if he could help with the bag because I'm going to miss my flight. After asking four more employees he sauntered over and grabbed the bag (why they didn't move the ^@#$ thing out of the way and screen the rest in the first place is beyond me). I saw my pack and my shoes and RAN a 'la OJ Simpson when he was still doing the Hertz commercials... to gate B9.. which - if you have been to or see a map of PBI - is at the END of the pier. Off I went.. shoes in one hand, belt in the other.. dashing.
I got there and there were two people behind the podium and one man about to close the door. Out of breath I gasped that I was sorry I was late and that there were still four people right behind me that were also there for the flight.
This is where I stop and say... YES, I know that flights shouldn't be delayed for late arriving passengers. I've been flying for a long time. I know how this works.
Man #1 begins to give me a lecture about "this is why we tell you to be at the airport 2 hours early " and "you know I really don't have to put you on this flight - you're lucky that I'm even talking to you". At this point I snapped. Two days of my parents and my siblings had me at the edge of my wits. Through gritted teeth I explained to the man that I am over 30 years old. I have been flying for probably 25 of those 30 years. I have an education and give people a certain degree of common courtesy. I expect NO LESS than the same from for whom I am a customer.
The second man behind the counter.. seeing that I was about to lose my precious melon.. came and took the half of my boarding pass he needed and scooted me towards the gate. I ran onboard and got my seat - which was very welcoming at that point. Mr "I'm going to dump the contents of my house and all my personal belongings" boarded shortly afterwards and we took off.
Don't ask me about the flight. I seethed through the entire thing.
We got to Charlotte and I went straight to the closest bar and had a cigarette before someone got hurt.
Charlotte has quite the facility. I remember it being under constant construction before... but now that it's finished I have to say that I am impressed by the variety of shopping and eating options available.
My flight to DCA was 1/2 hour delayed because of inbound aircraft. I took a look and it was coming in from BUF and they were getting snow.. so there was nothing to complain about.
I went and got a crossword puzzle book, made a couple of calls, and waited for my flight to leave.
This flight went by in a flash. No sooner did they come by and serve the drinks, they were landing again. This time I managed to get a window seat on the right hand side so I could see the city on landing.
The landing was smooth and I felt obligated to kiss the ground.
All in all, I can't fault USAirways' inflight service. I was quick enough and friendly enough. The seats were comfortable and there was enough legroom.
I will say that the advertisements on the tray tables is about THE tackiest thing I've ever seen.
The following day I fired off a nasty-gram to US about the man at gate B9 at PBI that fateful Sunday. Since I did it through email on the website I figured I'd get a form reply.
I was totally surprised when - today - I received an apology letter IN THE MAIL along with a voucher for future transportation. The fact that they were willing to go that far to make it right improves them in my estimation. I will definitely fly them again just for that.