Sunday, May 2, 2010

Throughout all of our travels together over the years, things have generally gone really smoothly. Sure, we've dealt with more car rental hassles than I would prefer, and I've had to whoop some ass a few times, but mostly, we haven't had anything to complain about.

We've been particularly lucky when it comes to our air travel. (Oh, except for when ATA Airlines went under and we had no idea how we were going to get to Hawaii. That sucked. But at least we were able to work it out in advance of our trip!)

Anyway, our luck ran out yesterday.

Things seemed to be going swimmingly. Although it was early, we made it to the Miami Airport on time, made our way to the gate, and seemed to board and take off in a timely manner. The three-hour flight went by pretty quickly (I finished my book!), and we were soon in Detroit, waiting for our second flight.

During the hour layover, we grabbed some lunch and waited impatiently at the gate. We were both really tired and admittedly very cranky. We just wanted to get home.

Thankfully, we soon boarded our flight and we thought we were well on our way.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

So wrong, thanks to Delta Airlines. Shortly after all of the passengers took their seats, the flight attendant came on over the P.A. and said something along the lines of, "Alright, folks, we're all set and ready to go, we just have to wait for the First Officer to get here. We can't fly without one! We're hoping he's on his way."

As soon as I heard the word "hoping," I had a bad feeling about all of this. And although I kept telling myself, "He'll be here any minute," the minutes turned into 15 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Then 45 minutes. Then an hour. I was getting extremely pissed off that we were just sitting on the damn plane! When the flight attendant finally came back on only to say that we'd be de-planing, I cried. Call me tired. Call me impatient. Call me emotional and pregnant. All of these were true.

At first, the airline employees tried to blame the problem on weather in Tennessee. They said that because of the severe storms there, a lot of the airports were "closing down," and perhaps our First Officer was stuck there. All any of the passengers wanted was answers, but no one seemed to have any.

A particularly determined passenger became the advocate for all of us, and she really pushed the airline employees to get on the phones and figure this shit out. Meanwhile, she looked up all of the Tennessee flights and found that all flights into and out of Tennessee were on time. So much for their severe weather theory keeping our co-pilot away, right? Damn liars.

Time continued to tick by. They kept stringing us along, saying we'd have an answer soon. People tried to make alternative flight arrangements, but we were all told that there was essentially no hope of getting us to Buffalo (or anywhere near Buffalo) anytime soon, as everything was booked. Oh man, I was a mess. We're talking about a freaking 42-minute flight. FORTY-TWO MINUTES. But we were stuck, and the airline employees did not seem optimistic that we'd be getting out of Detroit. There was talk of food vouchers and overnight stays at area hotels.

Still, we continued to wait for answers. They said they couldn't begin to make arrangements for any of us until the "final call" was made about our flight--meaning they needed to decide whether we were just going to be delayed, or if our flight needed to be cancelled.

Tick tock; tick tock; tick tock.

Finally, we got word that they were "pretty sure" they had located an alternate co-pilot, and that one of the airline employees was going to go greet him and guide him to the gate so we could all get the hell out of Detroit.

Lo and behold, the man arrived at the gate, boarded the plane with the rest of the crew, and we were able to board shortly thereafter. After waiting for what seemed like forever for them to pull away from the gate, and then waiting longer on the runway, we finally, FINALLY took off.

And you know what? We never did get any answers. We have no idea what happened to the First Officer that was scheduled to be on our flight, but it appears that perhaps there was a scheduling problem, or the guy simply did not show up for work. Either way, it seemed completely unacceptable and I am absolutely livid with Delta Airlines.

In the end, we were "only" delayed for three hours, but our biggest problem with the whole situation was that there was never a reason. We don't know why. It's easy enough to accept that you can't fly in a blizzard, or lightning storms. It's understandable when they discover you can't fly because there's a mechanical issue with the plane. But it makes absolutely ZERO sense to lose the co-pilot. And not only did they have no clue where he was, but they allowed us to board the plane as if everything were normal, and did not realize the problem until it was time to close the door and pull away from the gate.

What the hell, Delta? What the hell.

But we are home. HOME SWEET HOME.


Gaynor May 6, 2010 at 8:00 PM  

That doesn't sound good, glad you got home safely though.

We had never really had any problems flying until the volcano ash crisis in europe last month. We were on our honeymoon in the Maldives and couldn't get our flight back to the UK so had to spend an extra 5 nights there.

Heather May 6, 2010 at 8:07 PM  

Oh yeah, Gaynor! That volcano stuff was pretty insane--I know this doesn't even compare to that.

I couldn't imagine being delayed for that long... it would be beyond frustrating! Even if you're in a cool place, after a while, you just want to be HOME!

After experiencing that, I'm sure a 3-hour delay would be NOTHING for you! :)

MrsAdams May 6, 2010 at 8:37 PM  

I don't comment very often, but I just wanted to say that I sympathize!

I lived in Oxford, England for a year and on my last flight home we got delayed in Chicago for 5 hours because they were missing a flight attendant! I had been traveling since 5 AM and we didn't get on our actual flight to Kansas City until 2 AM that night. By the way, the flight from Chicago to Kansas City is a 45 minute flight and when we finally got on board, they turned out the lights and the flight attendants didn't actually do anything....I'm glad you made it home!

Gaynor May 7, 2010 at 8:40 AM  

Yeah it was quite bizarre, i quite liked it as our tour operator was paying for us to stay so we basicly got 5 free nights!

We will definately remember our honeymoon!

Although it was much easier than actually being stuck on a plane or at the airport; i just remembered we got stuck for about 3 hours on the tarmac at Edinburgh when we were on our way to New York as their was a hole in the runway!

We flew with Delta then and they were very good and put the tv's on for us to watch!

Tania May 8, 2010 at 10:54 AM  

We got scheduled to fly on Delta on our way back from our cruise in 2007. Because of some storm on the East coast, flights were delayed and cancelled all over the place. We were in Puerto Rico and our flight into Chicago got delayed and eventually cancelled. They told us that they were going to fly us to Atlanta where we would then get a connecting flight to Chicago. We were also to be given food vouchers and a hotel and transportation. When we got to ATL, we got none of that!!! Plus my bag got completely destroyed by baggage handeling. I will NEVER, EVER fly Delta again.

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