A Man and His Thoughts

The random thoughts of a common man

Rough beginnings…

While at Disney World I found myself too busy to do any posting so I will have to do some from memory.

PART I
      The trip began smoothly enough, with us leaving home in the wee hours of the morning so we could make the 2 hour drive to Chicago Midway Airport for our 8:50 am flight. Traffic was light and  we made good time, found long term parking, and hopped on the bus to get to the terminal. When we arrived at airport proper is when the proverbial wheels fell off. We usually fly AirTran and have always had good luck with flights leaving on time and the service has been fantastic so we booked with them again. I had booked our tickets, printed our boarding passes, and paid for one checked bag all from the comfort of home so the only thing left to do was drop the checked bag off and be on our merry way. Easy, right?
We struggled to find the AirTran counter and when we did we were directed to the end of a line that wrapped through the roped queue in front of the desk, around the corner, down the hallway, around another corner and down another hallway. From listening to others talking and from speaking with an employee we found that the line consisted of Southwest Airline passengers and AirTran customers. For 45 minutes we waiting in line only to be put in a separate line when we got to the ropes. Now, for those of you who don’t know this, AirTran and Southwest have begun a partnership. All of the employees at the desks were wearing Southwest logos. Even so, why didn’t they have AirTran passengers in a separate line to begin with? With our departure time getting closer by the minute, my wife and I decided the best course of action would be for her to take the three girls and get them through security, since it would probably take a minute with the little ones. Twenty minutes later I finally make it to the counter where a woman in a Southwest shirt wouldn’t take my boarding pass because I was expected to locate my flight information on a touchscreen in front of the counter. As I start to search she calls up another family, a family of eight, that each have a checked bag. While she is helping them I am struggling because I cannot find my flight info no matter what search criteria I use. Of course, I am unable to get assistance from her because she is now in the middle of helping the other family. At this point the ticking of my watch is like a bass drum pounding in my ear. Fifteen minutes later….I am told by the woman that she cannot find my flight. Another ten minutes pass until she finally gets my bag checked and her parting words to me? “You better hurry, AirTran closes their gates early.” SERIOUSLY? Having finally checked my bag I book it toward the terminal. I come around the corner to the first security check point where I am greeted with 5 lines at least twenty-five people deep (as the clock keeps ticking). While waiting my phone starts to ring, my wife is calling to tell me they are about to start boarding the plane. All I could tell her was to board and if I don’t make it, I don’t make it and will have to catch another flight.

PART II
     Eventually I made it through security and to the gate to find that the flight has already departed. At this point I was frustrated, I was missing my five year old’s first flight, but not angry. I approached the Southwest employees, who knew exactly who I was, and asked what my options were for another flight. The search turned up another AirTran flight to Orlando scheduled to depart at, are you ready for this, 4:20 pm! I explained that I had park tickets for that day and asked if there wasn’t something more that they could do to help me out, like get me on a Southwest flight. When I proposed that solution, the Southwest employees working the AirTran gate, told me that they couldn’t do that because they are different companies. My frustration is beginning to take on an edge at this point…Their next solution is to cancel my flight and book a new flight on Southwest. A quick search and I found out that a one way ticket was $200 more than my original round trip! I thanked them (although they didn’t really help me in any way) and decided to try my luck with the customer service department. I was told the same thing regarding booking on a Southwest flight instead so I told the rep that I would find a way to occupy myself for the 7 hours and to just book my on the 4:20 pm flight. After a minute of two of keyboards clacking on the other end of the line, I am told that I am booked standby on that next flight. Wait, hold on just a second. I’m on standby? That just won’t do! I asked her how the flight looked and was told that it was full. That edge is getting sharper by the minute…I asked about bumping up to business class but again, the flight is full. She then offers to confirm a seat on that flight for an additional $398. WHAT? YOU CAN CONFIRM A SEAT ON A FLIGHT YOU JUST SAID WAS FULL IF I PAY YOU $400??? Now that frustration has become full blown anger. I demand to speak with a Customer Service Manager. After telling my story again she begins by telling me that AirTran recommends that all passengers arrive to the airport at least…this is where I cut her off and tell her not to be so condescending because I have had it and I am very familiar with the policies. I also told her that if she would have listened to my story she would know that I was there with plenty of time to spare. Eventually she confirms me on the flight free of charge. So after 6 hours of killing time I start to make my way to the gate (meanwhile, the girls all made it to Orlando safely and were swimming in the pool) only to find the flight delayed another two hours! In the end, the flight left Chicago at 7:30 pm and I arrived at my hotel room at midnight to find my family sound asleep! Thank goodness the rest of the vacation was fantastic because it had a rough beginning!

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This entry was posted on September 3, 2013 by in Travel.
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