First off, apologies for that title. It was too long, and it also referenced one of the lamer SNL skits of all time. Btw, I never knew that the Tri-Delts took the skit so hard...
So while I hate to sully our blog with your typical anti-airline post (what's next, an anti-cable company rant?), the folks over at Delta have given me no choice. I showed up 35 minutes prior to my flight today and couldn't check in because there were no gate agents. Evidently they were at the gate checking passengers in to my flight, and couldn't be in two places at once.
I take responsibility for not showing up on time (as well as for booking a 6:40 am flight). What's so annoying was Delta's attitude when I called them to rebook on the next available flight. Because I was flying from a small regional airport, there wasn't another flight for six hours. I was told that if I wanted to rebook, they'd charge me a $100 rebooking fee plus the difference in fares between the flight I missed and the flight I was trying to get on. The total cost would be $550. This, for a one way flight from Newburgh, NY to Atlanta. Like it wasn't bad enough that I woke up at 5:30 am, missed a flight and found out that I'd spend six hours in a small regional airport with nothing to do but listen to Hillary on CNN give 'em hell in Indiana (she's really fed up with the folks in Washington, she really is!). Now I get to spend $550 to fly the same plane that I was scheduled to fly six hours earlier. Ugh.
I explained to the Delta phone rep that I fly Delta often, that by missing the flight I was already firmly ensconsed in the "having a bad day club", and that I really could use a break. She was unmoved. I then explained that I'm always told at the end of a Delta flight by the flight attendant that "You have a choice in air travel, and we hope that you choose Delta for future flights...", and that this experience was making me not want to choose Delta again. She responded by asking me if I thought that it was Delta's fault that I missed my flight. Seriously. She asked me this. I told her that I didn't hold Delta accountable for my tardiness, but that good companies go out of their way to treat good customers well, especially when they had empty planes with plenty of seats to accomodate said customer. We ended our call agreeing to disagree.
Ten minutes later I went to the ticket counter and was rebooked for a flat $50 fee by a very nice Delta representative named Victor (who by the way, was a real saint to the drunk lady who was also denied from my earlier 6:40 am flight. You did good Vic, here's to ya'.).
While the $50 fee is an annoyance, it's an acceptable solution. I don't think Victor went out of my way to help me, but he also didn't seem to relish telling me that Delta was going to try and make up for high fuel costs by sticking it to me. I know the airlines need to make money, but it seems like they're going out of their way to anger their customers. No one really cared when they got rid of inflight meals (which my brother strangely loves, by the way) or blankets, but now that they're charging for extra bags, curbside check in (skycaps are singing the blues more than subprime mortgage brokers) and changing standby policies so that they can squeeze every last dollar out of us. It's hard to believe that airline consolitation will make this any better.
At least I'm home now. I think I finally scrubbed the airport Quizno's smell out of me. It may take a little longer to get the stink of Delta off of me.