Karen (estherchaya) wrote,
Karen
estherchaya

On Why I Have No Love for Air Tran (or BWI either)

All airlines have their quirks, and I do try not to be TOO pissy when I'm at the airport. Sometimes it's easier than other times to avoid pissiness, but I know basically me giving anyone an attitude about the long wait or whatever isn't going to help matters, and may actually make things worse. Here are some highlights of our flights to and from Orlando that make me less than thrilled with Air Tran (and also less than thrilled with BWI Airport).
  • We arrived at the airport around 5:15am for our 6:50 flight. This is, admittedly, not enough time, and this is my own fault. I had gotten about 45 minutes of sleep and just couldn't move any faster. We were dropped off by the shuttle bus outside the entrance to the air tran ticketing area. There weren't a lot of people waiting at the curbside check in, so we decided to do that. We waited about... oh, ten minutes or so before we were helped only to find out we were at a United Airlines check-in stand, not an Air Tran stand. Note that there was no clear signage indicating what airline the curbside check-in was for. Also our faults, but still annoying.
  • We went inside and stood in an enormous queue for a ticketing agent. After making our way through the line to a ticket agent, we were told to input our confirmation number on the touch-screen in front of me. Except my itinerary listed no such confirmation number (had it listed the number, I would have checked in on their website). The ticketing agent sighed and briskly asked for our names and flight info. She spent several minutes standing there, during which time she occasionally tapped a key on her keyboard. Finally, she asked for a copy of my itinerary. All she did with the itinerary was write down my confirmation number and tell me again to key it into the touch screen in front of me. This is ridiculous, in my opinion.
  • I went through and checked in on the stupid touch screen despite the fact that a seemingly competent ticket agent was standing right behind the counter. When I finished, the agent asked how many bags we had to check, despite the fact that I had just inputted that information to the ridiculous touch screen. Then she walked away. For a good long while. Then some other gentleman came over and asked how many bags we were checking (2 - one suitcase and one carseat). He printed out the tags for the bags and told us the suitcase was 3.5 pounds over the limit. Not wanting to hold up the line while I tried to move things around in the bags, we just paid the $25 fee for weight. Then that man WALKED AWAY.
  • Eventually the original ticket agent game back and put the tags on the bag and gave us boarding passes and noted that we were not seated together because the only three seats available together were in the exit row, which Julian may not be seated in. The agent directed us to the appropriate concourse. Which is to say, when I asked which direction the concourse was she looked at me like I was a three-headed moron and pointed disgustingly to her left.
  • We proceeded to security. BWI is notorious for ridiculously long, stupid security lines and inefficient means of shuttling people through the security gates. Sunday was no exception. Once we got through the first checkpoint, we were directed to a line at the far end of the security area to go through xray and metal detectors. Except that line DID NOT MOVE ANYWHERE FOR TWENTY MINUTES. And you know why? Because flight crew used that line almost exclusively to cut through security. And since flight crew now also has to have their bags scanned going through security, it took a long time. We eventually switched lines and made it through. Most airports, you might have noticed, have a designated line for flight crew at the security checkpoints. BWI does not.
  • When we arrived at our gate, Seth asked the Air Tran staff members who were standing around whether it was possible to get our seats switched... perhaps, he suggested, they could make an overhead announcement to see if the passenger also seated in the row we had two seats in could switch with Seth. They stared at Seth blankly and said, "No." When asked if they do preboarding for families traveling with small children, they said, "No, you board with your zone. Period." Now, it's fine that they don't do preboarding, but there were certainly nicer, more professional, more courteous ways of conveying that message.
  • On the plane the flight crew pushed me around several times while maneuvering the drink cart around. Not a big deal except I was already pissy.

That was the trip down. The trip home wasn't nearly as exciting, but did have three annoying points:
  • The flight was delayed. This happens and complaining about it won't make it any better, but travelling with a three year old makes it slightly more irksome.
  • Once on the plane, before the cabin doors were even closed, I asked a flight attendant if she could please locate a blanket for me. She responded dramatically that she hadn't seen a single blanket on the plane, but if she spotted one, I'd be the first to know. Later, as we were taxi-ing to the runway, she spotted a passenger who was holding on to a large framed photo and told her it needed to be placed in the overhead compartment. The passenger squawked about it, not wanting to risk having the glass break in the overhead compartment. The flight attendant (the same one I had spoken to) went up to the front of the plane, retrieved two blankets, wrapped the photo up in them and placed it in the overhead compartment. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. But there's not a single blanket on the plane, right?
  • My reading light didn't work. Also not a big deal except that my light hadn't worked on the flight down either.

And that was the flight home. Oh! But the fun has just begun, my friends! That's right, there's more!

We arrived about half an hour late (not bad in the scheme of things) and went down to claim our baggage. We had checked four items coming home (I checked the bag I'd carried on going down, and my father lent us a small bag for the various and sundry toys Julian had accumulated while visiting Florida). The big suitcase came out. Then my black previously-carry-on bag.

And then we waited.
And waited.
And waited.
For about 40 minutes, which is when I realized our flight info wasn't even on the baggage carousel display anymore. So we proceeded to the Air Tran Baggage Office. We were still missing our car seat (NOT GOOD!) and the small bag my father lent us.

The woman helping us in the baggage office was pleasant and efficient, and very helpful. She provided us with a loaner car seat (a Britax Marathon, so that was good) and had us fill out the paperwork to have our carseat and bag retrieved and delivered. "Don't worry," she assured us, "It's probably on the next flight in and it's not a big deal. It happens every night."

Um.

I appreciate her efficiency. I appreciate her courtesy. I appreciate that we were taken care of and provided with a loaner car seat without any squawking about it. What I do not appreciate is being told "it's no big deal" and "it happens every night." This does not inspire confidence.

Our bag and car seat were delivered last night, around midnight. The baggage delivery guy was late, but had been given the incorrect phone number for us (he'd been given my work phone number, which he did indeed leave a message on) and couldn't contact us to tell us he would be late. I, of course, acted completely rationally and calmly when he woke us up to deliver the bags. If, by rational and calm, you mean I screamed at him. I'm so ashamed. I actually called the baggage delivery dispatcher this morning and begged her to tell the courier how very sorry I was for screaming at him. She took it in good humour and appreciated that I had called. The courier had acted professionally and courteously the entire time I was screaming at him. He never raised his voice or looked agitated. He apologized profusely. He was calm and kind and completely appropriate. I was a screaming lunatic and I'm happy that I had the opportunity to apologize, though sorry that I had any need to do so.

And that, my friends, is the end of my tale. Did you make it all the way to the end? There might be a pop quiz later.
Tags: travelin' woes
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