I like Peter King. I try to read his column every Monday during the NFL season, and even though I always skip over the Field Hockey stuff, I get enjoyment out of the rest of the article.
So I’m passing this along to you, the reader. Pass it along to others, and tell them to pass it along to others. I’m the kind of guy that has done these little kind of protests, even though I know it won’t really hurt the company that wronged me…I do it as a matter of principle.
So read this, pass it along, and think about it the next time you are considering flying Delta.
Last Tuesday afternoon, my daughter Mary Beth and I were preparing to fly from South Bend, Ind., to Cincinnati on a Delta Connection flight. We planned to continue on to Newark from there, and then drive home. We got to the airport at 2:45 p.m. for the 4 p.m. flight. At about 3:25, Mary Beth said she was going to get yogurt pretzels. "Hurry back," I told her. Well, she tarried, and finally, at 3:40, I told the agent to page her, which he did, and then told the guy I was running to find her. I found her. We sprinted back, went through security, and arrived at the gate at 3:46. "Flight's closed," the gate agent announced. Rather than explain anything -- you have to board within 15 minutes of flight time or you risk surrendering your seat -- his co-agent commenced putting us on the next flight. The 4 p.m. plane would have put us on the ground in Newark at 7:40; the next flight wouldn't get us there until 12:30 a.m. Mary Beth begged for them to open the door. The two guys said nothing. Stone cold. The second agent just continued typing furiously. I saw how unresponsive they were and knew we were cooked. I knew the flight was full, and there were two standbys, or more, and figured he'd just given away our seats at 3:45 on the nose, even with me running to get Mary Beth.
We'd gotten to bed at 3:30 Monday morning because of a two-hour, 48-minute Delta Connection delay in Cincinnati Sunday night, then Mary Beth stayed with two students in a dorm at Notre Dame Monday night, and heaven knows how much sleep was had that night. She was fried. Anyway, I finally spoke up and said, basically, that you guys saw me run to get her, and the South Bend airport is no bigger than a postage stamp, and, really, you knew I'd be right back, and you gave away the two seats to standbys anyway? "Sir, if you don't want seats on the next flight, you can take your business elsewhere," Idiot No. 2 said. I simmered. He printed out the tickets for the later flight, handed them to me, and the biggest two aviation numbskills in Indiana history walked outside to close up the commuter flight.
An older fellow who was in the waiting area for another flight then walked up to the counter and proceeded to start screaming at my Delta foes, who stopped in their tracks. "What you just did is the worst thing I've ever seen done by an airline!'' Mr. Neutral Onlooker yelled. "I will never fly Delta again! I will tell people I know never to fly Delta again! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!'' To which Idiot number 2 replied: "Would you like us to call security?" He didn't have to. A female security agent came over and asked what the problem was, and Mary Beth told her how evil the two clowns behind the counter were. At this point, the two agents walked outside, and then the first guy stood behind the plate-glass door and made faces at us -- raised eyebrows and phony smiles, head moving smugly from side to side -- and announced loudly and mockingly, in a sing-song way: "Good-bye! Good-bye! Enjoy your flights!''
The later flight began its taxi to the runway at 3:55. Western civilization was saved. Gold stars to all involved! You were five minutes early!
You know, when you fly a lot, as I do, you need to have thick skin. Things happen. I waited out a five-hour delay in Orlando last summer because the crew didn't show up. I didn't make a peep. Things happen. But 99 percent of the the time, you're treated with some kind of common decency, even in the longest of delays. And here are two uncommunicative, unresponsive, totally unprofessional slugs, who can't spend 10 seconds explaining what happened but who can threaten to call security and mock our anger. All they had to do, even one of them, was to explain exactly what happened, which they never did, and say they're sorry, but rules are rules, and we had to be there at 3:45, and we weren't. I would have been angry, but not volcanic. Things happen, but in 24 years of flying for my job, I've never been treated like this, and I will not accept being treated like this.
The only thing you can do in a case like this is to not fly the airline. And so my little protest will be just that, a little protest. But it will be real. For the next year, until Feb. 23, 2005, I will not fly Delta. My guess is that will cost them maybe $5,000 in business. If Mary Beth goes to college in a town serviced by Delta, she will not fly the airline for one year either. I'm sure Delta will get a chuckle out of this protest. My only hope is the airline disciplines the two numbskulls -- I just wish I'd gotten their names, but Delta can figure out easily enough who they are -- for costing the company a few G's.