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Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

Dave!I have to wonder exactly what a person's breaking point is when it comes to being screwed over.

Today they're called "flight attendants," but if you take a ride on the Wayback Machine, they were called "stewardesses." A while ago, I read an interesting interview with one of the first stewardesses who was asked about flying now vs. flying back then. She lamented that flying back when she was working was so much more special. People dressed up in their finest clothes and were on their best behavior instead of showing up in sweatpants and being rude and demanding. People considered the flight an adventure instead of an annoyance. People thought of the flight as part of their vacation, not just a means to get to their vacation. She thought that flying had become so commonplace that people were apathetic towards it and that it has ruined the experience.

She is, of course, completely full of shit.

What's ruined the experience of flying is how the airlines started treating their customers like cattle and abusing them at every turn. What she is bitching about is, in reality, how people have reacted to how they're treated.

As for me, I'm ready to start showing up at the airport drunk and in my underwear.

My flight out of Rome yesterday was delayed 35 minutes because the inbound flight was late. They ended up "making up the time in the air"* and landed as scheduled at 1:00. So far so good.

But here's the problem... MY CONNECTING FLIGHT OUT OF AMSTERDAM HAD ALREADY BEEN BOARDING FOR 25 F#@%ING MINUTES! On my way over I had a FIVE HOUR layover, on the way back I had NEGATIVE 25 MINUTES layover. Who is the idiot who schedules this crap?

And that's just the beginning. My Northwest Airlines flight over the Atlantic went like this...

  • Since I was 25 minutes late getting in line to board the plane, all overhead space was taken up by morons who ignore the piece/size limits (which Northwest in no way enforces in the first place). This meant my small backpack had to go under the seat in front of me, leaving me NO legroom for a 9 hour flight.
  • We were late taking off, of course. Do flights ever take off on time anymore? Of course, we were assured that we would be "making up the time in the air"*.
  • The audio system on the plane was busted. This meant the two movies we had on the flight had no sound. I guess I shouldn't bitch too much... since Northwest can't afford to pay their mechanics, I should just be grateful that it's not the engines that were busted. Still, it made for a pretty boring 9 hour flight.
  • My tray table was busted. This meant I couldn't set anything on it unless I wanted it to slide off onto the floor. I guess I shouldn't bitch too much... since Northwest can't afford to pay their mechanics, I should just be grateful that it's not the engines that were busted. Still, it made eating quite a challenge for my 9 hour flight.
  • It should come as no surprise at all that my luggage did not make my flight from Minneapolis to Seattle with a NEGATIVE 25 MINUTE CONNECTION. The even worse part is that Northwest didn't bother to let anybody know when the last bag had been unloaded... nor did they bother to forward a list of the bags which didn't make the flight to the airport. This left a group of us standing in the Customs area at Minneapolis St. Paul not knowing if we had bags or not. This is just plain STUPID. Many airlines I fly (like Korean Air) are kind enough to let you know your bag didn't make it so you don't waste time waiting for something that never comes. This "wait for nothing" made me late for my next connection as well.
  • We were told that a Northwest agent would be waiting outside of customs to provide us with "compensation coupons" because of the busted audio system. Well, this agent either ran out of coupons or left before those of us waiting for luggage could clear customs, because I sure didn't get one. I don't even have a clue as to what kind of "compensation" they were offering, but I am betting it wasn't worth a heck of a lot.
  • Having been traveling for 22 hours, the last thing I wanted to do was go back to the airport 3 hours later at midnight to pick up my missing bag, but there wasn't much else I could do if I wanted to take it home with me. I was given a number to call to make sure that my luggage actually made the second flight, but the phone was never answered ALL NIGHT LONG!! So once again I went the baggage claim not knowing if I was going to see my bag or not. Thankfully, it was there, but why ask people to call you if you never pick up the phone?

And we won't even get into the stupid crap on the connection flight to Seattle once I connected in Minneapolis. I am beginning to wonder if I would have been smarter to PAY for my flight on a competing airline rather than use frequent flier milage to get a FREE flight on Northwest. Seriously, just how much worse can it get?

Since they're in bankruptcy now, I'm guessing the answer would be "a lot worse."

I think I am past my breaking point right now, and this was on a flight I didn't even pay for.


* When airlines say that they are going to "make time up in the air" I think we all know that this is a load of horse shit. Airlines heavily... HEAVILY pad their schedules so that they can still claim a high "on-time arrival rate" despite their constant late departures. For example, the flight I took (#45 out of Amsterdam to Minneapolis) which leaves at 2:05pm and arrives at 4:05pm is being discontinued at the end up the month. It is being replaced with a NEW flight #45 which takes off at 2:05pm but is now arriving at 4:25pm. Twenty minutes of additional slop time to make up for even later departures, I guess. I'm sure they'll claim it's some kind of annual change in weather patterns, but it's all crap no matter how you try to sell it. The simple fact is that planes DO NOT take off on time with any regularity, yet somehow end up LANDING on time?? I wish the FAA would get off their asses and start requiring honesty in airline schedules. But that would mean that they actually have to do some work, and what government agency is interested in actually working for the people they are paid to be serving? Dumbasses.

Categories: Travel 2005Click To It: Permalink


  1. Brandon says:

    First you make me want to go on a European vacation, then you make me never want to fly again. I become very conflicted whenever I read Blogography. But I will continue to read because I learn so many great things. Like who knew Hare Krishnas could be so much fun!

    Welcome home!

  2. Troy says:

    On the bright side you’re home in one piece. That has to be a big plus 🙂

    My last trip to Europe I got onto the first plane, which was suppose to leave at 10:00 p.m. We sat around for 30 minutes before they told us that one of the panels in the cockpit wasn’t working properly so they are going to swap it with a good one. Then 30 minutes later they come out and say that the new one didn’t fix it and they were going to try another one. Another 20 to 30 minutes later they say that the third one didn’t work and that we would have to change to another plane. So we got off the first plane, trudged to the other side of the terminal (it was like a little pilgrimage to the second plane). We ended leaving the ground just after 1 a.m. and as “compensation” they gave us free earphones. Yipee.

  3. Chris G. says:

    I would be in a state if my luggage got delayed. With the organisation of airports these days who knows where it could end up?

    This is a great post, and you make a very good point about the airline schedules, I’d never thought about it like that before. Then again I’d guess I’m less cynical than you. Not much though.

  4. Dave2 says:

    Brandon: The Hari Krishna’s totally ROCKED The Pantheon! Very cool dinner music. The only problem is that I can’t get that tune out of my head… “Krishna, Hari Krishna… Krishna, Hari Krishna…”

    Troy: Yes, arriving home alive is definitely a plus, I’ll give you that much! If it’s a choice between having audio for “Herbie The Love Bug Fully Loaded” or the engines blowing up… well, “Herbie” doesn’t sound so important anymore, even if it does have skanky Linsey Lohan in it.

    Chris: It would be very, very difficult to find anybody more cynical than me.*

    *I don’t know if that’s really true, but I like to think that I’m the best in everything, so we’re going to just go with it. 🙂

  5. Chaz says:

    Here’s one thing I love about flying. If ever you’re running late, you’re just screwed over, and you will end up eating the cost of your ticket. However, all the delays and late arrivals that you encounter with the airline are completely glossed over. How about they start absorbing the cost of my ticket by giving me a refund when they run late? It seems that’s only fair.

    I also have to agree with you on the luggage. All I ever carry on the plane with me is a small backpack (the same one you have I might add), but I always find that I can’t ever find any overhead space. We can thank all the considerate individuals who carry on 10,000,000 bags.

    In any case, I’m glad you made it back safely.

  6. xtine says:

    lots of ‘broken’ stuff on that fligh, glad you made it home ok.

  7. Randy says:

    I think this is why I like traveling to the West of us here on the West coast. My trips to Japan have been trouble free, and my trip to Europe had some definite connection snags…

    So I’m planning a Pacific NW trip this next time, as I have only done basically “touch downs and take offs” up there. There is much to explore. I ordered Frommers “Oregon” and “Washington” books. Yeah, it turned out only Fodors had a Pacific NW and I’m going to try the specific state books first.

    Anywho, I’m definitely glad you made it back safely, but that 3-hr. trip back had to suck bigtime. I still enjoy your rants…

  8. Damn… Maybe I should be glad I never get to travel. Glad you’re back and hope you find a way back to the happier side of your breaking point again soon.

  9. Marc says:

    Chaz: Due to the inconsiderate morons with lots of huge bags I have reconsidered my stance on getting in line early for boarding. You may look like an idiot rushing into the plane, but at least I got my stuff (adhering to the size guidelines for cabin luggage) into the overhead cabins and those with the huge bags can see where to put their stuff (preferably in their legroom).

  10. PeggyArcher says:

    You realize that this was Karmic retribution for flying Northwest, Rash-boy..

    I’m glad you got back safe.

  11. Dave2 says:

    Ah, but it was a free flight using frequent flier miles! Sticking it to The Man… just sticking it to The Man.

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