Airlines and Airport Managements in USA
Frankly speaking, I thought a lot whether if I should write this article or not, but when I experienced five-six serious events one after the other, writing became a must.
You have to be cruel to be kind, but unfortunately the service sector in America, which is most people’s dream country, is collapsing. They immediately have to do something about it. Both the level of service and the financial situation have hit the bottom. I think, they can’t carry on like this for long and many will go bankrupt.
Whenever I went to USA, I experienced minor problems each and every time. However this time, I have experienced serious problems during every part of my twenty days trip. Believe me; everything that can happen to a passenger happened to me during this trip.
During my trip, I went to New York, Washington DC, Orlando, Las Vegas and San Antonio. All my visits were related to Solar Energy and Water Treatment Systems, both of which I had focused on lately. I came to NY from San Antonio, I’m on my way to Istanbul from NY and I’m writing this article on the plane.
I don’t mean to give a bad name, but this time I’m giving names, because I really suffered. I flew with two airlines in USA: Delta and United. Except the New York flight from San Antonio, all my flights with both airways were delayed. By delay, I mean a delay of forty five minutes or two hours or even four hours. During all of them, the same announcement was made: “The personnel are late, we’re waiting for them and that’s why we have a delay.”
Tell me, for God’s sake, what’s the fundamental duty of an airline? Isn’t it to take off punctually? How is it possible that the pilot and the hostesses are late and they keep hundreds of passengers waiting? This happened to me during all five of my flights. Here’s what this means: The airline has trouble in managing its personnel. It may happen once in a while, but the fact that it happened five times in a row shows that there are some serious problems.
Here’s another example: I arrived the gate from which I was going to Washington DC from New York with the seven o’ clock flight, at six. The hostesses of Delta Airlines were making delay announcements all the time. First, it was forty minutes, then it was one and a half hours and it added up to a two and a half hours delay. Finally, the boarding announcement was made at 9.30 pm. We boarded the plane and after waiting for fifteen minutes, the pilot arrived and announced the following: “Dear passengers, we would like to apologize for this delay. They called me from home, because there weren’t any other pilots here. I came from home and asked for a take-off clearance. However, because I’m a co-pilot, they are not giving me one. It will take more than two hours for the first pilot to arrive and therefore I would like you to leave the plane and go back to the terminal while waiting.” There was a big silence at first; nobody understood what was going on. Later, a couple of others and I got up, took our bags and went back to the terminal. All the passengers came after us. I’m not a type who complains in such situations, so I went to the ground hostesses to look for a solution. They told me that the plane was rescheduled to take off at 11.40 pm. This was what was written on all the screens. When I asked them how fair it was to be kept waiting for two hours after having waited for two and a half hours, one of them gave me coffee coupons and told me that I could wait in the next terminal, because all places in our terminal were closed. Taking the coupons with me, I went to the café, opened my laptop and continued working. When I went back to our terminal at around 11 pm, I couldn’t see the name of our flight on the screens and I immediately went to the ground hostess and asked what was going on. She turned as white as a sheet and the following dialogue took place:
The ground hostess: Didn’t you fly?
Serhan: No, wasn’t the plane taking off at 11.40? It’s 11 pm right now.
The ground hostess: Sir, the pilots arrived earlier then expected and the plane took of ten minutes ago.
Serhan: How? I have never seen a plane taking off earlier than it’s scheduled. How is it that you send the 11.40 flight at 10.50? I have seen flights that are delayed but this is the first time I witness a flight moved to an earlier time.
The ground hostess: You’re right but we made lots of announcements, haven’t you heard them?
Serhan: No, ma’am. If you remember, I got coupons from you and went to drink coffee to the next terminal. I heard no announcements over there.
The ground hostess: Yes, we made the announcements for this terminal. Excuse us. I’ll arrange a hotel and a car to reach there right away. We’ll send you to Washington DC with the first flight tomorrow morning.
Serhan: This is unbelievable! First you bring us down from the plane back to the terminal, then you make us wait here for four-four and a half hour and then you make me miss the flight. Well done!
The ground hostess: We’re very sorry. But, believe me, I have witnessed worse situations. I’ll make your arrangements right now.
That night, I went to the Hilton Hotel near the airport. When the receptionist saw I was sent by Delta, he complained: “Delta again?” I told him that they messed up my program, that I had an important meeting the next morning, and that I was unfortunately going to miss it. He told me that it had been two weeks since he started working there. He had witnessed almost fifteen cases like this and he told me that the clients of Delta always suffered. The next morning, the plane took off half an hour late, because the cabin crew was late. The JFK airport in New York is one of the airports I don’t like in all aspects. The reason is that, because of the crowd, you can solve a problem that would normally take forty five minutes, in two hours. It’s very crowded, everyone is stressful and there’s not a proper system, especially in the domestic flights.
Anyways, let’s look at another flight. I was flying to Las Vegas from Orlando. I showed my boarding pass to the hostess for the last time and all of a sudden she raised hell.
The hostess: Sir, you can’t bring two bags to the plane.
Serhan: Nobody told me something like this at the check-in counter. I have been flying in domestic flights for years; I have never heard anybody objecting to a backpack and a small luggage.
The hostess: No, I absolutely can’t accept this. I’ll put this sticker on and you’ll give this bag to the personnel at the entrance to load it on the plane. Don’t remind me of the rules please.
Later, I walked through the tube to the plane and asked one of the two hostesses: “I’m told that I should give one of my luggages to the baggage compartment. Do you think this is necessary?” The hostess who I think was a Latin told me: “Why did they tell you something like that? We have enough space in the cabin and your luggages are cabin size. You can take both of them on board.” I thanked her and moved to my seat, thinking how subjective these things can be. In the meantime, the hostess who lectured me about the rules came on board to solve a problem. Then she left the plane and the cabin crew fixed the problems about the seats of all passengers. The flight was delayed, again, for one hour. Before we took off, the following announcement was made: “Dear passengers, we’re sorry for the delay. Our plane was changed yesterday night and we were given a different plane, therefore we had some problems in arranging the seats. Everybody’s seats had to change. We fixed this problem with your help and we’re about to take off.” Can you believe it? Half of the plane could only sit by switching places with each other. So, after a while, the boarding passes meant nothing.
Just when I thought I had witnessed everything possible about an airline, they did the most awful thing during my San Antonio flight from Las Vegas. The worst thing that can happen to a passenger happened to me: They lost my baggage.
We checked in at Las Vegas at 4 am and the airport was considerably empty. I said to my colleague: “Wow! This is the first time I saw this airport this empty. We passed quickly. How nice!” Later, the plane was delayed, once again, for an hour and ten minutes. Because we were flying to San Antonio over Houston, we were a bit unhappy that we would be late to our connecting flight. However, we managed to catch the plane by our sprints. On the plane, we were talking about the high probability that my baggage might not be there when we land to San Antonio. When all the baggage arrived and mine wasn’t there, I went to the baggage claim service of United Airlines. Acting as a gentleman, I gave my place to a couple with children and started to wait in line behind them. The only authorized woman working there told me and the Hispanics behind me: “Please leave the room. We’re accepting people in this office one at a time.” To me, this was a very unnecessary action that didn’t suit the service sector. Anyways, I gave her the necessary briefing later on and the next day, I called the office over and over again. When there was no reply, I went to the airport once more after my meetings were over and headed to the same office. The officer over there told me that they couldn’t find any trace of my baggage and that they were working on it. Then she gave notice to all airports in USA. While all this was happening, there were four people waiting behind me. Nobody told them to leave the office or made such a disrespectful remark. By the way, our meeting in San Antonio was a very important one and, thank God, I had taken my suit with me into the plane just in case.
On the last day of my travel, I thought: “The airport in San Antonio is most probably not so crowded, but I better go early just in case.” Fortunately I had thought this way. My flight was at 7:30 am and I arrived at the airport at 5:20 am. I have never seen such a security line in my life: They check the passports and boarding passes. Then you get into another line to go through the x-ray with your baggage. Of course in all these airports you take off your shoes, laptops etc and go through an x-ray while raising your arms.
By the way, the line at the San Antonio airport was so long that it covered one whole terminal and half of the next one. Such awfulness! I managed to catch the flight after waiting exactly for an hour at the security line; having my passport and boarding pass checked and gone through the x-ray. Everybody around me was complaining. For instance, the person behind me was angrily saying: “My plane is going to take off in 10 minutes, we came here 1.5 hours before our flight and we’re going to miss a domestic flight.” Some of the officers were trying to calm everybody down and trying to explain the situation. The most patient person would have reached the end of his rope. Luckily, I’m a calm person and I can manage to keep this way.
While I was checking my emails at the Turkish Airlines business lounge after all these problems, I saw a message saying that my baggage was found. I went to the plane happily. Of course, they aren’t telling me where they found it. They are going to send it to my address in Istanbul. Hopefully it will arrive safely at my house. I don’t care too much about my clothes, but since we went there for the Solar Energy conference and fair, I had lots of material about our company in the baggage. We’ll see.Tag: anı