Saturday, June 30, 2007

life in hell (or air travel 2007)

I'm hearing more and more horror stories about air travel in recent weeks - flight delays, absolutely full flights, cancellations, horrendous lies by airline personnel, and a general lack of customer service. This week a friend of a friend went to NYC for what was supposed to be a one day trip. When she went to the airport for her return trip to Chicago on Thursday, she was told that her flight was cancelled. She was offered a ticket on the next flight with any available seats - on Saturday. The airline did not make any attempt to help her get back to Chicago sooner. Phone calls to other airlines did not get her anything better. If she's lucky, maybe she'll get home from NYC tonight, after paying for 2 additional days of hotel and meals, not reimbursed by the airline.

And then there's the hell that some guy from Ft. Worth just went through, courtesy of Delta. The Youtube video included in the article gives a much more complete picture of how bad it was and how badly the airline handled it.

I'd like to take a trip later this year, but the growing list of nightmare stories does not exactly motivate me to fork over a chunk of cash for this game of travel Russian roulette. It's making Amtrak look a lot more appealing. At least if you have delays on Amtrak, you have access to food and you can get up and walk around. They rent digital video players too. The idea of settling into a comfortable seat, enjoying the scenery, having good food in the dining car, and walking around as much as I want is pretty nice compared to the possibility of being stranded at my destination if my return flight is cancelled, at an unknown additional cost for hotel and meals.

I think we can officially declare our airline transportation broken, folks. The question is how and when it will be fixed.

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