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What was your worst travel delay?

Poor Senior Management. Her 15hr, 30min flight from Hong Kong was scheduled to arrive at NJ Liberty airport at 1:55pm (US/Eastern) yesterday, but due to the bad weather, she got diverted to Albany (in upstate New York).

At first, it looked like there'd be a delay of an hour or so, after which the plane would make the short flight to New Jersey, but sadly, it was not to be.

After hanging around at Albany for more than seven hours (that's right, 'seven hours'), the folks at Continental Airlines finally managed to provide coaches to transport the passengers to Newark by road. They arrived at their original destination at around midnight, a total delay of ten hours. As a final insult, the folks at Continental told everyone their luggage was back in Albany (still on the plane). I'm heading out to pick it up this morning.
As you can imagine, the passengers weren't happy with how things went. Partly because of the long delay, but mostly because the airline (not the flight crew) didn't seem to think it important to keep their stranded customers appraised of what was going on.

Their 'Flight Status'  web page never even showed the flight's diversion. Right up until the revised landing time, it simply showed a 35-minute delay, after which it changed to a 'Flight not found' message.

If there's a contact number on Continental's website which will get you a real live person to help find out what's going on, they've hidden it well. Thank goodness for cell phones or I wouldn't even have known where Senior Management was.
When there's an unexpected problem, most folks will cut you some slack if they know you're a: trying to resolve the issue and b: keeping them updated. Let's face it, in this technological age, there's really no excuse for not keeping people informed.

If I'd been overseeing things, I'd have had someone put helpful information on the company website and made sure the flight crew got regular, twenty-minute updates, so the customers on the plane would know we were working on the problem. 

Senior Management says yesterday's fiasco was by far the worst travel experience she's gone through. I've never had anything near as bad happen.

How about you?

What was your worst travel delay?


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( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 18th, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
I think that, in my life, I've had a little bit of everything, including oversleeping and plane delays. I've also had pain delays, but those don't count.
Jun. 18th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
'Pain' delays are good, though, right? :)
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jun. 18th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
It must have been somewhere around 1981. We were on a PIA flight from Karachi to Frankfurt, with stops in Dubai and Doha. When we reached Doha, they announced a delay. They said it was a problem with the cargo, but from the flight attendant, we learned that there was a rat in the cargo bay. Because a rat can cause major malfunctions if it gets into the workings of the jet, we had to wait for them to find and kill the rat before we could continue flying.

It was 45C on the tarmac, and we weren't allowed off the 'plane. The flight attendant said (probably true) that we weren't allowed off the 'plane because we were filthy foreigners and letting us into the terminal would be an offence to Qatar. So, for eight hours, we sat broiling, with Qatari security officials in traditional dress with submachine guns surrounded the airplane, while someone(s) went through the cargo deck with a pellet-gun, trying to kill the rat.

It was not a pleasant day, especially considering the normal flight time was seventeen hours. This made it over twenty-six.

ETA: I tell a lie. It was 1981, not 1985.

Edited at 2011-06-18 01:35 pm (UTC)
Jun. 18th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
Twenty six hours? I'm surprised the passengers didn't volunteer to catch the rat themselves!
Jun. 18th, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC)
Arriving in DFW after a 4 hours sting in the tarmac at LaGuardia, we missed our flight. American put us on the last flight out to El Paso (at 11PM) but flight troubles meant that the flight didn't take off until about 5:30 AM. In the interim, American moved the flight around the airport 4 times, moving the passengers all around. They didn't supply us with pillows or blankets, and all the stores and restaraunts closed at 10:30. No food. American refused to cancel our flight, so we had to stick with it. Arrived in El Paso 12 hours after scheduled.

There were two women traveling with infants on the flight. My situation was never as bad as theirs...

Edited at 2011-06-18 12:45 pm (UTC)
Jun. 18th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
Ouch! I guess it should make us appreciate it more when things go smoothly. Perhaps in time... :)
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:07 pm (UTC)
I haven't had to wait but my luggage has. On my way to Greece, the plane stopped in Paris first. Because of passports I guess, I had to get off the plane and then get back on. Somehow, my luggage didn't get back on the plane. It got a 3-day holiday in Paris while I went on to Greece.
Jun. 18th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
Lol, plus you had an excuse to shop too. That sounds more like a win-win than a delay :)
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
That's HORRIBLE! Thank goodness for cell phones is right. I would have been FREAKING if my husband's flight just disappeared from the tracking site and it became obvious he still hadn't landed (or hadn't landed where he was supposed to).

I hope Senior Management gives 'em hell.
Jun. 18th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
I hope Senior Management gives 'em hell.

The trouble is, the people who you actually get to speak to aren't the ones responsible, so it would be unfair to have a go at them.
(no subject) - reneesweet - Jun. 18th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
Your point about communication is so important. People always do so much better if they have knowledge of what's happening. Even if it's bad news, knowing is better. Someone needs to tell this to people in charge!

Phew, that's a long flight even without the delays.

I guess my worst experience was on our high school trip to Hawaii, which was a long flight with a three-hour layover in which we had to stay on the unairconditioned, small, cramped plane. It also took place in the middle of the night, and I didn't sleep at all, and the flight was so bad that our ears splitting the entire time. You'd think as teens heading to Hawaii it would all be fun, but it must have been miserable because none of us were happy on that trip out!
Jun. 18th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
Lol, hopefully things improved once you got there.
Jun. 18th, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
"flight not found" would not give me a warm fuzzy if I were waiting for someone to arrive. Not a good choice of phrase.
Jun. 18th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
I think it was 'We could not find flight details matching your request' or something like that, but I wasn't too worried becuase Senior Management rang me within a few minutes to say she'd been diverted to Albany.
Jun. 18th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
PS: When I told Weatherdude (who has infamous flight delays), he said it was all over the news that United/Continental's computer system went down at 7pm on Friday night and didn't come back online until midnight. So my guess is that they couldn't tell the passengers anything.

Also when there are weather delays, the FAA won't let a flight take off until it can guarantee a landing at the other end. The NY area airspace is so tight that any weather delay creates a serious domino effect and once she landed in Albany, they wouldn't be able to get back off the ground again until the FAA said it was ok.

And then, the airline's system crashed.

He said that people with pre-printed paper boarding passes could be processed, but not electronic ones. The lines were a thousand people deep in the busiest terminals for those airlines.
Jun. 18th, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
I suppose that covers them from 7pm onwards, but it doesn't excuse them for the preceding five hours :(
(no subject) - birdhousefrog - Jun. 18th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
The most recent,(and not by much), was a long haul flight from Edmonton Canada to London England. We actually got lucky booking that flight as it took off early afternoon, meaning we would arrive around late morning the following day. Normally the option is to catch a flight around midnight and arrive early evening. That one is not a good trip.

So, duly boarded the small Air Canada Jazz jet to get to Calgary, which is a passenger hub, and I haven't a clue why as Edmonton has longer runways. Got there thirty minutes later and went to the prepaid lounge to wait forty minutes till boarding for the next leg. And waited, and waited, checking the board, which gave no details. The hours slowly slipped away in unrelenting ignorance. Nine hours into the wait we finally found someone who fessed up that an incoming jet from one of the middle eastern countries had missed the runway for some reason or another and overshot it. No one was hurt, but they were still trying to clear one of the airport's two runways. (And they are a hub? Shakes head.) Ten hours after arriving at Calgary we were finally able to proceed with our journey, arriving at approximately the same time we would have done if we had caught a red eye in the first place. Fortunately we were able to contact our cab service so they didn't turn up at the wrong time.

The flight can be anything between eight hours and ten, plus the 7/8 hour time difference between Mountain time and GMT/BST, whichever is in operation, and the timing of the switchover is different. The trip is never pleasant but this time we lost a couple of days, both in travel and recovery. On the flip side, as there always is one, at least nothing fell off the aircraft this time--those simple things like cargo doors and engine parts.
Jun. 18th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)
'...at least nothing fell off the aircraft this time'

Lol, that's never good thing.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 18th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - darkspires - Jun. 18th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 18th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
I like to blame the Reagan administration.

When airfares were set by the federal government,
every airline charged the same fare.
They could only compete by offering better service.

Jun. 23rd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I'd rather have the 40% price decline than improved customer service. I am unconvinced that the customer service is really much worse, for that matter. When I was a kid, it seemed like every flight I was on was delayed. Now it's more like one in ten (but that's just anecdotal.)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 23rd, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
The two travel delays I've experienced as an adult
are not the sort of moments I ever talk about.

As a child, however, I experienced frequent travel delays
because of my father. No end of fault could be found with him,
but among the myriad faults was a single shining outstanding virtue.
Kindness to strangers.
Whenever he saw someone with car trouble,
he always stopped to help.
He never left anyone by the side of the road.

All these delays, when I wanted to get to grandma's
or the camp site, anything but sit in the car
or stand around watching my father work what appeared to anyone else
to be miracles, but what I knew to be his routine...
Well, as Scrooge said, it is impossible to count and add 'em up,
but the happiness he gave?
Luckily, that's what I remember now.
Jun. 19th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
I could have done with some help yesterday morning. When I set off for the airport to collect Senior Management's luggage, my car wouldn't start. I had to call the AAA :(
Jun. 18th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...now that I think of it, I haven't had one.

Well, unless you consider my son's accident keeping me from a workshop in Martha's Vineyard (VPX) and delaying the trip for a year. :-P
Jun. 19th, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)
Another reason to go live with him when you're 90, and exact your revenge ;)
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 19th, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)
Not fun :(
Jun. 18th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
I can see Continential hasn't changed at all.
Had Continental do about the same thing to me a few years ago.
I was flying from Seattle back home to Colorado springs (where my husband at the time was stationed). A big storm hit Denver and made a hash of fight schedules. We knew it would effect us and CALLED them and was assured, i.e. LIED TO, that the connecting flight would be fine between Denver and home. We got more updates on the car radio on the mess and asked the counter person and was again REASSURED that the connecting flight would be there if we flew out two hours late. ANOTHER LIE.
When we got to Denver, we were told that the last connecting flight left at the same time we flew out of Seattle. I was not happy that their policy is to LIE TO THEIR CUSTOMERS. They put us on a cold bus to Colorado Springs. I wrote a complaint letter that cited FAA regulations that said they can do that. No apology.
The Denver airport was full of customers that could've stayed wherever they were with relatives, at home, etc. but were STRANDED IN DENVER BECAUSE THEY WERE LIED TO BY CONTINENTAL EMPLOYEES.
I vowed to not fly with them again unless I had no choice because of their dishonesty.
Edit: this was about 1988-89

Edited at 2011-06-18 07:04 pm (UTC)
Jun. 19th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: I can see Continential hasn't changed at all.
From a business perspective, it makes no sense at all to upset your customers. I really don't understand why some companies can't seem to grasp that concept.
Jun. 18th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
That "flight not found" would freak me out. The main reason they take flights off the boards is because they crash...thanks be that everyone was safe, if highly disgruntled!
Jun. 19th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
I hadn't realized that, fortunately, or I'd have been a lot more concerned.
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