As a frequent traveler, I get used to flight delays, weather problems and mechanical problems. You compensate by avoiding ever checking luggage to prevent it from being lost; and trying to always have a back-up plan when something goes wrong. That said, there are some things that I’ve experienced with air travel that are either weird, inexcusable, or horrible customer service in the extreme. A few examples:
- I’ve had some good flights on the 787 Dreamliner, and then I’ve had some odd experiences. The most recent was a flight from Denver to Tokyo where the famous windows that supposedly adjust to light and can be darkened within the glass by pushing a button rather than raising/lowering a shade just plain did not work. Why? As the flight attendant explained, that side of the plane was facing the sun that we kept following as we headed west. And the windows apparently are too sensitive to heat and so the darkening mechanism fails. How to solve this? Flight attendants came through the business class cabin and plastered rubber and cardboard cutouts on the windows to block the light – and apologized to those in economy class as United didn’t bother to have blocking devices in that class of service.
- The most appalling flight attendant I’ve encountered has to be the one on a short American Airlines flight who screamed over the PA system, shrieking and cussing about people using their cell phones while we were sitting on the tarmac for an hour waiting for clearance to take off. The verbal haranguing was exceeded only by the crew member coming down the aisle and demanding to inspect phones to confirm that they were in airplane mode. Probably not a great way to approach customer service, especially as there was a member of the US Senate on the plane – wonder if that will come up before the Transportation Committee?
- I never thought I’d say this but once upon a time a Lufthansa seat ate my iPad. If you’ve flown Lufthansa, you may know that German engineering is well at work – the seats, especially those in upper class, have more buttons and functions than the TRON computer. They are complex to operate even though they aim to provide a comfortable ride. At any rate, yes, I dropped my iPad between the seat and the window, and could not get it out. Moving the seat just seemed to work to try to crush the iPad. When we landed, the flight attendants worked mightily to free the device, with flashlights and even lying on the floor upside down to see what they could do. No luck. Finally, one of the Lufthansa engineers came out to the plane and dismantled the seat entirely to get the iPad out. Frighteningly enough, he told me this was not the first time this had happened.
- Delta prides itself on providing menus that have items that evoke Atlanta, Georgia or the larger southern region of the United States. It’s a great idea but poorly executed. There is a long list of weird stuff that I have been served – not “eat the fish!” bad – but just weird. Think soggy pecans with sugar and cayenne pepper for a snack. Imagine pink “Magnolia Moonlight” cocktails that taste like a bad jello shot. And grits that rival wallpaper paste. That’s not American Southern cuisine – it’s not even cuisine.
- The US Airways (R.I.P.) flight that couldn’t take off for an hour and a half because there was no infant life vest on board. Of course, there was also no infant on board; in fact, there were no children on board at all on the CRJ-200. Just a bunch of passengers wondering why US Airways couldn’t get an exemption for that – but plenty of times you can be on a plane with one bathroom that’s not working. Priorities, priorities.
Let’s hope 2017 bodes better and that nothing will top these experiences. Onward!