Here are some helpful hints for making air travel during those delays, misconnections, boarding problems, conflicting messages, etc. that plague modern air travel, less stressful.
First and foremost, demanding, insulting, condescending language questioning the legitimacy of my, or my fellow workers, parentage, as well as promises to the unlikely continuation of my employment status, are not helpful.
As a matter of fact, it is inversely proportional to the success of your efforts to solve the problem. If you want to get somewhere, I can help. Let me.
LEAVE ON TIME OR EARLY
ARRIVE ON TIME OR EARLY
WITH ALL YOUR BAGS
ANSWER MY DESIRE
1. Air Traffic Control (ATC) delays/gate holds/flow control are like commandments from a GOD. They must be obeyed, and they can change in an instant. If your flight is delayed for any length of time due to ATC do not assume that the newly posted departure time is “written in stone”. More often than not, the flight leaves much earlier than predicted, often at it’s original time. With or without you
2. Weather delays. We do not make these up as convenient excuses. In spite of the fact that your wife/husband/best friend (the retired Air Force test pilot)/or the Weather app on iPad telling you that the weather is beautiful at your destination, and it is perfect at your point of departure, they are leaving out the 250 mile wide thunderheads with turbulence that top out at 65000 feet located on the flight path there. Commercial aircraft can’t go through or over that and going around it isn’t practical, it is a crowded sky.
3. The agent at the gate counter would like nothing more than for you to be able to board your plane and go. Delays result in misconnections, which result in the agent having to shuffle around 50 people that all “absolutely” have to be there tonight.
Here’s a rule to live by. If you absolutely, positively have to be somewhere, go the day before. If it’s truly a matter of life and death, this is only logical.
It’s amazing how many people think by telling us they are Oncology Doctors with patients that they must see this afternoon or first thing in the morning, this mere statement will miraculously obviate the ATC/Weather delay and get the flight back on time.
It won’t, and we know most of you are making this up as you go along. Actual Oncology Doctors understand delays, wouldn’t put patients at risk, and went the day before (see above).
4. The PA systems in most airports are not state of the art digitally enhanced audio systems. It is hard enough to understand them sitting right under the speaker, they are impossible to hear inside almost every restaurant/bar in almost every airport. Keep checking at the gate for the flight status, take turns, buddy up with your fellow travelers, your drink will still be there.
5. Pre-board frustrations. Person(s) who present themselves to airlines and indicate they require assistance to board must be accommodated. It is mandated by law.
If you are frustrated by the delay of watching 15-20 wheelchairs board before you, I am willing to bet any one of them would gladly trade places with you, if they could. If there are those that are “faking” it, they have to live with that, you should be better than that.
And on a side note, at worst it’s a 3-4 hour flight. Sit down next to someone, introduce yourself, and perhaps you may learn something, or teach something
SIDE NOTE: Before I worked for an airline I was traveling once. The carrier will remain anonymous but they don’t assign seats.
Everyone that flys us (er them) has their own theory on how to prevent people from sitting in the middle seat on a flight that isn’t full.
Mine is the “Rear of the Airplane Theory”.
On a flight from somewhere to somewhere else, I implemented my theory and took a seat in the next to the last row, (Never the last row. People like that it’s near a bathroom, which in actuality is, at most, 50 feet from any seat on the aircraft, but I digress).
Window seat, nobody else in my row. YES!
Minutes before departure, got it made.
Guy walks on, wild hair, wool plaid sports coat, shorts, tie (with the skinny part longer than the wide part) starts looking for seats. Let’s call him “Oh my goodness what a Crazy Looking Guy”
“Please don’t sit here, please don’t sit here, there are other open seats for the love of…….”. (The Mantra of All that hold sacred sitting Next to the Holy Open Seat)
Crazy looking guy: “Hi, is this seat taken.
No, it’s not.
Best conversation I ever had on a plane. Professor of Philosophy, funny, articulate, most unusual dresser. I laughed, and learned, the whole flight.
Try it, good people, smart people, the world’s best people fly us ( er fly).
6. Mechanical delays. We take these seriously. If you know of an airline that doesn’t I wouldn’t suggest flying them.
The pilots for the airline I work for take this very seriously. They do not like delaying flights but they accept the responsibility for it, not to be dramatic, to protect the passengers and crew.
It always amazes me when we announce a delay, and frequently our Captains personally make the announcement further illustrating their commitment and concern for passengers, and a collective groan goes out from the passengers.
Really? You think the better choice is to keep the problem a secret and just fly?
That Captain, First Officer, and in-flight crew members have families they want to get home to as well.
My point in writing this is to help those few passengers that seem to have difficulty dealing with the unexpected.
Next time you fly, and there is a delay announced, think about the things you have to deal with at your job that cause the most stress.
Think about what a bad day at work is for you.
Think about the worst you have to deal with in your job.
If you really are an Oncology Doctor, our bad day doesn’t even approach a cold, no, less than perfect, cup of coffee for you, but I think you all get the point.
Be patient, most of us want to find a way to fix the problem.
(And buying me a medium French Vanilla coffee with creme and sugar will go a long way in fixing the problem :).
For those passengers we just cannot please, and thankfully there are very few, you have my sympathy.
There are other choices, but they are definitely not better.