Airline: Delta Airlines Flight DL6093
Date: 3 January 2010
Location: Norfolk, VA (ORF)
I arrived at Norfolk airport(ORF) at 5:00am for my 6:15 flight to Orlando via Cincinnati this morning. I electronically checked in at a kiosk, received my boarding pass and proceeded to wait in line at security for over an hour. Only 2 of the available metal detectors were in operation. When I heard an overhead announcement for the last call for boarding of my flight, I showed my boarding pass to a security guard and asked if there was anything that could be done. I was told no, and that everyone else in line was in the same position as I was. I also was required to wait for a "female assist with no alarm", a new security precaution to me.
I was not the only passenger sprinting for a gate. I and several other passengers approached the ticket counter and were told by the representative at the gate (in an unspeakably nasty manner)"Too bad, it will be a long wait until we can get those of you who missed your flights".
While I was waiting on hold for a Delta customer service representative, I witnessed approximately 40 other passengers on the next two flights leaving from the same gate (one to JFK and the next to Detroit) who missed their flights because they were also held up by security. I overheard the same representative say to her co-worker at the boarding gate about the Detroit flight, "The rest of the passengers are still in security, go ahead and close the doors."
Here are the problems I see and, what seems to me, some simple solutions.
1) Better Staffing: I imagine that ORF knew in advance which flights were scheduled for departure this morning and which seats were booked. Adequate planning of an appropriate number of security personnel for the expected number of travellers could have alleviated some delay. Temporary usage of more than 2 metal detectors for an apparently heavy travel time would also have remedied the situation for myself and many of the other Delta passengers.
2) Customer service at the departure gate: I and many of my fellow travellers left stranded in Norfolk this morning were spoken to in a stunningly disrespectful way. A small effort could have been made for those of us who were already checked in to our flights to get us on board. This second problem seems to me the most important issue. A different way of conveying the same information at the departure gate would have greatly changed my experience this morning. As it was, I am left with a very sour taste both for Delta airlines and Norfolk ORF.
I am sensitive of the needs to cut costs by the airlines in these difficult economic times. However one of the results is overworked and disgruntled employees. In the future, I believe I will save myself the $400 plane ticket and $20 checked baggage fee and travel by automoblie.
This passenger has a good grip of what is needed. The TSA and the airline have to be sensible about matching security staff with traffic demand.