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04 February 2010

When the TSA and the airlines don't work together, passengers suffer

While safety is a priority, it seems that TSA and the airlines should be able to figure out ways to get people to their aircraft in a timely manner, especially when passengers show up well in advance of their flight.

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. Responds
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.

Photo: mcandrea

01 February 2010

Always check with the airline to confirm your flights

When you book with a third party service like Orbitz or some other online service, always check with the airline about the status of your flight.

Airline: United Airlines, flights 5096 and 5033
Date: 24 December 2009 and 1 January 2010
Location: Round trip Kansas City, MO to Salina, KS

After much planning for the Christmas & New Years holidays, I had a less than pleasant experience on my leg from Kansas City to Salina, Kansas December 24, 2009. Due to inclement weather, my flight #5096 was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. This
flight was was again cancelled and found that the next actual flight that made it to Salina, Kansas from Kansas City was Saturday night December 26. By the way, my luggage (a new red roller bag) finally showed up filthy at that time. This was a fairly recent purchase also. The only reason I made it to Salina was the kindness of strangers from Pennsylvania that invited me to drive there with them or I would have been stranded.

Before my return flight on January 1, 2010 on United flight #5033, I received a call from the Salina airport December 31 around 5pm indicating that my flight was cancelled due to lack of no one working to fly the plane. I was rescheduled for the same departure time and flight number for January 2, 2010 and again informed by the Salina airport that this flight was cancelled due to lack of no one to fly the plane.

I was rescheduled to fly back on Sunday, January 3rd. This is the "funny part", I even received courtesy calls from Orbitz around 3:30am January 1 saying that my flight from Salina to Kansas City was on time. Another "funny" is that two booking sites that I checked indicated that these flights were still booking passengers for the Friday and Saturday flights that were cancelled.

I work in Customer Service and although I had no problems with the people I dealt with as far as courtesy as they were apologetic, after spending $594.40 for my round trip flight from Michigan to Kansas and not getting the service I paid for and luggage problems and added expenses and inconvenience, I am requesting 2 round trip non-blackout days tickets in the continental US. I feel this is the least I deserve after having to change plans inconveniencing myself and my family. Responds
Unfortunately, the US airlines on domestic flights are not required to compensate passengers for canceled flights, late flights, so she would be lucky to get anything out of the airline. She has more hope about compensation for the damaged bag, so long as she can document the condition of the bag before the flight.

While you may get information about a flight from on online service, you should contact the airline directly if you have any questions about your flight, especially for delays and cancellations. If you book a ticket through a non-airline service like Orbitz, you should still check with the airline or the airline's web site for flight information

Photo: Aquila