As I sat in the airport at midnight during the fourth hour of our delay, I learned the first rule of travel: don’t be a bitch.
No, seriously. Don’t be one. No entity cares about your travel plans. Not God, or Jesus, or that chocolate cake beckoning you from the corner over there.
So when your travel plans go to shit–and they will no matter what–don’t lose yours. Don’t lash out at people, especially not the ones working to help you. Because that makes you a buttface, and no one likes buttfaces.
Mine and Batman’s plans went to shit right as we pulled up to the airport. As we approached, my significant other-cum-chauffeur (stop your giggling) decided to park at DIA and acompany us inside. That would have been a sweet gesture, except for the fact that all the parking lots were full. And that there were at least a million signs saying so, but little did I know that the sig fig has pretty bad eyesight and can’t read signs from a distance. So he spent about ten minutes trying to park, giving us a scant hour and a half to board the first leg of our fifteen hour journey. So we begged him to just pull over and let us out.
Batman and I both have travel-related anxiety (well, I just have anxiety, as you well know if you’re still reading this blog), so we twitched and spazzed our way through security. Luckily, our first two-hour flight went off without a hitch. Unluckily, that was the only part of the trip that did.
Since Batman is not really a wealthy billionaire playboy, she and I bought the cheap tickets to Dublin. Which meant flying to Memphis, then Amsterdam, and then to Batman’s motherland. We used Orbitz, which worked dandy. We flew Delta, which sucked our souls out.
Our flight to Memphis landed at seven. Our flight to Amsterdam was at seven-thirty and started boarding ten minutes before we were scheduled to land. The flight attendants announced to the rest of the (very small) plane that there were several passengers scheduled for an international flight that needed to sprint to catch it, and asked that they let us off the plane first.
As Batman and I exited the plane, I thanked everyone sitting down. I know they didn’t want to, so the least I could do was be friendly. Travel Tip #1 again.
Our plane pulled into gate B2. Our flight to Amsterdam boarded at B43.
So we ran our tushes off. We sprinted like gazelles running from a cheetah. And, like that simile, we got tackled by the cheetah and devoured. Well, at least our hopes and dreams of Europe.
We ran our merry way to the gate only to find that our plane hadn’t started boarding yet. Apparently the emergency lights weren’t working, which I didn’t really consider a problem unless the plane was planning on crashing. So why worry about it? Duh.
An hour and a half later, at 9 PM, we boarded the plane. We all baaed and mooed our way to our seats, most headbutting for the coveted overhead bin space, and sat down in our less-than-comfortable seats to chew some cud for eight hours. Or something like that.
Everything was going dandy until, all of a sudden, we lost power. A giant metal tube filled with at least 350 people with no air-conditioning. So we sat, sweat, and waited.
The power comes back on. “Let’s try that again,” the omnipotent flight attendant voice announces. And we gear up, only to lose power again.
It is now about ten o’clock.
Once we regain power, we head back to the gate, where we learn that the auxiliary power unit is malfunctioning. I have no fucking clue what that is, but I’m pretty sure that’s something you want working when you’re flying across the ocean. I’m not sure, though. Just a hunch. I could be wrong. I often am.
At ten thirty, the plane is full of angry would-be travelers haranguing the flight attendants for answers. Batman and I are exhausted, and, as such, we are beginning to find everything hilarious.
“We just need to restart the unit and do some paperwork and we will be on our way, folks,” the captain drawls, in the accent that all captains have.
At eleven, we push off from the gate again. And we wait. And wait. Well, we really only wait until eleven-thirty.
“Sorry, folks, it looks like the powers that be don’t want us flying.” The plane itself groans. I laugh, maniacally.
We reach the gate at eleven-forty five, where the captain tells us we can either get off and stay in Memphis, or get off and get back on to fly to New York, switch planes and crews, and then fly to Amsterdam. Oh, and by the way, all the restaurants in the airport are closed and the plane can’t cook the dinner you paid for when you bought the tickets.
Our fellow passengers start frothing at the mouth and speaking monosyllabically, grunting towards the flight attendants and picking fights with each other. As we deplane, I apologize to the flight crew and captain because I know they are as unhappy as we are. They aren’t the ones keeping us from flying.
I smile sympathetically at the captain. “Thank you so much. I know this is completely out of your control and I’m so sorry about everyone’s behavior.” He had braced himself before I spoke, as if I were going to whip him with my words. Which I’m known to do, so I guess that’s a fair judgment of my character.
Not that I wasn’t furious and frustrated. I was. Of course I was. But I don’t want to be a buttface. So I wasn’t one. It’s really that simple.
But, boy did Delta Airlines try and make me one.
The Delta staff couldn’t leave the airport until our plane did, so they set up some “food” for us cattle to eat. Boxes upon boxes upon crates of pretzels, peanuts, cookies, and soda were opened and crammed down the gullets of the tired populace. They didn’t even remove the wrapping. Probably.
Batman was delirious and I was trying not to Hulk out. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
I went up to the counter where an angry Russian Delta lady awaited my pleasant questions.
“Hi,” I began.
“Your connecting flights will automatically be re-booked,” she growled. Well, thanks, Sassy McRudeypants, but that’s not what I was going to ask. Plus, the flight attendants and captain had announced that like a million times. I took a deep breath.
“Yes, I know. That’s the problem. We want to cancel our connecting flight and stay in Amsterdam.” McRudeypants’ eyes glazed over.
“You can’t do that here. But you can do that when you arrive at JFK.”
Awesome. Now that I had time to kill, Batman and I made friends with the employees stranded with us. We offered them imaginary vacations in Hawaii, our condolences, pretzels, and jokes, while the mob grew incensed. The plane’s defueling was taking it’s sweet time.
Finally, at one a.m., six hours after our original departure time, we boarded the plane for the three hour flight to New York. At two in the morning, on the airplane, they served us dinner. At four in the morning, we landed at JFK.
They told us our plane would start boarding immediately, but gave everyone food vouchers for the food court. Which, mind you, wasn’t open, except for the Starbucks. And those vouchers were only valid for a day. Delta Airlines is so thoughtful sometimes.
Batman and I needed to cancel our flight. So I waited in line, now used to not moving and accompanied to the growls of the other members of the flight. All of the other people in line apparently missed the trillion announcements made by every single airline representative we encountered, stating that our flights were automatically re-booked.
“But I need to get to–”
“SHUT YOUR STINKING FACE, YOUR FLIGHT HAS BEEN REBOOKED, YOU IDIOT!”
I didn’t say that. But I did internally roll my eyes so many times that I got dizzy. Internally.
When I finally reached the counter, the plane had started boarding.
“We want to cancel our connecting flight. We know it’s been rebooked but now we’ve lost a day of our trip so we want to cancel it.”
The Delta lady looked at me like I had just punched her newborn baby in the face.
“We can’t do that here, but you can do that in Amsterdam.” I slowly turned the color of freshly mowed grass.
“But the Memphis employees said we could do that here.”
She shrugged, indifferent, and beckoned the person behind me so she could be not helpful to him, too.
Now, let me digress for a second: I’m sure most Delta employees are great people. Nice, helpful, with sunshine for smiles and hearts three sizes too big. But my entire experience on the flight out was negative. I understand that they didn’t want to be there anymore than we did. But here’s the thing: the employees that had to stay until the wee hours of the morning in Memphis, and the employees that had to wake up to deal with the massive horde at JFK were getting paidto deal with us and help us. We paid to have our flights delayed. So if you’re making money, the least you can do is be helpful to the people who spent it.
Batman was getting restless but I wanted a second opinion. So I stood in another line with a desk agent that looked like an actress from Catch Me If You Can.
I approached the front of the line: “This is the final boarding call for the flight to Amsterdam. All passengers must board the plane.”
Well, shit. I turned to Batman, “I guess we’ll take care of it in Amsterdam.” And we boarded the plane, only to wait another forty-five minutes before take 0ff.
Finally, at six AM, the time we were scheduled to land in Amsterdam, we took off.
Fast forward six sleepless hours, and we landed in Amsterdam at whatever the crap time it was. The flight attendants announce that certain flights are leaving immediately and that gate agents have tickets ready for those passengers. Thankfully, Dublin wasn’t one of the flights called. Batman and I breathed a sigh of relief as we deplaned and headed to the reservations desk. After twenty hours of being on a plane or in an airport for what should have been twelve hours, Batman and I never wanted to see another plane again.
We stood patiently in the line for the reservation desk when a harried Dutch woman approached the line. She spotted Batman and me and zoned in.
“Are you Batman and Whitney? Because the Dublin flight leaves in a half an hour and you need to be on that plane.”
I took a deep breath and immediately started crying. “But we’ve been trying to cancel our connection since Memphis but no one would listen to me!”
We ran to our new gate, defeated. Batman became angry. My bottom lip trembled.
The desk agent for the non-Delta flight asked what she could do for us. Shakily, we explained in excruciating detail how the thought of stepping on another plane after 20 hours of delayed travel made us want to gouge our eyes out with cotton balls.
The agent felt our pain. She apologized for our stress. She sympathized with our troubles. And she called about eight people to get our bags off the Dublin flight and get us to a hotel.
Let’s recap the morals of the story:
1) Don’t let travel problems turn you into a monster. Keep your cool. The only thing you can control is your attitude, so don’t be awful to other people.
2) Delta Airlines needs to learn how to listen to people.