Saturday, August 22, 2009

The hell with Waldo, where's JANET?

Here's a pop quiz:

Question 1: If you get on an airplane at JFK and sit in it for three hours, and your ticket says "Minneapolis" where are you after three hours?

1. Minneapolis!
2. Circling Minneapolis?
3. the tarmac at JFK waiting for the pilot to get clearance for take off???

Question 2: If you get on a SECOND plane, and sit in it for three hours, and your ticket says final destination Anchorage, where are you after three hours?

1. Anchorage!
2. Somewhere near Alaska (like Russia) on the way to Anchorage?
3. the tarmac at JFK waiting for the pilot to get clearance for take off????

Yea well, I hope you guessed #3 both times.

Here's what I don't understand: what the hell are these operations managers thinking?

Northwest Airlines has a perfectly nice terminal at JFK. It doesn't have much in the way of food but you can find something to eat if you look hard enough. There are all the amenities of a place where people need to spend waiting time; places to sit; and places to shop if you need a change of pace from sitting and waiting; bathrooms; corridors to get a bit of exercise.

Why then does Northwest load up an entire plane load of passengers, taxi out to the runway and sit for THREE hours? Engines running, therefore burning EXTREMELY expensive aviation fuel? Aren't these guys in some sort of budget crisis?

We were told the weather west of New York meant all the planes had to be re-routed over, under, or around the storm. I get that, and I'm ok with waiting. I'm not much on flying through thunderstorms either.

What I don't get is why they can't get the flight plan, then load up the passengers and taxi out to the runway. EVEN if they need the gate space (and they do) they can load people onto what they call "people movers" (known fondly here in New York as "busses") and move them out to the plane. In fact, they moved us onto the plane for Departure #2 just exactly like that today.

Of course, they loaded us onto the bus and sent us out to the tarmac before they'd finished cleaning the plane so we provided the Full New York Subway Rush Hour experience (akin to The Girlfriend Experience in those hot-girl-wants-you newspaper ads) for all the people on that bus.

Why make two trips when you can load 75 people on to a bus that seats 10 (I'm NOT kidding) and has room for maybe 40 more to stand. Mind you, since they now charge for luggage, every single person is carrying a duffel bag or more of their duds around with them.

So here's the 48 hour tally:

Number of trips to JFK: 2
Number of trips from JFK to Alaska: 0
Number of trips from JFK home: 2

Number of hours spent on plane: 6
Mileage covered: 0

Number of people unhappy/New York: 1
Number of people unhappy /Alaska: Many many many more than 1

Every single person I dealt with at Northwest was kind and pleasant. This is clearly not a problem caused by the pilots or the cabin attendants, and certainly not by the gate agents or the lovely lady at the rebooking center. Obviously this is some guy in operations who hasn't quite figured out that passengers will put up with delays, and weather and all that stuff if you'll just leave us IN the damn terminal so we can use our computers, and our phones and make informed decisions.

As it was today, I very well could have ended up in Minneapolis having missed a connecting flight to Anchorage, had to pay for a hotel (the airline doesn't cover hotel bills for weather related delays or cancellations) and then try to stuff myself on a return flight to New York. Fortunately, the plane had to go back to the terminal for fuel and the captain called for the bus and they let us off.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me swear off traveling with Northwest Airlines ever again.

On the other hand, I don't claim to know a damn thing about the airline industry, or airport arrival and departure management. If what looks like nutso to me can be explained by someone who does understand, or knows more about the industry, feel free to clue me in. I have quite a bit of extra time to listen this weekend given I'm NOT where I want to be!

And in news from It Could Have Been Worse Department, take a look at this.**

**thanks for the heads up Amber!


Julie Weathers said...

I'm so sorry. I know how much you were looking forward to this conference.

That may be the story I read earlier about people being stuck on a plane for 6 hours while captain kept begging them to let them unload passengers.

Jennie Bentley said...

Last time I tried to fly with that particular airline, I missed my connecting flight and had to spend the night in Amsterdam, six months pregnant and with a 3-yr-old in tow. I can still hear the customer service rep tell me about the comfortable couches on the upper level, where I could spend the night. I ended up paying for my own hotel room, which I didn't get reimbursed for, and the next day, we were rerouted through Detroit before getting home. It was Thanksgiving, incidentally. Never again. Oh yes, and the free vouchers they sent after I complained? I didn't use them.

Anonymous said...

You might not like to hear this, but it sounds to me like you weren't meant to be on an airplane today. Maybe you were being protected from some sort of terrible plane crash, being eaten by a polar bear, or shot by a wolf hunter in a helicopter. (They commonly mistake sharks for wolves up there.) Order some take out and say a prayer of thanks that you're home safe.

Anonymous said...

You might not want to hear this right now, but maybe God didn't want you on a plane today. Maybe you would have been in a plane crash, or eaten by polar bears, or shot by those wolf-killing helicopter hunters. (They commonly mistake sharks for wolves up there.) At any rate, put your feet up, order some carry out, and thank God you're safe at home.

Liana Brooks said...

We're never going to get you out of the 212 again, are we?

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

My very first trip (by myself) at the tender age of 17 in 1976 while trying to visit my dad in Algeria via Switzerland:

Phone call: The air traffic controllers' strike started today. Please confirm your flight.

I show up at airport, sit for three hours in waiting area and get bussed from Toronto to Niagara Falls.

We take off from Niagara Falls and land in Buffalo. Sit for another coupla hours. All they had to eat were beer nuts and Fig Newtons.

Finally take off for Munich and miss flight to Geneva. Wait for another plane.

Show up in Geneva 12 hours later. The lady my dad had arranged to meet me was long gone. Phone call, wait for hostess and by then I was either sitting or standing for 24 hours.

I should have been in Australia by then!

Did you give up? I wish you would have made it, just so you can say, "I can see Russia from here!"

Furious D said...

If stories like this keep coming out about Northwest, they're not going to be flying for much longer.

You have my sympathy, the worst thing to happen to me while traveling was having my luggage lost for 3 days on one trip, and almost being shot by Italian police during a riot during another.

SundaySoup said...

2 words. American Airlines.

and now a few more because I'm a writer without an editor looking over my shoulder. This is not an ad for them. In fact, I don't even like to fly anymore, so I just stay home, but we HAVE to fly sometimes and they have given us the least amount of trouble. In the last 6 years we've flown about 30 trips and had one weather related trouble with them and while I was 24 hours late to London, my luggage was there when I arrived (I didn't have my coat in Chicago while I wiled away the day on Michigan Ave. but you can't have everything!).

I'm sure there are plenty of people who will now post, NEVER fly AA. So what do I know? Good luck.

Melvina said...

The sad answer is, it is all about metrics. By loading you on the plane and taxiing away from the gate, the airline can claim an on-time departure. Really. It is enough to make you scream.

BJ said...

That's a crappy experience. :(

I once spent one hour on the tarmac at Newark. It was explained this way: it takes about an hour to load a plane. If they'd let us go into the terminal while they waited for a place in line, they'd have to get a later time to leave, to allow all passengers to get back on board. What with the wait and the loading, we probably wouldn't get a spot for about three hours.

Since we were all on the plane already, as soon as a spot opened up we were ready to go, after waiting a total of one hour.

However, for that hour we were allowed to use our computers and cell-phones, so people were able to rebook their connecting flights.

Your experience was extreme. In fact, it sucked. Three hours on the tarmac TWICE kind of defeats the purpose of having the passengers stay on the plane.

Will you be able to go tomorrow, then?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Major bummer! (whether or not it hypothetically saved your life)

I once spent 15 hours at a single airport gate waiting for a flight. Only reason I got on one after all that time is the plane was forced to land to let off a medical emergency passenger.

Being at a gate was better than being stuck on a plane. I've done that, too, but not for 6 hours.

DebraLSchubert said...

Janet, I'm SO sorry! I know how much you were looking forward to this trip (sans Palin). I agree w/Erik - as sucky (real word - you can look it up in my brain) as it is, it was meant to be. All I can say is, Alaska's loss is New York's gain.

My husband had a similar experience coming home from Boston last night. Three hour delay, THEN they canceled the flight altogether, and finally rebooked him on another flight. At least he was IN the terminal AND made it back to Philly before daylight.

Are you planning to still make the trip?

Horserider said...

I'm sorry! That really sucks!

My brother flies a lot and he always says that he's never been on a Northwest Airlines trip that wasn't delayed for some reason. I've only flown four times (two of those with them) and was delayed both times.

T. Anne said...

Just be thankful I wasn't sitting next to you giving my three hour 'elevator' pitch, which could easily be extended to a six hour version had I been on both flights.

Laurel said...

Melvina is right. The dirty little secret is if the plane leaves the gate on time, it is an on time departure no matter when they take off. It ups their statistics. Every airline does it. Furthermore, the pilots and flight crew are incented to put up with this system. They don't get paid for canceled flights.

I have spent nights in airports that delayed flights but strung us along for 8 hours to avoid paying for hotel rooms and as unpleasant as it was it was vastly preferable to being on the tarmac in a seat designed for an "average" American of 5'6" 140-160 lbs. While I fall under in weight, I am WAAAAAAAY over in tall and resent having my kneecaps up around my ears for any longer than strictly necessary.

I've also spent 5 hours on a tarmac preceeding a 9 hour flight.

Airlines suck. Nay, they swallow.

Dominique said...

I've been told that their flight logs only say "on time" and "late." Therefore, once they've had to shift your plane to the "late" column, they might as well let you be late as hell, because it'll be better for their ratings to have you 6 hours late but four other flights on time. It sounds to me like you got rogered on that one.

SundaySoup said...

Are you trying again tomorrow, or is it too late? Or was this yesterday and it's over already?

SM Schmidt said...

And the airline industry actually wonders why their PR and budgets are in the toilette?

The single worse incident I had was a five hour layover somewhere in the south 11:00 pm at night, waiting to get into NYC. Thanks to a plucky pilot we landed before the midnight curfew at LaGuardia & I didn't have to land at JFK (and ruin all my transport plans). I recommend LaGuardia, things ran much smoother in terms of flying back out to California on my return trip home.

Pablo said...


We're sorry you couldn't make it to our conference but will welcome you with open arms in the future. We promise to have lots of shark food, and drink.

suzie said...

Oh my gosh! This is crazy! I can't believe it was such a hassle.

J.T. said...

over Christmas I got stuck on a plane on Southwest Airlines and they wouldn't let us off, either. We were still waiting at the gate, but they said that once we were on, we couldn't get off, for whatever rule or regulation, and what's worse was that they weren't allowed to close the door. It was freezing!

Today my husband was stuck waiting to come back home (Seattle) for five hours because a safety light went off. He was stuck on the tarmac in Newark, NJ, flying Alaskan Airlines, I think. He won't get in until well after midnight now.

RCWriterGirl said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. Something weird was going on in NYC today. My brother-in-law left his house at 4:30 a.m. to go to the airport to catch a flight to NY. Around 11, after his original flight and two others had been cancelled, he got on an Acela train to NYC. US Airways told him Air Traffic Control in New York said there was too much traffic and asked airlines to voluntarily cancel several flights.

Sounds like an awful day to try to travel to/from NYc.

DocPammyDC said...

I'm so sorry, this totally sucks.

DocPammyDC said...

This totally sucks, Janet. So sorry. My shoulders would be glued to my ears right now. I used to fly United to Chicago all the time. But every little speck of snow or tornado, would delay all flights or cancel them, because Chicago O'Hare is United's hub. I started flying SWA to a smaller airport in Chicago. MUCH easier. Although that doesn't sound like that scenario applies in your case. Drink the scotch, take a hot salt bath, and splurge on a cupcake tom.


Don Bolen said...

Very sorry to hear this Janet!

My ex is a flight attendant... the flight crew doesn't get paid until the wheels are unblocked and the plane is pulled away from the terminal.

Last year I was flying American Airlines non-stop from Honolulu to Dallas. The plane's engine caught fire somewhere over the Pacific. The pilot corrected the lost of power by flipping the plane 90 degrees on its side. You would be amazed at the number of people who sleep with their seat belt unfastened. After much screaming and a emergency landing in LA... all was well.

Stephanie Thornton said...

We definitely missed you today at the conference- I was bummed to miss your talks!

And if you make it up here in the future I promise we'll still have polar bears for you to pet. Unless global warming gets them all, that is!

Skeptic said...

Man, that really blows. I had a similar experience at JFK late in July on my way home from London - fortunately we never ended up trapped on a plane waiting for the weather to clear - we just got moved to FIVE different gates before we finally ended up getting a flight from JFK to Denver.

Bad weather and airports do not mix. My son finally got fed up with the situation and said, "screw it" He spent the next three days puttering around Manhattan having a grand time. I finally got back to Denver about seven hours behind schedule, but at least I was HOME.

Be glad you weren't in Minneapolis. It's a fantastic city, but being stranded somewhere at the whims of the airline is not a good experience. :(

Loretta Ross said...

So sorry you didn't make it to Alaska! I'm sympathizing vicariously through the other commentors. I've never been on a plane.

I just fly my broomstick . . . .

C. Jordan said...

Wow! That sucks. I remember flying out of JFK the day they resumed flights, after 9/11. It was weird, because I had been living in the States for awhile, and all of a sudden I was treated like a potential terrorist. A flash of a Canadian passport meant having my luggage repeatedly "randomly searched" by National Guardsmen who thought that spreading my underwear across the terminal floor was going to heal their pain. I felt like I had just walked into Franco's Spain. I mean, I went to an American military university, for crying out loud. (And, please don't get me wrong, I was deeply affected by the tragedy).

Sorry you missed your flight. BTW, is it possible to fly out of JFK without an over crowded bus ride? I kind of like Newark's Jettson floors.

Anne-Marie said...

Oh Janet, I'm sorry you didn't make it out. One of my good friends calls NWA North Worst, but I think we can all come up with stories about all airlines. I had nothing but praise for their staff when I flew them last year.

McKoala said...

*shudder* flight nightmare. Poor you.

And those poor polar bears. How they will be missing you.

Southern Writer said...

You never made it to Alaska??? What a nightmare. I would be livid if I were you. I hope they're offering you some kind of pricey compensation for your lost income.

I don't know about commercial passenger airlines, but at FedEx, if someone causes a plane to depart late, their head will roll.

Southern Writer said...

P. S., I think when they apologize, I would tell them it's a fucking Bad Day for Sorry!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Besides my fear of flying, every single thing I've heard lately about today's flight nightmares is making Amtrak look better and better.

Anonymous said...

Please tell us they at least gave you a free flight or miles or SOMETHING after all that.

Terri said...

Dang it! Add one more to the list,

Really disappointed polar bear: 1

I used to fly a lot for my job, at least twice a week, sometimes more. My personal record is 8 hours on the runway trying to get out of LA. It had been a business conference, so 2/3 of the plane were my fellow employees and of that 2/3, at least 3/4 (myself included) were profoundly hung over. They can't use the A/C when you are idling on the runway because it sucks in jet fumes.

The flight attendants earned their pay that day, I hope they got a combat bonus.

I'm disappointed as well. Not only do I not get to be jealous of those attending the Alaska conference, but I don't get to read your blog posts about the conference. Because, this is all about me. . .

Just glad you are home safely, I hope you take the weekend off and indulge in gin and cupcakes.


B.E. Sanderson said...

When I lived in Michigan, I used Northwest all the time (not because I liked them, but since Detroit is a main hub, it was easier). My hell trip with them was a trip from DTW to Hartford, CT in 1997. Flight there: got on the plane, sat for an hour before they decided to cancel the flight due to mechanical difficulties, sat in the terminal for three hours waiting for the next flight, finally reached Hartford at 10pm and I still had to drive to Danbury so I could sleep before my 8am meeting. Flight home: reached DTW without incident then sat on the tarmac for 3 hrs. We could see the terminal from our windows, but they wouldn't let us off the plane.

12 years later, and it sounds like Northwest hasn't changed.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

The Poar Bear is deeply depressed and mopping about, tear stained eyes, won't play in the pool, just sits and sighs looking at the conference schedule!

Haste yee back ;-)

Gwen said...

I flew Northwest/Delta to and from Tanzania a few weeks ago. Not only did the Northwest flights (booked before the merge) not get transferred into the Delta database so I was nearly stuck in Amsterdam, but they didn't fix the problem for the return trip. Imagine it: 7 pm in Kilimanjaro, having been in Tanzania for 2 weeks building an eye clinic, and they're telling me they have no seat for me while the rest of my family and church stand at the gate, unable to do much of anything. Never again!

So the moral of the story: Northwest sucks, and it sucks when your plans fail. Hopefully, next time things will work out better.

Margaret Yang said...

"...passengers will put up with delays, and weather and all that stuff if you'll just leave us IN the damn terminal so we can use our computers, and our phones and make informed decisions."

And that's the reason, right there. The airlines don't want you to have access to the phones/computers for fear you will book another flight on some other airline. If you could, you would, right? I certainly would. Once Northwest has passengers, they intend to keep them.

Margaret Yang said...

p.s. You could always spend the weekend feeding fresh chum to the query shark. That might make you feel better. Just sayin'.

Michelle said...

I fly a couple of times a year and have flown many different airlines out of many different airports, and as far as I'm concerned they all have their bad days.

This getting stuck on the tarmac trend is nothing new, the first time it happened to me was in Frankfurt in the 80's (only 2 hours that time). The last time was four years ago in Phoenix (four hours with 105 degree temperatures, God it was hot!).

There are lots of problems with the way the airline industry and air traffic control, etc... is operated. An acquaintance of mine used to work in the industry and she said that there are many things that could be done to make the entire thing work more smoothly and efficiently but that it comes down to the fact that it would all cost a tremendous amount of money to retool everything and refit the planes and that nobody, from the government to the corporate execs to the shareholders and taxpayers wants to foot the bill.

Oh, and BTW, Northwest was bought by Delta a year or so ago.

Jennifer said...

Amtrak, hah! I thought it would be cool to take the train whilst I was living in IL (not coming from a place with trains) but it was at least an hour late every time. Guess what? Being two hours late to an interview is pretty much a cast-iron you-will-not-get-the-job-guarantee. And going back...every 30 minutes they told us to line up to board, then sat us down again. I got home at 2am instead of 9pm which made walking the 2 miles home kind of nerve-wracking.

I'm a Greyhound girl, all the way.

Anthony said...

Janet, I will attempt to answer your question.

When bad weather happens either locally or upstream, this causes numerous delays because of a variety of factors, on of which the flight corridors are antiquated and blah blah blah.

Anyway, I too have sat on a plane for three hours, but our plane left because we were sitting on the tarmac and PTB decided RIGHT THEN that flights could leave.

So we left.

Then the bad weather came back, and they closed the airport... for hours. The only reason we made it out was the pilot took a gamble the airport would open and we would be ready to go in a moments notice.

Well, at one point he couldn't see the tarmac, but it did get better.

Why things like what you experienced is complex. Our aviation corridors were designed for 1950's technology and just now being optimized. Business travelers are no longer floating half-full flights and margins are razor thin. Rules on gate usage, either your own or another airlines, are stupidly complex and not geared towards optimization.

Now take all of these factors and more, then toss in the weather. Basically you have an industry that sucks, and adding another layer of suckage to it. The result is Suckage Plus Plus.

But anyway, the most likely reason you sat on the plane, when weather was involved, was the pilot was waiting for the magic GO word.

I am not a pilot nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn. But I have interviewed several industry people about this topic.

Jenn Johansson said...

Clearly they don't know who you are. Someone should inform them. I have it in with airlines... maybe I'll give them a call.

No, but really... that sucks. And how sad for those writers at the conference.

Hope you find something relaxing to do with your extra weekend.

Literary Cowgirl said...

If you think Northwest sucks, don't book any flights with Air Canada, especially at Christmas time. They book there planes completely full, so if there are any hold-ups, you're screwed. My mother has come for Christmas four times. That's eight flights. Six out of the eight have been delayed anywhere from eight hours to two days.

I love South African Airways. Great customer service. I was booked on a flight that had a refuel stop in Nigeria. They rebooked me on an earlier flight that didn't have the two hour Nigerian stop. They also classified all of my extra bags as "sports equipment" so it hardly cost me anything extra (might have even been free).

Karen said...

The only time I ever flew Northwest, my luggage was lost going both ways.

And on the away trip, we sat at the gate for an hour because they couldn't get the door to close. And then they decided to tell us that, once it was finally fixed.

Sometimes, there are just things I don't want to know about the plane I'm in.

Lew said...

Wow, I feel your pain.

I used to fly Northwest because they randomly bumped me to first class once. But if you're going from JFK to Newark, with their hub system, they would have you fly through Detroit or Memphis, change planes and head back. And each time you fly, you roll the dice. Connecting flights are more suggestions than actual plans. I once tried to get from NY to LA on NW and my connecting in Memphis was canceled as I got to the gate. Not delayed, just canceled. They were reroutng people and telling them to RUN! to the next gate. I got rerouted through Dallas but first had a delightful four-hour layover in Memphis. I was, however, allowed to roam free in the terminal and enjoy the overpriced flat beer in plastic cups as I watched "Judge Judy."

dylan said...

Dera Ms. Reid,

Perhaps you could make a video like this one:

clled "Northwest Breaks (Enter word of choice here, i.e., contracts, promises, hearts, balls , et infuriating cetera.


JamieChristina said...

Hmmph. Well, don't think this lets you off the hook regarding my polar bear cub. I expect you to be handing over an adorable ball of white fur next time I see you at the office.

Malia Sutton said...

I got stuck in Newark Airport for hours trying to get to St. Louis this weekend. They said it was the weather. I finally gave up and went back to the city. I was only going for the weekend, and it would have been a waste of time to fly out on Saturday.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Wow, that sucks. I circled for three hours once above an airport, but it was because fog was preventing us from landing. At least I eventually got to my destination. I can't imagine how terrible it would be to be stuck at the airport of your departure.

BuffySquirrel said...

At a guess, both flights missed their take-off slots and got sent to the back of the queue.


Recessionista Genie said...


I've always had a terrible experience with that particular airline. As you could probably guess from my name, I always search for the cheapest airline ticket. But if it's Northwest, I'll pay another fifty or a hundred bucks for a different airline.

Lily said...

RE: tweet
my twitter is not responding!
I live very close to Yellow Springs, but have yet to attend any workshop. YS is a super fabulous place. Rich in culture. Artistic, and unique to say the least. Say yes! (Remember to pack your tie-dyed suit for coffee shop hopping!) Hopefully I will be able to afford it!

Amber Argyle-Smith said...

Since you missed our pitch session, can I call you?

Just kidding. I was in the midwest the whole time.


But still . . .

Esc said...

My family and I had to sit for an hour on a plane leaving Cleveland, waiting for a flight crew who still had to fly out of Buffalo yet. I didn't realize the staff was that short. I feel your pain. Blessings for your next trip, may it be smooth sailing all the way.

Richard Lewis said...

As Dylan referred to, at least you weren't traveling with guitars.

Singapore Airlines should take over the world.

Botanist said...

I guess this would be a bad day to send in a query!

Deepest sympathies Janet, stories like this make my blood boil. I don't care what the "reasons" are for behaviour like this, these policies were made by people and can just as easily be unmade. "Put people before profit," I say!

Amber Argyle-Smith said...

You're flight is on the national news, Janet!

JM Diaz said...

Horrifying flight experience aside, I wanted to express my gratitude for this blog. Why I had not found it before is beyond me, but I love all the info peppered throughout the pages. Links such as the "Crime Bake" conference. Oh yeah, I will definitely be looking into that. Thanks once again, and hope flight nightmare is concluded once and for all.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

If you took the train, and got a big enough compartment, you could take the polar bear home with you. You might fight a little over who has to take the top bunk, but sharing a bathroom with a polar bear is probably better than sharing it with 200 other people.

Anita said...

My husband is a pilot. He says if you don't stay in line in these situations, then you have to wait for all the other planes to leave before you. And if tower clears you to go and three people are in the bathroom, then the plane behind you gets to take your spot. If there's bad weather going out, then there's bad weather coming in. When the planes finally come in, they need a place to park, so outgoing planes can't be taking up room at the terminals. Lots of things contribute to waiting in the plane. Whenever you're getting on a plane, make sure your bladder is empty and you have plenty of snacks.

My husband flies for FedEx, so he doesn't have as many of these issues.

Jeannie said...

Why doesn't someone regulate this industry? Aren't they in violation of our civil rights? Unlawful detention or something? Kidnapping?
I think the airline industry is the biggest bunch of extortionists going.
Don't get me started!
Sorry you missed your flight.

Debra L Martin said...

I flew into Minneapolis this past week on MidWest Airlines - a very small airline. There's only 1 gate out of Boston. I was scheduled to fly from Boston-Milwaukee-Minneapolis and get in at 2:30pm. Made it to Milwaukee fine - we ran [my poor elderly mother] for our connection only to find out that we didn't miss our connection, it was delayed for an hour.

One hour turned into two then turned into three and then 3.5 hours. There were tornados touching down in Minneapolis and I was happy to be stuck on the ground in Milwaukee and still in the terminal. I almost booked this flight with Northwest. I would hate to see what would have happened if we had. We might still be on the tarmac in Milwaukee.....

DocPammyDC said...

Thought you'd think this was, uh, funny? Ahem.

Ami The Salami said...

Exactly what happened to me when I went to Intoerlochen earlier this summer. And then guess what we did? We flew in circles for about half an hour and then landed for ten minutes in who-knows-where, and then I was late for my second flight, so we had to drive to Traverse City, Michigan from Chicago. I don't understand these people...

Kelley said...

FYI, Northwest is actually Delta. They were taken over by Delta-so blame them. Not all the planes have been painted, signs or uniforms changed, etc. but it's Delta.

D. Michael Olive said...

What you experienced is not uncommon these days. I log somewhere between 75-100,000 miles a year so a couple of recommendations. 1) Northwest is also fondly known as Northworst by those of us who've had the misfortune to fly them. Delta, United, and American are just as bad. Customer service is not something they understand. My favorite airline is Midwest. Customer service has always been top flight :o) and they bake chocolate chip cookies on board. Make sure you sit next to someone who looks sleepy. That way you tell the flight attendent that you'll hold their cookies for them until they wake up. Also, If you skip the cheap deal and upgrade to premium on Southwest,the service is outstanding.

I know it's difficult to turn down those luscious airline meals (to my knowledge, no one has ever asked for a recipe), but I recommend bringing protein bars...something with chocolate. I love it when young employees say how glamorous it must be to travel as much as I do. Yeah, right.

Cat Moleski said...

There's good info about the industry on this blog:

Steve Stubbs said...

According to the following article, you are the captain's prisoner and any effort to leave his private jail without his cackling permission can get you arrested. That makes sense if you are in mid-air, but if you are on the ground somehow the logic escapes me. It also seems like a subtle distinction since you are in effect arrested anyway if they keep you prisoner on the tarmac. Yes, I have flown in and out of JFK and know what starring in the movie called Prisoner of Dufus Airlines is all about. They did not even give us their usual complimentary bag of peanuts to show us how oriented toward superb customer service they were.


Amber Argyle-Smith said...

You're welcome!

Heather B. Moore said...

Maybe we should put on web-cam writers conferences :)

the one true dead angel said...

Northwest Airlines is possibly the worst airline company in American history. Every experience I've ever had with the airline has been not just negative but wildly negative. In 2002, my family flew to Vicksburg via the airline to scatter my father's ashes, and the airline attempted to seat my sister's young children -- including two toddlers -- separately from the rest of the family due to their poor seating assignments. This was around the same time they had been in the news for a very public incident involving a young girl seated separately from her family in similar circumstances who was molested on the plane by the man sitting next to her. Nobody in my family flies Northwest Airlines now.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Oh man, last time I flew Northwest for one of my conferences, I ended up spending an entire day in the airport -- and I'm allergic to preservatives. Imagine if you will the landscape of the terminal if you cannot eat anything with chemicals added to preserve it.

If you guessed that I subsisted on Starbucks tea, you guessed correctly.

Continental is also pretty jaw droppingly bad.