Day 11: Dear Delta

Dear Delta,

I am a frequent flyer of 14 years and I love to travel, but travel days like August 15 are exhausting, stressful, and exasperating. May I say that I am glad to have a month off from air travel?

On a positive note, I would like to offer my praise to the pilots and flight attendants of the flight from LaGuardia to Atlanta. They performed above and beyond under conditions beyond their control. I especially appreciated the lead flight attendant who came to each first class row and thanked us for our loyalty, business, and patience. Sincere appreciation can do a world of good.

However, that being said, my travel day with you was very frustrating.  Our inbound plane at LaGuardia arrived late, so we boarded and pushed back late. The weather in the area was not good, so we spent an hour or so on the tarmac waiting to depart. Just as we had been given clearance to depart, the pilots discovered an electrical problem with the navigation system, so we lost our place in line and had to return the gate. We spent almost two hours on the plane waiting for maintenance to determine the problem, locate the part, and replace the part. We pushed back again and spent another hour waiting to depart due to weather and air traffic control. In total, we spent almost four hours aboard the plane and never got anywhere. That was followed by a two-hour flight with the usual inflight service: beverages, lunch (well, it was almost dinnertime!), on-demand inflight entertainment, and optional Gogo Inflight Internet.

During the mechanical delay, we were told that agents were working on rebooking us. I must advise that your personnel should only say that if it is true. I always proceed with caution and check for myself. I discovered that my itinerary hadn’t been touched, so I contacted my boyfriend prior to departure and asked him to have Delta back me up on my connecting flight. By the time we reached Atlanta, I had missed two possible connections, was on standby for another, and was confirmed on the last flight of the day. I must request from you to never subject me to a six-hour LGA-ATL flight again, OK?

Our plane arrived at concourse E and it was a sign to spend time at One Flew South, where I enjoyed their amazing chicken noodle soup and a glass of 2010 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.

I headed to the gate of the standby flight and luckily, I was cleared to board. Amazingly, this flight went off without a hitch, nor a wait on the runway, and we arrived at Tri-Cities (TRI) early. Even my bag made it.

In closing, I’d like to say thank you for the crew on the first flight and the good connecting flight. I am still exhausted, but perhaps a bit less exasperated today.

Sincerely,
Beth

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US 4158 ROA-LGA 2 July 2009

Scheduled
US 4158 ROA-LGA 4:48 pm – 6:51 pm Dash 8-100 Exit Row Aisle 4C

Actual
US 4158 ROA-LGA 7:25 pm – 9:06 pm Dash 8-100 Exit Row Aisle 4C, delay due to earlier weather and subsequent ATC delays

We pushed at 7:18 pm and departed at 7:25 pm.  I had no seatmate, which was nice.  We had a full in-flight beverage service.  I purchased two Bloodies for $14, which consisted of two minis, one plastic cup with ice, one can of Bloody Mary Mix, no lime, no stirring straw/stick, which meant I had to swish/swirl the cup to mix up the beverage.  I had purchased snacks and water at ROA, so I would have something to eat.  I had to ask for a napkin. The flight was otherwise uneventful.

I do not recommend this flight.  According to flightstats.com

Route: Roanoke to New York
Date Range: April 15, 2009 to June 15, 2009
Flight: (US) US Airways 4158

0 of 5 Very Poor
On-time: 43%>
Avg. Delay: 65 min

This flight has an on-time performance of 43%.

This flight has an average delay of 65.0 minutes with a standard deviation of 54.03 minutes.

On-time Arrival Performance for this Flight
On-time 23 43%
Late 5 9%
Very Late 7 13%
Excessive 15 28%
Cancelled 3 5%
Diverted 0 0%

TRI-ATL-LGA on Delta 28 May 2009

DL 5644 TRI-ATL 12:41 pm – 1:43 pm CRJ-200 Seat 8B Exit Aisle
DL 1788 ATL-LGA 4:40 pm – 7:09 pm 757-200 Seat 5A Window

I arrived at TRI about an hour before my flight.  As I was printing my boarding passes at the kiosk, I noticed my first flight said, “delayed.” So after completing check-in, I went to an agent to inquire about the delay.  He looked at the computer screen, chuckled, and said, “Two minutes.” Too funny!

I proceeded quickly through security and spent about 20 minutes in the TRI Business Center handling some work for a travel client.  The inbound flight arrived and we boarded on time.  We pushed back early, at 12:35 pm.  However, we took about a 15-minute ATC hold in TRI and finally took off at 12:52 pm, 12 minutes past scheduled departure.  The plane was maybe half full and I had no seatmate, so I was able to spread out and enjoy the short flight.  We landed at 1:36 pm, seven minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival.

We deplaned and I grabbed a quick lunch and ate it on my way to the Delta Sky Club near B10.  I spent the next two and a half hours in the club enjoying a couple of Bloody Marys and the complimentary Wi-Fi.   During my wait, I discovered that I had a chance at an upgrade at the gate, and that my flight was delayed by 30 minutes.  However, the time passed very quickly.   I made my way to the gate, which had changed from B2 to B21, so I had quite a walk.  When I arrived at the gate, I looked up at the monitor and saw my elite complimentary upgrade had cleared, seat 5A window.  I am not a window person, because I usually have to get up during the flight, but my seatmate was a young lady who understood my possible need!  And I actually enjoyed looking out the window.

When I arrived my seat, there were the requisite pillow, blanket, mini bottle of Dasani, and ear buds.  We were also served a full pre-departure beverage service and I had white wine.  We pushed back at 5:03 pm, but took an ATC hold in ATL and did not take off until 5:34 pm, 56 minutes past scheduled departure.  In-flight services included Delta TV short programming, complimentary beverages, and a cold dinner plate consisting of a Greek pasta/chicken kabob salad made with feta cheese crumbles, tomatoes, olive bits, and romaine lettuce;  a fresh fruit plate with two slices of orange, a slice of pineapple, and a strawberry; pre-packaged breadsticks; and a pre-packaged molasses sugar cookie.  The only minor complaints I had were the cookie was extremely sweet, so much so that I only ate half, and there was something strange on the chicken kabob part of my salad.  I bit it and it was sweet and had seeds.  Later I suspected it was perhaps a fig, but I was not sure.  At any rate, it was not to my liking.

We made great time in the air, narrowly avoiding another ATC hold, and landed at LGA at 7:21 pm, only 12 minutes past scheduled arrival.

Delta has proved itself to me time and time again this year that they are making an effort towards greater consistency and better on-board service.