Day 10: Travel to New York LaGuardia

I am now even when it comes to delayed versus on-time flights: four delayed, four on time. I wonder what my return home will hold?

This was another uneventful day of air travel. My boyfriend and I arrived at PBI very early, so we walked around the airport for a bit, then passed easily through security and headed to the Delta Sky Club, where we enjoyed a local Native Brewing Company Native Lager.  Our plane boarded and pushed back on time. We were originally given a routing that would have added approximately 45 minutes to our flying time due to storms, but we must have been rerouted back to our original route, as we landed on time in steady rain. Inflight first class service consisted of numerous beverages and snack basket passes and the option to purchase Gogo Inflight Internet. My checked bag arrived as expected.

Advertisements

Day 8: Travel to West Palm Beach

Day 8 was another travel day, this time from LaGuardia to West Palm Beach on Delta.  The trip was thankfully uneventful, except for a small maintenance delay at the gate. The first officer noticed a small fuel leak, so they ran the engine, and determined the leak was within safe limits, so we departed close to our original departure time and arrived on time. Service in first class on the former Northwest Airbus 319 included beverages, a cold-plate lunch, snack basket, and the option to purchase Gogo inflight internet.

We spent the day at our hotel, the Hilton Singer Island. This was the day of the only negative part of our trip. I became very ill that evening and broke out in a rash from something I ate, most likely the conch chowder I had for dinner, although I don’t know for sure. My boyfriend and I split dinner, which consisted of mahi mahi fish tacos, crab cakes, and the conch chowder, but he didn’t have much of the chowder while I ate most of it.  He did not become ill. Unfortunately, it looks like I will need to be tested for allergies before I eat shellfish again, which is a bummer, because I love all shellfish.

TRI-CLT-SFO roundtrip on US Airways 11-14 July 2011

This was a 50,000-mile first class award ticket redemption booked on continental.com. It was very easy to research and book and I was able to find the US Airways record locator by entering my flight number and passenger name at usairways.com. I was automatically assigned seats according to my preference (aisle).

The day I was scheduled to depart, I went to check in for my TRI-CLT flight and usairways.com wouldn’t let me. Then I checked my BlackBerry and my first flight had been canceled, according to the Tripit Pro alert I received. Since I am affiliated with a travel agency, I called the US Airways travel agent center to be rebooked. Luckily there was another flight option I could take so that I could make my original connection to SFO. However, I was never notified directly by US Airways that my flight was canceled.

The rebooked first flight was rather uneventful, except that it was blazing hot on the Dash 8-100 prop plane. The flight attendant said that US Airways almost canceled that flight due to the heat. It was in the 90s on the East Coast and she indicated that maintenance would be waiting on the plane upon its arrival in CLT. To help compensate for the heat, she offered us an unscheduled beverage service.

Upon arriving in CLT, I spent my time waiting in the club until I received a Tripit Pro alert, not a US Airways alert, that my flight was delayed until 6:40 pm. Around 6:10 pm, I headed to the gate and when I arrived, the gate agent announced that there was a weather/ATC delay into SFO and that he had not received any updates from operations except that the flight’s wheels-up time was estimated to be 8:45 pm. However, he advised customers to stay in the gate area. 6:40 pm came and went with no further updates, so I returned to the club and hoped that I could rely on my Tripit Pro alerts to keep me informed. When I reached the club, I overheard another passenger on my flight asking the club agent the CLT-SFO flight status and the club agent promised to contact the gate and monitor the flight. After that, there was no further information about the flight provided. The flight even dropped off the departure board, as operations neglected to keep the ETD current.  Finally at 7:45 pm, the club agent announced that customers should go to the gate for an 8:00 pm boarding time. The flight did board around that time and we pushed back and headed toward the runway. However, just short of the runway, the pilot announced that the plane was overheating and we had to return to the gate. We spent another hour at the gate while the plane was repaired and finally took off around 9:40 pm, three and a half hours late. In-flight service in first class consisted of two dinner choices and beverage service. There was no pre-departure beverage, no hot towel service, no snack basket, no in-flight entertainment, and the Gogo Inflight Internet was inoperable. It was a long five hours to SFO. We arrived three hours late. My bags arrived after about a 45-minute wait.

My return was scheduled for 7:25 am July 14. This was the one, near perfect flight of the trip. I was able to check in quickly and pass through the security checkpoint by way of a first class/elite line. I was not chosen for the full body scanner, but instead the metal detector, because apparently there was a problem with the scanner and the agent called for someone to “recalibrate it.” We boarded on time: specials, first class, then by zone. There was no pre-departure beverage service or snack basket service, as catering did not provide snacks. However, the Gogo Inflight Internet worked, the in-flight beverage service was plentiful, there was hot towel service prior to the meal, and there was a choice of two breakfast entrées. We arrived early, but were given an arrival gate change at the last minute, so we arrived at the new gate a few minutes late.

I hurried from gate B13 to E29 for my connection.  Around our scheduled departure time, 4:12 pm, the gate agent announced a delay until 4:40 pm due to a late-arriving crew. Finally the crew arrived, we boarded, and we took off close to our delayed departure time.  There was no in-flight service, but the flight attendant did have time to sit and chat with one of the passengers.

Upon arrival in TRI, my two bags, tagged Star Alliance Priority, arrived as scheduled.

Grade = C-

*Only one of four flights was not canceled or delayed; customer service and communication regarding the canceled and delayed flights were poor; there was simply nothing to do on the CLT-SFO flight with no in-flight entertainment and inoperable Gogo Inflight Internet. The saving grace was the one on-time flight.

ROA-DTW-JFK-ATL-ROA on Delta 15-17 April 2011

I decided to write this trip report more about the handling of the irregular operations, rather than the in-flight service, because I think Delta responded well to both situations.

I won’t spend time on the Roanoke-Detroit and Atlanta-Roanoke flights except to say that they both boarded by zone, were on time, and were standard Delta Connection CRJ-200 flights, complete with a full beverage and snack service (peanuts, pretzels, or Biscoffs).

When I arrived in Detroit, I visited the main Sky Club in the center of Concourse A.  It has a self-service bar and ample room, as it is a very large club.  It was quite busy the hour or so that I was there.

We boarded the MD-88 for JFK and as we were about to depart, the pilot shut down the engines and performed a “maintenance check.” Then mechanics boarded the flight.  This did not bode well.  About 15-20 minutes later, the pilot asked us to deplane and inquire about alternate flights, because the ground power that starts the plane had experienced a power surge that basically fried the computer system.  As I was waiting to speak to the gate agent, the crew deplaned and announced that we were going to the next gate to board an alternate MD-88.  We quickly boarded and were on our way.  The in-flight service consisted of the usual full beverage and snack basket service.  We only arrived about 45 minutes late.

This morning, Sunday, April 17, I was scheduled to depart JFK at 7:00 am through Detroit.  When my alarm sounded at 4:00 am, I checked my BlackBerry and I had one e-mail and three missed calls from Delta.  My flight had been canceled and I was automatically rebooked for Monday, April 18, which I could not do.  I called Delta and reached a Platinum Medallion agent.  He asked me how close I was to JFK and I said, “I’m close, at an airport hotel.”  He asked if I could make 6:20 am and I said yes, and he rebooked me in full F (first class) and Y (economy) through Atlanta to Roanoke. He finished the call by thanking me for my loyalty and understanding of the situation. I dressed and packed quickly and arrived at JFK Terminal 2 around 5:00 am.  I checked in at a kiosk and there was no line at the Sky Priority security checkpoint.  Delta at JFK does not have the full body scanners yet, thank goodness. I enjoyed a coffee at the iPad/charging station/restaurant located near gate 15.

The flight itself was what I have come to expect from Delta: blankets, pillows, and Dasani at every first class seat, Gogo Inflight Internet for purchase, in-flight entertainment (in-seat, on-demand on today’s 737-800), hot towel service, full beverage service, and continental breakfast (croissant, fresh fruit, cereal, and yogurt).

When I arrived in Atlanta, I enjoyed a couple of the best Bloody Marys I’ve ever had in the C Concourse Sky Club.

Grade = A, in spite of the two irregular operations incidents