Home At Last

If I do not post too much this week, you can attribute it to Delta Airlines leaving my family stranded in Atlanta for a day. It would have been two days if we had just accepted Delta’s eventual rescheduling of our trip home from vacation.

It seems a busy holiday weekend and a short weather delay in Atlanta caused Delta to become a bit unhinged. Yes, Delta can’t control the weather, but Atlanta is the center of the Delta universe, their home, the place where they should best be able to respond to any break down. Plus it isn’t like a weather delay is some sort of rare thing in Atlanta.

And while I am sure most people got where they were going, that was small comfort to those of us stuck in Atlanta and waiting in 200+ person line at 11pm at night, having missed our last chance stand-by flights, to be able to use a help-desk phone that routed to a call center in India with no apparent authority to alter anything pre-determined by the Delta re-routing subroutines that seemed bent on scattering the ten of us, including five children, both in time and in space. (Grand and prolonged tours of popular US airports was not on our agenda.)

My wife can be defeated on the phone by a powerless call center, but never in person. So after a couple of hours sleep in the Hampton Inn North, which I recommend as they have “traveler in need” kits with basic supplies like toothbrushes and deodorant, it was back to the airport to try and secure passage home in person. (Delta gave us a discount coupon for a 1-star hotel that we declined to use, as the discount seemed to be minimal at best. The days of airlines putting you up because of a delay, or even booking you on another airline to fulfill their manifest responsibility of getting you where you’re going in a timely manner have fallen by the wayside.)

While I am in software development, my wife comes from a background in sales. She is friendly, endearing, and people empathize with her plight. We got up to the ticketing counter and I let her go to work while I stood back looking bleary-eyed and miserable (no need to act, we were on our second night in a row of little sleep).

Fortunately, a travel plight that involves children is hard to ignore when they are there in front of you, and the woman at the ticketing counter went to the mat for us to get us out of Atlanta and home that day. (And she had to jump some hurdles… it appears that you cannot go stand-by for a flight on a day if you have been rebooked for the following day.)

So while Delta the corporate entity left us stranded, they do employ good people whose main problem was being in short supply in a desperate time. It is too bad that the company put them in that situation. We all arrived in Atlanta to the message that a gate agent would be available to help us with our problems after we deplaned, only to find a harried individual who could only point us towards the long line to the help desk.

We are all home now, exhausted, but happy to be done.

6 thoughts on “Home At Last

  1. Gaff

    You were on a quest! How exciting! I hope you see the error of your WoW / street sign analogy now. How boring would it have been if the helpful lady had a big yellow exclamation point above her head? When you got to the hotel did you have to hit rest/med/mem ?

    What about the boat? Timely? EQ2 like? Did you just hit a bell and load into the Virgin Islands?

    Glad your home. I have quested in Atlanta a number of times myself.


  2. Rick

    You’re exactly right that corporations put the people who work for them in bad situations. There’s not a lot someone on the ground can do to fix a screwed up situation. I think most people in the service industry are happy to help when they’re able to do so, but unfortunately, their options are often limited.

    I wonder sometimes if we’ll look back at the past 20 or 30 years as the golden age of travel, and if it’ll never be that good again.

    A shame you didn’t set jump clones in your home station before you flew off on vacation.


  3. Relmstein

    I had a friend who didn’t get home until 2am Sunday because of the delays in Atlanta. I try to avoid being routed through there because it always seems to have delays no matter if its a holiday or not.


  4. Genda

    When you die, if you have been bad, you go to hell.

    But the connection is through Atlanta Hartsfield Airport.

    I used to fly about 150-200K miles a year, and without question or rival, the rank and file at Atlanta with Delta care less about the passenger than any other airport. Not even close. You are fortunate that you found someone who would throw down for you. I’ve gone to meetings a day late in my shorts because they couldn’t get me and my bag to the same place at the same time, nor be bothered to care about it.

    I usually try to avoid Delta for just that reason, and it’s in my profile at my travel agent.

    Glad you are finally home safe and sound.


  5. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Didn’t some Delta pilot tell that to the cabin of his flight before walking off the job about 15-20 years back?

    Yes, Atlanta Hartsfield Airport is bad. Been burned there before. It stands as a damming testament against the “hub and spoke” architecture that airlines have traditionally attempted to maintain.

    But the cruise was booked and paid for by my parents almost a year in advance, so it was tough to complain. Of course, Delta went and started screwing up our reservations almost immediately, so my wife was on the phone with them long before we ever got near the airport.

    I’ll write a little something about the cruise this weekend, attempting to stick mostly to the “game stuff on weekdays, other stuff on weekends” pattern for the site.


  6. G Haines

    You are lucky to be home – my two young sons are still stranded in Atlanta in a scary hotel in a dangerous section of town – that is where Delta sent them – Delta has made no atempt to help them whatsoever and I just pray they get home today.


Comments are closed.