AirTran – FAIL!

Disclaimer: ok, ok, most of this isn’t really AirTrans fault (it was more of that beeotch Mother Nature), but just a little rant of how a situation was HANDLED, and a COMPLETE lack of communication.

This past weekend, I went to Chicago to a conference for work. The last time Debs and I went to Chicago, we took United Airlines, and had a direct flight from RIC to ORD, and it didn’t take much time at all (and tickets were really cheap too). But due to having to plan ahead and get the best deal, work chose to fly us through AirTran, which means we had to go through Atlanta to get to Chicago (Midway). I actually liked going to Midway, because our hotel was RIGHT off the Orange Line, which was the direct route to Midway (and it only took about 30 minutes to get from airport to hotel checkin).

Our flight from RVA to Atlanta to Chi-town was great. Very fast, and while although early, we got there in great time, and had a enjoyable flight. We had a great time at the conference, won an award, and after a little bar hopping, crashed since we had to get up somewhat early (7am) for our flight home.

We took our time (since we didnt leave till 11), but got to the airport in plenty of time, checked in, and relaxed. Time came to board the plane, we got on, excited to get back to richmond. Now I dont remember much about the series of events after that, but heres a quick list of what happened next…

  • Get seated, go through procedures, and then are told ‘we are going to have to wait a little bit’.
  • We are waiting due to a BAD storm in Atlanta.
  • After about an hour of waiting, they let everyone get off the plane. I stay on for the most part, until I went to grab some food.
  • Board again, get in our seats, and roll down the runway
  • I notice about 6 Southwest flights go in front of us. Pilot comes on intercom to tell us that we are going to sit a bit (next update in 45 minutes) since they have now locked down the runways.
  • After the 45 minutes, we get another announcement (by a rather irritated pilot), saying that ‘we are going to taxi back to the gate and let you off, Atlanta delayed us another 1.5 hours’. He also mentioned that they had ASKED if the times were good, were told yes, then called back 5 minutes later locking us down
  • They kick everyone off the plane.
  • We load the 3rd time for ‘Nonstop service to atlanta’. Hell, how about calling it ‘Non Start Service’.
  • At least the crew was nice, rushing through stuff. The pilot was also rushing to just get off the ground. Once we got in the Air, we made it in no time at all, and had a great flight.

One could begin to imagine what it would be like to shut down an airport. At least I thought. When we land, everything is in deadlock. Planes cant move because they need crew members, crew members are stuck on planes that were delayed. It took us about 30 minutes after landing to taxi to our gate, and we were let of. The MAYHEM to ensue next was insane.

  • The above picture is from where I sat for almost 3 more hours. This was as ‘thin’ as I actually saw that. Where you see the people standing is customer service
  • These people had been waiting in excess of 5+ hours for the same plane.
  • We were told gate C16 when landing. After waiting in line there, told that we were supposed to be at C9 or C17, AIRTRAN wasn’t really sure (it was C17).
  • AirTran had NO idea what was going on. Website was updated before their consoles were. Display screens were all locked up and displaying everything ‘on time’.
  • AirTran had a blatant disrespect for passengers safety and health. Some examples include elderly people not being offered spaces to sit, people pushing and practically fighting and yelling, people trying to ‘pass the time’ in other areas yelling, screaming, and playing games disrupting half the terminal. I even remember hearing a rather large woman who had leg issues asking for medical help because she could no longer stand.
  • We were told numerous times that ‘we just needed one more attendant and we would be on our way’. They said this for 3 hours straight, practically right after we landed.
  • Cell phones were useless (mostly) because of oversaturated towers.
  • We finally board at 9:45 and it takes 30 more minutes to get people on, moved around, and get going.

No one cared once on the plane. They gave us free drinks (i didnt know that up front though, or would have gotten one), and actually got us there 10 minutes faster than planned. But it doesnt stop there.

  • Decending into Richmond, I have to say I had the 2nd worse flight ever. We were bouncing ALL over the place
  • Landed off balance, which jerked the whole plane
  • Took another 30-45 minutes to get our luggage, with NO employees to give us a heads up.

So I ended up being back in RVA 5+ hours after I was supposed to, with severe pain (I have major back problems), and being so cramped up from the sardine-can-insipred-planes. I ended up working from home in bed Monday so I could try to revive, and still don’t feel just right.

Listening To: ‘Everlong’ by the Foo Fighters

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