Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Northwest Airlines is a joke.

Hey all. I'm back to beautiful, warm Colorado. My time in NY wasn't long enough, but I'm glad I got to go, nonetheless. (I love that word!) And I'm even more glad to be home and done dealing with the airline industry for a while.

If you thought my trip out was rough, wait until you hear what happened on the trip home. The whole experience was such a joke you'd almost think I was making it up.

Almost.

I arrive at the airport 1 hour and 20 minutes before my flight. Albany Airport is small - it only has two concourses - so that was plenty early. I get in line to check in via the kiosks and while I'm waiting they make an announcement that everyone should stop checking in because our flight is an hour delayed so they need to rebook us so we wouldn't miss our connections.

Soon I get to the front of the line and step up to the counter. A couple of guys in orange vests are standing behind the computer. Quite obviously baggage handlers, not booking agents. They take my ID and start squinting at the computer, muttering back and forth to each other. One of them types something on the keyboard, then the other says something like, "No man, it's up arrow, up arrow, THEN enter. No! Go back to the other screen. Now L5 then tab. Dude, let me do it."

Not instilling me with a lot of confidence in their flight booking competencies.

Then they proceed to argue with each other, right in front of me mind you, about whether or not putting me on a certain plane will push it over it's weight limit. They tell me to put my bag on the scale. Then they look at the weight, size me up, shrug at each other and say, "Well hopefully we're okay." And one of them says, "Yeah we took 50 people with 2,500 pounds yesterday. The weather is decent so we should be okay." Then one of them says "A luggage tag should be printed out somewhere." Then they look around for it, grab one, and with barely a glance, stick it on my suitcase and toss it behind them.

Ummm ...

With no choice but to trust these two goons, I head up to my gate. After about 30 minutes of waiting, they make an announcement about a gate change - now my flight will be boarding out of Gate 1, which is down the escalators, basically in the airport basement. So I grab my stuff and head down there. Every few minutes I glance up at the screen to see if it is updated with our flight info, but it never is. As far as anyone can tell, they sent us down to the basement and forgot about us. There are no agents. No airport staff at all down there.

Eventually a plane arrives at the gate and passengers enter the airport. However, it's past boarding time and there is still no gate agent ... no Northwest people anywhere. Finally, a girl comes inside wearing an orange vest, knee pads and ear protection. She walks up to the counter, yells, "Everyone can board" and then proceeds to look at each ticket, write down the seat number on a piece of paper and then motion us to the plane.

As passengers board the plane, it's chaos, with people sitting in other people's seats, and total gridlock in the aisle. No one can move and more and more people are trying to board. By this time passengers have started to get a little agitated with all the disorganization and the lone flight attendant, an older lady who has been trying desperately to get help from the non-existent gate agents, has a nervous breakdown. Literally. She starts screaming at people. Passengers, crew, everyone.

It was unbelievable.

We eventually got off the ground, and our flight attendant pulled herself together and apologized via intercom for her "outburst" and said it usually takes a lot to get her riled up.

I can't blame her, though, for getting overwhelmed. I felt horrible for her. Northwest Airlines is a complete and utter mess.

(I hope their PR people read this post.)

11 comments:

Lawanda said...

Wow. Just Wow. Unbelievable!

.: theChris :. said...

I'm sorry about all that and everything, but that was hilarious.

Bad experience, good post.

That reminds me...

"Hey, hey, If you would take a second, take the little sticks out of your head, clean out your ears, and maybe you would see that I'm a person who has feelings, and all I have to do is do what I wanna do and all I want to do is hold on to my bag and not listen to you! And the only way that I would ever let go of my bag would be if you came over here right now and tried to pry it from my dead, lifeless fingers, okay? If you can get it from my kung-fu grip then you can come and have it, okay? Otherwise, step off, bitch."

Kelly @ Love Well said...

As someone who lives in Minneapolis, where NWA is based (at least for now, until they merge with Delta), I can confidently tell you: There is a reason NWA ranks lowest in customer service year after year.

Unfortunately, I doubt their PR department would even blink at this kind of story. Or care.

Sorry you got bit by the North"worst" Airlines gremlin.

Becky said...

I don't blame MN. :) My very best friend lives there!

Jen Kent said...

So sorry you had such trouble on your flights! I love to travel, but man, when the airlines are a pain it can make it a nightmare. I have a good one about US Airways I could tell you sometime. Did your bag actually make it here with you?

Carolyn said...

Hey, that's ME! I'm the very best friend who lives there! Kelly is right. It should be renamed to Northworst. At least you knew the language and weren't riding a bus to the wrong part of the airport and weren't running through the terminal only to be the last person on the flight out of the country. Whew. I still can't believe we made it out of Spain on that flight. I think we had some serious angel-activity that day. I seriously get sick to my stomach when I remember out adventure that day. We were so stupid.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the charade that is the post bankrupt Northwest. From the sound of your post, nothing in Albany was delivered by Northwest employees. During bankruptcy, Northwest fired all the agents at smaller cities and outsourced their jobs, either to other airlines or ground service companies. And from the sound of your one flight attendant aircraft, that sounds like a Northwest Airlink flight that is operated by another company as well. Sorry about the lack of professionalism your received.

Becky said...

Wow. Northwest is bankrupt too? I knew ATA, Aloha and Frontier were, but I guess I missed that announcement.

That explains a lot.

Anonymous, you don't happen to work for NWA do you?

jb harp said...

Glad you enjoyed NY. But you were missed back here. We had to watch your "babe" without you.

Becky said...

Thanks Jared. I'm sure you missed mocking me endlessly. :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the confusion Becky. By post bankrupt I mean their bankruptcy is a done deal and they emerged from bankrupty about a year ago.