Monday, January 26, 2009

Aaaaaand I'm Back

I don't even know where to start anymore.  It's been so long and so much has happened since we last talked.  Things have happened!  I have news!  What to share first??

Let's start with the trip to Wisconsin, hmmm?  And the story of how NWA can suck it.

I very meticulously planned our flight out of Seattle for 9:00AM because that's Lucy's naptime.  And since we only live about a 20 minute drive from the airport, I figured we could still be there in time to check in manually (who does that anymore?) and check our luggage and not have to wake Lucy up too early or screw with her schedule too much.  The most I was worried about was that we've trained her so well to sleep in her bed that she doesn't go to sleep very well in our arms.

Well, I shouldn't have worried about that.  That would have been the least of it.  Tickets, check!  Luggage, check!  Security, check!  Waiting in line and boarding the plane, check!  Lucy fell asleep within seconds of boarding as the Bubba and I silently bowed to the baby gods of goodness.

Then we sat there.  On the plane.  At the gate.  For half an hour.  No one made any announcements.  No one knew what was going on.  I concentrated on keeping Lucy asleep for as long as possible (see: sitting as still as possible and making no noise even with my breathing) as everyone else in the cabin exchanged concerned looks and confused glances and nervous musings as to what could be going on.  Finally after 40 minutes, someone made an announcement that went something like: "There are mechanical issues with this plane that we knew about before you boarded, but we hoped we could just live with it, but as it turns out we can't.  So everybody off.  This flight's cancelled.  Oh, and here's an 800 number if you feel like rescheduling your flight."


No apology, no nothing.  The Bubba was on the phone before we even stood up in the aisle to deplane.  The noonish flight was already packed and with ba-zillions of standbys too.  So the soonest we could get on a flight to Minneapolis was 3:00PM.

We reserved seats on that flight and after deplaning we waited in a line of - oh- about a plane's worth of people to talk to a customer service person to get actual seats on the 3:00 flight and to make sure our luggage would still go through.  Several announcements were made "Don't talk to us about your luggage.  It will go to Minneapolis and if that's not your final destination, it will follow your original route and your bags will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination."  Because the mechanical issue wasn't so bad that the plane was grounded.  It was going to Minneapolis to get fixed.  Nice.

But that would all be too easy, right?  The 3:00 flight was delayed.  And then delayed again.  And even though we were only 20 leeetle teeeny minutes from home, we were cajoled into waiting for 9 hours at the airport in Seattle before finally boarding a plane that was going to take us somewhere.

Lucy did remarkably well considering she hadn't taken a good nap all day and people were crabby and the Bubba and I were out of cheerful things to say to each other to keep ourselves from grumbling.  She melted down (and this is a Lucy melt down, mind you.  She's an incredibly laid back kid) for the first part of our flight to Minnesota and slept a little bit and played for an uncharacteristically long time with the in-flight barf bag.

Then she pooped so hard it came out of every part of the diaper.  Like a perfect storm of unfortunate events, the turbulence was bad and the fasten seat belt sign never went off for more than a minute or two of the flight.  So I changed her as best I could on my lap.  The poor child had wet poop t-shirt that I couldn't do anything about.

Then, because we got to Minneapolis so late, we had to sprint from our arrival gate to the departure gate of the last little puddle-jumper of the day that would take us to central Wisconsin.  We took the tram to the designated stop and then the Bubba took Lucy, put her under his arm and we ran through the people movers, through the empty-because-it's-10PM corridors, and arrived at the gate as they were about to close it.  The agent just said "Are you from the Seattle flight?  I'm glad you made it."  I was too out of breath for carrying two carry-ons and a roller bag and the Bubba was too mad at the situation to respond.  

There were five of us on the plane to Wisconsin crammed into the way back of a tiny plane in order to balance out the weight.  Blessedly, Lucy fell asleep and I sat very still in the contorted position I was in when she fell asleep for the 50 minute flight.

And that was that.   

Oh, wait.  Just kidding.  They lost our luggage.  

The luggage that we had to pay $15 for them to take.  We were told there was nothing they could do about it that night.

Saturday morning was the memorial for the Bubba's grandpa followed by the extended family Christmas party.  We went in jeans and t-shirts that we wore on the plane.  Lucy went in a poop stained onsie.  We called the customer service and luggage people on Saturday, and they said that our luggage had never even left Seattle. 

Eventually we got our luggage.  But the most frustrating part of the whole ordeal, and I mean everything, was that NO ONE was in charge.  No one knew what was going on, and no one was responsible for making decisions affecting us.  There was no one we could talk to to air our grievances because nobody cared.  I asked a man working the ticket counter who I could talk to about the ridiculous circumstances and horrible customer service.  He said "Um, well, I guess you could write a letter.  To, like, Customer Service."  Thanks, dude.  And then I dropped my ID and he (right next to me helping another customer with the check-in automated computer thingy) pointed at it and said "You dropped something." as I had to put down my purse, situate two bags and my daughter in my arms in order to bend down and get it.  Again, thanks, dude.

And then?  When we were flying home from Wisconsin and boarded the plane in Minneapolis/St. Paul, we sat in queue waiting to take off for an abnormally long amount of time.  While everyone looked around at each other wondering what the heck was going on.  And FINALLY the captain made an annoucement that there was an electrical malfunction with one of their gadgety do-dads in the cockpit and they were trying to get it to work.

This begs the question: does Northwest even have an airplane that works on the first try??  

So we taxied back to the gate to get someone to look at this gadgety do-dad, decide that it needed a new part, ORDER the new part to be sent to the gate, and install the part, and we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Almost two hours later, we got back in queue on the runway.  No apologies.  No excuses.

Lucy had decided somewhere along the way that she had had enough traveling and that she was going to let everyone know in no uncertain terms.  And I couldn't have cared less.  " Cry, Lucy." I was saying to myself, "I know exactly how you feel.  You just scream."  And she did.

I have never in my whole life been so happy to get home.  And I have been carefully composing that strongly worded letter to NWA.  Oh yes, they will hear from me.


Carrie said...

First off, I'm glad you're back! I missed your blog entries.

And you SO need to write that letter to NWA, that's ridiculous! Seriously, travel is so awful these days. I hate to go anywhere anymore. But your experience sounds particularly bad. I would still be curled up in the corner somewhere crying if it was me.

Elizabeth said...

Good heavens! I have found that most of the airline industry (in my admittedly limited experience) has no customer service skill at all. Southwest is the exception, and we've always been happy with them, but you probably don't have that option. But I'll be that you'll be packing a couple of extra baby t-shirts and a pair of baby pants in your purse next time. Air travel sux.

Manda said...

That is the most perfectly craptastic thing I HAVE EVER READ. Unbelievable!! Glad you're home in one piece!

KAO kid said...

That is all incredibly horrible! Tell them they have lost any hope of me (or Alex) ever flying with them (again) either. I don't think I have ever flown Northwest, but I definitely won't now!!!!


Ann said...

What is up with NWA? It seems like all of the worst airline stories I have heard are from people flying their airline. They seem to have NO concept of customer service. How incredibly frustrating. Glad you're back. :)

Kate P said...

Oh my gosh, what a nightmare trip. Write that letter--lay into 'em!