The password for 2018 is “Irony,” apparently. I was going for “patient,” but I got both.
After all I wrote last week about the new year being a metaphorical new car, my 2018 began (not ended) with a busted-up hoopty, one that I shall refer to as American Airlines.
Now I’m thinking things can only get better, right?
After spending the last week 2017 with our kids in South Carolina, my husband and I flew back on New Year’s Day, sort of.
I try to begin each new year with a word and this year’s word was “patience,” which comes after “irony” in the dictionary. I just didn’t know it would be tested immediately.
Enroute to the Greenville-Spartansburg airport Monday, I got the first text alerting me at 1:40 that our 4:00 p.m. flight had been delayed until 4:19 p.m. Thus began my emotional affair with America Airlines, and it didn’t end well.
In all, American Airlines and I had a very short romance that felt like it lasted forever.
Ten hours and 19 text alerts of flight delays later, we finally took off for Dallas after midnight. On a school night.
The day was a intimate study of human nature under stress, with responses that ranged from quiet indignation to rage, and that was just my husband. At the end, I was just angry they had taken several precious hours with my family from me; as well as sleep.
Shared rage usually brings people together, and this held true in Greenville that day.
As the crowd at our gate dwindled with people taking alternative flights in order to catch their connecting flights, I got to know the 50 or so people who chose, like us, to wait it out.
We laughed, we cried, we rage-Tweeted American Airlines.
A couple tiny samples:
“So, @AmericanAir, hi. After 13 flight delays in six hours, we’re still stuck in South Carolina … because we chose you. It’s not me, it’s you. #breakingup “
“Hi, @AmericanAir! It’s me again. Up to 17 flight delays now. Can you have someone work for me tomorrow? Also, is your slogan “If we aren’t on time, just wait longer?”
Spoiler alert: Nobody from AA showed up to work for me Tuesday. Also, it appears I accurately guessed their slogan.
Luckily, there was a bar at our gate showing two huge college football playoff games, that everyone at the gate shuffled in and out to see as they took turns standing in line at the customer services deck to find out that
A) there was a massive crew shortage;
B) after that was resolved, the parking brake of the plane coming to take us away “came out in the pilot’s hand” at DFW and had to be replaced;
and C) they were very sorry about the … ‘extended travel time,’ which is like calling the flu “an extended cold.”
Since most everyone on my flight was receiving text alerts (cheating cheaters) from American Airlines, every time all of us heard our text tones, the entire gate had a collective anxiety attack, with smatterings of creative curse phrases, open weeping and wishes of ill tidings to AA’s home office.
Being a firm believer that the customer service clerks had nothing to do with the fact that the parent company completely screwed the holiday pooch, I went out of my way to be nice to them. Besides, there was a line a mile long of people taking their turn to express their rage, while the people who were responsible sat at home watching the Rose Bowl.
We walked into our house at 5 a.m., and I was at my desk in the office at 6 a.m., reminiscing about the last all-nighter I pulled when Prince Charles and Princess Diana married … in 1981. Turns out the royal wedding was a much happier event.
Ultimately they offered us the equivalent of less than an airline ticket in AA miles so that we might get to enjoy “extended travel time” with them again in the future.
I don’t know what they offered the lady who was almost out of insulin or the women who had infants and toddlers to keep happy during this imprompu extended vacation, but I suspect it wasn’t enough for them either.
Next time, I’m driving my own car since I know both the crew and parking brake are pretty reliable.