Saturday, February 13, 2010

What I learned when the airline took away my bag and then lost it.

I survived the largest snowstorm ever in DC, and busted out to head to less snowy weather (and a friend's wedding) in Houston - - - only to get snowed in on my layover, in Atlanta.  Long story short, flight was canceled, no flights going out to Houston anytime soon, all hotels were completely booked.  No matter what, we were going to miss the wedding.  So Victor and I ended up getting ourselves back on a flight to DC to avoid spending the next day or two in the Atlanta airport with the rest of the world.

Those types of situations really bring out the insides of people, you know?  People are tired, they want to get somewhere, they paid a lot to be traveling... there are all sorts of entitlement issues going on... I feel it too!  I felt terrible we were going to miss the wedding, I was going to miss seeing my beloved Houston friends, I felt like AirTran should FIX the problem, especially when it came out that the reason for the cancelled flight was because a co-pilot was late or something.  And to top it off, AirTran decided to take away my carry-on bag and then lost it, at which point I composed this letter to them in my head:

Dear AirTran,
I really liked you and your very cheap fares you until you took away my carry on bag, canceled my flight, and then lost the bag you took away. If you could please find it, I would be a little happier.
Thank you.


But my lost bag situation wasn't nearly the worst of it.  There were people who had been stranded literally for 2 days already.  They were exhausted.  They were angry.  The staff wasn't apologizing.  And people were revving each other up - "Can you BELIEVE this!??!"  "They are the MOST DISORGANIZED airline EVER!"  "I want my MONEY BACK!!" "I am missing a funeral/performance/meeting/etc.!!"  So on and so on - -  everyone in the same boat, everyone upset about it, everyone with the common enemy of the evil AirTran staffers.  Keep in mind, this is now about 1am, for a flight that was supposed to leave at 9pm.

My personal favorite was a lady who got up in the face of the supervisor, and screamed "You are a bad person and a b****!!  NO ONE HERE LIKES YOU.  NOT ONE PERSON.!"  And then added a few more explicatives.  The supervisor immediately called security to have her removed from the premises.

I watched one older man though, who was kind of hanging watching the whole situation.  Unlike the rest of the 200 de-planed people, he wasn't frantically calling every person he knew, he wasn't punching away violently on his laptop, he wasn't bad mouthing the airline to the people around him, he wasn't demanding full refunds or free tickets or whatnot.  He just sat on the floor against the wall and waited, letting everyone else go in front of him, and then eventually went to the back of the line to wait his turn.  There was a sense of peace about him that really caught my attention, and when I met his eyes, he smiled at me.

We never exchanged words, but just his presence was a calming force for me, and I felt like he gave me a little gift.  I learned something important from him without him ever saying a word.

Wherever you are, thank you sir.


Kent said...

That man was Mr. Yellowstone Snowman. He's is going to follow you every where. The reason he is so calm is that he is thinking: "Revenge is sweet."

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!