Posts Tagged ‘Northwest’

What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas…(if you can get there)

12/19/2008 Leave a comment

I was asked by my friend Julie to drive her and her husband Jeff to the airport this morning to make a 5 am flight with NorthWest Airlines. This was a huge event for them as it was a combination Christmas present for him and a birthday present for her. There were several weeks put into planning this trip.

If I remember correctly, the itinerary involved flying out of Omaha to Minneapolis via Northwest Airlines. Then from Minneapolis to Las Vegas. From LasVegas, they had a rental car waiting for them to drive to San Diego, CA to meet up with her dad for the first holiday spent together since she was 8 yrs old.  After some time in San Diego, they would drive back to Vegas for a few days. She managed to land 5th row tickets to see The Mindfreak Chris Angel on her birthday. They would then fly back on Christmas Eve.

That’s how it was supposed to go.

Let me back up a little for the evening.

We spent Wednesday night at Mic’s Karaoke Bar singing and celebrating a makeshift birthday party for Julie. There was food, drinks, some dancing, and singing. I also forgot to mention that our first decent winter storm warning was in effect and the sleet had already begun to fall and accumulate into a respectable amount of frozen slush on the streets.  In fact, we probably shouldn’t have even went out to the bar, but nonetheless we did. It was that type of weather that told all of the new first time SUV drivers that they were invincible and needed to drive across town 3 or 4 times before going to bed for the night.

Logic also says that if you have to take someone to the airport to make a 5 am flight, that you shouldn’t be out drinking late either. But nonetheless…I did. I made it back home around 1 am without any major problems. Roads were ice and snow covered. This is when I absolutely treasure my little Land Rover. Never been stuck in the snow, went off road accidentally. It handles the snow much better than 90% of the vehicles out there.

I get a call from Julie around 1:15am. She asks me to check flight information on the Internet to make sure their flight was still leaving on time. I did….and it was. We then realized that I would have to be leaving my apartment in about an hour to go get them.

I stop and get gas, and arrive at their house a couple miles away. Load up the luggage and off we go. Now at this point, driving conditions are less than favorable. I am driving confidently though knowing how my car does in the snow. Julie is sitting in the passenger seat and is hiding her face talking about how she wants to go to sleep because she is not in control of the vehicle in the weather. I remind her of the 36K miles I put on my Humvee during Desert Storm and have driven in almost every weather and terrain condition presented to a human and 99.8% of the time did not have a problem ( I did get my Humvee stuck bottomed out on top of a dirt berm in Kuwait, but that was the Captain’s fault for telling me to go that route).

We arrive safely at the airport around 3:30am. I drop them at the curb and I go back around to park in the garage. I go into the 75 cent Quick Park area. I figured I wouldn’t be there for longer than 90 minutes or so. Julie had given me a $5 to cover the garage parking. I haed inside and meet them at NorthWest’s ticket counter where there is a small line formed. We chat about things in general. They get to the counter and I head back towards to other side of the room to wait. Julie comes walking back with a smirk on her face.

“The flight has been cancelled because they don’t have a flight crew for it. They booked us with American Airlines so now we have to go stand in their line.”

We look over at American’s counter, where there was no line…nor any employees. They weren’t there to conduct business for the day yet. Julie explains that they now have to fly from Omaha at 11 am to Dallas and then to LA which will then connect them to Vegas (where they would then turn around and drive back to California as part of their original plan). They would arrive in Vegas around 5pm instead of 7am like originally planned. This plan will cost them one entire day of their short trip.

The American rep finally shows up around 4:15. She already is apologizing to everyone for the delay, and then advises that she will be the only agent for awhile because the other agent is stuck in snow on her way to work. Luckily Julie was one of the first in line for American. She comes storming back to me, even more frustrated.

“Northwest overbooked the American flight, so they’re sending me back to the Northwest line.” Which by now the line had tripled in length.

Jeff  moved their bags into line while Julie got  on her cell phone to call Northwest’s phone lines to try to get a resolution. I pulled my cell phone out and did that too. I was standing with Jeff in line. Two others in line had caught wind of this and they also called on their cell phones. We had 5 people in line all trying to get a rep on the phone, which we were advised that the average hold time wait would be 8 minutes. Bullshit. We all found some humor that we were all synced perfectly with the hold music and messages and started turning on the speakerphones to compare. We watched as 5 am came and went.

Now the annoying part started. Northwest started calling for travelers that were scheduled to be on the 7 am flight to Minneapolis. Their flight was okay. They would be leaving on time to their actual destination. I”m sorry, but I believe in first come first served. They should have put the travelers that just lost their flight plans and put them on the next flight and juggled the travelers after that to better work with less booked American flights. Julie got back up to the counter and came back again with tears on her cheeks.

“Let’s get out of here, we’re not flying today.” I asked her what happened. “We’re supposed to be doing this again the same time tomorrow morning. It seems that they don’t even have an airplane. It never showed up.”

“Well, that would explain why they don’t have a flight crew…”

I go out and get my car to pick them up at the curb. I have to go through the parking fee gate to get out and come back around. I hand the $5 bill and the ticket to the attendant. He looks back at me and tells me it’s gonna cost $6.50. I almost looked at him and said “are you kidding?” Instead I just grab a ten and hand it to him. I drive back around and load Jeff and Julie up in the car. We hit McDonald’s on the way back home (which we were charged a 99 cent tax for eating inside the place).

I understand how airlines have to take into consideration the safety factor of landing aircraft and making them take off in inclement weather, but this situation could have been handled in better ways several times over. Part of this way due to weather, the rest was due to lack of customer service on NorthWests part. I will remember this event and probably want to drive if I ever need to go to Vegas.

I just hope they both get through their trip safely.

Categories: Rants Tags: , , , ,