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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 12:36 am   

Glad to be home!
 
...a day late.

We are exhausted! As you know, we spent the past week visiting both sides of Chiara's family in up-state New York (her father sent us free tickets, so we had little choice).

The trip started pretty well. All of the family was very well behaved (and I'd *never* say any different ;)

We were even able to get away to meet and have lunch with Vijilante! (I had to drive, so I didn't let him buy me a pint though).

But the plane travel coming home was horrible. A warning to anyone planning to fly on Northwest Airlines anytime soon...they seem to be very shorthanded these days. Don't know if they are hanging by a thread or what. But at the Albany Airport, there was *ONE* NW agent at the gates and he was handling the turnaround of *TWO* planes all by himself.

The plane we were scheduled to fly out on was delayed by about 20 minutes. Then, it sat at the gate and nobody got off. After sitting for about 15 minutes, they announced a gate change and we saw them tow the plane to the next gate, where the people on the plane finally got off. Apparently there was some mechanical problem with the jet-way.

So they finally board us, and then we sit there *another HOUR* while they wait for a mechanic to "check the oil". Apparently there was only one mechanic on duty. While we were sitting in the plane at the gate, the other NW flight arrived and we saw the gate agent come out and hop on a luggage ramp vehicle to help load luggage. He was doing *everything*.

Except performing his Customer Service job. When asked about the delay or by anyone wanting to change their flight, he just told them to call the NW reservation phone number. TIP: Always carry the 800 phone numbers of all the airlines, just in case. Several people used their cell phone on the plane to make other arrangements while we were sitting there.

What was really annoying is that we had *THREE* flights to get back to Colorado. We were flying from Albany to Detroit, then to Minneapolis, then to Colorado Springs. And the other plane the arrived and left while we were still sitting there was going direct to Minneapolis! But it was apparently full (or else the overworked agent just didn't want to deal with it).

By the time we arrived 2 hours late in Detroit, our connecting flight was long gone, and there was no way we would make the connection in Minneapolis either. So NW gave out hotel vouchers to about half the people on the plane.

So we spent a sleepless night in a very cheap airport hotel in Detroit. Between returning the rental car, dealing with security, etc, we spent about 12 hours and didn't even get out of the Eastern time zone.

Today we boarded a new flight to Minneapolis and then finally got home. We haven't gotten much sleep, and we had a really hard time with eating (or not eating). Had several mediocre hamburgers without buns. And used up all of the low-carb snacks that Chiara had packed.

Oh yeah, one of the new security rules apparently prevents the airline from returning your checked luggage until your final destination. Or at least that's the crap we were quoted. When we went to the hotel at the airport last night, they wouldn't give us our checked bags. And since *everything* must be checked these days, we didn't have clean clothes, clean underwear, toothbrush, or anything.

The small gift shop at the hotel charged about 7 dollars for a cheap toothbrush, toothpaste, and a comb. And we had to throw away the rest of the toothpaste before we could get back into the airport this morning. What a waste.

All in all, it was one of the more annoying flying experiences I've had in a while, and Northwest has gotten on my "no fly" list for now. Ticket prices are high and yet they have cut everything possible to save money. Not enough personnel, either at the gate or in their maintenance staff. They even charge for a bad of trailmix now. Probably won't be long until they start charging for soft drinks and water (and the "bottled" water was pretty bad too).

Anyway, we are *very* happy to be home now. We are brain-dead and tired today, and will probably spend the next two days catching up on email and forum posts. I hope we don't have to travel again for a while.
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Tech
GURU


Joined: 18 Oct 2000
Posts: 2733
Location: Atlanta, USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:22 am   
 
Welcome to my world Zugg... I travel twice a week for work and i was even on NW 2 weeks ago visiting a friend in Detroit... all i can say is that i feel your pain, and I'll feel it even more tomorrow when i try to fly out during the after-effects of Ernesto.
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Rainchild
Wizard


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:35 am   
 
Welcome back :)

That's pretty weird, especially the not getting back your checked luggage... I guess I've never been on connecting flights to really know - all my flights have been direct.

It looks like Albany's airport is fairly large so you wouldn't expect a shortage of staff. Over here they've been cutting staff in other ways such as computerized self-checkin... but it seems pretty strange to not have a reasonable number of ground staff.

Obviously being an aussie I'm not really in a good position to suggest how people should be flying, but three flights seems a lot to me? Would it have made more sense to fly direct to new york city or boston then drive to albany from there? www.mapquest.com reckons it would have been about a 3 hour drive from either airport, which we consider over here to be reasonable... if it was 6-8 hours we might consider flying instead hehe
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 3:32 am   
 
Tech: You have my sympathies! I don't know how frequent business travellers deal with it all anymore. It was a lot easier 10 years ago when I travelled more.

Rainchild: Yes, 3 hops is a bit much. Going out we just had one stop in Minneapolis. But remember that this was a last minute trip, and Chiara's father was using his frequent flyer miles, so the flights we could take were limited. We were very lucky to even get to sit together, which was a must. When I make my own travel plans, I try to avoid as many stops as possible. Colorado Springs is also a small airport, so there is no direct flight, even to NYC. With the "hub-based" air system in the US, you almost always need to fly to an airline's hub city first. We could have done Denver to Boston or NYC, but that's 1-1/2 hours to Denver with more expensive parking (and I hate to leave my car in Denver). Boston is closest (NYC is about 5-6 from Albany), but even Boston is about 5 I think. We fly to Hartford Conn a few years ago from Denver and it was direct, with only a couple hour drive. But since we were trying to minimize both time and money I didn't want a lot of rental car driving and gas bill.

Of course, in hindsight we spent more time travelling anyway.

And yes, it's all computerized checkin these days. In fact, I felt sorry for some non-US people who were trying to understand the kiosk and how to check their baggage and the one baggage handler was totally unhelpful to them. I wonder if there are rules about ground staff. I certainly didn't get the feeling that a single gate agent could safely handle the potential problems that might arise. Seems like there should always be at least two people. And I've *never* seen a gate agent go outside to drive the luggage ramp. I don't know what was going on.
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Darker
GURU


Joined: 24 Sep 2000
Posts: 1237
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:26 pm   
 
PUNK!

You were in Detroit OVERNIGHT and didn't email me?!

That's not meant in anger, btw... just a litttle disappointment. See, I was stuck at work Tuesday for 20 hours recovering desktops and laptops from a network-crippling worm. And then 9 hours Wednesday. It sucked... I'd have loved an excuse to get out of there. :)

By the way, if I ever find out who wrote the sdbot or tilebot trojan worms, hope I don't find you. I will stomp on your liver.
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Vijilante
SubAdmin


Joined: 18 Nov 2001
Posts: 5182

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:48 am   
 
I am glad you finally made it back. It was very nice having the chance to meet up and chat some, and I look forward to the next time chances allow for another such meeting.

I really can't believe that air travel has gone so far downhill in the past few years. It is sad that in just a short time the lessons learned at the time of the American Revolution were lost. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. " Also In his words, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Two hundred years and we have learned nothing about people that was not already known. What is so hard about individually deciding to actually protect freedom first for ourself and next for those around us? Just google up 'security illusion' and read what some current authors have documented and rediscovered.
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 3:27 pm   
 
Darker: it actually crossed my mind. But it was 11pm when they put us into the cheap hotel by the airport, and we had to be back at the airport at 8am the next morning, and I didn't have any Internet access at the hotel. Sorry to hear about the worm...if you find the people who write these things, I'd happily join you in some "stomping".

Vijilante: I agree. Have you seen "V for Vendetta"? Makes me wonder how much further things need to slip because something serious happens here. We definitely are not learning from history.
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Vijilante
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Joined: 18 Nov 2001
Posts: 5182

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:12 pm   
 
Actually I have seen that movie and found it thoroughly exhilirating. I know it was originally a comic book miniseries, and was pleased that it was able to make it to the big screen and do well. I could keep quoting others that are on point for the issue, however, I think it is better to just reference the site that I use to retrieve them. http://www.brainyquote.com/
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