Saturday, June 05, 2010

What would you do for $200 and 20k miles?

Before you become concerned, everything turned out all right, but it took us six hours longer than we planned to get home last night. Early in the day I was worried about the weather, but we got to MSP on schedule and with no bumps. We had a three hour layover built in, so we dined and settled in at our gate only to find our departure was delayed because of weather in Washington DC, the place where our plane was coming from.

"We will turn this plane around quickly and you will be on your way a mere 50 minutes late," is was what they said. So we boarded. "Ah, er, we have a hydraulic problem...but it is fixable, but in case it isn't we will get another plane. Everybody get off." Thirty minutes later we were told we had another plane at a neighboring gate. At last, we thought, we will be on our way. By this time we were two hours past our scheduled departure. But wait...

"The captain and first officer do not have enough time left in their working day to fly to Portland and return. A new crew will be here within two hours." Well, it took all of two hours for both the right and left seat occupants to be readied. When the new captain arrived, be applauded and he bowed. We were now about five hours late. We thought this was it.

The gate crew disappeared into the plane and did not show up for 35 minutes and when they did...sheepishly, of course, told us that the relief flight attendants did not show and the ones on board were pushing the limits of their work day (now the next day, of course.) But that was not the saddest message. "If we cannot get this flight attendant problem solved and the plane out of here in 20 minutes the new captain will "time out."

"What?" we all groaned. Why would you wake up a pilot, get him to fill the bill when he was on the brink of working beyond FAA limits? Why, indeed! They loaded us just in case the new "stews" showed up...with the clock running on the captains schedule. There were five minutes left on this latest countdown and they announced that they had huddled, called higher ups and were gonna take off with the existing crew. Cheers went up. We were now just about six hours past our scheduled departure time.

We flew into the night and landed in the morning...the mountains were beautiful from Rainier to Jefferson with Hood, St. Helens and Adams all visible in the dawn's early light. When we deplaned they handed us $200 vouchers for future Delta travel and a thing to send in for 20,000 miles on the frequent flyer program. Poor Brendon. He had tracked us and with an occasional text he knew the original schedule was scrapped, so at 5:00 a.m. we linked up and headed home.

We both slept on the plane for about 3 of the 3 1/2 hour journey. We had exit row seats, so I stretched out enough to relax. Hey, it is over and we got here safely, but somehow I felt used and the middle of a labor relations battle between the crews and the company, maybe. You know how that sets me off. But that will be the topic of another post. The experience almost guarantees that we will fly again this fall with our nice $200 (each) discount to somewhere.

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