This installment: The Non-existent Flight Crew
How did I end up like this?
It all started in Texas. I was supposed to be on a direct flight (the Professional Staff Instructors’ best friend) to Milwaukee getting in at a most respectable hour. I was actually excited that for once I would be home before 10 p.m.
But red flags were raised when my flight didn’t board the customary half hour before take-off. This always puts my stomach in knots. Sure enough, at our scheduled departure time, the gate agent announced that although the plane was fueled and ready to go, they had no crew to fly the darn plane. It didn’t help my attitude when he announced that federal regulations required that a crew be present to fly the plane. Nothing like stating the painfully obvious.
What was especially obnoxious was the tone in his voice as he stated that standing around the gate was a waste of our time as the crew they were expecting to operate the flight wasn’t even at the airport yet and it would be at least an hour before they arrived. Like the passengers were the fools to have the nerve to expect a plane to have a crew. Silly paying passengers!
I looked at the “updated” digital read-out of the departure time and got not just a little peeved to see that there was no way we could even hope to leave at that time with the announcement he had just made. It almost seems like the airlines do that just to mock you. To add insult to insult, this city was the home base for the airline we were flying. Every passenger at the gate, including me, was a little miffed that this airline was actually unable to rustle up a crew at their own home base. That would be like me inviting you to dinner at my house and then saying, “Sorry, I have no food to serve you” upon your arrival. And then copping an attitude to boot!
Seeing as I had plenty of time to kill, I went to get a bite to eat and got a phone call half way through a bite of my airport sandwich (yummy). It was a recorded voice saying my flight had just been cancelled and “thank you for flying pathetic airlines”. What was really refreshing however was the tone of voice of this particular message. It said “As a result of our hopelessly bloated bureaucracy, we are completely clueless and totally unaware that the tone of this message is fantastically inconsistent with the news we are giving you. We can only hope that we will not be crushed by our own immeasurable incompetence. And thank you for flying blah, blah, blah……” I heard groans from my fellow travelers who were all getting the same phone calls.
This is always a crucial time for a flyer because you are now competing with the dozens of would-be passengers for what few remaining seats or stand-by placements there are available on the other flights to your destination. Do you go back to the gate and elbow your way to the front to see what your status is? Is it better to simply go back to the ticket counter and try your luck there? Or do you throw in the towel, grab a beer, and call the missus with the bad news?
I try the gate and they tell me I am already rebooked on the next flight out tomorrow morning, and it’s a connecting flight through Chicago. The news just keeps getting better. I ask what my other options are. The agent has the gumption to tell me that I could fly to Baltimore and connect to Detroit and then connect again to Milwaukee with an arrival time of 9 a.m. I think it would be faster to crawl home so I walk away dejected, planning to find a room for the night. As I begin to leave the airport I remember that Chicago has a shuttle to Milwaukee. If I can get standby on a direct flight to Chicago tonight I may be able to catch a shuttle in time and be home before the sun rises and I turn to dust. I go to the ticket agent and he puts me on standby status for the next available Chicago flight boarding in 10 minutes in the other terminal. The race is on!
Next Installment: You want how much for a rental?!
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