The plane from Tokyo was packed. I’m not sure if I pissed off someone at the check in desk, but I got the crappiest seat in the house; last row, aisle seat, next to the bathroom. Take it from me, it’s not cool being privy to anyone’s bathroom habits, but on a twelve hour flight, it’s nothing short of painful.
The Delta flight ‘attendants’ didn’t attend to much at all really. The ones assigned to my side of the plane were, naturally, the worst of the bunch. One of them looked as though she’d been a flight attendant for about 50 years. She was a dumpy blonde who’s uniform was too tight and too short. Perhaps she was trying to hold on to her glory years, but it’s high time she threw on some Spanx beneath that get up. Her hair was scraggly and her roots hadn’t been touched up since the Nixon administration. Her make up was a veritable palette of shades that were popular in the sixties and so poorly applied it looked like she hadn’t actually washed her face since approximately 1963. And there was me thinking that flight attendants could shower during the stop-overs.
I guess she was approaching retirement (and if she wasn’t, for the love of God, someone should make her), so she didn’t really care much for the protocol. While people were trying to sleep, she pulled some Mills and Boon novel out of her bag and paraded up and down the aisles yelling to her coworkers she was going on her break to read.
I’ve traveled a fair bit and most flights I’ve been on, the attendants walk around every now and then to make sure things are running smoothly. Not this in-flight crew. If you wanted something, you’d better be prepared to get out of your seat and go track one of those bitches down, because they sure as shit weren’t going to help you willingly.
Considering the distribution of meals was the only part of the flight the staff had actually decided to participate in, they couldn’t even get that right. There was all sorts of confusion over who was having vegetarian meals and they ran out of options in no time – were you expecting an apology or explanation? Don’t be silly! I ended up munching on a bread roll and pretty much nothing else for the entire flight.
Trash was left on the trays in front of us for an age. When I finally got sick of staring at the filth, I picked mine up and went to the back where some attendants were just hanging out. When I asked if I could give them my trash, they looked at me dumbfounded. How dare I have the audacity to ask someone to do their job!
I overheard the staff calling passengers ‘stupid’ on more than one occasion and was even lucky enough to hear one discussing how she thought she was going through the early menopause. That’s really not a conversation you need to have in the workplace, particularly not when your workplace is a confined area, 30, 000 feet in the air where people have no escape.
The crappy service, even crappier movie selection and being constantly bombarded with putrid odors every time the bathroom door opened, had me reaching for the parachute and making a bee line for the nearest exit a few times.
Finally we landed in Atlanta. I had a long wait for my flight to Montreal but was told that I might be able to catch an earlier one out of Atlanta and should just arrange this once at the airport. I waited for my luggage and found the Delta desk. I was greeted (and when I say ‘greeted’, I mean ‘scowled at’) by another lovely Delta employee. No ‘hello’ or ‘how may I help you?’ just a blank stare. I read the sign above her and it definitely said ‘help desk’ – why the hostility? I just got off a 12-hour flight, where I ate nothing but a bread roll, smelled nothing but crap and heard nothing but inappropriate chatter from flight attendants – if anyone has the right to be pissy here, I think it should be me. Nonetheless, I managed to break out a smile and say I’d like to catch the earlier flight to Montreal. She said nothing to me, just directed her attention to her computer for 5 minutes.
‘That’ll be $25,’ she says.
I get out my wallet and hand over some crisp bills.
‘You need a credit card,’ she scowls.
‘Well I don’t have one.’
‘Then you can’t do it.’
‘You can’t take cash?’
‘No, just credit cards.’
‘Because we only take credit cards.’
I rubbed my temples. I really couldn’t see what difference it made but it was clear I wasn’t going to make any headway with an ‘assistant’ who resented having to assist anyone with anything. Thanks to her, I had to wait 6 hours in Atlanta airport for my connecting flight to Montreal.
And I must say, if Atlanta: The Airport is any kind of representation of Atlanta: The Place – I have absolutely no desire to go there. Every last person I encountered was rude and unhelpful. If I asked someone a question, the typical reaction was something close to rage.
May I make a few suggestions, Atlanta Airport employees? If you work at the ‘Information Desk’, you’re pretty much required to give people information. If you work at the food counter, people who approach you, generally speaking, would like some food, sans a side order of your pissy little attitude. And if you work in ‘Customer Service’ it’s your responsibility to provide service to customers. It would be even better if they didn’t have to wait for you to wrap up your cell phone conversation before you do it. Just some thoughts.
The six hours dragged by painfully slowly. I desperately tried to stay awake because if I fell asleep, I’d be in a coma and would miss my flight. When I saw my flight number up on the screen, I went to the boarding gate. The flight was 45 minutes late boarding and needless to say, no one from Delta felt the need to explain the situation to the lounge full of frustrated passengers.
Finally at 1am, I landed in Montreal. The airport was like a ghost town. Passengers from my flight gathered around the luggage carousel to get their belongings. One by one, they grabbed their stuff and left, until there was just me. I stood there alone, exhausted, watching a random surfboard go round and round the carousel. How does someone forget to pick up a surfboard?
A man approached me and said something to me in French. God, I just left behind a year of the most intense language barrier of my life and now I have to deal with this? I looked at him blankly as I tried to recall a few of my GCSE French phrases. He got the point and translated it to English.
‘No bags,’ I say, pointing at the surfboard. He takes me to his desk. As I’m, sadly, all too familiar with the lost luggage procedure, I filled out the forms in record time. I had the dimensions, make, color and unusual markings of my suitcases committed to memory, because as a rule, if there are 10,000 flights passing through an airport on any given day, it’s pretty much a certainty that my luggage will be the one that doesn’t make it.
I’m told my bags should arrive the next day. As I was moving countries, these suitcases, literally, had my life in them, so I was a little worried to say the least.
The whole of the next day I wait around my new apartment for the delivery guy. Finally, at 7pm, he shows up, with two suitcases formally known as my luggage. In what appeared to be Delta’s final middle finger to me, they had completely destroyed my bags. Handles and zips were broken, metal wires stuck out every which way, the locks were nowhere to be seen and they were filthy. I don’t know where the hell they’d sent my bags, but they came back with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
After numerous complaint letters, Delta sent me a $100 voucher to use towards another one of their crappy flights. While I appreciated the gesture, I was reluctant to use it. I value my life, my olfactory senses and my luggage way too much.