Sunday, June 12, 2005

NorthWorst Airlines

I spent the entire day trying to get my daughter to Minnesota for her job as a camp counsellor. It should have been easy, but the disgruntled employees of Northwest Airlines made it a rather trying time.

The string of problems started with equipment malfunction. My kid was actually on the plane at 8AM, ready to go, when they announced a "mechanical failure" involvolving the navigation system, and cancelled the flight. (I have to wonder why they didn't discover this when the aircraft came in last night...really gives me great confidence in their maintenance people and procedures.) Like a house of cards, their entire flight schedule came tumbling down. Among several "solutions" the Continental Airlines staff cross-covering Northwest found was a transfer to Delta, routing my daughter to Minnesota via Orlando. It would have worked, except Delta couldn't find the transferred ticket. There was considerable finger-pointing on that one, and as yet I'm not sure if Delta wouldn't or couldn't find the data in the computer. I tend to think the latter. After a few more false starts, and notice from the camp that they couldn't pick her up at the late arrival time, I ended up driving the kid to another city to attempt to catch a flight that might have worked. I averaged about 85 MPH in this attempt, and actually made it to the other airport 20 minutes before flight time. I shoved the kid out the door with her rolling duffles, and parked the car with the valet service (a real life-saver). By the time I got to the ticketing desk, the kid was in tears. The agent, whose English was somewhat lacking, had assumed that my daughter had insulted her: the kid had asked to speak with someone who "might be more capable" to get her on the flight after saying, "PLEASE help me!" The woman, Elizabeth L., was not going to help her at all until I got there, and my daughter grovelled with apology for her "rude" behaviour. She finally made it to Minnesota about 9 PM, and has a 3 hour shuttle ride to camp sometime tomorrow. Friends of a cousin are sheltering her tonight.

I may be old fashioned, but I expect service from the service industry. Anybody hear of Nordstrom's? The customer is always right? We are the customers of the airlines. Sadly, the attitude has become, "it is a pleasure for you to be served by us". My daughter did NOT sass the agent; Ms. Elizabeth L.'s poor command of the language added weight to the chip on her shoulder, and she was quite ready to withold service to a 4'10" 17 year old who just wanted to get to her job as a junior-counsellor at a girls' camp.

I am currently holding 3 more tickets on NorthWorst. I will move Heaven and Earth to change airlines for these trips. Northwest's employees are not acting like they want my money, and I'm not giving them any more. I would strongly urge all of you to avoid this poor excuse for an airline as well, and tell your friends to do the same.

And now, back to PACs....


Anonymous said...

Don't use United either. On Saturday we tried to send my brother-in-law home, but when he was dropped off at the airport an hour before his flight was to depart, and got to the head of the line a full 40 minutes before departure time, the clerk informed him and some 15 other passingers in line that they would not be allowed to board the flight because they did not arrive 90 minutes before departure. She said that it was a new rule. My borther-in-law was changed to a later flight - which took off an hour late. What should have taken about 8 hours, took 22 hours. That's just poor service.

Anonymous said...

Good luck finding ANY airline that is cognizant of the meaning of "customer service". Seems to me that, just when you thought things could never get worse - the airlines think up something that shatters all previous notions of incompetence.