Monday, July 18, 2005

Northwest, One Last Time

Ms. Michelle Mohr
Northwest Airlines Complaint Department
Dear Ms. Mohr:

Unfortunately, Northwest was unable to live up to the earlier performance on our trip home. In brief, we were delayed leaving Minneapolis/St. Paul on our flight yesterday due to "weather over Detroit", and we idled on the tarmac for almost an hour before taking off, burning a significant amount of expensive jet fuel. After a very late arrival at DTW, we did manage to make our connecting flight home, but all five of our bags did not. We had to sprint to the departing gate, B19, from A70, the longest possible distance at DTW, but made it with a few moments to spare. The fate agents were courteous, and even apologetic but told us we could not take even a minute to walk across the hall and buy a snack, since the gate was about to close. They asked US if WE knew of anyone else trying to make the flight. As it turns out, there were indeed two stragglers who boarded about 10 minutes after we did, and I would be surprised if your computer did not report that these people had arrived at DTW and were en route to the flight. (One of them had a leg injury and was walking with the aid of crutches.) It was very clear that having the aircraft push back from the gate on time was much more important than letting my family grab a quick snack to take onboard (we had not eaten for 8 hours, anticipating an adequate amount of time to do so at DTW, and this flight didn't even have your now-famous $1.00 trail mix available.) This was the last flight of the day to our destination, and the aircraft had nowhere else to go that evening. Your schedule was likely already in shreds due to the "weather problem"; one more minor delay would not have mattered. As it was, the flight arrived home 10 minutes ahead of schedule. To complete the series of unfortunate events, all five of our checked bags did not make the transfer, forcing us to go through the claims process. The only person available at 12:30 AM was George S., one of the baggage handlers, who clearly was trying very hard to do a good job, but just as obviously had never been trained to use the computer system to file a missing baggage claim. Another baggage-handler finally was able to come to his aid, as did Venus R., whom I believe was a Continental agent. Hopefully, our luggage will be delivered sometime today.

Ms. Mohr, I am sad to report this experience, as I had much greater expectations after my last flight with Northwest. It seems that your people can shine if everything in the system is functioning perfectly, but a glitch, such as bad weather or mechanical failure sends everything into a tail-spin. Staffing has obviously been cut to the bone, and the goal of the airline seems to be to meet the on-time deadline of door-closure and pull-back at the expense of the comfort of the passengers. This will be my last flight on Northwest for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for your time. I know there are many good people working for Northwest; it is unfortunate that they are not allowed to perform to their potential.

Addendum: I do have to add praise where praise is due. Rick, the baggage manager for Northwest in my hometown, personally delivered our 5 bags when the local service couldn't get around to it. I wish Northwest would allow the rest of their employees to go the extra mile as Rick did for us.

No comments :