I remember running through the airport, sobbing. I had been away from home all summer, and I was on the last leg of my flight back when one flight was delayed due to weather, and my whole schedule had been rearranged. I was about to miss my new connecting flight, and all I could think was a) “I want to go home,” and b) “flying really sucks.”
My friend in Chicago and I had finally been able to find a free weekend for me to come visit. I splurged on a plane ticket from Columbus to Chicago, even though the drive was just six hours. I figured that time saved in travel was more time to spend with my friend.
When I left the house early that morning, I had no idea I’d end up back there just 13 hours later, tired, frustrated…and, clearly, not in Chicago. Weather delays combined with bad communication combined with hours (and hours) spent sitting on a runway in Cincinnati quickly ensured that my travel time far outpaced the time I was supposed to spend with my friend.
It wasn’t quite the way I’d hoped to spend my hard earned money…and it wasn’t quite what I was thinking when I purchased a “round trip” ticket.
A friend and I were to travel to New Orleans for a weekend of fun and relaxation. We booked through a travel deal site, and planned to arrive at the airport at least an hour early for our flight.
Just as I was arriving to her house to pick her up, she got a phone call from the travel site, informing us excitedly that there was an earlier flight, and that the company had taken the liberty to change our tickets over to it. “It leaves in 15 minutes,” she said.
We were still 15 minutes from the airport at this point, and even with no luggage to check, would still have to get through security and check in. My friend stayed on the phone our entire commute from her place to the airport, insisting that the agent change our flight back to its original time…at which point, we found that our original time was no longer available.
We still got to the airport an hour early for original flight…which now happened to be two and a half hours early for the flight we would now need to take. Oh, yeah, and we’d have a layover.
I have a sneaking suspicion that many people feel the way that I do about air travel: that it’s a necessary evil. I consider myself a positive, “hope for the best” type person, but almost always expect something to go wrong if I’m flying. And with more stories in the media about airlines kicking people off planes for “dress code violations” or body size, it’s no wonder that the American public just expects bad treatment when flying.
Which is why I’ve been so impressed with what I’ve been reading about Delta lately. The airline with the iconic line, “We love to fly and it shows,” seems to have a new commitment to customer service, from allowing passengers to check in via a mobile app, to electronic bag tracking, to educational in-flight TED talks for their business class passengers.
Currently, Delta is investing $2 billion in customer experience improvements to their airline, and is using technology, innovation, and even social media to greater reach its customers. In fact, check out their immensely helpful blog here (mind, the font size is a little small, but the information is great).
With my past experiences, I’m still a little dubious about air travel, but with Delta’s transparency and public commitment to my satisfaction, I’m willing to give them a try next time I fly.
What about you? Have you had any great air travel experiences?