SHE SAID: Airports

I concur in most respects.  Airports and travel through them in general sucks.  The only motivating factor involved is the destination.  Those of us traveling somewhere aren’t doing so with glee about the transitory level of comfort, dining options, entertainment, companionship, company, customer service … oh god, this is like counting rug fibers, I’m going to stop.

I traveled through JFK recently with my 4 year-old son and mother.  We were delayed at JFK for seven hours. We were told about every hour, that the successive flight on which we had been rebooked was delayed and/or canceled.  If we were delayed, we were canceled shortly.  Weather reports in both locations were clear and there was no bad weather in-between.  Had we been told at 8 am that we were going to be SOL for seven hours, we might have gone and had lunch in the city or to visit nearby relatives.  I would have at least changed my son out of his scull and crossbones PJ’s.


I found out days later that a runway at JFK had been closed for construction for weeks and that they were accepting same amount of flight traffic with two thirds of the runway space.  If bad weather or wind entered the equation, at best one runway would be open with a flight schedule based on three open and operating runways.  Whoever okayed this hair brained idea was clearly interested in the daily monetary returns and not about customer satisfaction or returning business.  My four year-old could have foreseen that this was a terrible idea.  Granted, he’s the most brilliant child to ever grace the face of this earth, but still.  He’s four.  He’s in charge of his stuffed animals and brushing his teeth, not an airline company or a major international airport.

I booked us on three flights out of JFK, all of which were going within three hours driving distance of our destination.  One got out, we were on it.  The kicker?  Our checked luggage had gotten on our original connecting flight despite that we missed it while circling above JFK for an additional hour waiting for some runway space.  A mystifying fact.  We landed, drove to the other airport to get our bags, and then drove to our destination.  It was ten hours after we were supposed to have arrived.

A problem that could have been avoided or ameliorated throughout the day by both the airlines and the airport, but wasn’t even acknowledged.  The customer service agents, understandably, were overwhelmed with frustrated customers doing everything from gesticulating wildly and swearing to staring in quiet and restrained rage.

And that is where I’m going to disagree with you vehemently.  Because the people working for these companies are arriving in the morning, dealing with the shitstorm that is the organization and structuring of the company and the inevitable pissed off and frustrated customer, and then going home at night.  They are not the ones making the decisions that are screwing with the travelers plans and I’m going to go out on another limb and say that if the companies are so clearly not interested with the satisfaction of someone paying for their services, that they probably give less than a flying fuck about the satisfaction of their workers.  Being caught in the middle with people swearing and yelling in your face on a daily basis cannot be easy, to say the least.


2 Responses to SHE SAID: Airports

  1. @She said: Please see my comment above.

    As I am one of the folks who cares about “monetary returns,” I both agree and disagree with you.

    Firstly, do not confuse the Port Authority with the airlines. The PA provides the airlines with a number of takeoff/landing slots — and the scheduler uses that information. The airline owns or leases these slots, and if an airline executive tosses the slots in the garbage, it will result in higher fares and fewer flights. The PA can actually sanction the airline for not using its slots too.

    I am not going to apologize for rude or unprofessional service — however, your comment about repeat business and satisfaction for non-corporate travelers is simply wrong. The next time you book a flight, I hope you will pick an airline that provides “superior service” even if it costs 25% more. Most customers go to Travelocity and pick the cheapest flight….and that has resulted in zero product differentiation.

    Lastly, it’s not just the customers who are angry. Overall, investors in airlines have not made a penny since the flight of Kitty Hawk! (This is a sad but true fact.) So…if you extrapolate the current unprofitable trend, eventually the government may be the only folks willing to run a commercial airline — and then the experience will be like a visit to the Post Office, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Amtrak ….

  2. squalle says:

    You guys….. I worked as a customer agent (what a title!) – “check-in person” for seven years for various airlines – ages 17-24 in the 90s… If you ever want to hear it all, let’s go for a beer at the Alchemist!

    Rule #1: Threat your agent like they are GOD. You know nothing, you ask, they tell you and you praise them for their much appreciated help. They went out of their way!!!!! You will get the BEST treatment available!
    #2: Study each agent while in the line. Feel free to let someone you ahead if it means missing the “Bit^%$”. Work your assets. A gay guy? A frustrated lady? A cute twenty-something? If you play your cards right, she will fuck you before you board the plane, trust me…..
    #3: Look like a movie or sport star. Carry the appropriate equipment…… I always made the tennis guys and skiers get on the flight, and even bumped people off for them. And exchanged numbers of course. Fun time ;))0 Remember #2, skip the bit%$. She will not give you time of day no matter what. YOUR perfect agent may even upgrade you to first class. Then you won’t have to deal with the 9 year old sharing your X-rated movie… remember Rule #1!

    Ok… this was way before cell phone time, so I cannot really comment on that. Disconnect for 60-180 minutes, you can get your sports update in an hour, it won’t kill you. Have a drink and relax!

    Also, the saying is that when people enter the airport, they leave half of their brain in the parking lot. They are nervous, stupid, insecure, etc….. and get treated accordingly by unmotivated, bored, frustrated, hung-over customer agents….. ;)))) “Where is the Bathroom????” trust me, a little humor will help at check-in the rest… well, good luck!

    too many things to share here ;)))
    have fun traveling, just go with the flow, so what in the end…… Your misadventures will provide you with a good story to share!

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