Tag Archives: Delta

Flying sucks

I was on an airplane this weekend for the first time in over a year. Flying sucks, but what are you going to do? Instead of letting your insane fears dictate the course of your days, slowly making you too scared even of leaving the house, you’ve got to deal with unpleasant stuff now and then if you want to get to experience other aspects of life which are slightly more pleasant than your regular routine at home.


But yeah, flying really does suck. Getting to the airport several hours early, everybody complains about that. And TSA, I can’t believe that all of those security measures are necessary. The taking off of the belt and shoes, the placing my computer in its own separate plastic bin apart from everything else. As if the giant, full-body X-Ray machine wasn’t serious enough, every once in a while you get some blue-shirted not-quite cop pull you aside for some extra interrogation. You’re going to check me? For what? I don’t have anything worth checking out. You’re wasting everyone’s time giving me, or anybody else here a pat down, all right, I feel stupid, and I hope that you feel stupid running your hands up my legs, because it’s not necessary.

I’m getting carried away. The seats. I get it, airplane travel is expensive, but it’s not nearly as expensive as it would be if the entire industry weren’t super subsidized by the government. So you can’t really say anything, those seats are totally selling themselves. Still, I have a huge issue with companies that, as a matter of business, as a matter of making money, constantly look for ways to take more money out of your pocket, to charge you for services that used to be free.

I’m talking about everything, the two bags that you used to be able to check suddenly subtracted to one, the in flight entertainment that now costs something like two bucks a program. It’s bullshit, all of it. Imagine if a restaurant tried to pull a stunt like that? Extra ice? Certainly. I can offer you five cubes for thirty-five cents, and I only take credit or debit. That place would be out of business in a heartbeat.

I’m talking about the exit rows. At a pretty-tall six-foot-five, I used to have it down to a science: getting to the airport early, talking with an airline agent, them happily giving me the emergency row, and those sweet, precious, three or four extra inches of leg room that come along with the understanding that you’re willing to assist in the unlikely event of an emergency.

But that’s gone too. Some d-bag executive probably got wind of the whole emergency row agreement between tall people and gate agents and said to himself, you know what? That’s definitely an area in which more money could be going to the airline, to the shareholders. Fuck the customers. Exploit, exploit, exploit. And so now you have to pony up for “Delta Plus,” or whatever they want to call the same shitty coach seats that would have at the very least made me feel like a little more of a human being for the duration of the flight.

And you know why it really sucks? Because of course I’m not going to pay for that emergency row. Because I’m only flying once every other year or so. Because I have no money. So what you wind up with is some not-so-tall guy letting out a nice, audible, “Ahhh!” sound as he extends his perfectly regular-sized limbs as far as they’ll stretch, all while I’m a few rows back, the guy in front of me could barely wait to reach cruising altitude before clicking his seat as far back as it’ll go. Click! He’s trying, he pressed the button and the back started to sway. But what’s that? Some sort of resistance, it’s as if there’s something behind him making it impossible to recline all the way. He fusses a little more and kind of turns around. Oh, it’s just some guy. That’s just some guy’s legs I’m crashing into. Better push back harder. And so it’s that two-or-three minute push and pull, to the point where eventually my knees hurt and I give up.

Why do you even give the option to recline? For real, what is anybody getting out of that equation? Come on airlines, this is the area that you need to monetize. You’d like to recline your seat back? Certainly, that’ll be a dollar seventy-five, and I’m sorry, but we don’t accept cash, just debit or credit. Think of the shareholders! They must be satisfied! Give them more money! It would eliminate at least this little morsel of my in-flight suffering.

Yes, I hate flying, blah, blah, blah, this is all recycled nonsense, complaints about plane travel, I’m practically falling asleep at my keyboard writing all of this garbage. Seriously, I should have been born like ten thousand years ago. Talk about complaining. I probably wouldn’t even have the proper linguistic skills to even formulate my thoughts into a coherent whiny diatribe.

But you know what really kills me? It’s that moment while you’re taxiing down the runway, just as the engines kick in for what you know from experience is going to be a jarring takeoff. The plane lifts off the ground and you get that visceral sensation like it’s going to bounce right back down. But it doesn’t. And now everything below is getting really small. And in your mind you can just imagine exactly what it’s going to look and sound and feel like when the engines suddenly die and the plane plummets straight to a certain doom.

It’s probably not going to happen. But it might. It happens every now and then. And what if you’re on one of those unlucky flights? What if the people on previous doomed voyages had those same thoughts that you’re having right now? It’ll be OK, they tell themselves, trying to quiet the ever-present feeling of dread, unsuccessfully doing whatever they can to stay out of their imaginations, and then something does happen. Because it happens, right?

You’re just trying to go on vacation here, you’re sitting in a seat that’s not big enough to hold your entire body and you’re suddenly hit in the face with the cold fact that your life is finite and, even if this plane delivers you safely to wherever it is you’ve decided to give your money to get away from wherever it is that you happen to be making your money, you’re still going down, someway, eventually, nothing’s going to last.

And then you get pulled out of your nightmare daydream for a second because the flight attendant is telling you that, unfortunately, your carry-on is jostling around too much in the overhead compartment, and some of the passengers are complaining, and, well, you have to put it on the floor in front of you, even though there’s no room, you can’t feel the tips or your feet, you try to protest, politely, but you get some non-answer line about “FAA regulation states that …” Yeah, OK, thanks.

Man, I can’t wait until we have self-driving cars. I can’t wait until we have the Hyperloop. Because, yes, it’s unreal that we have an industry devoted to flying us to wherever we can afford to go on the planet. But flying on a plane sucks. It just sucks. There’s got to be a better way.

Originally published at Thought Catalog.

Delta Airlines: You Suck

I’ve got a bone to pick. It’s with Delta Airlines. I’ve put this off for way too long, almost two years now, almost no chance at receiving any restitution, but I figure what the hell, I’ve got a story to tell at least. It all started in 1984 when my mother gave birth to a beautiful little me.

OK, seriously, my wife and I were living in Ecuador, serving in the Peace Corps, and come time to end our service, the US government gave us the option of buying us a ticket back to New York or giving us some money and allowing us to shop for ourselves. “As long as it’s an American airline,” the government said, “and you have to pinky swear.”

We took the cash and booked a flight out of Guayaquil for a pretty reasonable price. Whatever. Airline tickets are a huge scam anyway. Did you know the price you find on the Internet all depends on where you’re searching from and what kind of operating system you use? (Yeah, it’s kind of an Internet rumor, but I’m presenting it as fact here, and look, here’s a link I found from some web site I’ve never heard of before substantiating my almost baseless claim.) We found a good deal from Delta and we went with it.

It was a really numb, emotionally taxing day and a half. There were too many thoughts and feelings to process. We sat there in the Guayaquil international terminal just ready to be away, back somewhere, somewhere not so in between, you know, that hollow feeling you only really get in an airport, that delayed sense of not going anywhere, not yet, but not really remembering having been anywhere else. Wow, I’m so deep.

Anyway, it would be stupid of me to sit here and write out all the ways that everybody already knows why they hate airplane travel, the lines, the waiting, the more lines, the security, the pat downs, the random screening, the taking your laptop out and putting it in a separate bin, the buying a bottle of water for six dollars right before security and then security telling you that, sorry, you can’t bring that bottle of water past the checkpoint, that you can spend another six dollars on the other side. Just, please, it’s so fucking annoying. I’m getting actually upset just imagining it enough to write about it.

And even on my best of flying experiences, you get to your terminal, finally, and the plane is never going to leave when it says it is. Boarding always takes way too long. Much longer than you’re expecting. And taxiing. And then sitting on the tarmac forever. And then finally taking off. That’s best-case.

When things go wrong though, they don’t tell you about it all at once. No, that would be too painless. Annoying, sure, but let’s see if we can’t take this situation and stretch it out past the limits of human suffering. OK, yeah, that’s a stretch. But it was a colorful sentence. I’m sure AIDS and cancer are much more of a cause of human suffering that a layover. But just indulge me.

They just keep you there in the terminal for a little bit longer. Maybe an hour. Maybe two. And then maybe they’ll actually start boarding, pretending like some sort of progress is being made. But then, no, OK, actually we’re all going to have to do a reverse boarding, and then what’s the problem exactly? But every passenger is asking that same question, “What’s the problem? When are we going to New York?” and so clearly those people aren’t satisfied with their answers, so why add to the chorus of discontent?

That’s what happened to us. We sat around, all afternoon, all night. Pretty soon the airport started to shut down. I didn’t even know airports closed. Deltas wouldn’t tell us anything. When the flight was going to leave. How long we were supposed to just sit there waiting. They made us feel even more like cattle, more even than the regular plane traveler does who hasn’t had a huge delay.

Other passengers weren’t as patient as we were. One lady had an actual rage fit that lead to convulsions and her being sent away in a wheel chair. At least she got to sit. We were on the cold tile floor. Delta promised to try to find us hotels. Mission not accomplished. Some buses arrived eventually, but lacking that killer instinct to push aside fellow human beings in the name of looking out for numero uno, the buses left full, us still trying to find a comfortably clean spot on that vast airport floor.

It’s a good thing we didn’t get on that bus. It turned out not to be a hotel, but a brothel. Honest mistake. There are lots of brothels in Ecuador. Could have happened to anyone. More yelling. More convulsions. More wheelchairs. Finally, just when a riot was all but certain to foment, Delta tells us that, sorry, the plane is broken. A new plane will be coming in from New York. Eventually. At some point in the future. Definitely not tonight.

They never got us hotels. I literally spent the night squirming on the floor, falling asleep every ten minutes but waking up ten minutes later, some arm or leg deprived of circulation, screaming pins and needles for some blood. It was one of the worst nights ever. You ever pull an all nighter? You know how, when you wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep, your breath is terrible, you need to brush your teeth? But without sleep, it’s worse, you can kind of feel it coming on gradually, the bad taste, the grime accumulating on your molars.

Understanding of our discomfort, Delta promised us four hundred dollars each in compensation. That was really nice of them. I’d endure a night of suffering for four hundred dollars, totally. And so everything looked like it would work out. We got on a flight the next day and eventually made it back to the States, where I resumed my ambitious career waiting tables and started this blog where I write a bunch of nonsense every day.

Oh yeah, but that four hundred dollars? What Delta secretly meant was, “We’re going to tell you four hundred each, to shut you up for the night, but when you get back to the US, it’s actually going to turn into one hundred each. And it’s not going to be real money, it’s going to be Delta Dollars,” or whatever stupid bullshit name some brilliant marketing whiz came up with to label its “store credit only” policy.

Sorry! And your compensation for the shittiest flying experience ever is … even more bullshit, but only a fraction of the bullshit that we promised. Fuck you Delta. I wrote email after email, vowing to myself and to the Internet that I would not accept the one hundred dollar voucher, that I was promised four hundred dollars by several Delta employees and that I had better get four hundred dollars. But nothing. This went on for months.

Finally I had to fly somewhere and I clenched my teeth, swallowed hard, and cashed in my one hundred dollar bonus. But that’s it. Delta, you have lost a customer for life. The next time I have to fly, anywhere, and you guys pop up as the cheapest option, I’m going to pay more, I’ll pay that extra hundred, two hundred, three hundred dollars, just to give myself the satisfaction of knowing that I’ll never give you so much as another cent ever in my life. I have never wished the demise of a company more than I hope you guys go belly up out of business. You are everything that’s wrong with America, its bloat, its arrogance.

We went back to Ecuador last summer. There was a problem with the return flight. But LAN Ecuador, our carrier for that trip, immediately put us up for the night in a really nice hotel, they paid us something like four hundred dollars each, cash, they gave us food, they said sorry, they valued our business, and they meant it.

I’ve made a big to-do about getting to my point here, but it’s this: Delta, you are the worst airline in the history of aviation, of transportation. I hate you. I’d rather have flown TWA Flight 800. I’ll never fly you again. I promise.