I have done a lot of flying in my life (pretty much all domestic)...I was a transplant kid with family far away...I worked in logistics and calculated weight/balance of planes...and I studied air traffic control. It is fair to say I've grown up very comfortable in airports and around planes. There was a time that flying was fun. That time ended sometime around the year 1998.
For (some) people who do not travel much, there seems to be a perception that work travel is cool and sexy. It's not. It's air travel. And I HATE air travel.
Yesterday, I boarded the plane for home and attempted to listen to my iPod. iPod died on song 2. I thought I charged this thing, but I must've accidentally left it on after my gym time. Errr. Good news, it's only an hour until my layover. I'll have time to charge it before the next flight. I'm annoyed, but it's not the end of the world. Then I notice a smell. And lights start going off. The lady sitting directly in front of me threw up all over the place. It takes the flight attendants 10 minutes to respond. As they are working to clean everything up the best they can, a man behind me taps me on the shoulder. "Your bag under the seat...you need to check that." OMG...I didn't even think about that. So I grab the handle and slowly drag my bag from under the seat...it's covered in vomit. I get the flight attendant's attention...I need help. She pours some dusting powder on my bag and hands me a dry cleaning voucher.
You have got to be kidding me????? You want me to carry my vomit covered bag off this plane, onto the next, into my car, home, and to the dry cleaners and then submit a receipt for reimbursement? No freaking way. Not happening. Bring me trash bags. So I unzip the bag and remove the contents into a clean garbage bag. Then I throw the bag in the trash.
By this time...as you can imagine... it smells pretty bad on the plane. So I tell the flight attendant, we need coffee grounds. English is not her first language and she doesn't understand my request. She is trying to assure me that the cleaning powder she put down works. I'm trying to explain to her we are in an enclosed space...and she does not want to start a chain reaction. The gentleman next to me leans over to reveal he is a hospitalist and "it smells like work." I appreciate the laugh.
She brings me 2 coffee pods. She never understood the request so of course this does nothing for most of the people on the plane. At least my row is no longer overwhelmed by the awful smell. The Dr. says to me "Aisle 8 LOVES you right now."
I've never been so happy to get off a plane. I make it to the next gate, plug in my iPod...and sit down just in time to hear my connecting flight is cancelled. I learn the previous flight was also cancelled. 2 full planes. No weather at home. Cancellation reason unknown to customer service agent. All she can tell me is they cannot get me home...and if I want to get home the next day, I will need to connect yet again. I take the earliest flights available, the hotel voucher, and request my luggage be moved to the carousel. All this drama caused my brain cells to quit firing. I suddenly remember I have a work travel team. I call them. They are unable to get me onto a better flight, but they do verify I'm in a good hotel and I grab a cab.
Yesterday sucked. But as I was standing in the customer service line, I heard people say some really awful things to these agents. I heard the agents do their best to respond in kind and try to get people home. (Let me just point out, I was in a main hub and not all these people were on my flight. There were all kinds of flight issues at the airport yesterday.) I was not happy, but I know that jumping up and down while screaming obscenities is not going to solve my problem. That's not going to make the customer service agent want to help me...and it's not going to make me feel any better.
I am by no means a perfect person. But I was truly horrified by the behavior I witnessed at the customer service counter. How do you think you would respond if someone just started screaming and cussing at you for an unknown reason? (Most of these outbursts happened before the customer service agent knew the situation.) It is totally possible to express dissatisfaction, frustration, anger, and many other negative emotions withOUT that ridiculous, obnoxious behavior. Did I mention that yesterday sucked? Have I told you that I HATE air travel? But there are worse things in this world. And I had some empathy for the customer service folks. Sh!t (or vomit!) happens.
Oh...and fingers crossed, but this morning...I got moved to an earlier & direct flight. It looks like today is going to be a good day. :)