delta: if they love to fly, it doesn't show.

so, i spent the last 5 days in toronto for work at a conference. more on my feelings on that city and my trip in general in a different post. this one is devoted to my newly crowned least favorite airline, delta.

before yesterday at about 4:32pm, i didn't have much about which to complain, besides horror stories i had heard from friends. typically unless the experiences of others verge on tragic, i don't boycott or talk smack about businesses. i like to form my own opinions. and form i did.

so, my flight was scheduled to leave toronto at 1:40pm, fly to JFK airport in NYC and arrive around 3:30p, then my next flight departed at 4:30p arriving to richmond sometime just after 6p. excellent. home in time to stop at chipotle for dinner.

at about 1:30, we get an announcement that air traffic control at JFK has delayed all incoming flights by 30 minutes and that most flights departing from JFK were delayed this much as well, so everyone should be fine with connections. cool. no worries.

we finally get on the plane about 2:10, then it takes us a while to actually take off. i'm still not stressing. we land at a little after 4:20, and are all still under the assumption that all flights are delayed, so i'm anxious to get off the plane, but again, not stressing. they open the door, then make us all stand there as they take out the luggage people checked at the door of the plane, the pink tag bags. i do not have one of these, and so am annoyed that i have to wait when i have a plane to catch, but am staying calm.

i haul it inside the terminal and because no gate had been established for my richmond flight when i checked in at toronto, i need to find out which gate i'm going to. i see two guys standing there telling people connection gates, but they're surrounded by a group of women, so i go to the board which is directly in front of me.

gate 25--and it says ON TIME and BOARDING. ah damn, now i'm stressing a little. okay, where is 25? i look up, no signs. i look to my left, see no sign. to my right, see no sign. WHERE ARE THE FREAKING GATE MARKERS?! so i haul it down to the gate on the left, where there is a mob of about 200 people standing in front of the check in lady. i see this is gate 25 (but only when standing DIRECTLY in front of it) and push my way through the crowd and ask the ticket taker lady if this is richmond. "no," she says, "richmond moved to gate 23."

WHAT? so where the hell is 23? she points, to the other gate i had seen when i came off the plane. it's very close, but again is mobbed by the 200 people trying to board the five freaking flights they're boarding through this ONE gate. i push and shove my way through, and the lady tells me, "richmond is closed."

you've got to be kidding me. "the sign still says boarding and i just got off my connecting flight," i tell her. "richmond is closed." she tells me again, not looking at me, entirely unsympathetic. the clock? it says 4:32. i missed it by TWO FREAKING MINUTES.

now i am pissed that i have missed my flight and upset because i just want to go home. i head to the long reticketing counter between gates 23 and 25 (how convenient, wonder if this happens often?) and after a few minutes get my turn with one of the 15 people working this desk.

i explain my plight and am informed that the next and last flight out to richmond, at 6:45pm, is full, and the next flight out after that is 8:25am the next morning. i begin to cry. later i decided i wasn't crying because i was so sad not to be headed home immediately, but because in probably 50 times flying i have never had this happen to me and i'm pissed because i was two minutes late and this should not have happened.

he looks for flights out of la guardia--all full. other airlines--all full. at this point i am very upset and he's trying to tell me not to cry and he's annoying me and he and the woman assisting him (this is his first week, he informs me) have by this point told me multiple times that if the delay is caused by "air traffic control," delta is not responsible.

he goes to find someone more experienced who can figure out what to do. he comes back with a man who feels the need, after being informed all flights from JFK and laguardia are full, to tell me YET AGAIN that "delta is not at fault for air traffic control delays."

that's when i got pissed. i mean, i had really been trying to sweet talk these people and seem sympathetic so they'd help me, and by this point i had had enough. i said, "honestly, if i had not had to wait for the door checked luggage to be taken off the plane, i would have made my flight. if delta had not moved the gate or had the right gate on the board, i would have made my flight. if you had made a 2 minute exception and let me on the plane, i would have made my flight! the last thing i care about is whether or not it is your fault, i just want you to find a solution to my problem!"

so then they decide to put me on standby for the 6:45. i get some b.s. line about how they don't book every seat on the flight so i'll probably get on it, now go away goodbye. i thought this was lipservice and figured i'd be back there in two hours (at this point it was still no more than 15 min after my intended flight left), and went and made some angry phone calls to my husband and friend krystyna--not angry at them, just venting. i realized after i hung up the phone that i had been throwing the "f bomb" out quite a few times, so decided i should apologize to the ladies sitting next to me and leave so as not to scare them. i did, and headed off for a starbucks frappucino. i deserved it.

while i sat waiting to discover my fate, i met at least 5 other people in similar situations to mine. all of whom were as pissed off at delta as i was at that point. none of whom were taking a flight that was on time. (now how is it not a single delta flight that left JFK yesterday was on time, except the one i was supposed to catch? and how did they not know that my plane was parked RIGHT THERE and i just had to make my way over to them? bastards.)

finally, the time has come for the 6:45 flight. they call for boarding at about 6:50 and i go up, and praise jesus i've got a seat! i get on the flight, settle in, chit chat a bit with the guy across the aisle. the flight attendant begins to make her announcements...

"welcome aboard delta flight 6390 with service to montego bay, jamaica..."

you have got to be shitting me. how have i gotten on the WRONG PLANE?! at this point i look at the guy across the aisle who has already told me he's going to richmond. he says to the flight attendant, "um, this isn't the flight to richmond?" she says, "no, jamaica mon!" he's like, "but we're going to richmond..."

at this point i am gathering my stuff and getting ready to deboard the plane and find a hotel because god knows they've probably already closed the flight to richmond. i look behind me and many people are getting out of their seats doing the same, and i look back to the flight attendant...

"oh, okay then, we'll go to richmond."

she was joking! lord god, if she had known what i had already been through trying to get back to good ol' virginny!! i swear had that plane really been going to jamaica i might have just said screw it and stayed on.

so, finally, i was on my way... after we sat on the runway waiting our turn for an hour, of course.

got home around 9:30 and boy was i glad to be here. i don't know how much of my experience was delta and how much of it was JFK, but i can tell you for certain that delta will not be on my preferred carrier list from now on.