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Bone laced contempt and hate

Have I ranted lately about how much I hate the airline industry? Well, if I haven't, here goes. If I have...here's more (skip at your own volition).

There is nothing right and good in any of of the airline industry and if I could avoid air travel, I would.

Flights are consistently delayed; gate agents consistently unhelpful and outright liars; flight attendants consistently indifferent, inattentive, or outright rude; and carriers are consistenly doing their best to avoid responsibility for anything (beaten only by the insurance industry in their efforts to get out of what they have promised). TSA is the oddest combination of bumbling indifference and puerile expressions of power.

Last Thursday my flight from Charlotte to Newark was delayed. This was hardly a shock since 11 out of 12 weeks the flight has been delayed. By this time a delay is enough a part of the routine for me to not be angry or overly agitated. I didn't have a connecting flight or any client to meet in Newark. As much as I'd like to be home on time, it's no longer part of my expectation. However, I do still demand some base level of competency and help from the gate attendant. The flight was listed on the board as delayed...but it didn't say by how long. Earlier in the afternoon it was delayed by a meager 17 minutes. A few hours had passed since, and other sources indicated delays of over an hour instigated by ground control at EWR, LGA, & JFK airports. So I waited in line to ask the agent how long the delay is going to be. Other people in front of me want to change flights or have other pressing issues with connecting flights.

I'm not mad or impatient. I asked how long the delay will be. She gave me flat, slightly annoyed look and picks up the microphone to make a general announcement to the waiting room at large about the delay of the flight. Evidentially, I was the lucky person who tipped her annoyance threshold. I could hear the announcement; she was standing in front of me and I could hear the overhead speaker as well. She announced the time our *incoming* plane is supposed to land (5:35pm -- 25 min. from the current time). Then announces that the plane will need to be disembarked and cleaned before boarding. That's fine. When she was done on the loudspeaker, I asked how long after it arrives before they board passengers. I get a whiny and snippy answer that she doesn't know. All I wanted was an estimate of how long it will take so I know whether I can go get a drink and some food, which is what I told her. She says "you can do whatever you want." The gate the flight was assigned to is at the end of concourse A. It's a solid 5 minute hike to the concourse junction area where anything other than a magazine stand and Burger King are; I loose 10 min. in the walk back and forth, not counting time to order, be served, and eat.

Now I *am* cross and annoyed because if the plane is small and they're fast or get extra crew it might only take 20 min. Then I won't have time for anything decent and I may as well just sit in the gate area. If it's going to be 40 min. (which I have experienced) then I can wander to a real restaurant and eat. I snipe back with a "why are you being so unhelpful, I just need to know how long after the arrival before they board." She then tells me she doesn't know and why can't I understand that. She also said that because the delay due to weather she needs to talk to the crew when they get here. This has me truly pissed because it's lie.

There is no weather going on here in Charlotte. If there was weather where the plane was coming from it matters not at all in the calculation of how long it will take to disembark and clean before Charlotte passengers board. Moreover, I know from past experience when we ask about delays that come from Newark ground control I am always told that they don't know, they're not in control of it, and the crew can do nothing about it except wait for word from ground control. The other reason that I am pretty sure she is lying is that Continental must put the flight back in the que in the computer system for a new take-off time slot on the runway and that must show up on the gate agent's console.

Gate agents deal every day with late planes. It is not uncommon that planes get disembarked and cleaned while gate agents watch and wait for the call from the crew that they plane is ready for boarding. It defies logic that a gate agent would have no idea how long it will take. They ought be able to make an estimate. Damn! If someone asked me a question about how long a situation I encountered every day or a task I had to do every day took and I said "I don't know" I would be fired, laughed at, or called a liar.

Crowning moment of annoyance and proof she's a liar came 5 minutes later. I got an automated phone call from Continental's flight alerts service telling me that the flight is delayed by 60 minutes (so helpful that I get it at the time when we normally would be boarding). Right, I believe she doesn't know how long the delay is when the automated computer system knows? Damn! why can't they put the delay on the board! All I needed was to know how long.

This along with a myriad of other small and not-so-small bad experiences have caused a deeply ingrained -- I would say laced to my bones -- hate of the whole airline industry. My apologies, KittyFaboo, you're terrific, just working in a crappy industry.