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Adventures in Atlanta

Posted on October 19, 2011 by under Travel.    

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This saga really begins in Nashville, TN on Friday, October 14. Carmen and I arrived at the airport about two hours early, just in case there were delays at check-in and security. Better to be safe than sorry. Incidentally, this was my first experience with one of those TSA scanner things. It’s not really as big of a deal as all the hubbub made it out to be.

So our departure time was 5:15 pm and we were at the airport by 3:00 pm or so… There was a 4:00 pm flight to Atlanta that we could have made, but Carmen said it would have cost us $50 each to get our flights changed. Plus, we were thinking that we would end up waiting in Atlanta so we might as well save our money and wait for our original flight. In hindsight, we should have gotten on the earlier flight but we had no idea of the events that were about to unfold.

Shortly after the earlier flight left, I got a message from Brian saying that our departure time was pushed back an hour. He has a flight tracker app on his phone that gives him updates of any flight or gate changes. I told him that they hadn’t made an official announcement yet. Sure enough, the announcement was made and a line formed at the desk. I guess the plane that was supposed to pick us up ran into some mechanical trouble, which caused the delay. People were freaking out about missing their connections.

We were originally scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at 7:32 pm and leave at 9:02 pm, giving us an hour and a half layover, which is plenty of time to get from our arrival gate to our departure gate. With the delay, we were only going to have 20 minutes instead of the 90 minutes that was planned. Atlanta is a pretty big airport consisting of multiple terminals so we were quite worried. We went to the front desk to ask about our situation, but they figured we would be okay. There were many people who were in worse situations. One group flying to Paris had 9 minutes to get from our arrival gate to the international terminal. Talk about disaster. They were at the front desk for a good hour and a half, trying to sort things out. After that, Carmen and I quit keeping track. We figured we might as well have dinner since we won’t have time to grab a bite to eat in Atlanta. We will be too busy trying to make our connection.

According to Brian’s flight tracker we would arrive and depart from the same terminal. The arrival and departure gates were a few gates apart, though. However, that changed too. We ended up arriving in concourse D and then had to make it to concourse C for our connecting flight. Carmen and I were worried, but we were both fit and of good health so we figured that we could take the tram and make it to our departure gate even though we only had 20 minutes. We would have to run like hell and we’d be cutting it really close, but we believed we could do it. Talk about optimism.

So there two flights to Atlanta leaving Nashville around the same time. Our flight originally scheduled to leave at 5:15 pm was rescheduled to depart at 6:25 pm. The other flight was still on schedule and it was to leave at 6:30 pm. Around 6:00 pm or so, our plane still hadn’t arrived and the other group was already boarding. Our plane arrived just in time for final boarding call for the other group. Carmen and I joked that we should have gotten on the other plane. We asked one of the Delta folks and they said that ours was a smaller plane so we’ll actually arrive in Atlanta sooner. Something about not having to get as high to reach our cruising altitude. Whatever. So they get a head start, but if we’re going to get there sooner or at the same time then I can deal with that. Inside I was freaking out a little though, because this was cutting into the 20 minutes of time that we had to make our connection.

We were worried so we told the flight attendant our predicament as soon as we got on the plane. She was very nice and politely explained that they couldn’t tell the other plane to wait for us. I guess they used to do that years ago, but they don’t any more. We told her we just wanted to make sure that we could get off the plane first so we can start our mad dash to our departure gate, specially since we were at the back of the plane and people tend to move really slow when deplaning. She said she would make an announcement, but couldn’t guarantee anything. She did explain that there were others in similar situations with tighter connections than ours.

The flight attendant made a few announcement as the plane descended. Carmen was really worried that she wouldn’t make an announcement about getting us and others in the same situation getting off the plane first. I told Carmen that the flight attendant seemed trustworthy and I was positive that she would keep her word. She made the announcement and the way that she went about it was really brilliant so I want to give her kudos for this. She listed several cities and told all of us that had connections to the cities that she mentioned to turn on our attendant/service lights. She told everyone else on the plane that all of us with lights on needed to get off the plane first because of our tight connections. Pretty much half the plane lit up. I guess she wasn’t kidding when she said that several people were in the same situation and some worse off than us. It was a little daunting, but I think it’s worth mentioning that her idea was really good as it helped to minimize confusion while deplaning. Not that it made that much difference because there were so many of us. I appreciated the effort, though.

So our lights are on and we are glad to know we’re all getting off the plane first, but then we’re stuck on the tarmac. There’s another plane at our gate. We have to wait for it to leave before our plane can take its place. Ugh. The world is against us. By the time all was said and done, our 90 minutes that turned into 20 minutes turned into about 5 minutes. Carmen and I got off the plane and made a run for it. I’d never seen Carmen run so fast. She was smart and wore sneakers to travel. I was running as fast as I could, but I was in cowboy boots and was hindered by my heavy tote bag containing my laptop. I was worried that the bag would give and my laptop would crash on the floor at any moment, but I still continued to run. Carmen was a good 30 to 40 feet ahead of me. Mind you, Brian had been having nightmares (three nights in a row) that Carmen was able to get on the plane and left me at the Atlanta airport. Brian said that, in his dream, I was stranded in Atlanta by myself. The entire time this was happening I kept thinking of Brian’s dream and how he’s freaking hexed me. He calls it premonition. I call it bad mojo.

Carmen was a little confused and, in her hurry, she rushed past gate 31. Brian had sent us several texts earlier that day and Carmen had 41 in her mind so she ran all the way there. When I got to 31, I stopped. The lights were off and there was absolutely no one there. I was like, “Where’s everyone?” Of course, I knew everyone was already aboard the plane (which was still there, by the way) but I was expecting someone to be at the desk. As Carmen was walking back to where I was, a Delta rep emerged from the door and came to the desk. It was exactly 9:02 pm. We could see the plane still there and we told her that we needed to get on. She simply told us that the doors were closed and to talk to customer service. She expressed no empathy whatsoever. I don’t think we would have been so upset, except we just ran a 5k in record time through the Atlanta airport and still missed our flight.

We walked to customer service only to find a long line of people. It must have been a terrible day for Delta. The people in line looked angrier and more frustrated than we were. A bunch of people missed their flight to Sydney. The icing on the cake is that as they were pleading with the Delta desk rep to let them aboard the plane, a flight attendant who was running late came running up screaming “I’m sorry I’m late!” They watched in frustration as the flight attendant was allowed to board the plane. Yet, they were at the gate before her and couldn’t get on. At least that wasn’t me in that situation because that would have really pissed me off.

When we finally got to the front of the line, the customer service rep was not helpful at all. We asked if we could get our luggage and she said we could but it could take 4 to 8 hours. Carmen was like, “So we can’t get our luggage?” The Delta rep was like, “I didn’t say that. I said you could, but it could take 4 to 8 hours.” She was quite condescending in her tone and, like the first rep, didn’t express any empathy at all. There was no, “I’m sorry we totally screwed up your plans of arriving home tonight.” Nothing. I was beginning to think that this terrible customer service is not just representative of the kind of service you’d get from Delta, but typical of Atlanta locals. I was really missing the nice, friendly service we’re used to getting in Kansas. It would be pointless to use the hotel voucher they gave us if we’re going to have to wait at baggage claim 4 to 8 hours for our luggage so Carmen and I just said forget it. The woman did give us these amenity kits containing a t-shirt, deodorant, a small pouch of toothpaste, toothbrush, folding hairbrush and detergent. I guess that was something.

Helpless and defeated, we made our way outside the airport to the area where you hop on the hotel shuttles. We took the shuttle service to the Quality Hotel (formerly Ramada Inn). That’s where Delta sent us. I knew that we were in for a bad experience when the hotel rep at the concierge desk didn’t even make eye contact. She simply wrote my room number on the sleeve that the room key slid into and went, “Here you go.” I can’t say I was surprised. At this point, I pretty much figured that while in Atlanta this is all the level of service I’ll receive. The irony is that we were coming home from a Quality Assurance and Training Connection (QATC) conference so we were particularly sensitive to service issues. There were several problems with the hotel, which I will tell you guys about in a separate blog entry. Needless to say it was so gross that we made every effort to find another hotel. Unsuccessful, we ended up staying and leaving first thing the next morning. Our new flight wasn’t until 10:50 am, but we were out of there by 7:00 am. It was so bad that we would rather wait at the airport than spend another minute in that nasty hotel.

At the airport, I got to go through the TSA scanner thing again. I also got a pat down this time. And then they rubbed this paper thing on my hands. I guess it’s to see if I handled any harmful chemicals or something. We used the meal vouchers that Delta gave us to get breakfast. I also picked up some Danish pastries and chocolate croissants since I had some extra vouchers left over. Carmen got some bread. We both agreed that we weren’t going to let Delta off the hook by not spending our vouchers. I used every single penny they gave me. Even then I didn’t feel like it was sufficient compensation for being stranded in Atlanta and made to stay in a nasty hotel. I expected to be home on Friday night to make Kevin and Kasey’s wedding the next day. As it was, Brian barely had enough time to pick me up from the airport and drop me off at our place before heading to the wedding. He actually got there 15 minutes late, but they worked around him. Basically, they just did the photos that didn’t include him first and then took the group and family photos after he arrived. So thank you, Delta for nearly ruining my weekend.

Related Posts

  • (Poor) Quality Hotel on October 22, 2011
  • Kudos to UAL on March 15, 2009
  • Journey to Punta Cana on June 8, 2014
  • My Baby is Back! on August 4, 2011
  • Getting Stranded in Vegas on January 22, 2011

  • Replies to "Adventures in Atlanta"

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    Jay  on October 19, 2011

    Sounds like you could have used the advice of a professional travel agent! ;0

    BTW, send Delta an e-mail with the story above. You will get a voucher since the delay was Delta’s fault and not weather related. Make it a bit more factual and less emotional and I’ll bet you get a $175-$250 voucher out of the deal. Trust me, I send them frequently.

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    (Poor) Quality Hotel : Life After Marriage  on October 22, 2011

    […] to Delta, Carmen and I got stuck in Atlanta overnight. They did give us a hotel voucher, but the hotel they sent us to was terrible. Our hotel voucher […]

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    Adultcon, Anyone? : Life After Marriage  on November 4, 2011

    […] very disappointed that he couldn’t go with me last month. Got $125 credit from Delta for the Atlanta fiasco. I know that won’t really go a long ways, but I wouldn’t want it to go to waste either. […]

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    Not Your Typical January 1 : Life After Marriage  on January 2, 2012

    […] of our travels the rest of the year were wrought with mishaps just as our superstition foretold. Remember how I got stuck in Atlanta a couple of months ago? When we got back from the East Coast this summer, we almost got stranded in Kansas City when our […]

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