Good and bad on a canceled flight

In an event that was hardly a surprise considering that we’re flying into Tropical Storm Fay, our flight to Jacksonville tonight was canceled.  It was one of about ten flights that I know of that were canceled, and I’m guessing that it is mostly because people don’t generally try to fly in when the storm is still blowing.  But we are still headed to Florida, and so we were faced with the prospect of dealing with the rebooking.

I noticed that the flight was canceled around 1pm today, giving me plenty of time to call Delta and figure out alternatives.  Fortunately there were seats available on the 3:50pm flight and it was running on time (and I’m typing this on the plane expecting an early arrival into JAX) so we were able to get that booked no problem.  Or so I thought.  On the way out the door I tried to do on-line check-in so that we wouldn’t have to deal with potential issues at the airport if our taxi was running late.  For some reason our reservation had a number of flights in it as different contingency plans, rendering the OLCI useless.  I called and spoke to a second representative to confirm that we really did have a reservation on the flight and then it was off to the airport.  Of course the kiosk didn’t work so we approached the Medallion desk.  I don’t know if I didn’t genuflect appropriately to the woman working the counter or if she was just having a bad day, but I was immediately brushed off with a ‘what are you doing here?’ sort of look.  I explained that the kiosk choked and she pointed me at the regular line.  Only after I assured her that I was, in fact, an elite member and was supposed to be in that line did she relent and start working on our tickets.

Things didn’t get much better as she suggested we were booked on a flight for tomorrow, not today.  This is one of the “extra” flights I saw in the reservation but I pressed on with my request for her to double-check since I knew we had the flight booked.  Eventually she found the reservation and then had the temerity to suggest that we needed to pay the $50 change fee to take the earlier flight.  I had planned on paying that fee if we voluntarily made the change, but I knew that wasn’t the case.  At this point I might have started to lose my temper with her, but we eventually agreed that no additional fees would be paid.  So it was off to security and the Crown Room Club.

Security was a breeze thanks to elite status, and the line looked like it was only about 10 minutes long otherwise.  And he Crown Room was quiet and the bar not so crowded.  All good things.  I tried to get us seats together at this point and was saddened to learn that I’d have to go to the gate to do so.  Leaving my drink and the quiet of the lounge it was off to the gate where another agent having a bad day greeted me.  I asked for seats together in the bulkhead and was greeted with a gruff “there is a reason they are blocked – for handicapped people” response.  It was 20 minutes prior to departure and no one had yet requested them.  It seemed a pretty safe bet that no one would.  And certainly there are more polite ways it could’ve been handled.  I also needed to change our frequent flier numbers on the tickets to get the correct credit.  Another back and forth for no particular reason but we got that squared away, too.

Then it was a bus to the plane, and settling in to our seats.  Apparently the new fees for checked baggage are working because “not enough people checked bags on this flight so we need to move some of you around for weight and balance reasons.”  This is certainly not the first time I’ve had to deal with that so I had no problems moving to the back of the plane for takeoff.  The two women in front of me were a bit disconcerted, but they got over it eventually.

The flight has been fine so far, with the exception of the sticky floor, and I’m sure we’ll make it in to JAX OK, though probably a little wet as well.  And that is certainly some of the “good” of this unexpected change.  But the Delta & Comair staff in La Guardia are definitely the “bad.” 

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.