Whoa, finally got back home after what can only be described as the biggest cluster I’ve experienced in my life. I arrived at Sea-Tac airport on Sunday morning (UTC-8) at 6am to catch an 8am Alaska Airlines flight to LAX, where I was then going to catch a 1pm flight to Sydney. Seemed pretty straight forward yah?… Uh ah, not in the land of the tall crap coffee.
See, the ground crew at Sea-Tac decided to do some testing on the landing strip lights, and forgot to turn them back on. This caused the approaching Alaska Airlines flight to not be able to land, and then sent the rest of the day into complete turmoil. Alaska Airlines basically canceled the flight, which affected everyone else who had connecting flights; they then made everyone line up for two hours, only to be told all remaining flights were oversold. Riiiighhht!! After waiting in line for 2 hours, hearing that I would have to stay overnight and try the whole thing again the next day was not what I wanted to hear. And as for the Alaska Airlines customer service staff, I’ve experienced more assistance from an eggplant dip. So after waiting for another hour to collect by bags from baggage services (oh yeah, they can’t keep your bags if they cancel your flight), then waiting another three hours in line (I’ve never stood in one place for so long in my life) to get onto another LA flight (that incidentally was delayed another 2 hours), I arrived at LAX. Now, the awesome people at Qantas were able to get me onto the 10:30pm flight out of LAX to Sydney, but guess what, Alaska Airlines takes a minimum of 1 hour to unload your baggage!!! So the plane arrived at LAX at 8:30pm, and I didn’t get my bags until 9:30pm, so I had to haul butt to the Qantas desk to try and catch the 10:30pm to Sydney. Anyways, I got on the flight, and safely arrived in Sydney at 7:30 am yesterday.
So just a couple things I wanted to comment on about this whole experience:
- Americans have this sense of “That’s just the way it goes”. I didn’t meet one American who was outraged by the ineptitude of the airline and airport, which concerns me. If you start to accept that kind of service, then you can never expect things to get better. One comment from a lady I was sitting next to once we eventually bordered the flight to LAX was, “Oh well, Alaska Airlines are always late, they’re notorious”. Jeez, if that’s the attitude you have towards air travel, I can see why no one want’s to go to hospital.
- I’m going to stop taking Australia and Australians for granted. It was amazing, after the ordeal from Sea-Tac to LAX, when I finally got to the Qantas desk at LAX, the Aussie lady was awesome, and managed to get me booked on the flight, luggage expressed to the plane, and got me through the first-class/business-class security screening to avoid delays. And arriving at Sydney airport was overwhelming, where everyone is genuinely helpful, and everything is running smoothly. I mean, my baggage had already been unloaded before I got to the luggage carousel. Trust me, next time you have to wait in line for 15 minutes to get checked in, just count yourself lucky. We take for granted the fact that things like customer service and SLA’s do mean something, and if you do complain, it does make a difference. I pray we never get to the point where people just get used to the fact that stuff like air travel and customer satisfaction just doesn’t work.