Flight Delays: Only Bad When They Affect Me
I've been a very lucky flier lately -- haven't lost a bag in years and have been subjected to only the slightest in delays over the past year or so.
Until last week.
According to a recent story in The Post, travel delays are worse than ever. According to the story by Del Quentin Wilbur, "The first five months of the year rank as the worst in terms of delays -- 26 percent of flights were late or canceled -- since the Transportation Department began keeping such statistics in 1995."
I experienced this firsthand en route to and from Las Vegas out of BWI. On the way out, I arrived at the airport to discover that the Southwest jet due in from Texas had been caught in bad weather and would be two hours late. Argh. If I'd checked before I left home, I would have discovered it then (and I know better than that, or at least I thought). Once on the plane, we were told that we'd make up an hour of the time because of an ideal flight plan -- then waited an hour for refueling, thus killing any time we'd been told we would make up.
Oh, well. Midnight in Vegas is like 7 p.m. here, so there was plenty of nightlife remaining when I finally arrived.
On the return flight, I watched from my hotel at 10 a.m. as a freakishly large summer thunderstorm swept out of the desert and headed for the airport. Then I turned on my TV and found MSNBC declaring Vegas home to the "Worst Weather in America." Flooding ensued, flights were delayed. But when Southwest miraculously declared my flight was on time, I headed to the airport and boarded on schedule.
Then it got ugly. What had been touted as a full flight at the gate had about 30 empty seats, and seconds after the flight attendants slammed the overhead compartments shut, they went back down the aisle reopening them -- never a good sign. We were told that late flights with connecting passengers were due in at any moment and that the occupants of all those empty seats were on their way.
Long blog item short: 1 hour 20 minutes later the last straggler took his seat, next to me, and we were off.
Now here's the funny part: I wasn't bothered by this at all.
I mean, what if that was my mom and dad stuck at the airport if we hadn't waited? Even worse, what if that was ME stuck at the airport and we hadn't waited? A woman seated behind me took out her cell phone at the 45-minute-and-waiting point and had a loud conversation with her significant other, saying, "I guess Southwest doesn't really care about all of us here . . . I just don't understand why they'd make us wait for so few people."
The point is, about a fifth of the plane was in transit, you can't mix Vegas with a thunderstorm and not expect consequences, and the flight eventually took off (instead of being canceled, as many flights were that day). I actually think Southwest did right by its patrons to hold the plane, even though it inconvenienced me and many other passengers. You can't stop the rain.
Am I alone here? Does anyone think my plane should have left those folks behind? From the grumbling on board as we waited, I was definitely in the minority.
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