Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Delta and The Baggage Fiasco"

Good Morning,

Most of you who follow the news found out that Delta Airlines was the brunt of some bad publicity this week.  Seems a cadre of troops were coming home from the Middle East and needed to bring four pieces of baggage with them.  It seems the military now requires troops to be individually responsible for caring for, and returning with specialized equipment, thus the four-bag requirement.  It seems that Delta balked at the 4-bag requirement and charged the concerned troops a collective $2800 dollars in excess baggage fees. 

I do not know the details of this nor, after being out of the military 20 years, am I familiar with how many bags are authorized per military orders.  The troops claim it was four, Delta says three.  The difference in opinion resulted in a troop-made video complaining about it and it soon went viral on the Internet.

My frequent travels over a 22-year Air Force career and another ten years working and living overseas more than qualifies me for the "million mile club".  However, I stopped flying on airlines when I came home from Saudi in July, 2001.  

Flying just came to be more and more stressful and tiring.  I stopped enjoying flights just about the time Carter de-regulated the airlines and airline fares dropped so low that airports began resembling Greyhound Bus stations and passengers began to board airplanes wearing t-shirts, cut-offs, flip flops and badly needing a shower.  While I don't advocate returning to the old days when suits and ties were proper passenger attire, I do long for the days when passengers..and flight attendants were cheerful and polite.

I will offer a couple of fond remembrances of a time when airlines still had a corporate heart and were not obsessed with the corporate bottom line.

When I first deployed to Vietnam TWA flew us there.  As we taxied up to the terminal at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, the stewardesses prepared the flight for debarkation and announced it as they opened the doors.  As we all rose to leave the plane we all noted the stewardesses all had tears in their eyes and said "we'll be back to get you in a year"... that touched our hearts greatly.

In 1976 I returned to the states from Korea to see my baby daughter.  When my home leave was up I boarded a Northwest Airlines flight to return back to Korea.  I was hot and tired as I reached my seat in coach class.  Then a Northwest Airline Stewardess came back to where I was sitting and said, "grab your bag and follow me".  She led me up to the front of the plane and put me in a First Class seat.  I had never flown First Class before but I was treated like a king on that return flight and always have a warm spot in my heart for that Northwest crew.

Sometimes the old days are better.

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