Get Me to NOLA – Part Three: Get Me Out of NOLA

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When last we left this saga, I’d made it to New Orleans. US Airways fulfilled their carriage contract and got me to my destination safely, which is all I ever want, really.

What this little “series” is mostly about is the way US Airways/the “new American” handled not just one situation (which I would’ve totally overlooked), but several, in a row, and how that reflects on their overall operations and company culture. That is really at the root of what I’m attempting to get at in what is hopefully a snarky, self-deprecating, maybe even funny, way.

This particular entry showcases my lack of forethought on this whole topic right in the title. I expected to write a one-off post, but when I started going over 1,100 hundred words I was like, holy crap, this is serial – and left the original title.

The Tumi T-Tech saw it all

Shoutout to the Tumi T-Tech that saw it all

Anyway, the return flight from MSY-CLT was fine (how’s that for anti-climactic?). We got to the airport extra early this time, as I wasn’t sure what US Airways had really done with my return flights – I’d be reticketed and reassigned and transferred so many times, I didn’t even know what my confirmation number was any more. Plus, I didn’t want to chance it (again).

I was still a little miffed about losing a layover at DFW – I really wanted the EQPs and to visit the Centurion Lounge again – but I had to miss out on all of that.

This segment was so by-the-book that it was nearly forgettable, which, in this case, is a good thing. Because I remember all of the other segments too well, unfortunately.

In fact, when I got to CLT and to the Admirals Club (see my review here), I kinda had the feeling that it was almost too easy, purely based on my previous experiences with US Airways.

And then the delays starting rolling in.

Air traffic

Consider this also a commentary on LaGuardia. It’s my least favorite NYC-area airport to fly into or out of. Why? They can never get their act together with the air traffic. LaGuardia is king of “sitting on the tarmac” – something that peeves me deeply, especially when it’s due to gate traffic. How many flights fly into and out of LaGuardia each day? And they still can’t figure out a system that works? It perturbs one. Add any sort of weather into the mix and you have O’Hare-level delays, regularly.

My preference, when I have a choice, is always, always JFK. It’s easy to get to via subway, it’s big, and it’s easy to fly into and out of. LGA is too small to handle any amount of heavy traffic, and you have to either cab it or deal with the M60 bus, which can either be really easy or total hell, depending. And EWR… well… their facilities are so dated as to be plainly unattractive, and while the trains are easy enough, I can’t stand the fact that there are at least four trains involved from where I start from. Any delay with one rolls over onto the other and before you know it, we have a situation like what started this series.

So when I heard that there was “air traffic congestion” at LGA and that we were delayed for an hour, I got a free stiff one at the Admirals Club bar.

And then that delay was delayed.

And that delay was delayed again.

And… yep, you guessed it. Pushed back again.

It got to the point where a later scheduled flight got out before our delayed flight.

And it also got to the point where, again, I was supposed to already be at LGA and still hadn’t left CLT. I hate that ish!

Based on what I’ve experienced with US Airways so far, I can’t imagine relying on them for business purposes. Even my trip for leisure was nearly ruined by their inefficiency, rudeness, and even disdain for whether I got to where I was going – or not.

We didn’t get out of CLT until 5:46pm, more than 2 hours after the original scheduled departure.

Delays at CLT

Delays at CLT

For a flight that’s only about 2 hours, that’s not good. Now, a 2-hour delay isn’t so bad, not when some people have spent full days in airports while fighting airlines. My main issue is the complete lack of communication about it. There was a moment where I thought we’d have to rebook again, and wasn’t sure if we’d have to stay overnight in Charlotte or not. But, we did get out – no thanks to US Airways communication about it though.

OMG is it over?

I feel myself coming to a conclusion, which means I’ve expressed the full brunt of my venting session about this series of very delayed flights.

I do have perspective on it and realize it could’ve been a lot worse. But I also want to take inventory of all the little things that I didn’t like about the whole experience:

  • At check-in, I overheard the desk agent threaten to arrest a man for taking a picture of his boarding pass in front of her. He was also an angry standby passenger. I am tired of living in fear that flight attendants can play that card whenever they want to
  • My companion flew without me – our reservations were linked – his boarding pass printed out and mine didn’t. Agents were unsympathetic, rude, and useless
  • I was told “it doesn’t look good” about my standby flight and then told to take a 3-hour train ride to Philadelphia when there was an available, earlier flight out of LGA on American. US Airways people are not seeing the bigger picture yet
  • Desk agent in the Admirals Club didn’t seem to like American and American phone agents didn’t seem to like US Airways – is there a culture clash happening behind the scenes?
  • The standby flight was at the gate for over an hour, causing me to nearly misconnect. American’s Twitter handle, usually great, gave me canned answers and did not attempt to help
  • The CLT-MSY was also delayed, prompting people to walk off the plane – this was after I sprinted through the airport like I was running a damn marathon. We were told there was smoke and fuel coming out of the engine – mechanical delay
  • On return, was delayed several times with no communication. Thank god for TripIt Pro
  • Original cancellation of LGA-DFW leg made me miss out on EQPs
  • Personal issue but… I wanted to visit the Centurion Lounge @ DFW
  • For first segment in standby, I was downgraded from First Class, which I paid for, to a middle seat in economy – I have requested a refund for that segment over a week ago, still no reply from American
  • I have asked for Original Routing Credit to get the EQPs from my original booking. They fight me every time I call. I’m sick of dealing with them – emailing is usless

Bottom line

Like any good presidential race, it’s never about who’s the best candidate, but about the lesser of all the evils (sorry, I’ve been binging on “House of Cards” too much lately).

In running with that lame metaphor, I can’t stand Delta for their arrogance and won’t touch United with a fifty-foot pole. American seems like the less evil of the 3 remaining legacy carriers – and I do worry about them, their culture, and their upcoming changes.

Experiencing these truly bad operations on a leisure trip gave me a new respect for Delta’s operations. They run a clean, tight ship. And say what you will about SkyMiles (ahem: it’s a piece of crap), but for a business traveler that just needs to get in and out, it does the job.

So that, dear readers, will conclude this series. If I keep going, I’ll need a Part Four, and who wants a Part Four?! Thanks for following along and hearing my vent session.

Also, if you need a chuckle.

Now, has anyone else experienced terrible opps on US Airways recently? Am I being way overdramatic here? And is US Airways changing American – or vice versa? 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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