Sometimes Less is More

Dear Northworst Airlines,

I know how important individual customer feedback is to you even though you are an enormous corporation serving thousands of people daily. I know this because you are always asking me to complete a little survey at the end of every automated phone call I make to book a flight. The fact that I have searched for over an hour trying to find an address for customer relations where I can send you a letter is no doubt due to my fatigue and not an oversight on your part.

In any case, I wanted to congratulate NWA and their Sky Team for yet another wonderful flying experience. I especially appreciate the newer, chattier pilot approach: it makes for a warmer and more personalized trip. So please have forbearance as I make one small suggestion. Once in a while there are occasions where having less information is actually a good thing.

Yesterday evening my traveling companion, Ms. TD, and I were scheduled to depart Tampa for Detroit at 7 pm. And depart on time we did! That’s got to feel good for you when you report that "this flight is 88% on time."

The thing is "Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your pilot. We have lost our steering." is either too little or too much information as the plane goes off the end of the runway onto the grass. Personally, I enjoyed the novelty of the experience, but my traveling companion has an irrational fear of flying that she’s been trying to master for a couple years and this posed a minor setback. And while I know you have no control over what the passengers are doing while you’re trying to find your steering if someone, maybe a flight attendant, could add something helpful like, "would the passenger in 10 D hold off on drinking that quart of Nyquil until we have more  information?" that could help. Because simultaneously, perhaps as a side effect to the NyQuil or perhaps because the plane was being surrounded by police and emergency vehicles, the passenger in 10D began screaming, "Let me the fuck off this plane" and this kind of thing can have a dampening effect on people like TD seated in 10E.

For my part, I want to say, I enjoyed being towed in an "airbus" back to the gate by a "tug." I thought this was fun despite the contagious effect of Ms. NyQuil that led to several other customers taking up the same chant. Ms. TD, bless her heart, merely bit me. On the shoulder. Hard. She broke the skin.

Once back at the gate it was helpful to hear again from the pilot, although he might want in the future to chose his words a bit more carefully. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the mechanics are coming onboard and tearing down the computer now so we’ll let you know shortly whether we will be able to fly this plane or have you disembark."

He was a pretty cheerful guy I thought, especially given that "the steering module has blown. Good thing we didn’t get in the air. Ha-ha. We’re trying to find another one now. Just stay with us here folks." I think Ms. NyQuil thought this was optional because she pulled her luggage from the overhead bin and dropped it on an elderly bald guy and that required some medics to come aboard. The place was getting a little crowded.

I want to commend you for the complimentary "gift travel packet" you gave everyone after announcing that there were no hotel rooms in Tampa, the restaurants were closed and our luggage could not be retrieved.Uns05 With a little more information it’s possible I would not have waited in line for an hour and a half for a 5.00 MCI card board phone card and a coupon for a free drink; I might have headed directly to the only open sports bar at Tampa Int’l, ordered a double and settled into the Pistons game. They were completely sold out of food but they had lots and lots of party drinks with umbrellas. Ms. NyQuil had already been served and was screaming, "Go, you dumb shits!"

I cannot thank you enough for getting another plane in there at 1130 pm with a "fresh" new crew to fly us home. I had gotten Ms. TD to stop banging her head against the wall in the women’s bathroom and she was somewhat calmer as the Pistons evened the score. Fortunately we were already onboard before they lost to the Miami Heat by 4.

Just two final things about communication- and again, please forgive my forthrightness as I’m just trying to be helpful. A good response to a passenger greeting the fresh new crew with, " Hi! Hopefully this one will get farther than the end of the runway" is really, when you think about it, NOT , "Well, I don’t! I was supposed to be done for the night!" This detracts from the notion of our all being just one big Sky Team.

Last, but not least, when you consider that 150 passengers left their home for the airport at around 430 PM and have been drinking heavily with no food do you really want to announce over the PA system, "Our onboard service tonight in the main cabin includes an assortment of complimentary juices and beer and wine for purchase. We also have snack boxes available for purchase at 3.00 a piece but we only have eleven of them." Some things are best left unspoken.

In closing, let me thank you again for a wonderful flying experience. I’ve decided that rather than turn in my beverage coupon for a free drink I’m going to use it for option B: 200 Frequent Flyer Miles. I’ve signed it and it is enclosed so please credit my account.

Most Sincerely Yours,

P.S. By the way, I know your planes don’t have license plate numbers, ha-ha, but on the unscheduled Airbus 320 that left Tampa at 1130 pm last night seat 10 F (that would be the exit row, window seat) has a slight problem. For reasons that weren’t clear to me the seat was two inches lower to the floor than all the other seats in that aisle. I don’t know, maybe you meant it that way so people can get over that person easily in case of an emergency, but it gives the distinct impression that one is sliding down and outward into the exit itself. This combined with the fact that I was missing the season finale of Lost and that the arm rest had been broken completely off leaving only a jagged piece of metal that was jammed into my elbow was disconcerting. I knew you would want to know.
Thanks again! VB

15 responses to “Sometimes Less is More

  1. Wow. I give TD credit that all she did was bite you. I would have been sobbing and screaming along with Nyquil lady. And I think the pilots need to be given some retraining to determine what is and is not TMI.

  2. OH my GOODNESS!

    I am so sorry you went through that, but that was WICKED FUNNY, Vick.

    I am sorry you got bitten, too. Is TD traumatized today?

    Are you really sending that letter? That’s awesome. Do let us know how they respond.

    Glad you’re back SAFE!!

  3. Try Frontier or Independent Air next time…they are fabulous with kids, very nice and none too chatty AND they have brand spankin’ new planes!!! I’m so sorry TD had such a God awful experience…I really hope you are sending that letter on. Take care of that arm…;0) Glad you’re home to tell us about it!!

  4. Try Frontier or Independent Air next time…they are fabulous with kids, very nice and none too chatty AND they have brand spankin’ new planes!!! I’m so sorry TD had such a God awful experience…I really hope you are sending that letter on. Take care of that arm…;0) Glad you’re home to tell us about it!!

  5. Okay. I’m not EVER flying again thankyouverymuch. Please send that letter. You must! It was brilliant!

  6. Right. That’s it. IF I ever fly again, I will be under the influence of some seriously prescribed medication.

    Welcome Home!

  7. Hey, everybody,you can read a funny post on Vicki Bennett’s site about a terrible airplane experience she and TD had.

    Vicki will probably enjoy it too after she has had a good night’s sleep and some decent food.

  8. Fabulously funny, Vicki! You should send it to the Pres/CEO of the airline and also to your newspaper. Probably get you a free ticket, don’t ya’ think?

  9. OMG, Vicki. Keith flies NWA almost every week back and forth to NM and had such a bad flight a few weeks ago. I don’t know if I can share your story with him or not. Very well written. You’re a fabulous writer!

  10. I am so used to airports, especially small ones. My husband can fly planes and helis so I am always dragged to them. Good story!

  11. Vicki, I stumbled onto your blog via Old Horsetail Snake ( I call him Floss 😉 )
    I am flying for the first time in July, so at least now I know one more scenerio to expect. Have no fear though. I am not afraid to board the plane even though I will have no friend’s shoulder to lean on or bite in the event of an emergency.

  12. PLEASE forward this letter on to NWA!!
    Are Ms. TD’S rabies shots up to date?

  13. You’re just sore because the Pistons lost!

  14. Go to Planet Feedback and report it. They will send it directly to the CEO and you will get something back. It works, honest.

  15. Oh, if I don’t stop laughing I will be in pain. I have to fly to Boston tomorrow on Northworst. But I will be laughing. In fact, I think I’ll print out your piece and pass it around on the plane. We’ll all be roaring.
    This line is SO funny, among many others:
    “The fact that I have searched for over an hour trying to find an address for customer relations where I can send you a letter is no doubt due to my fatigue and not an oversight on your part.”
    Please don’t stop. I would miss my dose of EggTooth wit terribly. You’re honing your knife-sharp tongue! (How’s that for an image??)

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