Friday, July 08, 2005

Here is wisdom: Have patience in Houston.

If you are going fly Continental Airlines in the southeast US in the summertime, you better have a flexible schedule and a sense of humor.

Anyone who has lived on the Gulf coast of the US knows what I'm talking about. It is the obligatory afternoon thunderstorms that come in off the Gulf... I don't care if you are in Tampa, Panama City, Pensacola, Mobile or Houston, or any other place along the coast, in the afternoon, you are going to get rained on.
And if you happen to be connecting with a flight in Houston, be prepared for a delay.
You have 2 choices- fly another airline that doesn't connect in Houston, or travel earlier in the day.

BUT, (the point of this message) if you do fly through Houston on a summer afternoon, and your flight is delayed, smile, grit your teeth, and DEAL WITH IT!!!
Don't take it out on the gate attendant... It's not their fault. And although they DO represent the airline, yelling and screaming at them or berating them is not going to make matters any better.

Case in point, Thursday PM in Houston- The stormfront was moving in, and I was on a flight from LA, connecting to Jacksonville. The pilot got us into IAH just under the wire. As we were landing, there was lightning all around us, and as we taxied to the terminal, the bottom fell out of the sky and the rain came down!! Serious rain, too... Last time it rained like that in Texas, Noah built hisself a boat.
It was no suprise to me that my 7:05 plane to Jax was listed as delayed- New time was 7:51. No big deal. I went to the bar.
I kept checking the time, and it kept betting pushed back... 8:20, 8:50, 9:30...
I finally paid out my tab and went back to the gate...
The gate attendant were the picture of calm and serenity. Yes, the plane was finally on it's way from Dallas, yes, we would definitetly be leaving tonight. No worries.
I sat in the gate area and watched people... Always one of my favorite pastimes in the airport.
The next gate over, a flight to Charlotte which was also pushed back several times, was finally cancelled. They announced that the cancellation was due to weather, and they couldn't get a flight crew in that could work the flight. The crowd rushed the desk even before the gate attendant could finish here announcement.
By and large the crowd was OK, but it was interesting to watch how things progressed... The folks in the back of the line got more and more irritated as it became obvious that any open slots on the morning flights were being filled, and that they'd probably not get back to Charlotte as early as they'd like.
And they started to get vocal about it.
I wandered over to the Jax flight to ask about it's status... Wondering if we might be delayed because of a missing flight crew.
No... they re-assured me, the flight crew was sitting right there, and as soon as they had a plane at the gate, they would turn it and we would board and depart for Jax.
During this 3 minute discussion, I was able to witness two different altercations at the Charlotte flight where customers verbally abused the gate attendants because of the situation... It was not a pretty sight. And these poor ladies took the berating with silence and stoicism... it was amazing.
(I know if someone came at me like that in a situation where I had no control over events, that individual would have the pleasure of carrying his teeth in a paper bag on the way to the emergency room.)
These ladies took the abuse, continued to be helpful in the face of a very irate customer, and then shrugged it off and offered the next person in line a nice (if exhausted) smile and an offer to be of assistance.
Now, ya'll know me, I'm never one to let injustice go unpunished, but it was all I could do to keep from going over to the idiots at the desk as they were hassling the airline employees and making a forceful suggesting that they get a grip and quit their BS. In retrospect I'm glad I didn't... The ladies had the situation in hand, and were very capable of doing their job.
So... The word from Uncle Jay... Be nice to the gate attendants and ticket agents... Weather delays are not their fault. And since they control the ticketing computers, it is in your best interest to be nice to them... Unless you really want to go from Houston to Charlotte via Omaha.

Here endeth the lesson.

TBG out-

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