I know — the eve of one of America’s most loved holidays and I’m trashing an airline. Well, give me a reason, and I’ll take it. I’ll make it short. I’ll make it simple. NWA is still a wreck of an airline, merger or no, Delta or no, Minneapolis monopoly or no. Still a wreck.
Chris’ mom, Donna, is in town for the week… without her clothes, without her meds, without her toiletries, without her make-up, without much to give thanks for. Okay, that was dramatic, but still worth some discussion. She came her to spend time with her son — and, yes, me — NOT to spend her first evening braving holiday crowds at Macy’s trying to purchase everything from blouses to bras (sorry, Donna, but that alliteration was just too perfect to pass up) and pajamas to perfumes “just in case” they don’t find her bag. She didn’t want to spend a good hour or so trying to mentally tally up everything in her suitcase for claims purposes. She didn’t want to spend stretches of hours on hold, waiting for a human to confirm just what she already knew: THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHERE HER BAG IS. But that is how she spent her first night with us.
Bags will be lost. It happens. It’s obnoxious. It’s frustrating. It’s a reality with an air travel market that over-sells and under-delivers on every front. So, if we — and I’m speaking of the airlines now, the “royal we” — all know that bags will be lost, then let’s consider what we have in place to handle those distressed inquiries — in this case, from a septuagenarian who travels infrequently (sorry again, Donna, but how often do I actually get to use septuagenarian in a sentence?) and handle them well… 800 number with extended menu prompts? Check. Necessity to repeat the same information to three different computerized voices? Check. Constant pass-along to someone as disinterested in solving your problem as the next? Check. And the list goes on…
It’s been 30 hours now, and no one knows where the bag is. The most recent attempt to solve the lost bag issue came from the very unhelpful request to call back with a full list of contents so that the “bag searchers” (Is that a job description? If so, what are they doing so wrong that they actually hire “bag searchers”?) can rifle through all the bags at Minneapolis airport (where it was last “seen alive”) and hope to match our description with the actual items in the “unmarked gray, soft-sided bag” — making the assumption that every identifiable tag has been ripped from her bag in the first place. Now THAT is technology. “Bag searchers.”
While Donna and Chris both played their “helpless grandma” and “concerned son” roles well yesterday (Donna broke my heart, she was so good) over the phone, today I got to play the “irritated son-in-law handling this while they are out buying all new clothing and supplies due to your airline’s incompetence” role. It got me pretty much nowhere, but it did provide me with December’s quote of the month: “I’m sorry, sir, there are no supervisors on duty. We all work independently.” Really? So the busiest travel day of the season, Delta Airlines, one of the largest global air carriers, has no supervisors on staff to address customer service issues? “That’s correct, sir. We all work independently, with no supervision.” Wow. You certainly do. I don’t think I even need a summary line. Thank you, NorthWest and Delta Airlines. Enough said.