So, the kids and I just got back from Virginia. It’s 1:15 in the morning here, but I’m so worked up I really can’t get to sleep yet. It’s been one of those hellish travel days where I feel like I asked someone to beat me up and then paid them lots of money for their effort.
I’m already freaked out about flying, and it has nothing to do with plane crashes anymore. Lately, the airlines haven’t exactly proven to have stellar performances when it comes to people’s civil liberties. Holding people on planes for 9+ hours. Kicking people off for having loud children. Coughing to much. Not wearing the ‘proper clothing’. Really?! Shackling a sick, mentally unstable woman to a bench and leaving her. REALLY?!?
Today, as I endured DELTA (yes, you, Delta) trampling all over the Americans with Disablities Act countless times in the case of my Dad, and shooting holes through any kind of customer service, decency, respect, and assistance that a mom traveling alone with her 3 kids needs (and expects a certain amount of for a service I am paying for), I wondered what other service based BUSINESS could function so poorly and still stay in business. As I sat at the baggage carousel for and hour with 3 other flights with bags that had not yet come in yet, I came up with two other examples with such customer dissatisfaction and poor customer service: the US Post Office, and the US Public Education.
Something clicked tonight, ladies and gentleman. It’s this, plain and simple. I am the paying customer. In a contract between the airline and myself, I should be able to expect a certain degree of professionalism and honesty from the carrier I pay money to. As I looked around the very full and very crowded baggage area, I saw a lot of disgruntled passengers. People who were probably overbooked and/or switched to another flight. People who had been delayed for an undeterminate amount of time. People who just wanted their bags in a reasonable time after departing the plane. People who were told (in so many words) to sit down and shut up for the duration of the flight or they would be classified a ‘security concern’. People who, collectively, had paid a lot of money for their current mistreatment.
Were I more of a revolutionary, I would have pulled out some quotes that I learned from my trip to Virginia and shouted them from the baggage carousel. “Friends, countrymen, fellow passengers, lend me your ears! How many of you have been long afflicted with this curse of badly managed and poorly handled mistreatment from your airline oppresors?! This cannot stand! GIVE ME BETTER FLIGHTS OR GIVE ME DEATH!” However, I didn’t want to end up shackled to a bench. Scare tactics and corporal punishment ever were the effective means of preventing change.
I am no longer scared to fly. I am angry.