We're on vacation, or at least we're supposed to be.
Everything started out wonderfully. Our son graduated from preschool on Friday morning. We then hopped into the car, drove to the long term parking and got to the airport without any problems. Living in Washington, DC you just expect to have long security line delays - but not on Friday. Wow - what a dream.
Our first stop was my husband's home town in Michigan for a family reunion of sorts. His parents celebrated a significant anniversary and his father retired from 30 years as a professor. Our son got to play with cousins he doesn't get to see often and we partied into the night with family and friends on Saturday. Sunday saw us at the pool with family again.
Then things got hairy.
Our flights from Michigan to our next stop, Disney World, started in my husband's hometown. It's a small airport with only 8-10 gates. Our flight was the only flight schedule to depart at that time and was listed as on time - all systems go. In fact, it was listed as on time up until it left - an hour after it was supposed to leave.
Which meant we missed our flight to Orlando. But let me back up.
You see, I had a feeling we were going to be in trouble. I've been there before - on a flight from London to Cairo which then would connect us to Ethiopia. We knew we missed our connection when the flight was still sitting on the runway 2 hours after it was supposed to take off. In that case, British Air was incredibly helpful. They got us into a hotel right at the airport; fed us dinner and breakfast; provided us with our luggage; upgraded our seats and got us into the first class lounge whenever possible. They also walked us through the airports in London and Dubai to ensure we got where we needed to go without difficulty. Oh - and they got us in touch with my sister in Ethiopia, which took several phone calls, so she would know when to meet us.
Delta - not so much.
The gate agent at our first airport said that she could put us on a back up flight to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to Orlando so we would arrive tonight. We said yes to that. We would have been 2 hours later, but we would have been at Disney tonight. Yet, when we arrived in Detroit tonight, just as the flight to Orland was taking off, the Delta gate agent said "Nope. Can't help you. It's not on your profile. You're flying out tomorrow. Here is $6.00 for dinner for each of you and a hotel voucher for a hotel about 30-40 minutes away. Deal with it."
OK - he didn't actually say that, but that was his attitude. No apologies even though the delay was completely Delta's fault. Their computer system went down for 2 hours - no flights in or out of Detroit during that time. Whoops. Still, their attitude - "Oh well." And when I asked the person at the Delta desk for help her response was also "Oh well." I also asked if we could have our seats moved up - maybe even get some consideration as the issued causing our missed connection was entirely their fault. Delta's response - "Those seats, even though they are still economy, are ones you have to pay for. If you are willing to pay for them I can move you up. Otherwise tough luck. Next."
Yep - this is customer service on airlines in the US today. Wow.
Now, here is why I love the Mouse.
I called Disney as my family was waiting for the shuttle to drive us to the divish hotel we are being put up in. (Keep in mind, there is a hotel inside the secure area of the airport yet Delta sends their "interrupted travelers" to a hotel more than 20 minutes away.) My goal in calling - to let them know we were not arriving tonight and that we needed to change our Disney Magical Express reservation to tomorrow. That was it. Here is what we got:
2) Instant assistance from human beings
3) Two options for our reservation. We could keep the current reservation or we could change it for arrival tomorrow and get a refund of $650.
4) Change for our Disney Magical Express reservation
5) The number to the travel insurance company so we can have any incidentals not covered by Delta covered
6) More concern
7) Notation in our record of what happened so they can help with reducing any stress once we get there.
8) All of this happened in 43 minutes.
Remember - none of this is Disney's fault.
Wow. Amazing. I LOVE the Mouse.
Because it is Midnight and I am still on the phone trying to figure out if Delta will even have our luggage, which we weren't allowed to get tonight, in Orlando tomorrow. We were supposed to be there 2 hours ago. And that is after being cut off of the first phone call to figure that out.
What a difference a bit of customer service makes. Talking to Disney all my stress about this mess went away. Dealing with Delta it has all come roaring back.
The one consolation - I know that by 11 AM tomorrow my family will be in the wonderful arms of the Mouse and our stress in getting there will magically disappear. That's when our well earned vacation will actually disappear.
For that I am grateful.
As for Delta - not flying that quagmire of an airline again unless I have to. Nine hours in a car is better than dealing with them.