Hello American Airlines … It’s Me, Deborah … Are You Listening?
Notes and tips from the flight from hell
-Deborah Perry Piscione
I admit … I had unrealistic romantic visions of traveling alone with my infant daughter, Dayne, for the first time to my mom’s house in Florida. (I also fantasize – in about 14 years – of kissing all the boys in the family “goodbye” as Dayne and I whisk away to Paris for a long weekend of shopping, museum hopping, and opera. Awe!).
Ok … back to reality!
So, here I am – at San Francisco International Airport – about to fly what used to be my favorite airline, American Airlines. What happened to American Airlines? What are they thinking? Where and when did they go awry? Here’s a recap of my first romantic plane ride with my almost-5-month-old daughter (with self-imposed tips for American Airlines):
Nightmare #1 – What is up for charging people $15 for their luggage? I knew about it, but never imagined the chaos it creates in the airport and the extra carry-on luggage in the plane. Tip: just charge people the $15 in the price of the ticket … they’ll never know, and you’ll save people an enormous headache checking-in and while loading the airplane.
Nightmare #2 – Plane is completely full … not one empty seat. My seat? Back of the plane, window seat. Tip: Take out a few rows and create more leg room for people … DUH!
Nightmare #3 – Plane about to depart, and I am told that there is not enough bottled water on the plane to give me a bottle of water for my daughter’s formula. What the F***? I plead, practically cry and ask if they’ll hold the plane so I can buy water. Passenger in first class is sympathetic and gives me his unopened bottled water. Tip: Reserve “Bottled Water” for those who really need it.
Nightmare #4 – Flight attendant gets upset with me when I can’t calm Baby Dayne down shortly after take off. Passenger is sympathetic and offers me her aisle seat … I take it. Tip: Hire happy flight attendants. Pay them a decent wage, treat them well and you will create a team of people who actually cares about your passengers.
Nightmare #5 – Baby Dayne poops just as we’re about to descend and is hysterical. Fasten seatbelt signs are on; flight attendant advises me not to get up, but I have to (you deal with a screaming, squirming baby for five and a half hours). Tip: Offer me more places to change my baby, so I don’t have to run up to the restroom in first class – as we descend.
Nightmare #6 – Woman on plane has seizure and is on the ground in the aisle, with no way for me to get back to my seat for landing – WITH THE BABY! People in first class are sympathetic and play musical chairs so I can sit down with the baby as we prepare to land. Tip: Leave a seat or two open (or the jump seats) in case of emergencies.
I won’t go on and on about how long it took to get my luggage in Miami International Airport or how bloody hot it was in Miami when I arrived. So, for now, I just offer a solution.
Solution #1 – Just paid almost $300 for Baby Dayne to have her own seat on the way back.
Tip: This one is for me … don’t travel with kids for at least 10 more years.
Stay tuned for the return trip to SFO in about 5 days!
Tell us: do you have any tips for the airline industry?