Flying the Fiendly Skies

I like the convenience of online check-in when I fly. For my flight to Juneau, I was booked on both United and Alaska Airlines. I easily completed the process on the United site. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy on the Alaska Airlines site. I entered my record locator and proceeded to the next screen that asked for my frequent flyer number. Although I chose Continental in the drop down menu and entered my FF number, I got a message telling me that I needed to check my Alaska Air Plan number. I tried selecting and re-entering several times and then decided to take advantage of the online chat for customer assistance.

Tracy responded to my request, and she was indeed very polite. However, she couldn’t help the situation. During the entire process, I wondered where she was located. It wasn’t until she told me that she could see my reservation, but could not help me with either entering my FF number or printing my boarding pass that I became frustrated. It was already late and I really wanted to sleep before my 4 a.m. wake-up call. She suggested that I go to the check in counter at the airport. Now, my local airport is not serviced by Alaska Air, and I certainly didn’t want to have to do this. Her English usage further confirmed what I suspected. I was tempted to ask if she were in Bangalore. But before I did that I asked how Alaska Air could not access my reservation on Alaska Air.
Very helpful customer assistance. She apologized if this inability to tell me how to print a boarding pass or enter by frequent flier caused me any inconvenience. I then asked her where she was located. Her response hardly shocked me- “New Delhi, India. We are contracted by Alaska Air.”

Hmmmm. Tracy? Obviously that must be one of the most popular names in India right after Parul and Pooja. Do these call centers have a software program that assigns the staff person a random American name? How many Tracy’s do you really think there are in New Delhi? Maybe each work day, the operator takes on a new persona. Today, you are Tracy; tomorrow you are Jessica.

No flight these days goes without a bit of excitement. The last time I flew out of Albany, I remember a repeated announcement requesting the person who left their shoes, laptop and camera to return to security. Those of us waiting at the gate who heard this announcement several times turned and smiled. But seriously, if I were in charge of security, I would be looking hard for somebody who didn’t realize or care that they had left their shoes, laptop and camera at security. How could you not know that you weren’t wearing shoes?

Boarding day again was exciting. A woman walked, carrying a dog, through security and the airport. The black and white animal was bigger than a purse dog and smaller than a typical service dog. A backpack dog. I found it strange that nobody seemed to care about what I thought was unusual. Wouldn’t you know that the dog just happened to be on my flight and barked constantly all the way to DC. I wasn’t the only one annoyed by this. The people behind me commented each time the dog yapped. If this were a service dog, it was obviously for a psychopath who convinced the world that she needed this dog or she would blow up the plane. What will be next? Goats, chickens, pigs? Wasn’t there a woman who had a service pig on a plane several years ago? I hear those miniature horses are also used as service animals.

My next flight was very full and as seems to be a regular occurrence for me, I am seated near some unruly children, or should I say uncaring parents. Surely, a child can have some anxiety and be nervous, but it makes me feel better when I see a parent trying to calm down the precious being and keep him or her quiet. So often, parents encourage the annoying antics of their babies, not considering the effect crying, screaming and running around has on other passengers.

We once boarded early because I was a premium member. We took our seats and shortly thereafter, a 3-4 year old boy with Harry Potter glasses came tearing down the aisle and proceeded to jump up and down on the seat behind me and grab the back of my seat and pull my hair. (I know that’s my fault; I should get my hair cut so short that it can’t easily be pulled.) I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of this brat sitting behind me on a long flight and my displeasure must have shown. The mother was a couple of rows up, not caring about her wayward monster and told me not to worry because Harry had flown many times before. So, what does that have to do with anything? Does that mean he has terrorized hundreds of passengers? Mother proudly felt that her little darling was no threat.

The third passenger in their row finally arrived. Hyper kid jumped, screamed and bounced off the ceiling. That passenger grabbed the stewardess as she walked by and emphatically stated that he would gladly give up his seat if somebody needed one. The desperation in his voice should have been a hint to the mother that there might be a problem with this child. She remained oblivious to the effect on other nearby passengers and could have figured that this guy just wanted to get a free ticket. No. He didn’t want to go through an already hellish flight due to its length made more hellish by the hellion next to him.

Isn’t flying fun?
To be continued.

Sail Away.

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