SCENES FROM A DELTA AIRLINES FLIGHT

Posted in Rants on April 22nd, 2010 by Ed

I'm at a conference for the rest of the week, and loyal readers know what that means: angry airport posts a-comin'. Fortunately I don't have to try very hard to find reasons to loathe the experience these days. The following two anecdotes are true in every detail regarding a Delta flight departing Atlanta for Chicago-O'Hare at "5:15."


ACT I

4:45 – Ed boards the 717 and stops at the end of the jetway when he notices a 10" strip of foil tape, or possibly duct tape, where the cabin door meets the exterior skin of the airplane. Actual quote to flight attendant: "There's fucking duct tape on the plane." I try not to think about what the areas passengers can't see look like.

5:31 – "Hey folks, this is your captain speaking, looks like we've finally got everyone on board and we'll be pushing back from the gate in a few minutes."

5:37 – "Folks, we're going to be in the gate for just a few more minutes. This plane has just come out of maintenance and it looks like they forgot to refill us with water for the lavatories. Wouldn't want to fly without that, ha ha!"

5:45 – "Folks, uh, it appears that our wingtip lights aren't functioning properly. We're not expecting any inclement weather, but we need those lights in case of any potential low-visibility situation, so, uh, hold tight for just a few more minutes…"

5:51 – taxi from gate. This short elapsed time period leads me to believe that nothing needed to be "fixed" with the lights but in fact the crew didn't know how to turn them on.

5:58 – "Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff."

5:59 – Ear-splitting metal-on-metal sound; "Uh, we're gonna have to go back to the gate, folks. We're, uh, having some problems with one of the engines."

6:45 – "Well folks, we should be on our way in just a second. Turns out that when the folks in maintenance serviced that engine, they drained the oil and forgot to replace it. Ha ha!"

It is difficult to explain the extent to which I wanted to get off the plane at this point. Even if this was the truth – the horrifyingly incompetent truth – why would the captain admit it? How about "We've checked out that engine as a precaution and it looks like everything's fine!" He wins points for honesty but sometimes we must be economical with the truth.


ACT II

6:45 – "Well folks, we should be on our way in just a second. Turns out that when the folks in maintenance serviced that engine, they drained the oil and forgot to replace it. Ha ha!"

Passenger seated next to Ed: "FUCKIN' UNION MECHANICS. PROBABLY IN A HURRY TO GO ON ONE OF THEIR DOZEN BREAKS EVERY DAY."

Ed: "The reason they do maintenance in Georgia is because it isn't unionized. They used to do it in St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. They moved it to Birmingham and Atlanta so they could pay untrained people $12/hr to do the same work. I mean, the planes have five times as much downtime now and they don't do the work correctly, but it's cheap."

Passenger seated next to Ed: "FUCKING UNIONS."

Ed, after a considerable pause: "Heading to a big Tea Party convention in Chicago?"

Passenger seated next to Ed: "WHAT? NO."

Ed: "So, something else in Chicago for people who are impervious to facts?"

On the plus side, he didn't try to talk to me after that and I read my Baffler in peace.