Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One Good Flight

Pleasurable travel experiences don't happen often, so when they do, they must be savored. Last weekend was one such experience for me.

First of all, a lot can be said for living in an apartment building that shares a lobby with a major hotel.  Since my flight was so early, I had decided to take a cab to the airport rather than deal with the Metro. My plan was to hail one in front of the hotel since that's where they're always gathered. But when I walked toward the front entrance, a guy appeared out of nowhere, scooped up my suitcase, handed me a tag and said, "Reagan, right?  What airline?"

I was confused, but I still managed to stammer out a weak, "Delta." 

"Hop on," he said as he pointed out the front door to an idling shuttle bus.  "We'll be there in five minutes."

And thus my good travel karma began.  What was originally supposed to be a $10-$15 cab ride turned into a hotel shuttle bus ride for only the cost of a tip. 

But it got better.  I had planned to take my bag as carry-on to avoid paying the baggage fee, but when I was waiting at the gate, the check-in agent announced that they were offering to check bags for free to any passenger willing to do so.  I guess they were worried about all the carry-ons fitting in the overhead compartments, or something.  So I volunteered.  They checked my bag right there and I retrieved it when I got to Florida. 

The flights themselves were nothing special.  No first class upgrades or anything.  Except I did notice that Delta has been making improvements to their seats.  They were all newly upholstered in clean blue (pleather?) leather. And I swear, maybe I was hallucinating, but it felt like there was more leg room?

The flight home was when the customer service really shined. Let me start by saying that I truly commend Delta for their professionalism and their willingness to not only do their job in a pleasurable manner, but to go above and beyond. 

You see, when I originally booked my return flight, I was given two options: 6:30a.m. or 6:30 p.m.  Since this was to be the end of a bachelorette weekend, I was not inclined to wake up before dawn if I could help it. So I booked the p.m. flight.  Except, I didn't realize check-out from the condo was at 10 a.m and thus, it would mean spending all day at the airport.  Sigh. 

Anyway, I'll spare you all the details and just cut to the chase. When I got to the airport, I requested an earlier flight, and for a mere $50 transfer fee, I was put on a the next flight at 2pm. Not only that, they allowed me to gate check my bag again and I didn't have to pay the baggage fee.  So, instead of arriving home at midnight like I was originally scheduled to, and instead of waiting in a small Florida airport for like, 8 hours, I was able to get home before 7pm (the layover in Atlanta couldn't be avoided) and make it home in time to hug my nugget, give him a bath and put him to bed.  It was a good night.

I've traveled a lot and I have dealt with some snarky and downright mean airline employees from just about every airline, including Delta.  But this experience was bar none, the best I've had.  Everyone was nice.  Everyone was accommodating.  Everyone looked me in the eye, said please and thank you and talked to me like an adult who mattered, not a child.  Color me impressed, Delta.  It's the little things that go a long way.

My next flight will be to attend the wedding in a few weeks, and it's on a different airline.  I only hope that experience will be half as good. 

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