Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Almost Ruin a Vacation

by Kate Collins

It's too bad so many vacations must be sandwiched between days that involve any kind of air travel, because traveling by plane these days can really get you off to a bad or good start and can leave a bitter taste in your  mouth at the end.

I just spent a terrific week in Key West with my two kids. Unfortunately, their trips down to the keys were fraught with problems.  At the Indianapolis airport, my son was told he had traces of explosives on his hands and spent a stressful 15 minutes in the Homeland Security office being patted down and having his things gone through with a fine toothed comb. And at the end, they apologized and sent him on his (late) way. Nice job.

I, too, was pulled aside at O'Hare so my hands could be tested. What the heck could have been on our hands to make security react that way? I hadn't even used hand lotion that morning. Just soap.

My daughter got to the airport on time when traveling to Key West and learned her AA plane was late. When she finally boarded, she sat on the tarmac for over an hour, and then was deplaned because of mechanical problems. She then sat for 2 hours until a new plane could be found. She missed her connecting flight and the one after that, and 12 hours later, arrived in Key West for a trip that should have taken 6.

On our return trip, my daughter was treated rudely by a stewardess because she had on her headphones and was listening to music and playing a game and didn't notice that the stewardess had come around peddling drinks. When my daughter noticed, the stewardess came back over and said, "You were ignoring me before," in a snippy voice. She was rude to my daughter throughout the trip.  Had I been sitting next to my daughter, I would have asked for the stewardess's name and reported her. There was no call for that behavior. It couldn't have been the first time she's ever had to wait on someone wearing headphones and not paying attention.

As many of you know, this isn't my first go-around with American Airlines. When I visited their Facebook page, I wasn't surprised to see a very long line of complaints that were logged in just today alone. Is it any wonder that people are switching to companies like Southwest? I keep hearing great things about their service and record for being on time. Maybe that's the way to go next time.

It's a good thing our in-between days were so much fun. And I even rode a jet ski for the first time (in choppy waters and have the bloody thumbs to prove it). I don't get to spend much time with my adult children anymore, so this week was priceless. What a shame that it started and ended on bad notes, though.

What airline do you use? Which ones do you avoid? Have you ever been pulled out of line for explosives?