… stands for No Way will I be flying with you again. I had a 6 PM flight from Atlanta to Detroit, connecting to O’Hare. Because of storms, there was a backlog of planes taking off from Hartsfield so we sat on the taxiway for 55 minutes after we were supposed to leave. That 55 minutes is magically the same amount of time I had as a layover, so I thought it seemed highly unlikely that I’d actually make that connection. I knew this and I was prepared for it. When we got off the plane, it was 8:58 and my flight was supposed to leave at 9:00. If planes are late all over the country, though, it seemed possible that maybe my flight would leave late enough that I could make it. I ask the gate person where the flight to Chicago is, and she says “A seven five”. I look up and I’m standing under a sign that reads “A 7/5”. This confuses me and I say “Aren’t I already at ‘A seven five?'” pointing at the sign. Rather than saying “No I mean seventy-five”, she just tells me “It’s at the other end of the concourse.” I’m a little confused, and I look at the departure screen, seeing no reference to my flight. I don’t know for sure that she’s giving me good information, she’s being completely bitchy and snarky and generally non-helpful. She also fails to mention that there is a tram that runs the length of this concourse. I take off doing the OJ sprint — really the OJ race walk — down the length of this very long concourse. It must be close to a mile. Even with the slideways, it takes me over 10 minutes to get there. When I do, there is no one around at that gate. I now can’t tell if I was given a bad gate number and this gate was never in play or if the flight left on time and everyone, including all Northwest personnel are just gone. I ask the people at an adjacent counter, and they say the flight left on time. Which means that at the point I began this trek, it was already too late. Instead of hustling my fat ass up and down this concourse for 30 minutes, I could have been up at the ticket counter trying to get on another flight.
I’m now walking around the Detroit airport, which is laid out really funkily and I can’t tell where anything is and the signage sucks. I finally get up to the counter after asking multiple airport people how to get there, and I’m 10th in line of people who have been stranded. There is one, count her, one, Northwest ticket agent redirecting people. After a while another person opens a line, and I finally get up there. My only option – a flight that leaves at 8:56 AM, 11 1/2 hours from that point. There is nothing they can do, no connection flights that they can put me on. I’m trying to get 200 miles and you’d think I was trying to get to Tuva by the reactions I got. “At this time of night, sir, there just isn’t anything.” It’s fucking 9:30 PM! Maybe I’m spoiled by flying back and forth between Hartsfield and O’Hare, the numbers one and two most busy airports, but shouldn’t there be some signs of life even as late as 9 or 10 PM on one of the biggest travel days of the year?
They won’t put me on another airline, they won’t put me up for the night, and they won’t rent a car for me to drive from here. Now, I don’t blame them for the missed flight because the planes got to fly. I missed the connection, it happens, c’est la vie. Fine. Every interaction I have had since that with a Northwest employee has been like pulling teeth. People have failed to give me the information I needed, been generally not helpful, and basically made this an ordeal. Now I’m spending the night at the Doubletree by the airport at the reduced “Northwest has screwed you” rate, but still. I don’t want to be here. I really was considering just renting a car one way and getting it over, except that I’m just too tired for that. I’m not as big a road warrior as some, and this is the first time that I’ve been stranded overnight on a flight. I can say that Northwest is the airline of last resort for me from here on out. They have sucked beginning to end and I’m not home yet – they still have more ways they can suck. They are now my second choice on flights. First choice – every other airline.