Adventures in customer service (Part 2) — Delta Airlines
If you missed it, here’s Part 1
Do not pass Go, do not collect $200
If you had sat through Lakeview Terrance on a 10-hour flight, you would’ve probably been a little absentminded, too. I lost four IQ points during the movie alone. I sat in my middle row aisle seat thinking about the best way to tie my laceless shoes and why puppies are so cute. If a veterinarian had been on the plane, he would’ve put an upside down lampshade over my neck and told the flight attendant to make sure I didn’t hump the lavatory door too hard.
I do my best to get a seat close to the front on international flights. The quicker I get off the plane, the closer I am to the front of the customs and immigration lines. So, just ten rows back from the door on my flight from Santiago, Chile, I was itching to get out into the Atlanta air.
Once there, I walked from concourse E to my gate at concourse D. It takes eight minutes if you are walking fast. After making the trip, I remembered Hartsfield’s concourse D is run by grade school lunch ladies and a couple of well-trained monkeys. Remembering the fare in concourse E was good (and that the food court had free internet), I hiked back the eight minutes to wait out my three-hour layover. I had some breakfast and a bad smoothie. I wrote a little bit. I talked to the family and then walked the eight minutes back to D-34. With half an hour to kill before boarding, I reached into my bag to grab my digital book reader. I was nearing the end of my first book on the thing and I really, really liked the new technology.
I actually said the f-word out loud in front of some fairly reasonable looking people. I immediately remembered the reader was in the seat back of 22-E on the Delta 767-400 back at E-2. I stepped up to the guy at the gate and played nice-nice.
“Man,” he said. “That’s tough. Listen, usually you can’t handle that until your final destination, but since you’re still here, you can try. to go back to concourse E. Go to the main ticket counter. And hurry.”
And so I hurried. I turned eight minutes into five and made it–sweating–to the main Delta counter. Again, I played nice-nice.
“Nah, you have to wait until you get to your final destination,” said the lady behind the counter. She might as well have just been laid off, despite her position of obvious authority and expertise. “But, she said, if you go down to the gate…”
And off I ran to the very end of E. The only people going faster than me were the people late for the flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The people running onto…yes, indeed, the very same 767-400 I’d been on a couple of hours before. The book reader was still there! Right in the seat back. Twenty-two-E, I screamed.
I actually played nice-nice one more time. The Brazilian lady behind the counter smiled and told me to go have sex with myself. At first. Then, she softened and told me to just masturbate instead.
This was accomplished by sending another gate agent onto the plane while I waited for her to come out waving the book in the air like some watery tart emerging from a lake. The other lady, instead, returned a few minutes later and said, “The plane has already been swept. There is nothing we can do.”
I was told the book reader was now on its way to Lost and Found, that it would be logged in within 24 hours, and that I should call an 800 number the next morning. With that, I ran back to D-34 and got on my plane. I wished I would either die or collapse. Neither happened.
By the time I made it home, I’d been traveling for 20 hours. I slept until the following day and then called Delta. Andy Dick answered the phone. “Oh, no,” he said. “You don’t call us. You log in through Hartsfield’s website.”
I logged onto Harstfield’s website where it read, “If you left your item on the plane, contact the airline directly.”
I hate Andy Dick.
I called back the next day and got a woman who took my name, item description, and phone number and promised to pass it along to the people in Lost and Found. I got the impression she was actually twirling her chest hairs between her fingers and practicing her French kiss with a bowl of chocolate pudding.
When I hadn’t heard back by the next morning, I called again. I got another lady who obviously understood the situation and played it honest. “Listen,” she said. “They usually don’t log everything. Only way to check is to send them a note. If I send your note, they are going to look. If they don’t see your item, they will tear up the note.”
Well, at least she was honest.
We’re now going on a week from the time I was an idiot and left something behind on a plane. Since then, I’ve been told I should:
- Handle it in Greenville
- Go to the main ticket counter in concourse E in Atlanta.
- Go to gate E-2 in Atlanta
- Call the Delta Lost and Found number
- Go to the Harstfield website
- Give my name and phone number to someone who will give it to someone else who will rip it up
…all for something that was literally five minutes away from where I stood when I recognized it was gone.
I have, as you might expect, given up hope of ever seeing my stuff again. If the airlines have hard time with bags that are bar-coded and tagged, they certainly aren’t going to be able to help me find a little piece of machinery.
I only bring it up because of the contrast with the last time this happened. In 2005, I left my iPod at the Mirage in Las Vegas. I forgot about it for four days. When I called the Mirage and gave my name, somebody on the other end said, “Mr. Willis, we’ve been waiting for your call.” Two seconds later, I was talking with security. Two days later, the iPod showed up in my mailbox gratis.
Of course, comparing a Vegas hotel service to an airline service is like comparing Brad Pitt with Brad Willis. If I were any more trite, I’d be talking about those little bags of peanuts.
So, now I go back to reading books the old fashioned way: heavy and cheap. At least if I leave a copy of Christopher Moore’s “You Suck” behind on my next flight, it won’t cost a few hundred bucks to replace it.