Sunday, March 18, 2007

Finally Home

Was supposed to get in Friday afternoon; instead I got home Sunday morning. Not that bad, as some people in Albany were being told that they weren't getting out of there until Tuesday.

Crazy lines at Special Services in Charlotte. For a while the US Airways computer system was down. There were free toiletries offerred on tables in the restrooms. At one point in Concourse E there was a guy manning a table offering complementary soft drinks. There were cots at various places around the airport.

Lots of angry people. Stereotypical rich kid (reminds me of some of the students in our business calculus class who complain loudly about unfair it is that they lose points for algebra mistakes) was making a very, very loud fuss. When the airline employee asked him to calm down, he started yelling about how he had a first ammendment right to freedom of speech (most misunderstood "right" ever). Kid continued to cuss out the airline, the TSA, and everyone else. Eventually security was summoned. I was secretly hoping that the gate agent flagged his record and that he won't get home until Thursday.

Interesting boarding protocol at the gate in Charlotte. First they boarded the ticketed passengers. Then they boarded the standby passengers. Then they counted how many seats were left and allowed anyone with a ticket to anywhere at any time to board the plane until it was full.

Part of the problem was that they couldn't get planes and crews to the right places at the right times. A 737 flew into Albany on Saturday morning. It was supposed to fly a round trip to Orlando on Saturday afternoon, but the Orlando flights were cancelled because there wasn't a crew to fly the plane out of ALB. That plane could have moved over 120 people, but it just sat at the gate until Sunday morning when it flew to Washington National. On my flight home from Charlotte, one of the passengers was a flight attendant who had been flown to Charlotte earlier that day; she never ended up as part of a crew, and there were no hotel rooms within 50 miles of Charlotte, so they sent her back home.

You may have heard on the news that JetBlue cancelled about 400 flights; US Airways cancelled well over 1000 flights. Considering what things were like in Charlotte, which didn't get snow and had fairly normal levels of operation, I wonder what things were like in Philadelphia. All flights in and out of Philly were cancelled on Friday after 10am and by Saturday the airport was at about 20% capacity (in terms of numbers of flights). I'm guessing that the problems in Philadelphia must have hit US Airways particularly hard, as none of the other airlines seemed to be having much trouble rerouting passengers and getting them out of the airport and to places that they wanted to go. (Doesn't help that US Airways switched over to an all-new computer system about a week ago.) Looking at the airlines' web pages and the actual flight data from, it was obvious that the airline that recovered with the most grace and speed was Southwest. Too bad they don't fly here.