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WARMEST REGARDS: Grumbling about airlines

Published June 15. 2019 05:50AM

I was surprised this week when the main story in our local Florida paper was about a flight on Allegiant Air that was 14 hours late taking off.

The story ran in big bold type across the front page like it was “big news.”

The whole gist of the story was that the plane was delayed for several hours for a safety check then for a change of crew.

The couple quoted in the story thought the airline was negligent in that they were only given one free drink while they waited all those hours.

What surprised me wasn’t that a flight was delayed 14 hours. My surprise was that the paper thought that was big news.

Let me summarize in one sentence what most of us know: Airlines ain’t what they used to be.

My flights have been delayed or outright canceled so many times that I’m at the point where I fly somewhere the day before I have to be there.

It happened again this month as I waited leave for the airport for a flight back home to Florida.

When I checked my phone as I was ready to leave there was a message from the airline saying the flight was canceled. No reason was given.

It just said the airline would contact me when it made arrangements for a new flight.

Dummy me. I thought they meant there would be another flight later that day.

My son-in-law, who seems to be on an airplane as much as he is in a car, was savvier.

Give me your phone, he said, and I’ll book you on the first flight out of here.

The first flight out was leaving the next day. Greg told me I had to book immediately because everyone that was supposed to be on the canceled flight would be trying to get on the next day’s flight.

I’m so naive that I really believed the airline would be rescheduling me.

Seasoned traveler that he is, my son-in-law just laughed.

So, OK, I listened to him and rebooked for the next day.

Did you notice the new scam many most airlines now run? After you pay premium for a ticket, they asked you to pick your seat. They charge extra for the seat.

The first time my friend Ruth ran into this situation, she refused to pay another $49 for a seat.

“Don’t you have to give me a seat when I buy a ticket?” she asked.

“Yes, but you can’t pick your seat. You might get the middle seat in the last row,” she was warned.

She said she didn’t care what seat she was given and she wasn’t going to pay extra since they had to give her one.

Well, using that strategy, I wasn’t going to pay extra for my new flight. I didn’t care where I sat. I just wanted to get home.

Again, my son-in-law used his knowledge of airport situations to caution me.

“If you don’t have an assigned seat,” he said, “when you get to the airport you might find they overbooked and you are out of luck.”

OK, I paid the extra money for a seat, even though it was a middle seat in the back.

When I got to the airport, I found Greg was right. The flight was overbooked. An airline employee was offering a voucher for a free flight the next day to anyone willing to give up a seat.

It took a while for them to convince five people to do it. If I would not have paid extra for a seat, I might have been one of the out-of-luck flyers.

Now, I ask you. How much sense does it make to sell an airline ticket but say we have to pay extra for a seat?

Don’t know if you noticed, but the extra charge for the seat can range from $17 to the “prime location $70 seat.”

No, prime location does not mean sitting in the first class or business section.

I think it’s all a bit of fraud they get away with.

The same thing is true when it comes to the discount airlines advertising prices that are way lower than other airlines.

So, you sign up for a discount ticket costing $179 for a round-trip ticket. What you don’t know is that before you finish paying their extra charges your $179 trip will be close over $400.

The last time that happened to me we were scheduled for a Spirit flight out of Atlantic City. We paid for a ride to the airport and settled down to wait for our flight.

As I was first in line waiting to board, the announcement came over the loudspeaker that the flight was canceled.

Not delayed. Canceled.

There we were in Atlantic City with no car and no way home.

Without boring you with details, we didn’t get out of that airport for three days. There were no flights back to Florida until then.

Remember when airline employees were called stewardess and they were all pleasant, nice looking women?

Now they’re called flight attendants and if you had a dime every time one smiled you still wouldn’t have enough for a cup of coffee.

I used to love airports and flights to anywhere.

Either I’m getting old and cranky or I’m right about airlines. They ain’t what they used to be.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.

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