I wrote about United’s terrible customer service here, so to be fair, here’s a story about Northwest, which will soon disappear as it is absorbed by Delta.
Yesterday and today, I had one of those “I’ll never fly this damned airline again” experiences on Northwest.
Because Northwest was late out of one airport, by its own fault (mechanical problems), and even later into the gate at the next airport, again by its own fault, at least a dozen of us missed our connecting flight when it would not wait even five minutes for us to arrive. Instead, they stranded us overnight in Detroit.
Here’s what happened.
My Northwest flight out of Richmond, VA, was delayed by 40 minutes due to “equipment problems,” not weather or some other act of God. According to the schedule, there was still plenty of time to make my connection in Detroit.
The pilot made up some time in the air. We arrived at Detroit with plenty of time to make our connections.
But there was another equipment problem, this time with the plane occupying our scheduled gate. We were left waiting on the tarmac for half an hour.
The flight attendant radioed the tower and told them of our situation. “The tower has made your connection flights aware that you’re being held on the runway,” she told us. “The tower said not to promise anything, but your connecting planes know you’re on your way.”
The pilot eventually found an empty gate at the far side of the airport. We taxied there, but instead of getting off the plane, we had to wait for another 15 minutes while Northwest could provide a sky bridge from the plane to the jetway.
When I got off the plane, our connection was scheduled to leave in about 10 minutes. But they knew we were coming, didn’t they? Surely they would hold the flight for a couple of minutes for a dozen ticket holders who were late only because of Northwest’s equipment. Or at least, the connecting flights would run a few minutes late as usual, right?
We ran, in our coats and with our bags. We sweated. We we felt the burn. But we got there, amazingly, just two minutes after the flight was scheduled to depart.
But the bastards didn’t wait.
They couldn’t even wait a couple of minutes for a dozen hard-luck passengers. There was the plane, at the end of the jetway, but the doors were locked.
Do you ever get so angry you’re not sure you can act responsibly? That’s how it felt. Northwest didn’t even have a mechanism to hold a flight for a few minutes at the most while passengers from a delayed flight could make their connection. Instead, they stranded us for a night in Detroit.
At this point, I’m not sure whether I’m happier that Northwest will disappear from the skies altogether, or if I’d prefer they’d stay around so I could do everything I can think of to help them ruin whatever is left of their reputation.