Traveling is great, it’s fun, it’s hard, and it’s a pain in the ass. But mostly it’s awesome, it just depends on things you can or can’t control. I have traveled alone, with one or with many people. How it goes is all a part of the adventure. This post today is to sing the praises of an airline, and a person I will likely never see again, on the day my company took us to Sint Maarten!
Wednesday January 11th, a whole bunch of us from work got on some airplanes, to meet in Atlanta to get the rest of the way to an island together. Except we didn’t. I still don’t really know what happened, I just know the explanation of what went on. The majority of our large group flew out of Appleton’s airport, at 5:30 in the morning. We are flying along when all of a sudden the announcement comes on that we have to divert our flight, because the Atlanta airport doesn’t have a place for our plane. What? That is a pretty big airport, are you sure? So they diverted us to Louisville. We had to land, they told us. Without much explanation, we are on the ground, but in the plane, until we hear we can go again.
My cousin Lisa works at the Appleton airport, and she messages me to ask if we got out. I told her yes, but we got sent to Louisville. She said we were lucky to get out, as the other 2 flights that morning got delayed, by a ground stop ordered by the FAA. Now, that was the first kind of explanation I got, but we didn’t know why. In a post 9/11 world, you don’t take the “land the plane now” orders lightly. Thankfully, nothing bad had happened, just a computer glitch. We all said China had hacked our vacation. Never heard what really went down, but after about an hour in lovely Kentucky, we were off to Atlanta once again. The other 2 flights that had our group on board made it to Atlanta, and they were getting to the connecting flight, a smidge late but not a big deal.
We arrive in Atlanta late, and to the news that the flight to Sint Maarten had left. Without us. The majority of our group. NO!!!! Yep, it’s true. What now? We were flying Delta, and they have one flight headed there per day. We may be stuck in Atlanta until Thursday, or maybe even Friday. We have more than 50 people in our group, including Our Fearless Leader, the Boss, Shannon. He wasn’t super happy, but kept his cool, and the Delta folks said they will see what options there are. They called the supervisor person a Red Jacket, and she was an angel in the form of Carmen. I don’t know much in the world, but she was a star!
Carmen, the Delta Goddess, was not showing her hand too much. She wasn’t going to over-promise anything. She came and went several times, updating us with what she could, but never giving us any false hope, and each time she appeared, things seemed less dire, and maybe we would be on an island that day, or we may be in some hotels near the crappy Atlanta strip clubs near the airport. She wasn’t sure, but she was working for us! But the hope was, that she would find us a plane and a crew to get us out that day, late, but better late than Friday!
The last time I saw Carmen, the Shining Light of Delta Airlines, she was telling us to head to a gate in the international terminal, as we would be boarding a flight to our destination! They had got a plane, a crew, and FAA approval for a special flight to Sint Maarten! It would be a few hours, but we were going to be on our way! We cheered her, and begged her to come along with us! We wanted her in our group, on our plane and drinking fruity drinks on a beach!! She was our Hero!!!
I don’t know who or what was done to get us going, but let me tell you this: Delta came through for us. When we got to the gate, we had to wait a couple of hours. That’s no problem when you were looking at spending your tropical vacation in Atlanta for 2 days that was during a cold snap for the area. As a bonus, the Atlanta PD was doing training with their K9 officers, so we got to watch dogs for the couple hours of our wait.
Delta also got us a snack cart, with fruit snacks, chips, popcorns of different flavors, while we waited. They even got our logo printed off and on the cart. They treated us so very well, and that flight only had a couple of random people on it that were not a part of our group, so in essence, it was a private flight, sort of. We arrived about 6 hours after our original schedule, but when we got there it was a chorus of cheers and a lot of relief! Things could have not worked out, they may not have been able to get us there, but we aren’t thinking about that.
We got to our resort, checked in, and found the rest of our group and commenced having a great time for 4 days. It’s a lovely place, if you ever get the chance to go. But fly Delta there, if you do. They really went the extra mile to make sure our trip was not a bust.
I was always a person that didn’t think much about airlines, until a few years back. I know there are cheaper airlines that can get you from point A to B with no frills, and that price is big factor for many when they travel. The holidays taught us about the structure of certain airlines, and how quickly things can fall apart. The trip I was just on taught me that you may be just a passenger to a lot of companies, and maybe if I had been traveling alone, or just a couple of us in a missed flight situation, things might not have been so awesome. But somebody made a mistake by having that flight leave without more than 50 people, we only missed it by a half hour or so, and given the FAA had messed us so many flights, they could have held it. Delta did the best they could for us, and that was pretty great. They won me over for that, and in the future when I am flying somewhere, they will be top of my list to get a ticket.
If you ever find yourself in the Atlanta airport, and you see the Lovely Carmen in the Red Jacket, tell her the Roofers from Wisconsin say hi!! I know she didn’t single-handedly fix our situation, but she was the messenger, and she is an Angel of Vacation Hope, in my eyes and the minds of our traveling group of Security Luebke Roofing!!