We planned to stay an extra few days in Hawai'i after the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival ended. After all, I didn't want to arrive on a Thursday evening just to come back the following Tuesday. Not when I was traveling a quarter-turn away from the old home sod. We needed a place to stay, and since the Mrs. was the expert on the island, she found us a Bed & Breakfast at which to stay. I honestly didn't think that our accommodations in those final days would be noteworthy, but here I am.
This originally took form in my head on the flight from Kona to Los Angeles as an open letter telling Delta where to stick it. I must still address the awfulness of that leg of the journey, but now it will stand in some contrast to the remainder of our trip home from paradise (I will live in Hawai'i one day, God willing). Honestly, we were running a little behind getting to the airport, and when we arrived on line at the Delta check in counter we were faced with an admittedly short line, but one of the check in terminals was broken, with tape covering it in places to prevent anyone from trying to use it. Not a stellar impression. We made the flight, which was our first mistake. Sure, flying in coach (sorry "economy") is never what one would describe as fun, but it's normally tolerable. Except this time the AC on the plane was wonky, uncomfortably so. And the dude in front of me had a seat back that never made its way to the fully upright position. At least I had an aisle seat. Finally insult, the attendant was borderline rude and dismissive as multiple people complained about the stuffiness and warmth of the cabin. It sucks to fly coach. We got to LAX a little ahead of schedule, but it felt like forever before we got onto the ground and out of that sauna-flight. Upon arrival at our connecting flight's gate (leg 2 of 3 for the flight home), a short jaunt to the end of the terminal, we soon determined the flight was overbooked, and if anyone of us travelers were flexible in our plans, might we make some alternate arrangements? The Mrs. and I stepped up, to see what was in the offing; we needed to end up in Dulles at some point. The agent offered us a Dulles arrival time of 1140pm EDT. It was around 8am PDT. There was no way I was getting home that late (originally we should have been back in Htown around dinner time); we walked away, and time passed. We discussed it a little further, and as we were talking it over, events coalesced in our favor: they were very over sold on the flight, and to make matters worse needed to board the plane on the double-quick as an international flight from Sydney was on its way in, and the shared jet way was going to be locked down for quarantine purposes. The gate crew were worried. When we realized that the Mrs.' name wasn't appearing on the voucher list for obtaining a boarding pass while I had my pass, it was time to act. There was no way we were splitting up for the trip home. We returned to the counter. "We're flexible, what can you do for us?" we asked another gate agent. She offered us travel vouchers, first class on the LA to Atlanta flight, and some meal vouchers. We'd get free food, we'd get home around 930-10pm, we'd travel in luxury for a good long leg, and we would get some heavily discounted future air travel. We took it. The flight from LA to Atlanta was the opposite of the first leg. It was comfortable, damned comfortable. The attendant referred to me as Mr. Murray, and I could have had free booze (sorry guys, I stuck to my water), and we sat in the very front-center of the seats. Awesome. Totally Awesome. It was everything I'd hoped it would be. Hot towels, even. We even got to stay on longer because they put us into a holding pattern outside Atlanta. sure, I'll hang out in First class a little longer. Then we got to Atlanta, and God reached down to keep us humble. Our final flight home was repeatedly delayed (it did give us time to eat some delicious Sbarro at one of the food courts) first because of the weather, and apparently later because someone died on the plane that was coming in to take us to Dulles. Damn. The final leg was mercifully short (it finally took off at 1040pm), and we landed in VA somewhere after midnight. Our bags were waiting for us outside the baggage office (great security, guys), and we parted ways with Delta Airlines. All told, I want to say that the later actions of the airline make up for the foul attitude and crap conditions of our first leg, but really, our windfall was largely due to serendipity, timing, and my acquiescing to my wife's insistence. So Delta, if someone is out there reading blogs, we're grateful for the upgrades and vouchers, but maybe you might want to stop over-selling flights, and remind your flight attendants that those of us in coach are people, too. We don't need hot towels or free booze, but as in many things in life a smile and a kind word go a long way. Thanks for getting us home safe.