While I’ve done less blogging recently, I’ve done a lot more flying. Watching flight attendants do their ancient dance over and over, I could not stop wondering if a single airliner passenger ever had to use the seat cushion as a flotation device after a “water landing.”
As it turns out, airliner pilots performed “water landings” or “ditchings” as they are properly called, successfully several times. In fact, while not technically ditching, jets (and their passengers) go a-swimming in the East River after running off the runway at our own LaGuardia Airport all the time. Well, twice.
I was traveling on Southwest Airlines the evening of the JetBlue debacle. My flight was 5 hours late, which would have not been too bad since I had an interesting book with me, but the Southwest Airlines employees made absolutely sure that I would not send much of it reading. For a couple of hours they bounced me from a long line to a long line just to check in. Then I spent a couple of hours in other lines trying to figure out why my ticket did not have a seat assignment. Finally, after 5 hours, just as the plane was finally filled with passengers, I was told that there would not be a seat for me, and I would need to go back out past the security checkpoint to talk to customer service. As I was standing in yet another line, I finally won a reprieve, was given a seat somehow, but not before having to go back through the security checkpoint again.
Most of Southwest Airlines employees seem to be incapable of two things: apologizing and operating public announcement systems. While the first is understandable, the second kind of mystified me at first. A woman behind a check-in desk repeated the same bit of information (we have no idea when the plane will be here) to a long line of customers one by one, for the first 4 hours not a single announcement was made over the PA system.
Later another, seemingly more competent and caring employee made a few announcements over the PA. Every time she would talk into the microphone, a few customers milling about would start screaming – “it doesn’t work!” and “what are you, stupid? It doesn’t work!”, not realizing, of course, that the PA system would first record the message spoken into a microphone and then release it with a delay, as to eliminate feedback. The poor woman’s face was really miserable: she must hear “your microphone does not work” from clueless customers every day.
As we were preparing for takeoff, the pilot did not make much of an apology for the 5 hour delay. He did say something funny, though. “Uhh, folks, here’s the update. We are waiting our turn to take off, and not sure when it’ll be. But the only good news is, uhh, if it can be considered good news, we are 4 hours ahead of JetBlue.”
JetBlue might have screwed the pooch in this particular instance, with passengers stuck in planes for astronaut-diaper kind of times and what not. But given any opportunity, I’ll fly with them instead of Southwest. I just can’t stand companies whose employees offer you something other than a proper apology when they screw up and treat you like dirt that you are (or they think you are).
My hosting company, Dreamhost, has been providing really crappy service lately. I don’t make a living off of my blog, and frequent outages would not really be enough to make me leave. Besides, it’s 8 bucks a month for a ridiculous amount of bandwidth and space. But a flippant and insulting “apology” that they posted on their blog after the last outage really got on my nerves. I am so leaving Dreamhost, it’s not even funny. I’ll pay more, I’ll spend my time moving, but I won’t host my sites with Dreamhost. In fact, when I’ll finally get my ad system up and running, besides giving free ads to the only person who asked for it, I’ll run some “Dreamhost Sucks” ads as well. As soon as I’ll have a bit of free time.