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Mike’s Musings: Airline travel woes, flying is frustrating

Editor’s Note:

My friend wrote the following commentary about his experience flying to Florida. We have all been warned that flying is becoming more and more dicey. Personally, I fly back in forth monthly from Florida to Michigan, and luckily, other than price hikes and a cut back in direct flights, I have not experienced the problems so many have.

Dr. Glenn Mollette

My wife and I have flown a few times and it seems as if there is a new devil at every level. Last Spring, we hoped for a few days in Florida. We booked our flight from Indiana to change planes in Atlanta before going on to Florida. We checked our luggage and had minimum provisions in our backpacks. We arrived in Atlanta on a Saturday afternoon only to learn that our plane on to Florida was cancelled because of weather. We also heard from fellow disgruntled travelers and a TSA agent that the cancellation was really due to problems with air traffic controllers. We also heard that Delta was very short-staffed. After standing in line at a ticket counter for two hours I was told the next available flight was two nights later at 7PM. We were advised that our luggage was already on another plane to our destination.
We had no choice but to find a hotel room. Thousands of other flights were delayed or had been cancelled that day. Hotel rooms were not easy to find. We finally found one. We were forced to get a taxi and stay two nights in Atlanta with minimal provisions. Needless to say, it was an extra unplanned expense.
When we finally arrived in Florida, I knew we were good on transportation. I had paid in advance for a rental car. We got the car pretty fast. However, I wasn’t told that our upfront payment was forfeited because we didn’t pick up the car within a 24-hour time frame of the reservation date. I didn’t realize I was paying a second time until I reviewed my bank statement later. Since I had paid for the car up front, I did not think that Budget would care if we were delayed. I thought wrong. According to Budget you have to let them know within 24 hours if your plans change. I learned something new. Education is always expensive. I disputed the charge but my bank stood with Budget.
All in all, my wife and I had a good time in Ft. Myer’s Beach, Florida. Except, flying was miserable that time around. Delta Airlines made no offers to compensate us with any new or free tickets. They felt no obligation to cover any of the additional expenses we incurred in Atlanta. Budget Rent A Car made double money for an old Camry they rented me. The car was a take it or leave it. They said it was all they had available when I arrived.
Are there any answers? Sure. Stay home. Or, try to find flights that are direct if possible. This seems harder and harder. Buy a small suitcase that fits the legal carry-on dimensions. Then you will have your bag with you. If you can handle your trip without a rental car, you might be happier. Sometimes this is impossible but not always. We recently traveled to Baltimore and stuck with Taxis. We saved quite a bit because we didn’t pay for a rental car and we didn’t have to pay parking fees at the hotel.
I don’t like to fly in storms. I do want the airlines to make my safety a priority. I would rather arrive late than never. Just be aware that in the age we currently live in flying can be frustrating.

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