Friday, August 13, 2010

Why I Hate ATL

AirTran's Fantasy Hub!

Then the preacher said "Son, even if you're destined for heaven, you'll still connect through Atlanta!"

Over the past 24 hours I have had to bail out a staff member who was booked to travel from Reagan Airport (DCA) back to Phoenix (PHX). He had his ticket on AirTran's flight connecting through Atlanta (ATL).

The whole thing would have been chalked up to traveling on Friday the 13th, except the same thing happened to me on AirTran last month from Washington Dulles (IAD) to PHX through ATL. 

My flight was weather delayed in Dulles for 25 minutes, so my connection in ATL to PHX was lost. 

Once in ATL AirTran told me their am flight is oversold, and they would fly me home at the end of next day.

I checked into my hotel. 

Adding up the extra's I ultimately paid to get a cheap fare on AirTran: A day lost at work, a night at the Westin, an extra breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I returned on the same flight I would have been on the night before.

Once on board the plane to PHX, the flight attendants told us all to scrunch up cause "every seat was sold". Yet, when we took off (on time) the plane was at least 20% empty. For those keeping track that spells 20% of the passengers misconnected. In other words, we had a repeat performance of what happened the night before. The staff confided in me that for much of the year it happens every night.

Fast forward to yesterday. 

My staffer calls me "AirTran is gonna be 3 hours late taking off from DCA due to bad weather in ATL. They tell me I will surely miss my flight from ATL to PHX. They will not re-book me on anyone else" (despite the dozens of PHX flights available on various carriers.....). 

He was then told (with a straight face) that the earliest flight they would assure him a seat from ATL to PHX would be three days (I am not making this up!) later. So he'd have to bear the cost for three days of hotel and food in ATL. So much for the cheap airfare!

I told him to call their bluff and demand a refund on his non-refundable fare.  

He did.

We then booked him a four star room in DC on Hotwire for $99 (he said he "felt like a rockstar") and flew him home on Frontier the next day for about $80 more. Yeah, he lost a day thanks to AirTran's Fantasy Hub in Atlanta, but got a free day to tour the Smithsonian.

What have we learned?

AirTran may be fine for cheap North / South Atlantic service. But, no matter how cheap it seems, DO NOT fly AirTran East / West if your plane connects in ATL (which it will.)

Telling a passenger that they fully intend to strand you at your own cost in ATL for three days, is the equivalent of sitting for hours on the tarmac, except you have no recourse.

I fly almost every week. I fly through some of the busiest and most weather impacted airports in America. But without fail the worst problems I encounter usually have ATL somewhere in the itinerary. 

And that is why I hate ATL.

Roadboy's Travels © 2010

1 comment:

IniquitousFish said...

It's really hard not to laugh.