Awful experience Thursday night. Our evening flight was inexplicably delayed, then delayed again and again. No information, of course. We finally boarded for what was now a 7:40 flight and sat on the runway for hours. And by"we" I mean the 11 passengers and small crew. After a long time with no information the captain announced that there was a minor mechanical problem, but not to worry -- it was a quick fix. He actually said it would be 5 minutes. A half hour went by. THen he announced he'd be essentially rebooting the entire plane, and that was sure to work. It didn't. This went on and on, with t-shirt-clad maintenance guys coming up the stairs and into the cockpit, shaking their heads and doing whatever they did but with absolutely zero result. By now hours had gone by. Finally finally finally they said that this plane was going out of service but good news! They had another aircraft, and a bus would take us there. And we waited. No bus. The next bit of news was that we were to disembark and agents would redirect us. No agents had any idea what we were talking about. We wandered the airport, ran into another lost soul and the three of us asked various gate agents, customer service reps, anyone (I was about to ask a maintenance guy) where our plane was. We were all told that that flight left in its original aircraft. We continued to walk through the airport (no mean feat for me), listened but heard no announcements and finally found the group from our original flight. There was a plane at last, and we boarded, but were shocked at the lack of info, the complete absence of customer service and the feeling that no one really gave a rat's ass about this flight (excepting the very nice flight attendant named Jeff.)
At that point I took 2 atavan and dozed through the flight. We arrived in Charlottetown at nearly 2 a.m.
Swirling through my mind were several things: the recent Frontline I watched about the problems of regional airlines (this was Comair, Delta's regional carrier) and some of the issues raised in Dan Ariely's new book "The Upside of Irrationality" in which he talked about some of the customer service nightmares he's had, and what they say about human behavior and expectations.