Friday, March 27, 2009
Totally piste off - NW Air strikes again
I've tried to convey my loathing of flying our local hub airline, Northwest, in at least a couple other posts. The Old Man, a WWII veteran of the US Army Air Corps, used to have the motto, "When the tail is red (NWAir's signature paint job), take the train instead". I've tried to do that but when they have direct flights at less cost than the other airlines, its tough to justify changing, especially for business travel. This was a business/pleasure trip to Colorado. Two days of meetings with customers and then up the hill to visit the VOR's sister, the ColoradoKid, and her family to do some telemark skiing on my K2 Totally Piste skis (pictured above).
It started out poorly. Because I had skis, I was forced to check baggage and was a bit startled when I learned that it would cost me $40 for my skis and gear bag. I also learned that when standing in slow moving lines, taking orders from low level uniformed officials, that the VOR really hates it when I makes noises like a sheep bleating. Guys, let me tell you that switching to dying calf noises is not what they have in mind as an alternative to the sheep bleats. We made it to Denver disaster free but my $40 luggage, skis in particular, did not. We landed at the start of a pretty decent blizzard and had to run down to Colorado Springs and then up to Boulder. The very best car for driving in blizzards is, of course, the rental car. There is no need to worry about jumping the frozen slush between lanes,bottoming out or sliding out on the shoulder when in a rental vehicle. We managed to reach Boulder from the Springs in 5 1/2 hours, a drive normally under 2 hours. The photo below is rush hour on Hwy 36 in downtown Boulder. The VOR was only mildy rattled from my rental car blizzard driving job and we checked into the motel, confident the desk clerk would say, "Oh, you're the guy whose skis were dropped off earlier". That was not the case however. I have to admire Northwest for their sheer genius in preventing a customer from speaking to a human being. Their contract courier, Compass was even better. I tried calling them and their toadies, Compass Delivery, a total of six times. Its pretty apparent that Compass Delivery won what must be a massive contract, delivering Northwest baggage screwups, by giving them a rock bottom price. I did finally get a humanoid at Northwest but had no luck at the delivery company. Neither did the person from Northwest. The informative NWA website had the same thing on it that my LIR form (Luggage Irregularity Recipt) had on it. The skis had arrived at 10am on Thursday and were 'out for delivery'. The skis finally arrived at our motel in Boulder 28 hours after they arrived at the airport, 24 hours after NWA said they would arrive, and two hours after checkout time. There was no skiing that day at all.
In the scheme of things this is small potatoes. I still think its miraculous that you can jump on a plane and get from Minneapolis to Denver in two hours. But there are some thing that should be jpretty much automatic. Electricity, (home) phone, cars starting, and your kayak floating are all things that occur successfully 99% of the time. If a person checks in the proper time before takeoff and has a direct flight it would seem pretty simple. I'm at roughly 65% on the times when I need to check bags. Again, not an earth shattering problem but one that tends to aggravate beyond the actual loss. I am sure however, that with the Delta merger and a much larger airline, things will improve immensely. Hahahahahah.....jeez I crack myself up sometimes.