June 4, 2013
To Whom It May Concern,
In 2005 I was flying first class on Delta from South Carolina to Atlanta. The stewardess refused to help me with my carry-on bag. It was heavy for me to lift over my head and I was flying FIRST CLASS. There have been times when my baggage didn’t show up where I did. I’ve never complained.
However, having suffered through an eight hour plus flight from Heathrow to Atlanta and two hours dashing around the airport in Atlanta, I think now is the time to make a point. I am 66 years old and not in the best of health. On May 24th I also had a bladder infection.
Which is probably why I was so upset. The afternoon started badly. We’d been up early when the ship docked at Southampton. The day before a Muslim pair had hacked a soldier in uniform to death. Just before we went through security a plane landed from Pakistan – unexpected and unexplained. We didn’t know about the plane but people who often flew from Heathrow said they’d never seen such tight security before. We were afraid we would miss our flight. We know Delta was not responsible for this.
When we settled into our seats we were so glad to be on the way home after 16 days in England. But the stewardess could not fit my carry-on into the overhead. This is the same bag the stewardess had refused to help me with in 2005. It fit then – with help from a passenger. I have flown back and forth from Sacramento to South Carolina with this carry-on bag. I have flown back and forth to Japan with this bag. I have flown from Sacramento to Virginia with this bag. I have flown from Sacramento to Washington and Los Angeles with this bag. Perhaps more importantly I’d flown Delta from Sacramento to Atlanta to Heathrow with this carry-on bag.
I want to remind you that Delta makes a point of saying that people should put their medications, important documents, expensive jewelry and other items, articles like toothbrushes and other necessaries in one’s carry-on bag in case one was stuck at the airport or on the plane. I also had my earplugs and eye mask in the bag. My reading material was in the bag for the flight from Atlanta to Sacramento.
The stewardess said that my bag would have to go with the rest of the baggage in below. She didn’t ask what was in it or give me a choice. She gave me a slip of paper and took the bag. She said that I should get it somewhere near our landing gate and then go to get my other bags before I went to security. (Just a reminder, the bladder infection pills I was supposed to take were in the carry-on. I was to take a pill every four hours – twice on the plane. Oh, and my Vicadin for my hip replacement was also in the bag.)
Just before we arrived another stewardess gave directions in getting our carry-on bags – which would be with our other luggage. This was new. So, in order to do the right thing, my husband and I started asking Delta agents for directions to get my bag – which I needed for the four hours to Sacramento. Some said it would be with the other luggage. Some said it would be at Terminal F, which was an international terminal, and those folks said that I would have to get it before I picked up my other bags so I only had to go through security once. This sounded like catch 22.
The problem was solved. Without thinking, my husband and I went to baggage claim in Terminal E where we’d landed. This time Homeland Security made the decision. Without paying attention to the escalators, we took a down escalator to baggage claim where there was no up escalator. And the security woman was adamant that if I tried to get out of the area without going through security, I could be in serious trouble. I talked to other Delta people as I went through security when one was available. (Oh, my husband was asking other Delta employees at the same time.) Finally the majority opinion was that I had to go through security, then I had to check my second bag, then I had to go to Terminal F to get my carry-on. I do know that the Homeland Security is not Delta’s fault, but it seems that SOME ONE of the Delta agents should have had a clue where my bag was.
So, with me craving cranberry juice and water, my husband and I split up. We were not sure I could get to Terminal F and then to A2 on time, as our two hours was dwindling. But I needed my medication. So, I went down to take the train from Terminal E to F. I got off at F and went to baggage claim, but I couldn’t get into baggage claim because I was in Atlanta, not coming into Atlanta. I asked a cop what to do. He tried routing me through the terminal several ways, and then pointed out that I couldn’t get through the Terminal F to Terminal A. Instead I’d have to go outside and get on a shuttle and ride to Terminal A. Then I would have to go through security before I could go to A2. Before I went to the shuttle I talked with a Delta agent who USED A COMPUTER and told me my bag was on the way to Sacramento. The van ride was fifteen minutes. When I got out of the van it was time for my plane to be boarding – no water, no cranberry juice, no medication. And, I was at the North Terminal (I think.) Nowhere did it say anything about Terminal A. I was about to sit down and cry when a Delta worker pointed out that I still had time to make the plane. She directed me into the terminal, through security, onto the train and into the new terminal. From there I could follow the signs. I arrived at the gate one minute before they were going to lock the door. My husband, who is 70 and doesn’t walk well, had told the stewardess that, if I didn’t show up because I was searching for the bag, he would have to get off the plane. He was taking his carry-on bag down from the overhead when I walked down the aisle.
That seems like it should be the complete story, but alas, it isn’t. We got into Sacramento and went to baggage claim. No carry-on, though our other baggage was there. So we went to the baggage claim people who USED A COMPUTER to tell us the bag had never left Atlanta. She assured us that the bag would be in Sacramento by 10:30 the next morning. It would be at our home by 2:30. It wasn’t. At least I had water and cranberry juice, but no medication. At 4:00 my husband called Delta baggage. The baggage was on the way. About 40 minutes later the driver called for directions to our home. And at 6:30 the bag arrived.
From the beginning to the end no one seemed to have a clue where the carry-on was. I suggest the directions for carry-ons include a comment that people should not put medications, important documents, expensive jewelry and other items, articles like toothbrushes and other necessaries that would be used if one were stuck at the airport or on the plane in a carry-on. It would be better to carry these things another way: in a bag attached to one’s neck, in a backpack that should go under the seat rather than in the overhead, in a purse. I’m not sure where. We followed the directions – conflicting and otherwise – and nothing worked. Or, perhaps, the people who work for Delta should know the policy for what to do with a carry-on bag.