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 The Brancatelli File

joe THE SUMMER
OF OUR DISCONTENT


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

August 10, 2000 -- This, to paraphrase that Shakespeare guy, is the summer of our discontent. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, it has. Planes are later and more crowded then ever. Hotel and car-rental prices are skyrocketing. Etc. Etc. Etc.

You obviously know all these dogs of war because you've been peppering me with a record number of complaints this summer. And, as I've always said, your E-mail messages are much more eloquent about the state of life on the road than I could ever be.

So let's go once more into the breach: Here are some of your absolutely delicious commentaries on the indignities of being a frequent business traveler at the dawn of the 21st century.

MY KINGDOM FOR A PASSENGER BRIDGE
"The plane pulls up to the gate and there is no gate agent available to bring the passenger bridge into position. I feel like organizing a group scream: 'Hello! Anybody notice this big plane out here?' There is no acceptable excuse for this breakdown in service. Providing the passenger bridge to an arriving jet is an absolute fundamental, like turning on the lights in the terminal."

OH, WHAT A TANGLED CHECKPOINT
"Why aren't there special security checkpoints for frequent flyers? Security checkpoints are one of the last bottlenecks frequent travelers face with no other options. As a frequent flyer with luggage optimized for whizzing down a concourse, there's nothing worse than being trapped behind someone putting two strollers and six oversized bags through the X-ray machines."

THE FAULT LIES NOT IN OUR AIRLINES
"What really gets me going is when an airline goofs and then tries to make you accept the blame. Anyone who has ever missed a connection because of a plane arriving late probably has had a ticket agent say something consoling like, 'Sorry, there is nothing I can do!' I am the first to accept that it is just not possible for every plane to leave and arrive on time. All I want to hear on those occasions when I have spent several hours at a terminal, anxiously wondering if I will get where I need to go somewhere close to the time I need to be there, is, 'I'm sorry this has happened. Here is what we can do.'"

TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROW
"I can't tell you how infuriating it is to wait 15 minutes to drive out of an airport parking garage because they only have two out of the 15 booths open."

THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE
"Why can't the airlines treat us as adults and keep us informed? It isn't like if we get bad news about a flight delay or cancellation we will never, ever fly them again. If they could just be honest when there is a problem, it would reduce a lot of air rage."

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO MISS A MEETING
"One of my biggest gripes is the in-room alarm clocks. Seems like it should be housekeeping's job to make sure the proper time is on the clock each day. Nothing is more frustrating than having to set the accurate time when you check into a room."

HOIST ON OUR OWN SHUTTLE BUS
"
Since the airlines all assume that their travelers are under 5'3"--based on the legroom, that must be their estimate!--what made the rental-car companies decide that we are all 6 feet tall? As a short female, rental-car shuttle buses force you to navigate a step that is impossibly high. I have to move my roller bag onto the first step, pull myself up, then move the bag to the next step, then pull myself up again."

THE GAME'S AFOOT
"Every boarding delay is announced as a 15-minute delay, then updated continuously until it is actually 15 minutes from boarding. This means that I can't go do E-mail, I can't go get a sandwich, I can't hump it out to the curb to smoke a cigarette. I'm forced to sit there and watch this little dance."

FALSTAFF AND FREQUENT FLYERS SWEAT TO DEATH
"Why the consistent shortage of bottled water on flights? You can drink soda till the cows come home, but, ask for spring water, and the claim is, 'We don't have enough.'"

SUFF'RANCE IS THE BADGE OF ALL OUR TRIBE
"I resent hotels that charge full freight when they are remodeling and then leave guests to their own devices when trying to figure out how to get around the mess!"

LOOK INTO THE SEEDS OF TIME AND SPEAK THEN TO ME
"Airlines delay flights and then won't offer the courtesy of calling the airport club to let customers know that the flight is ready. I know that I love to stand around crowded gate areas with the disturbed clientele when I could be relaxing in the lounge that I pay good money to join. Is it really that hard to pick up the phone and make an announcement that the flight is ready to go?"

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

Copyright 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.