Friday, May 31, 2013

More travel fun

Yesterday, as I was walking through the Hilton Head Airport, I started wondering if the whole "get there two hours before you leave" rule of thumb still applies at an airport with one runway and only six or seven flights a day.

I asked the only two employees I could find, which I think were the only two working, and they said no.  They informed me all I needed to do was get there half an hour early and I'd be fine.  I confirmed this with a resident of the island and he said that should work fine.

This morning, I rolled into the airport and arrived at the ticketing gate 31 minutes before departure, just to give myself that all important extra minute.

There was another flier standing at the ticketing counter talking to the one visible employee.  He was extremely frustrated when I walked up. 

I informed the lady I was here to check in and she then said they had already closed ticketing.  She further informed me that I, along with this other gentleman, would have to pay the $200 fee to change my flight to the next available one.

The next flight was three hours later, would cause me to miss my connection, and would result in my getting home nine hours later than planned.

This was not acceptable.

I could tell the guy in front of me had already tried the approach of "I'm pissed, so I'm just going to get louder and louder until either you cave or I'm arrested".  It obviously wasn't working.

The better alternative, as I thought, was to go for sympathy.  I told her I'd really like to get on this flight so I could get home and see my wife and three daughters.  I asked if there was anything she could do.

She said she would check with the ticketing agents and see if they would make an exception.

While she was gone, the other guy informed me he was headed to his grandpa's funeral and needed to be on this flight in order to make it in time.  He arrived at the counter 10 minutes before me, and nobody was around.  He waited patiently, and when the lady finally came, she told him he was too late.  He asked the same question I did about someone else helping, and she said no.

Funny how your tone and attitude can change the responses you receive.

10 minutes passed and the lady wasn't coming back.  We were now about 15 minutes from the scheduled departure time.

A few minutes later, another woman came to the counter.  The first lady had asked her to talk to us.  I immediately jumped in, before the other guy could ruin it, and gave her the brief rundown of what I was told and what I was trying to do.  She said she didn't know if we could make it, but she'd try.  I thought this was a bit strange as I could see the plane behind her on the runway, but I was still a bit stressed.

Two minutes later, we both had our boarding passes.  We now had 10 minutes to get through security and onto the plane.

One and a half minutes later, I had cleared security.  15 seconds after that I handed my boarding pass, strangely enough, to the same lady who just printed it for me.  She told me to hurry to the plane and have a nice flight.

I didn't really feel the need to run to the plane, as it was literally 15 feet from her. 

Having one person issue a ticket, and then collect it from you 50 feet away, doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Especially when there were four people working the luggage and five TSA people doing security.  You'd think one of them would be able to collect tickets, since there's never more than one flight at a time. 

One last factor to support my thinking: the plane had 9 rows of seats, so there should never be much of a bottleneck during any part of the boarding process.

Oh well.  Next time, I'll get there 45 minutes early to be safe.

1 comment:

championm2000 said...

Another "you get more flies with honey" story or more accurately.. "You get more sympathy when you use the wife/kids" story. Hey, no judgment here...I frequently throw out the twin card!!

Glad you made the flight.