Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Those Birmingham Airport Blues

One of Brian's favorite old education-business sayings, stolen from the late John Holt, goes like this: People make programs. Programs don't make people.

So it goes with teachers and school, and employees and airlines.

It starts off at BHM with the coffee at the Wall Street Deli, a food service inside security possibly named in recognition of Southerners' perceptions of New York: indifferent employees, lousy food, and ripoff prices. Bleh...

It continues with the United Airlines Express gate agent who uses her mike to threaten passengers ("if your bag is overweight or too big it will cost you $15") just as we're finally about to board. She also cunningly confiscates passenger boarding passes printed online so she can enter the data later at her own leisure, leaving the lowly passengers with a) no documentation of actually being on the flight (for mileage plan purposes), and b) no documentation of seating for passengers who haven't memorized their seat number back at the gate. The frustrated flight attendant finally instructs befuddled passengers to "sit anywhere."

This all sounds very picky, but the net result of the resulting delay is that we very nearly miss our now 29-minute connection at ORD (Chicago), sprinting part of the way and luckily catching a bus shuttle after waiting 10 minutes (!) for our gate-checked baggage to be brought to the jetway. Our helpful young flight attendant offers to assist the baggage handlers in bringing up the luggage but union solidarity prevails and the bags are eventually handed up one at a time to passengers desperately hoping to make their next flight.

A great flight to Seattle just about makes up for it, however, with an excellent purser serving tomato-basil soup and a shrimp salad for lunch in First, and an ontime arrival allowing us to beat the worst of the afternoon traffic rush back to our Birch Bay refuge.

No comments: