Since I have a public forum available, I’d like to indulge in the time-honored tradition of the consumer rant after a bad experience with a product or service. If those annoy you, please skip this post.
This particular rant is about air travel. Now, I realize airlines are popular targets of consumer rants, and I usually give them a break because (1) most people who travel by air do so because they have An Agenda and are already stressed out and feisty, (2) airlines are frequently at the mercy of elements beyond their control, such as weather or air traffic control, and (3) when you travel by air you have to expect a certain number of delays and mishaps a certain percentage of the time just as a matter of statistical probability.
However, I think the number of mishaps I’ve had with Northwest is starting to stretch my patience with statistics and make me suspect that Northwest might be a proper target for an accusation of incompetence. So here’s a sum of the last month of Northwest travel for me:
Dallas/Ft. Worth to
So where does that leave me? In the last three weeks I have flown 14 separate Northwest flights. Of those, 4 have been significantly delayed, 2 have been in place of cancelled flights. I tried to get on earlier flights 7 separate times only to be told they were overbooked, so I was frequently stuck in an airport for three to six hours waiting for a flight with a seat. So my significant delay rate was 2 in 7; cancellation rate was 1 in 7; and overbooking was 1 in 2 (though that number is statistically sketchy because I was sometimes trying for flights through other cities to try to get at least close to where I was going). Is that normal? Granted, the sample is not large enough to be considered representative, but conversations with other Northwest passengers (and employees) confirm that my experience is not unique or even unusual. What I found especially exacerbating is airline employees’ complete lack of help, particularly in
Classic example: when I went to the counter on the 5:30 flight to
I wish I could say that I’ll never fly Northwest again, but frankly, I’ve not heard much better news about other airlines, and right now I can’t really afford to be picky. So like the rest of flying
UPDATE: Hat tip to The Bard for this news article. Apparently it's not just me; the statistics really do point to the conclusion that Northwest is terribly mismanaged. According to the article, 12% of Northwest flights were cancelled yesterday, compared to 1.2% on other major airlines. That's not the weather, folks.
UPDATE UPDATE: Hat tip to Lincoln for
these articles from USAToday. Yesterday was the fourth day in a row Northwest has canceled over 10% of its flights.