Do you recall the famous line in the movie Network, where the TV anchor yelled out the window, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more"? Well, that's how I felt last night at Orlando International Airport. I look at the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and wonder if it isn't time we did something similar with the airlines. They have made flying a nightmare—and I'm not talking about added security measures. I'm talking about attitude. Everything from baggage fees to the "don't give a damn" approach of many employees, from flight deck to parking attendants. Below, in a letter to the Executive Director of both local airports, you'll see an outline of my experiences at OIA Wednesday evening, October 26, 2011. I also e-mailed TSA and, incredibly, have already had a reply, claiming the jurisdiction is not theirs and I should contact the airport directly. (Interesting, I think, that both my son and I assumed that TSA employees would be nastier than those under local jurisdiction.) Since I'd already written to Mr. Brown, I feel I've done my best and wonder if I'll get a response.
If you have had a bad experience with an airline, don't just take it. Please find a way to complain. It's time we all got as "mad and hell" and refused to take it any more.
My letter of complaint:
Mr. Phillip Brown, Executive Director
Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
One Airport Boulevard
Orlando, Florida 32827
October 26, 2011
Dear Mr. Brown:
On Wednesday evening, October 26, 2011, at a few minutes past 7:00 p.m., I arrived at OIA to pick up my son and a friend who had just flown in on JetBlue from Hartford. From long experience, my son called me when the plane landed, and I left my house, expecting to find them c. twenty minutes later standing on the sidewalk outside JetBlue Arrivals.
Only this time my son wasn’t there. A guard approached me, informing me that if my party hadn’t arrived in two minutes I would have to leave. When I looked woebegone, he went into the building and checked on the flight, returning to tell me it had arrived only ten minutes earlier at 6:58 (its scheduled time). He then politely told me I needed to circle around and hope they’d be there when I got back. I wasn’t happy as I’d never done this before, and at my age new things don’t sit well, but of course I did as I was told and found my way around the circle.
This time I drove slowly past JetBlue but still didn’t see my son and friend at #11. I pulled in at #13, which seemed to be quiet, and called my son. A guard came charging up, screaming, “Move, move!” I rolled down my window and explained that my son had just told me they were at #11 and were coming my way.
“But they’re coming!”
“Move on or I’ll write you a ticket. It’s $30(?), and you don’t want that. Move on!”
I stared at him in disbelief.
He yelled, “Move on! I’m writing the ticket. I’m writing a ticket now!”
By this time my eyes were misted with tears, but I managed to pull out into traffic without hitting anything and made my second circle around, vowing this was my last pick-up at OIA. In my entire life, no one has ever spoken to me in that fashion. It was surreal. This guard is a Nazi in modern dress. He certainly shouldn’t have any contact with customers EVER. There is no excuse for his behavior. Obviously, a smidgeon of power has gone to his head.
By the way, my son and his friend were at #12 by the end of my exchange with the guard and witnessed his incredible behavior. My son and friend were as shocked as I was.
This is no way to run an airport. At this rate, the next great sit-in is likely to be in the lobby of OIA. Remember the famous movie line: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more”? No, I won’t be among them. I’m a senior and long past sit-ins. But I am a writer, and I’m going to blog about this, maybe put something on Facebook too. I’m an elderly lady, a human being, and there is NO excuse for the way I was treated this evening at OIA.
I hope you will order re-training for parking guards who think they’re bootcamp sergeants.
Grace Ann Kone