Saturday, October 18, 2008

Airport Pet Peeves

...ok, I hesitate to do this b/c I am so thankful that we are able to travel and see so many things and meet so many amazing people. However, there is always something at the beginning or end of those experiences that you just wish you didn't have to deal with or isn't necessary to deal with because it just kind of takes away from the great experience you just had or are about to have. Travel nuisances! I've got a few. Some of them I have shared with the appropriate agencies, others I have not due to time. It takes time to constructively criticize something without just sounding like a ranting nutt. And maybe that is what I am. But now that I travel with a child, I notice other things that I never knew could be improved.

In theory, I should just be glad that we get to our destination in one piece because that really is the point, right? Yes it is. However, we are paying for a service. And if airlines are going to keep jacking up the prices and blame it on the cost of fuel, then my expectation for service is going to continue to increase as well. And with the likes of Singapore Airlines out there who really make you feel welcome and special, others should take note!

Yes, we all hate lost luggage. That has happened to me on a few occasions. If the people who are handling the situation are professional about it and follow up and are supportive then I don't mind because they usually find it. However, when it takes me 11 calls to get through to someone who can actually help or even pretends to care, I'm not so happy about it..that would be you, the US carrier with the same name as a letter in the Greek alphabet. If only I had time to log all of that big mess because it was stranger than fiction and no one would have believed the ridiculous answers/responses I would get from people when I actually got a hold of someone.

I finally did get my luggage back. Another airline who I had a connecting flight with actually helped me get it (thank you Emirates). It had gone through New York and my luggage was accidentally delivered to a Korean woman in Queens. There were only a few items missing when I returned it, but they were all new. I don't think it was the woman in Queens. I would bet money it happened at the airport. I'm sorry New York, but pretty much everyone I have known who has flown through NY has had valuables stolen from their luggage at one time or another. Fortunately we can now lock up again that we have those special locks that only homeland security can open with a special key. What was missing from my luggage that time? An outfit I bought at an outlet for my neighbor's son's birthday. It wasn't expensive at all, but sad someone stole it. The other thing that was missing were some toys I bought for my cats! Go figure...

Now travelling with a baby. My biggest, kindest request of all is to please, please bring the strollers out sooner rather than later. I have had to stand for two hours once and wait for the stroller after getting all our luggage. There is nothing worse than waiting for your stroller with a very heavy, jet lagged baby who just wants to go home and get into bed.

Its very kind that I know of at least one airline that offers free strollers you can use inside the airport. However, in most cases when I've needed one, they are never at the gates and when I ask people they send me on a wild goose chase and no one can ever seem to find one nor are they very inclined to help me find one. That just adds to the fun. But, looking on the positive side, this is just adding to the newly found muscle tone I have in my arms and shoulders from picking up my baby. If only I could get it to work for my legs too! I guess two hours of squats and lunges while waiting for the stroller would have been one way.

Also, I would love it if the strollers came out clean. I know that they must send it through a scanner for security reasons, but when I leave my things with you - as a custodian, you are the one who holds my belongings and keeps them safe until I get them back. I would really love them to come back in the same condition that I left them in. I work hard and have to pay for these things. I don't get them for free and I don't take them for granted, so I would just like my goods to come back damage free and clean. Yes, I'm sure he'll eat dirt whlie playing outside one day, but for now I would like the place where my infant son sits to be clean and damage free. Who pays for this? Its not really the airline's fault because its going through the airport system. I might even relax on the timeliness if I can get my goods back clean. Inventors, there is potential to find something better than a plastic bag.

One of my biggest pet peeves ever, as a law abiding citizen and tax payer of the US, is the way I am treated by Homeland Security every single time I enter back into the US. I know they have a very specific, special job that must be quite the power trip for some, but really I could do without the harassment. I am not the only American living abroad who has experienced this. We have many friends who have unfortunately shared the same attitude and harassment.

And forget about those of us who are citizens, I am always amazed at how tolerant visitors to the US are of the manner in which American employees treat them upon entering and exiting our country. While I am grateful that we have security checks and are probably able to intercept many things that we do not want in the US, I am shocked when I observe what has become the norm - a non-professional, condescending tone that has become an epidemic among security and immigration employees at US airports. Personally, I find it embarrassing as a US citizen to see it getting worse every year because this is the first impression that many people have of the US. As a citizen of a country, you want that impression to be a positive one. I cannot recall of any country that I have visited ever treating me like this. Regardless of region of political relations with the US, my experience as a foreigner entering other countries has always been professional. It is unfortunately, only when I enter the US there is an exceptional amount of attitude that is projected.

Now, I am sure that the immigration/security/whoeverelse officers see a lot of crazy things, but I just don’t think that the condescending tone and attitude are appropriate. I have nearly had my head bitten off b/c I asked to borrow an officer's pen. As much as I think its ridiculous, I can take off my baby's shoes when you ask - I only wish that you would ask me politely rather than being rude about it. I know you never know what he might be packing in his little Pedi-Peds, but as he gets older and understands more, I am not sure how I am going to explain to him why people are so rude for no reason as I try to teach him to be a respectful human being?

1 comment:

K said...

Hear hear sister. I cry nearly every time I fly into JFK. They are just so rude and for no reason. Maybe some people have been jerks, but I have never why treat me so disrespectfully? Their attitudes leave a lot to be desired and I also feel embarrassment at what non-citizens have to go through...

Hope you're feeling better after at least getting it off your chest.