It was exhausting. It was irksome. It grated nerves and fouled people’s moods. It was the return flight home from London, England to Hammond, Louisiana for Southeastern students on study abroad.
With airtime expected to exceed nine hours coming out of the Heathrow airport, the students were not pleased when they discovered that they were going to be delayed in getting to their plane on time.
“I’ve only been on one flight that was on-time before, so I’m used to expecting flights to be delayed,” said Bonnie May. “However, this was the worst one.”
Upon arriving at the airport, the group was met with the first setback of the day. The kiosks that should have quickly allowed them to access their boarding passes refused to work.
“I have no idea why the machines weren’t working for us,” said May.
“Because of the delay we got to Miami too late and missed our connecting flight to New Orleans,” said Tiffany Baptiste.
To add to the frustration of the day, student Kathleen Kelly was separated from the group when a security member from the airport switched the direction arrows, causing her to go a different way from passport control.
“There were other smaller things that were frustrating,” said Kelly, “Getting directed in a different direction from our group at one point was one, though it wasn’t more than a frustration.”
Racing to make it in time
After making the first flight of the day, upon arriving at the Miami airport, the group discovered they only had 20 minutes until the connecting flight was going to leave. This did not leave much time to go through customs, pick up their baggage, drop off their baggage and go through security.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” said Stephanie Katz. “They need to revamp the system to make it more efficient and quick. You can seriously miss your flight trying to go through security.”
According to Katz, it was a hassle having to remove items such as belts, shoes, jewelry and sweaters as well as removing laptops out of their cases.
“Don’t you think any potential terrorist would see what airports are looking for and try other things,” said Katz.
Shortly after going through security, the group was made to go one by one to receive their boarding passes and tag their luggage. This was met with incident as well.
“When we got to Miami, some of the staff were really rude, which didn’t really make me feel better,” said Baptiste. “One worker walked off and took her break in the middle of helping us and we ended up in line for an hour.”
The waiting game
In the end, the group did not make it in time and were forced to wait for the next flight, which would not take off until six hours later that night.
“It was evident American Airlines was not customer friendly when I was told to get in line to get information on which line I should stand in to rebook my flight home,” said Ann O’Connor.
To atone for the six-hour delay, American Airlines gave each student a small compensation.
“I’m glad they at least gave us food vouchers,” said May.
May’s enthusiasm was not shared, however.
“The crappy $10 food voucher was no consolation for poor treatment by some agents and a six hour delay,” said O’Connor. “We should have been handled upon disembarking the plane as a group, told where to be re-ticketed, given a $25 food voucher, and allowed to wait in their executive lounge until the final flight. Shame on American Airlines for horrid customer care.”
With fatigued bodies and aggravated nerves, the students finally returned home safely. Though they enjoyed their trip abroad, and created cherished memories, the return trip home will not be remembered as a fond one.
“It was just very frustrating,” said Baptiste. “Sitting in an airport for seven hours is not fun. After a while everyone started to get delirious.”