Those of you who went to Jamaica may be interested to know that Consumer
Reports just named US Airways the worst airline in North America. Worse
than the majors, worse than Jetblue, Airtran, Frontier and even Alaska
Air. The WORST – dead last.
All the best, Tom Keoughan

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So… my Montego Bay to Charlotte flight was only 30 mins late but I only had a one hour turn. When we landed at CLT I called reservations while still on the plane to ask if they thought I could make it because I had customs AND recheck bag AND TSA security again. Bags arrived amazingly quickly. Customs was incredibly efficient and friendly. TSA guy volunteers how to get to gate and bumps me ahead just because he can see what’s going on.

I run my fa(s)t ass at least 1/2 mile at .7 CPH (cahills-per-hour) and arrive at gate to hear another woman crying because they won’t let her on at 355 for her/my 4:01PM flight. There is also another couple walking away. Five of us total.

I stand there waving at pilot through window, calling home and talking with two reservations agents on the phone for 15 minutes while the plane is there late and door is open. I can see my seat! 6 different people (not an exaggeration) tell me it me is not their job to do anything. Some of them tell me “It is closed. There is nothing I can do.” I have pictures and I have a firm grasp of the difference between open and closed.

I schlep back at a leisurely yet brisk 1hph (Hix per hour) to the main ticket counter after waiting in the line at the “You are F*cked” desk and seeing only one person move in 15 minutes. This is about a mile and I take it at a totally ‘must-kill-some-time’ speed of about 2 pmbh (post-midnight-Brians-per-hour) since the last Sr. ‘not-my-jobber’ of US Air told me all the seats to Nashville are gone for today. I get to the first-class counter (milking the hell out of my cheap-ass upgrade as long as I can even though all it got me was a bigger seat and pepper on the potato chips) where the lady tells me I am confirmed on the 6:06 and I am instantly back in love with every cell of every living thing on earth (thanks Jamaica for putting me there in the first place). I say “I love you US Air lady, what’s my seat?” She says “You are confirmed but you only get to go if someone gives up a seat.” Having a slightly different notion of what ‘confirmed’ means since Cari was just confirmed at church that day, I ask “Isn’t that kind of exactly what “standby” means or does confirmed mean I get to stand in the aisle? Does it mean someone has to give up a spot for my daughter to go to heaven? I feel slightly better since apparently I only missed her Methodist confirmation since she is not necessarily going anywhere and she had already been confirmed with a seat on the Vatican express a few years ago.

She explained that confirmed is standby with a kiss. Standby people are well and truly f-ed. Confirmed people on the other hand evidently get some kind of voucher to use for future flights on the airline they will desperately try never to use again.

By now, it is after 5pm so I have to get through security again and run from there to gate E 30 (halfway to BNA) at .5 cph only to find a group of 4 other people telling the gate lady their stories of how/why “I NEED THAT SEAT MORE THAN THE OTHERS” and again, thanks to Jamaica I have just figured out that I want to look like the one of the 5 puppies in the box the lady wants to pick up and pet. None of it matters because all of us get on and I am once again as happy as a Marley cousin on royalty check day.

I end up sitting in the exact same seat I would have had on the other flight..5A… I love flying and I like to look out the window. In this case I just wanted to get in and slump down in case the Sr. NotMyJobber stuck her head in and said Mr. Staats…we made an error, please come out here, you are still totally f-ed. It didn’t happen. It was fine. I am still happier than I have ever been (but also confirmed (MY definition) to never use US AIR unless I have to).
(SPECIAL NOTE…any pilot of anything I ever ride in is excluded from any bitching I ever do).

At this point all is well. We are almost loaded for the 6:06. It is 6:02 (so there’s some other dude running up and cussing a blue streak because he can see me in HIS seat)…

At this point I notice Mr. 5B checking his watch, and shaking his head, then checking his watch, then checking his watch and shaking his head. I start to count because I already did the crossword puzzles. This guy checks his watch 22 times in 10 minutes and intersperses about a dozen head shakes. At this point I do not yet know Osama/Usama is now spelled Osashimi or Usashimi and this guy looks like he might possibly be from a place that doesn’t love Americans (sadly, this means nothing about how he looks because even many Americans hate America) but it makes me pay attention. Now he is also muttering occasionally…one I can make out is “I hate this f*cking airline.” then I hate this f*cking s*it.” So I had enough and I look at him and say “Buddy, this will go better for both of us if you just keep it to yourself.” and he says “I thought your Bose headphones made it so you could not hear.” I said, “It makes what you are saying even clearer.” With this, he goes back to tap foot,check watch, adjust phlegm-blower nozzle, check watch, adjust phlegm-blower, disgusting head-shake, mutter mutter. All this and we are still early/ontime or whatever.

Before I zoned out I thought of that commercial on the golf matches (always about people with piles of money) where the guy looks over and says “Are you me when I am old?”… I am looking at 5B and thinking how glad I am that I am not me 10 years ago because I probably was Mr. 5B.

That, my friends is how I go back from the best Pinnacle meeting of the 18 I have attended.

P.S. It took him the whole flight to do the crossword.

P.P.S. As fate would have it…we got there at EXACTLY the same time!!

P.P.P.S. Trying to figure out how I ate some of the best food in the world…some hours fresh and some of it lying around for 30 years in bottles…and still lost even more weight….