Dispatches from the front lines of air travel

Allow me to encourage you never to fly Air France. I should be on my way to Paris right now, but after a five hour delay, they cancelled my flight. It was a beautiful roller-coaster ride of almost scripted drama: The plane has a broken part. They found a spare replacement part! It’s not in Boston. It just arrived from Minneapolis! They’re not authorized to install it. The authorities in Paris approved the installation! We have to re-file our flight plan. We’re ten minutes away from take-off! They were working on last minute paperwork. We were so close. It was the nearest run thing you ever saw. But then… the crew exceeded their time-on-duty limits and BOOM! it’s everybody out of the pool.

Cancelling an international flight is not as simple as you might think. The alimentary canal at departure time is designed to push things onto the plane, not off of it. We had already been cleared through customs, and since we were the last flight of the day, there was no “arrival” staff in place to receive us. Reverse peristalsis is never pretty.

After picking up luggage, we had to suffer the indignity of another long snaking queue to reconstruct our shattered flight plans. After another hour of moving nowhere and getting no information, I pulled the plug and went home.

I draw from this experience two and a half valuable lessons which, generously, I now will share.

Lesson 1. Don’t fly on Air France.
Lesson 2. Don’t fly on Air France on Bastille Day (see also Lesson 1).

I realize these two lessons overlap somewhat, but at this moment I feel the point is worth emphasizing. Also, my editor is after me to boost my content. As for the remaining half lesson, don’t use the iPhone version of WordPress. I wrote the first version of this on an iPhone and then lost it when I tried to post. That sort of day, I suppose.

Here endeth the whining. Over and out from Logan International Airport.

3 thoughts on “Dispatches from the front lines of air travel”

  1. I will admit that I didn’t experience your troubles with Air France, but I rather enjoyed my trip with them in March.

    I would not recommend Air India, though, unless you’re a total cheapskate. When things go well with them, the experience is lackluster at best.

  2. Given the recent Air France news stories, it could have gone a whole lot worse.

    Although I’m sure that thought gave you lots of solace after the 3rd hour of sitting on the runway.

  3. I’m sure that Air France is being extra cautious because of their recent unpleasantness. My main gripe isn’t so much that they cancelled the flight, but that they did it by slowly plucking every hair out of my forearm until I ran screaming from the terminal. It was badly managed.

    The Bad Airline problem is like the Bad Neighborhood problem. Everybody thinks they live in a safe neighborhood until they get mugged. To get past the simple binary metric, you need a thermodynamic average from a crowd. Air France, maybe on average they’re pretty good. I don’t know. But me, I was mugged. Bad airline.

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