Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wecome to Dallas - a rant!



I finally arrived in Palm Springs at about 11pm a few days ago,  having been awake and traveling for over 24 hours! Transatlantic flight, courtesy of our own British Airways was OK but it all went pear-shaped at Dallas.  I had two hours which at any reasonably managed airport would be fine for immigration and transfer to domestic flight! Sadly I hadn't heard that Dallas Forth Worth is high on the list of America's worst airports! Do you hear a rant developing?

At immigration I was directed to the automated check-in – scanned my passport and shiny new Green Card and got a little printout – a self satisfied smile crossed my face until I noticed the black cross. Rejected! I was then directed to a huge line for the manual immigration with only two desks open. It moved at snail’s pace. I spoke to a lady attendant, who said they were getting more staff and sharply told me to 'get back in line’! Time was passing but we weren’t moving. Other passengers generously let me move forward in line until there were several of us onward travelers, all  getting jittery together. The lady attendant then took some from the line behind us and moved to a newly opened station. Several of us made a break for it, to join this new line but were sent back like naughty children! So much for the Immigration’s claim to treat us with courtesy! Finally I reached the front of the line, apologised to the Officer that I was jumpy as I was afraid of missing my connection and was blankly told that he didn’t care if I missed it – thanks very much!

After tedious cross-questioning, I moved on finally to Custom’s – another long line and had to show all the documents again! Time rapidly dwindling. Again asked to fast track but told no – ‘the plane knows you are here’! What? Next stop – baggage claim followed by re-checking bag for next flight. Then of course it's Security again – another huge line – again refused any line jumping by staff. Remove everything, trying to be patient and not get stressed – clock ticking fast (and my heartbeat)!

Finally thor' – just a few minutes to get to the gate but of course it’s a huge airport and I need to get the skytrain! Now running at every opportunity - thankfully fit! I finally get to gate D33 to find it closed and deserted -  the flight has left! Fuming!

Directed by a grey haired little lady with a collection of badges on her uniform  to the American Airlines rechecking desk. The female clerk is dealing with an elderly couple, no doubt also delayed by the incessant lines! She looks up and announces that she’s going off duty so tough luck – not her actual words but you get the idea! By now my stress levels were off the scale and I was dangerously near to losing my temper with anyone in sight!

Next stop another AA desk (American Airlines not Alcoholics Anonymous although by then I was seriously in need of a stiff drink!) Finally someone helpful - a charming lady called Katrina, who immediately took control of my problems, methodically worked through the options and re-booked me at no cost, first to San Francisco and then on to Palm Springs. The first and only polite and helpful person at Dallas airport!

Not much time to spare but I managed to find the new gate and buy a sandwich before settling into the far rear row of the flight to San Fran – yes the row next to the toilets! And of course last row to be served with an all essential glass of wine! This lowly location also means last row to leave the plane when we landed at San Francisco. Landed at 8.45 – boarding time for next flight – 8.45!!!!! but flight didn’t leave till 9.30 so 45 minutes – should be OK. Or was it?

Off the plane – where is next gate – oh yes – in another terminal – you guessed it – get another skytrain.  Hop on the Blue train  - 'bugger' – going the wrong way – off again – on the red train.  Another Security check – strip off and unpack again – starting to panic once more. Then I’m paged as I wait to be scanned – jump a few places and straight thro body scanner. Reach in to grab my belongings from the scan machine. Throw everything into bag in blind panic and run! Just made it as they were closing the gate – last passenger on, heart beating like a racehorse.  This time front row just behind the curtain to First! Spent half the flight wondering if I left a trail of dropped possessions and trying to reduce my blood pressure!

An hour later, I finally arrived at Palm Springs to the welcoming arms of my partner Philip. Now where was my checked case that went off with the original flight from Dallas. A bit of a wait but it was safely located and retrieved from a locked store – relief! Finally a bit of luck and after a nightmare journey - home! Remind me NEVER EVER to fly thro' Dallas again! Oh - Philip has just told me our route to Florida next month.........

4 comments:

  1. What an awful experience ! I have not flown via DFW in many years; I always seen to route through Houston if I am flying in the south across the continent . Phoenix is a nice alternative too. In any case , welcome back to California, and I look forward to your garden adventures in PS this winter.

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  2. Add Chicago to your "do not fly" list. Our one and only time returning from England had us going through O'Hare and it sounds just like your Dallas experience.

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  3. No wonder I've heard some in the UK refer to the US as "Un-Serviceable". Not sure where you can avoid such inefficiencies at some point, but good luck in doing so!

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  4. Ugh, sorry to hear of your experiences, I'm glad there was at least one pleasant person along the way! I'm old enough to remember when it was actually fun to travel by air...

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