Traveler Mistreated by Passengers and Pilots

June 21, 2013

in Odds & Ends Stories

I was scheduled to fly US Airways from NAS to BWI with a plane change in PHL. I arrived at the airport and waited, only to have the flight delayed for an hour. After a few grumbles from us sunburned travelers, we waited for another hour – not that bad. As soon as we got on the plane, my nose wrinkled – it smelled like the inside of a twenty-year-old dumpster. After breathing through our mouths for nearly two hours, we made it to Philly. I ran for my connection and missed it. Then the gate agent said that my itinerary and boarding pass were wrong and that I was scheduled for their 10:55 flight, which would be great – had I not scheduled my pickup at BWI for 10 PM – because that’s what my itinerary, boarding pass, and their reservation people had said – and had I not needed to be at work at 7 the next morning.

After I picked up some dinner and watched an absurd amount of CNN, our 10:55 finally arrived – late. The promised Airbus A-319, which we were looking forward to after the tiny, cramped regional jet we had arrived in, never came. Instead, we watched in dismay as another tiny regional jet taxied into the gate. We were treated to the sight of people rushing off the said jet to try to catch their connection to Wilkes-Barre a few gates down, and the gate agents taking a break from their chattering and texting to yell at the hapless travelers to run and see if they could make the flight, without actually lifting a finger to help them. We helped a few of the people, many with small children, to carry their heavier luggage and run for their flight. A woman at my gate walked to a wheelchair and sat down in it. “Honey, let’s tell them I’m disabled. I hate to lie, but I want to get on board first before all these people.” The husband obliged and to the anger of the rest of us, she was allowed to board first.

At long last, we were allowed to get on the plane, which was boiling hot inside and dirty. Unfortunately for me, I happened to have a seat next to a very large “gentleman” (insert snicker here). He had the window seat, I had the aisle. I got there first, adjusted my seat belt, and buckled it. When he arrived, I unbuckled my seat belt and stood up to let him in. On his way in, he very purposefully reached for my seat belt and lengthened it as much as he could, totally unadjusting it in the process – then sat down and got ready to put it over him along with his own. “Sir!” I told him, beyond shocked that somebody would actually, you know, do that. (Who tries to take someone’s seat belt while the person is standing right there?) “I’m going to need to use my seat belt.” Shooting me a dirty look, he threw my seat belt back towards me and sat down. An Asian gentleman stood up from his seat for no good reason and clunked his head on the overhead bin (it was a CRJ-200, very low ceiling). We were delayed while the flight attendant checked him out. Then a third pilot got into the cockpit, deadheading, and proceeded to have a friendly chat with the other pilots about life while we all sat there, tired, angry, and ready to mutiny, until the flight attendant walked into the cockpit tapping her watch, reminding the pilots that they had a plane full of people that needed to go somewhere.

About half an hour after we were supposed to take off, we finally made it into the air. The large man next to me put up the armrest between us and tried to cram his huge rear and thighs into my seat for the remainder of the flight, snoring into the window and blocking my view. It was a short flight and the pilot smashed us into the BWI runway only twenty minutes after takeoff, everyone sweating from the heat in the plane. Another Asian gentleman on the plane stood up for no good reason, also clunking his head on an overhead bin and causing a ruckus again. Then we were not allowed off the plane for another twenty minutes. Finally, they opened the aircraft door and told us to walk. Onto the tarmac in front of us. With airplanes moving on it. With workers wearing ear protection. With signs saying to not walk on the tarmac and to not approach without wearing ear protection. Finally, someone piped up. “You’re joking, right?” Nope. Apparently our pilots did not want to go all the way to an open gate, so our gate was not actually a “gate.” It had no jet bridge, and the baggage claim was closed. We had to go down the aircraft steps onto the tarmac and pick up our checked luggage, which they had dumped on the ground, then walk across the tarmac, close to the other airplane’s engines, and take our things inside through a side door.

As soon as everyone was out, they closed the door and taxied away, leaving 50 shocked, half-deaf passengers standing on the tarmac open-mouthed. After we all dragged our luggage inside, we realized exactly how dangerous that stunt had been. We had been made to walk dangerously close to live engines and active taxiways, and our ears were ringing from the horrible noise. Then, to our further pleasure, we realized that they had dropped us off all the way at the far side of the airport. The terminal was empty. There was no one to help with luggage, no luggage carts, nothing. We had to help each other drag the luggage all the way across the airport, up the broken escalators, and out the doors. It was 12:30 AM. We should have been there at 11:15 PM. I had originally been scheduled to arrive at 9:55 PM. US Airways? Never again. The friend who recommended them to me has not heard the end of it yet.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Guest June 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I don't get the need to tell us it was an Asian gentleman…


kimchiwench June 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Yeah, that was weird.


MarioD February 7, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Because he was. Just a fact in a story is all.


PinkPeas June 21, 2013 at 6:28 pm

OP here, the reason I wrote that they were Asian was because they were the only 2 Asians on the plane and they both hit their heads on the overhead bins. They themselves were cracking jokes about the coincidence. That's why I remembered that detail. No racist or insulting intent at all.


Eduardo June 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm

People are overly sensitive these days. Thanks for the story.


First Class June 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm

The purpose of this story was to let us all know you are a bitch?
Don't believe a word.


PinkPeas June 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm

@First Class…No. I never so much as spoke a harsh word to anyone during that whole time. If anything, I was the one helping people with their bags, wishing the pilots a Happy Father's Day (it was on Father's Day), smiling, and not letting my irritation show. I'm a great believer in showing kindness and respect to others, and if you knew me personally, I'm sure you would realize that. I'm sorry if I came off as a b*tch to you somehow or insulted you. I certainly didn't mean to.


First Class June 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Do you really think that the pilots just decided – we don't feel like going to the gate so we will let everyone out right here?


PinkPeas June 24, 2013 at 6:54 am

Nope. Did the pilots really decide that? Probably not. But the entire story has sarcastic and joking little comments thrown in. There could have been any number of reasons they couldn't go to an actual gate, and it may or may not have been the pilots' fault, or the airline, or the tower, or anybody else. I don't know. But yes, that was one of my not-so-serious comments. If you need any more clarification on what's serious and what's one of my sad attempts at humor, just ask me. There's really no need to get so mad.


rrr June 30, 2013 at 12:57 am

Here in the UK we are used to embarking and disembarking from the tarmac, and walking to the aircraft from the gate, I think you should just grow up


Major-General July 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Do you do it while the jet engines are running? Because I've done it several times, and never with the engines running.


PinkPeas July 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Not mentioned in the story, but I happened to have a sprained right ankle at the time- that's why it was such a hassle for me. Otherwise it wouldn't have been much of a hassle. It has nothing to do with growning up 🙂


PinkPeas July 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm

*Growing, sorry.


sexygal April 8, 2014 at 5:22 am

well, here in the USA, we're AREN'T USED TO embarking and disembarking from the tarmac!!!!


James April 8, 2014 at 7:57 am

Depends on the airport. Until recently, that was standard at San Jose, and I've done it at Philadelphia and others as well.


Wanderlust July 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Wow, someone thinks the world revolves around them.


PinkPeas July 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Again, I defer to my previous comments. I'm sorry if you thought that. I assure you, my thousands of volunteer hours speak to the fact that I don't think the world revolves around me. You could say that about most of the stories on here- sometimes people just need to vent. I vented. I'm fine now. Please don't make assumptions like that unless you personally know me. 🙂


Mistie Ann August 12, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Nothing in this story implied anything along those lines. Either you are some kind of amazing mind reader or simply assume all the world is just as negative and inconsiderate as you yourself are. This person could have been extremely negative in presenting their tale and would not have been in the least blamed for that negativity yet chose humor instead. The absolute unbusinesslike manner that the airline exhibited would have had anyone else ranting and fuming, but that isn't how this gentleman chose to behave. Frankly, people such as yourself make me sorry that any fool can use the internet. Your kind is an embarrassment to the human race. You have no original thought, you sound off without any reason and generally bring down the IQ of the animal known as human.


Jodi August 8, 2013 at 1:29 am

Ignore them Pink, they are just trolls. I enjoyed the story and thought the fat guy was boorish. How dare he try to steal your seatbelt. I also found nothing wrong with describing a guy by his ethnic origins for description sake only – it wasn't like you said something mean about him. Let the trolls just troll 🙂


PinkPeas August 22, 2013 at 10:37 am

You're perfectly right, Jodi. Thanks, and I'll take your advice.


Some guy named Dave August 24, 2013 at 12:06 am

Does anyone really believe a word of this B.S. ?


Mistie Ann August 12, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Some guy named Dave & john: You seem to both have the mistaken belief that no one in the airline industry could possibly be in the wrong. This is beyond arrogant and self absorbed! Just as with every other industry in the world, airlines employ human beings. Where you have large numbers of humans, you will always have the chance of incompetence, human error and unbearable personal traits. The airline industry has led the way in regard to poor customer service so long that it no longer considers itself ever in the wrong. The multiple comments just regarding passengers being forced to deplane near operating plane engines only exhibit the ignorance involved! It has been long known that the ear can be severely damaged due to short exposure to sounds lower than that of a plane engine. Saying that lots of airports do something doesn't make it right or less dangerous. It only shows more airlines/airports are run by idiots! It's no different than saying, "Why complain about being hit by a drunk driver? Happens all the time!" There should be some kind of test before people are allowed to comment online. If you can't prove an adequate amount of working brain cells, then your comment won't be accepted. That way, future generations won't look back with shame on the trollish ignorance of today.


john August 25, 2013 at 11:47 am

Haha wow. Please do us airline folks a favor…. claim to never fly USAirways again and actually do it! I hope I never deal with you at a counter. That was some complaining.


LightningStrikes2ys April 5, 2014 at 2:45 am

I've never commnted before as it's v.tricky to type due to eye issues, but geez people!
We're here for empathy!
Pinkpeas comes to an innocuous time-passer type website where she shares,appropritely, under Odds'n'Ends, her observations of a noteworthily annoying/trying flight, the way she would to a friend, colourfully populating her plane from hell so we, at least, can maybe get a laugh out of the little – and not little things that drove her nuts- like opportunists lying about disabilty.
I didn't find this, Pinkpeas, to be smarmy, entitled, immature, or racist.
Seems some readers never did "gtow up" after their flights from hell.
Ignore these intellectually-stunted trolls.
Those of you who criticized her would never have dared gang up so cheaply on a fellow-flier in the airport's pub, no matter what you thought.
You'd perhaps have been too insecure to speak your mind and just trust people as Pinkpeas did.
I think she narrates well.
And this is only to all trolls: please note I'm ignoring all trolling, and no sense taking a shot if my post has a typo – I have serious trouble seeing.


Krista October 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I have never flown US Airways, and from people’s accounts of their questionable practices I don’t plan to. Pink, you definitely had many experiences and observations, one after the other. All of which people can chuckle at, and hope they never have to deal with, and if they have it probably involved international travel. Even if dumping you on the tarmac was not the pilot’s choice it is his duty, and the airline’s, to get you all safely inside the airport. Thanks for sharing your story! Makes you think twice about getting a rental car for the last leg of your trip if it is a relatively short drive. Lol


Traveler1 December 31, 2015 at 8:34 pm

I think this was a wonderful story. Not the experience itself but how entertaining it was. your writing is excellent, and thanks for relaying the experience. You sound like a kind, patient passenger and I totally empathise with all the nonsense you and the other passengers were put through.


Mistie Ann August 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm

PinkPeas I couldn't help dropping you a comment to say Mark Twain would have LOVED your well written post! It could easily pass as his own work if he hadn't lived long before the airline industry existed. You should seriously consider writing if you aren't already a writer. I would certainly buy your work.


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