I Took 10 Flights in a Month, and Here’s What Happened

This was a summer of flying. My two children and I took a total of 10 flights in a matter of four weeks, and while I was prepared for the worst, the recent news hadn’t prepared me for what would really happen with our flights. Here’s what happened:

Fantastic and Customer Service

On our flight from Rochester, NY to Philadelphia, PA, we flew in a little tiny American Airlines plane. Because it was a tiny plane, all carry on suitcases had to be gate checked. The man in front of us had a large roller bag. The gate agent handed him a gate check tag, and the man said, “I’m sorry, I can’t be separated from this bag. It contains medical equipment. I have a heart condition, and I could die if I can’t access it.”

That’s the best argument I’ve heard for keeping your carry-on bag. It, however, didn’t change the fact that the plane just isn’t big enough to put a roller bag in the overhead bin and it certainly wouldn’t fit under the seat.

To keep reading, click here: I Took 10 Flights in a Month, and Here’s What Happened

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17 thoughts on “I Took 10 Flights in a Month, and Here’s What Happened

  1. I flew World Traveller Plus on British Airways the last time I went to London (I paid for it). It was expensive, but worth EVERY PENNY. The seat was so much more comfortable and I LOVED that it has its own cabin. The flight going over (always a red-eye) wasn’t at all full so I was able to move to an adjacent seat and stretch out a bit. With the aid of one Unisom and the more comfy setup, I actually got some sleep and didn’t arrive feeling like a zombie!

    Plus I got some Avios points, which I’ve been adding to by taking surveys (I can’t get a credit card). I took BA for two reasons:
    1) the more comfortable premium economy, compared to US carriers
    2) so I could eat at Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food in Terminal 5 (also worth it).

    10/10 would do it again. 😀

    The only time I’ve ever been pulled out of line by TSA was in Tucson; I had an ankle weight in my bag and though I disclosed it, they pulled me aside anyway and searched my backpack. They were very nice and polite–no jerks. And when I went through LAX after they installed the screening machine, I made a joke–“Oh goody, my first Nude-O-Scope!” The TSA guy was trying not to show it but he cracked up, hahaha. 🙂

    On the other hand, the Customs officer I encountered coming back into the US after a UK trip was very crabby. But maybe he was having a bad day. I just try to be extra nice when that happens.

    1. I didn’t want to take my sleep deprived self and children into the Gordon Ramsey restaurant but I probably should have. We ate at Giraffe in Terminal 5, which I highly recommend.

      My daughter almost always gets her bag inspected, because she packs crazy things.

      I once had my underwire bra set off the metal detector. Got the whole free full body massage on that one–but that was in Switzerland.

        1. Pretty much! But in fairness, the security staff (French, actually because while it’s the Basel airport, it’s located in France and almost all the employees are French), aren’t invasive like the stories I’ve heard of American security.

          1. My underwires always set off the metal detectors… but after they’ve thoroughly searched my bags anyway.. (See my comment below) they kinda just wand me, realize it’s at boob level and move on.

  2. Now the truth is out! You’re using the kids as mules to ferry Reese’s peanut butter cups into Switzerland. Doing a bit of arbitrage with Tolberone on the outbound, perhaps?

    1. I only bring my children with me on trips to the US so that I can use their suitcase allowance to bring back more Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

  3. I generally have OK experiences with flying. Nothing fantastic. I invariably always get searched by the TSA. I think it’s because I travel witha lot of electronics, nothing more than a carry on and frequently for one way or long term trips- combined with me being uber friendly. The last time I traveled they strip searched the American Girl Doll I was bringing to my niece for her birthday looking for a hidden can?
    Then there was the time that they gave my cosmetics bag to the guy I was talking to in line. He was telling me how much he missed his gf. He probably had to pay more in flowers to explain the baggie of women’s toiletries in his luggage than I paid to replace mine.
    Outside of the TSA, the only time I’ve really had to deal with arguments with airlines was Delta. I showed up 20 minutes before a flight to our small airport. (My husband accidentally threw up in my bag and I had to repack everything.) They refused to let me catch my flight that I could see hadn’t started loading yet from the customer service area. Then in ATL they tried to charge me $400 to book my connecting flight. I generally tend to give away my seats if they are over booked and usually arrive an hour plus early- so I explained the concessions I’d given in the past to them, and asked for leniency. Sure enough I was booked on the next flight with no issues. I’ve had more problems with Disney hotels than airlines.

  4. Great to hear you had some nice things to say about airline travel but like you said you were coming from outside of the USA and back.
    Local air travel is nowhere as nice as the examples you had. I had a situation like you taking a flight from a Westchester area airport in NY to Orlando to visit my daughter. I hate being crowded especially when the crowd is a rude inconsiderate with unattended children. I always pre-book my seat and pay for the extra cost. On one flight, I checked in and proceeded to board but when I arrived to my seat found my seat occupied by another who was part of a family group who assumed that I would just take their seat somewhere else on plane. Internally I was furious but I turned calmly to stewardess and asked if there were any seats available near the front close to my original seating. I refuse to travel in rear of plane at anytime. Luck for me the front row ( no folddown table) was open so I sat their for flight. The airline wasn’t at fault in my case, it was the other passengers of that group who made my trip a bad experience. But there’s no recourse to deal with this problem effectively, especially when I could have been thrown off plane by arguing with the other passengers who took my paid booked seat. ( Most planes for local travel in US don’t have multiple levels of seating except for the few larger seats which are supposedly prebooked since they are higher in price and based on the rules the airline will have to tell you before boarding plane not change last minute.
    Most airline personnel are very helpful and courteous, it’s the passengers who are trying to upgrade on someone else’s dime who are the problem.

    1. The passengers can be awful, but if you had been calm and asked for hour seat, the flight attendant would have made that person move.

      I had several domestic flights–Las Vegas to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Rochester, and then Rochester back to Philadephia. They were all fine too.

      As a general rule, I prefer foreign carriers, but I was impressed with American Airlines this time around.

  5. Thank you for this post which is so exceptionally relevant to key Human Resources issues and problems. Very helpful in our jobs.
    And I also think the readers’ comments about trite airline experiences are helpful as well.
    Maybe you should write articles for “Travel and Leisure”. Then they would be relevant.
    I have to ask those who pay you if they are subsidizing a personal experiences blog or is there any business related stuff you do?

    1. Ahh, Parker. I was waiting for your comment! So sorry you hate these posts.

      FYI, my editors at Inc strongly encourage these posts because everyone other than you likes them.

      1. I genuinely appreciate these posts. And truly, if you want to, you can find a correlation between EHRL’s experiences and the experience folk often have with HR. We hear tons about the negative, rarely do you hear about the good.

        Or, as I learned early in my career. I can get it right 99 times out of 100, but my clients (business partners and employees both) will always remember the one time I didn’t.

        Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your experiences.

    2. I am pretty sure if Evil HR Lady’s articles didn’t pass the muster they would not be published and she would not be paid for them.

      If you don’t like Evil Hr Lady’s topics on her own personal blog, then help out by writing her a question, or suggesting a topic you would like her to address. If all else fails, publish your own articles.

      Truly if you feel the web is lacking, then by all means start or continue writing your own blog and link the things you think should be relevant.

  6. I don’t fly very often, but I’ve never had any horror experiences when I have. This is because I understand how the process works, and I pay attention to the instructions that are generally being shouted every 30 seconds at the line at the airport. That latter part is important, because it covers stuff that you can’t anticipate.

    When I flew to Iceland, I had a full sized briefcase for the electronics. TSA didn’t even open it (because I had the laptop in a separate bin, as instructed). Security at Reykjavik did, but only after politely asking if it was OK first. (But then, Icelanders do *everything* politely, even honk at you when you’re driving like a stupid tourist.)

    I’ve had my share of inconvenient experiences, even mildly frustrated, but never surprising. And when something does go wrong, keep in mind the hapless drone in front of you didn’t cause it, and can’t do anything about it. But if you take it out on them, they generally *can* do something to make it worse. Courtesy costs nothing, and thus, has a very high return on the investment.

  7. I don’t get to travel as often as I would like but, when fortunate enough too, I’ve never had a major problem. Some minor inconveniences and curt people but never like the stories you here.

    But then, I’m generally pretty easy to get along with, follow orders and do what I’m asked. I had a bag searched once, which I suspected would happen, because I had a small fan packed. I cannot sleep without one and cruise ship cabin air systems are super quiet. The TSA agent was polite and it took all of 5 minutes or less.

    Mostly, if people would pay attention and do what they are told, the process is not that bad. It’s the stupid people who are not prepared or listening that make it a pain (most of the time).

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