Monday, April 5, 2010

Airport Fiasco

While I am generally a fan of going to the airport, tonight was an exception. I find airports to be highly amusing places. It's the best place in the world to people watch.
I went to go pick up Allie and Jane from their flight home from their visit to see their dad. This is something I do about 3 times a year so I'm fairly well versed in how the airport works. Tonight they threw me for a loop.  Allie is old enough now that the girls don't fly as Unaccompanied Minors and technically do not require escorts to and from the gate. However, we still do this. It's not a big deal. I go to the ticket counter when I drop them off, let them know that I want to escort them and get a gate pass. I leave my ex-husband's name with them as the person that will be picking them up on the other side and he checks in when he gets there and goes through without incident. This process is then repeated in reverse on the way home. This generally runs rather smoothly. When you do this six times a year you get pretty good at it. For instance, I know that flights to Milwaukee are generally about 20 minutes early. Flights into Seattle are generally about 20 minutes late. Depending on the time of day I know how early I need to get there to get through security in a timely manner and which point to go through.  We've had a couple mishaps (like the time his wife forgot to leave my name at the counter) but all in all we've got the process down.
Tonight was a different story. When I got to the ticket counter they were closed. How the hell am I supposed to get a gate pass if there's no one from the airline to help me? I asked a representative from a nearby airline what I could do. She pointed me to the customer service number and suggested I call them. Well, it's Sunday. It's also Easter. The automated line informed me that they had closed for the day some 8 hours earlier. Shit. The arrivals board said that the flight had arrived on time at 10:07, not at 10:57 like it was on the website when I checked earlier in the day. SHIT! I tried the counter at baggage claim but there wasn't a counter for the airline they were on. I called Doug in an obvious panic because I was on one side of security while my kids had possibly been sitting on the other side for close to an hour. He suggested I find our nearest friendly TSA person and explain the situation and see what they could do.  So I found one and explained the situation. Thankfully she was what one would expect from our highly trained government employees and was next to no help at all. Was I sure that there was no one at the ticket counter? Um, yes. I could try to talk to another airline. Done. I could have them paged. I'm not even sure the plane has landed but thank you for your "help" and don't strain yourself getting off that stool on my account. I left wondering what exactly the punishment was for punching a government employee for being stupid was.
Then I saw a Port of Seattle officer and decided he couldn't be an less helpful than I had encountered so far and asked for his help. Bless this man! He listened to my story and said that he would meet me at the exit from the terminal once he had his "vehicle". Apparently he was living out fantasies from his youth while watching CHiPs. This little scooter thing was hilarious but I kept my snarky comments to myself since he was being so helpful. He scooted down to the gate where they would be arriving and talked with the ticket people there and found out that the plane was just coming in.  He came in and assured me that they would not be left to wander. When I explained that they were not listed as Unaccompanied Minors he zoomed off with the assurance that he would bring them back to me in one piece and that everything would be OK. And he did.
Thank you Mr Port of Seattle Officer. You made an incredibly worrisome experience turn out good in the end.

1 comment:

mcallister said...

Dear Brandy,
I had the good fortune to be forwarded a link to your blog regarding your recent visit to SeaTac International Airport. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your positive experience with a member of our staff. It is always a pleasure to read correspondence on the exemplary performance of a Port of Seattle Police Department employee. We are very proud of our officers and know they go “above and beyond” for passenger’s every day, thank you for noting the extra effort. I will share your comments with the employee, and know he will honored.

The efforts of officer reflect our Department’s continued commitment to our guiding principles of leadership, integrity, and accountability in serving our community.

The T-3 vehicle you observed, is a cutting edge, versatile law enforcement tool that expands the capabilities of our foot patrol officers, increases our efficiency, effectiveness, provides increased visibility, supports our community policing efforts, is low cost and supports our “green initiatives.

Warm regards,

Nancy McAllister, Deputy Chief
Port of Seattle Police Department