Saturday, December 13, 2014


      Did some traveling over Thanksgiving and stayed to attend my nephew's wedding. (My wife was hot to see the wedding. Burned through two cell phone batteries making videos.) This is the tale of my traveling troubles and tribulations. 

     Let's start this post off right: 

     Everybody sing! "That Dallas airport sucks!" 
     I'm not talking about Love Field. No. Love Field has one way in, one way out, and one terminal. Everything works the way you expect it to. Easy. I ♥ Love Field. 

     DFW? That's another story. 

     My wife booked the flights. Anybody who knows how my wife goes ditzy at the mention of SALE! knows she booked the cheapest flights possible. That meant two changes of planes to wing it back to Texas. 
     Delta was our carrier, and they played games with the flight schedule right up until we boarded the first flight. The first flight was late taking off. That means we missed our connection in Seattle. A lot of people did. Delta put us on a later flight to LAX and upgraded us to First Class on our flight from LAX to DFW. An upgrade in an Embraer 170 is not much, but it is what the Delta agent could do for us and she did it. Missed flight and all, we arrived on time at DFW. 
     To understand my troubles and tribulations at DFW, you must know the lay-out of the airport:
     This diagram does not well represent how big the terminals are. That outer terminal ring in blue? It is a mile from end to end. And some terminals are partitioned so that you cannot walk from one end to the other. No. Gotta go down to the basement level (Arrivals), walk along the sidewalk until you come to your gate (hundreds of yards), and take the escalator or elevator up to ground level (Departures). 
     The DFW architecture was based on a FAILED idea of airport design. AFAIK, it is the only airport in the world whose architecture was based on this FAILED idea. (You understand that when I say FAILED I actually mean FYCKED UP, right?) 
     Other airports get it right. Here is the plan of the Orlando Airport:
     It is not obvious at first, but this is a brilliant layout. All ground traffic goes through the Main Terminal. Coming or going, you go to the same place. Going, you find your gate and get on a monorail shuttle to go from the Main Terminal to your gate concourse. Coming, reverse the process. 
     The key is that ground traffic and airplane traffic are separated. Going, you drop off at one place and one place only. Coming, your ride meets you at one place and one place only. No confusion. No confusion possible.
     Compare that to the DFW airport architecture. Go back up and look at it. You have five - 5 - terminals to drop off or pick up at. To make matters worse, each terminal has multiple entrances and exits. My best guess is that each terminal has 8 entrances and 8 exits. Could be more. And, yes, the entrances are separate from the exits. On different levels, even. 
     This means that at DFW, you have 80 frelling choices for drop off and pick up. The odds are against you getting it right. 
     And get this. Even you get the terminal right, even if you get the gate right, you can still be wrong. Departures are on one level (below ground) and arrivals are on another (ground level). Everything about the design of DFW makes me glad the Air Force taught me to swear and swear big time. 
     Oh, yeah. DFW is not in Texas. Hell, it is not even in the United States. DFW is in England. (Or maybe the Australian outback, given the heat that rages there all year long.) 
     Outside DFW, all vehicular traffic exits and entrances are on the right. Inside DFW, all exits and entrances are on the left side. 
     But, but, but, they saved the day by marking all the exits clearly and with preparatory warnings (Terminal D Exit/500 Yards), right? Oh, hell, no. 
     For many -- no, too many -- exits the ONLY sign is the one right on it. Some exits are not marked at all. And all the signs are blue. Blue. Every highway sign in the state of Texas is white on green. Why did DFW choose BLUE? It's as if the bastards who designed this abomination of an airport chose to make it as difficult as they could for people to find their way around. 
     Tell you what. From this point on, I'm not going to refer to that airport as DFW. From this point on, I'm going to call it HELL. 
     So there we were in HELL, having deplaned, collected our bags (my wife got on the plane with no bags and got off with one and how she magicked a full bag into existence I'll never know), and made our way to the curb. That's when it dawned on me . . . our original itinerary -- the one my sister had -- had us coming in on American Airlines. But at the last minute Delta changed us to fly Delta. Anywhere but HELL this would be a minor problem. In HELL, it is catastrophic. 
     We are not just at a different gate. We are at a different terminal. We are miles away from where my sister thinks we are. 
     I did not have my phone (forgot it). My wife had hers. Luckily, she also had a text message with my sister's cell phone number. She dialed that and shoved the phone at me. Also lucky, my sister has call waiting. She put her husband on hold while she answered our call. 
     First thing my sister said to me, "Where are you?" In HELL, obviously. 
     Turns out she was at home, prepping for Thanksgiving. She sent my brother-in-law to pick us up. He went to the American Airlines terminal and waited there until the terminal emptied. 
     (When my wife booked our flights, Delta handed off our last leg to Alaska Airlines, 'cause they got a deal with Alaska Airlines to handle their overbookings. Alaska Airlines does not fly to HELL, but they got a deal with American Airlines who does. In fact, American Airlines has its headquarters in HELL. Anyway, that is why my sister expected us to arrive in HELL via American Airlines.) 
     For the last half hour, my brother-in-law had been frantically driving around HELL trying to find us. My sister gave us his cell number, we called him, and he headed our way. 
     He never made it. 
     He got close, but a traffic cop directed him down to the underground level. HELL was dead silent everywhere but Terminal E and that was a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. Where were we? Terminal E. Bro-in-law called us and told us he was below ground. I said, "Stay there. We'll come to you." 
     We went back inside, found the escalator down to Departures, and rode it to the subterranean vaults of HELL. Found bro-in-law a few yards away, put the bags in, and fell in the car. 
     You might think the torture had ended, but you would be wrong. 
     They make you pay to exit HELL. We stopped at a toll gate to pay to get out of HELL. Bro-in-law started to dig for money, but I handed him the ransom. 
     SIX BUCKS! 
     That's right. The toll to get out of HELL is $6.00.

     How much opprobrium falls on DELTA for my troubles and tribulations? 
     I have given this much thought. Much thought. 
     At first I blamed DELTA for all my troubles. Then I laid all the blame on HELL. Given perspective, I can say -- with evidence -- that DELTA shares the blame. 
     The massive confusion arose because DELTA played games with our ticketing RIGHT UP TO THE TIME WE GOT ON THE FIRST PLANE. At the first airport, this earned my wife a questioning and a pat-down search. 
     Officer: "Why did you change flights on the day of departure?" 
     Me (screaming): "We didn't! DELTA changed our fycking flights! Go question the president of DELTA. Pat him down." 
     Officer: "Our computer shows you paid for your flights today."
     Me (screaming): "Your computer is fycking wrong! My wife paid for these flights last fycking month." Wife diddles with her phone and calls up her bank's payment to DELTA dated 29 October. I shove this in the agent's face. "SEE! I have independent confirmation of payment. Your fycking computer believes the fycking lies fycking DELTA tells it." 
     They let us go. 
    (Like I said, the Air Force taught me to swear and swear big time. Swearing a little is useless. Some people say you should never swear. Those people are fycking wrong.) 
     Besides playing reindeer games with our flight schedule, every DELTA flight we had business with coming to HELL took off late -- except the one we missed. That one was on time. Which is why we missed it. 
     Returning, our first flight was 'delayed' -- that is, late -- taking off, but the next two were on time. Of the six flights we were on, four took off late. Is that any way to run an airline? 
     Last, but most important, it is my judgment that the ground personnel at DELTA are ill-trained. 
     If nobody else told you, I'm telling you now: Your little blue smock does not entitle you to call me 'Baby'. As in 'How can I help you, baby?' 
     It certainly does not entitle you to be short and disrespectful with passengers who have come to you for service. (Did not happen to me but to the passenger next to me.) 
     And don't pick up my bags and fycking throw them onto the conveyor. I think that as compensation I should be given your fycking purse with the liberty to fling that mytherfycker as far and as hard as I can. What? Do I have to slap FRAGILE on every bag for you to place it on the conveyor instead of throw it? 
     For all that DELTA did right (and that last landing in the 747-400 was feather soft), the things they did wrong convince me that DELTA's management has its head up its ass. They are missing the details. 
     Choices I got. Fooled me once. I shall not fly DELTA again. 
     Returning home, once again we had to pass through HELL. The traffic to the airport was bad enough, but we arrived at 8:30 for a 9:45 flight. Bro-in-law dropped us off at the first Terminal E entrance that was not marked CLOSED. (Stop with the fycking construction already. You cannot make HELL better. The only thing you can do is dynamite the whole bitch into dust and start over and do it right. Give the fycking contract to Disney like the boys at the Orlando Airport did, and you'll have something that works instead of that half-assed abortion you call an airport.) 
     Well, of course, that was not the right gate. Well, of course, we could not just walk through the terminal to our gate, 'cause there was a fycking wall between this gate and that gate. 
     So we went back down to the subterranean reaches of HELL. We walked 500 fycking yards to get to our gate. It was marked CLOSED, but it wasn't. Went up to the ticketing counter. They had automated check-in. Of course, my documents did not not scan. An unsmiling DELTA agent directed us to Special Services. 
     Special Services in HELL. As tedious and rude as we can possibly make it. 
     Finally, bags checked, TSA passed (HELL is the only place TSA did not ask us to take off our shoes), we made it to our gate. 'Delayed.'
     This 'delay' worked to my benefit. Gave me time to go to the nearest bar and slam down two Bloody Marys. 

     I'm all for posting a sign over the entrance to the Dallas airport (not Love Field):


     Everybody sing! "That Dal-las air-port sucks!"

1 comment:

  1. I had to pick my editor up from HELL two years ago, and I agree with everything you've said about it. That is the most confusing damn airport EVER. I couldn't find the turn off for the right terminal, had to drive all the way down and around to come into from the other damn side.

    Getting out was not any easier, with all the traffic. It sucked rotten goose eggs!