This article was co-authored by Rahim Kanani and Tyler Moselle.
A few months ago, Tyler parked his Oldsmobile under a tree in Cambridge, MA, prompting countless birds to unleash hell. Soon after, we were driving around Logan Airport and Tyler slowed down at one of the terminals to ask a security guard for directions. The officer surveyed the filthy vehicle.
"You fellas must be lookin' for AirTran," he said.
We were, and that was just the beginning.
Tyler and I needed to fly as cheaply as possible from Boston to Washington and AirTran fit the bill. We arrived at Logan 90 minutes early to find that our flight had been delayed 5 hours. We approached the AirTran desk in search of answers and a short conversation ensued.
"Are there any other flight we can take to get home?" we asked.
"No," snapped the attendant. His eyes were locked on his computer screen and he was rapidly clicking away on his keyboard. "Baltimore airport shut down one of their runways."
Cut to five hours later: We approach AirTran again and inquire about the flight. The man behind the desk was wide-eyed and high-strung, with a wrinkled white dress shirt and untucked in the back. He avoided eye contact but barked that the flight was delayed yet again.
We waited another hour while watching CNN. Many of us saw mice running around the gate door and immediately refrained from touching the floor. Even the waiting area of AirTran seemed to be cursed.
Suddenly, the microphone cracked. A woman started mumbling -- seemingly in a garbled French accent -- into what was apparently a P.A. system from the 1930s. We didn't understand a word she said and neither did the rest of the waiting passengers. Everyone looked around frantic, impatient and exhausted.
Was Melissa Mumbles asking us to line up? Was there another delay? We all huddled around the gate, thankfully, boarding commenced. Ms. Mumbles barely looked at Tyler's ticket.
"Thank you," she said. Or at least that's what I think she said.
"You're in Group 2! You need to wait!" Mumbles yelled at me.
"I'm sitting next to him," I replied. Out of nowhere, an AirTran mechanic appeared and convinced Mumbles to let me proceed
Stepping onto the plane, Tyler focused on his ticket to read the seat number. Suddenly, a high-pitched, nasally voice screeched out like a rooster: "Havin' trouble focusin'?"
It was Red Head, the onboard AirTran attendant whose skin tone rivaled even the ripest tomato. His hair, too, was shinier than glass-cased Chinaware. In taking our seats, he screeched yet again: "You two wanna' stick around and go to Rochester?"
What the hell was he talking about?
That's when the second unresponsive gate agent reappeared. He looked worse than the last time we'd spoke. His eyes were bloodshot and he walked with an intensity only matched by his incessant fidgeting. He grabbed the microphone and without taking a breath...
As passengers continued to file into their seats, The gate agent turned attendant grabbed the microphone every 5 minutes on the dot and yelled exactly the same thing with ever-increasing speed, beating his previous record time after time. In between speaking, he sped back and forth down the aisles, urging passengers to take their seats.
A 20-something Goth carrying a large musical instrument appeared near the front row, attempting to jam her luggage into an already-filled overhead bin. Mumbling to himself, the flight attendant stood silent two rows away from her antics and stared in disbelief as she held up the plane. Finally, ready to burst like a Piñata, he darted to another overhead, grabbed two black bags, slung them over his shoulders and bellowed for all the plane to hear: "Oh don't worry, I'll just move my personal belongings. No big deal."
Do AirTran employees really have to fight it out with passengers for luggage space?
We then realized Melissa Mumbles had made it onto the plane. After speaking to Personal Belongings for a few moments, she left. He then grabbed the microphone once more to try and beat his old record. During his 200mph irritated announcement, outside the cabin door knocked Ms. Mumbles in an effort to retrieve something she had forgotten.
The door stuck. So they fought with it for a while.
The pilot finally came on the air to assuage everyone's fear. Passengers sat, dazed and confused, listening to the final announcements.
Forunately, we landed safe and sound. Unfortunately, our belongings did not.
When all of the passengers headed home, we shook our heads in despair because one of our bags was missing. After waiting an hour for the luggage to begin with, we stood in line for another 30 minutes to report my missing suitcase. This AirTran employee was not at all surprised, almost as if she expected it to happen.
"We'll do our best to find it and deliver it to you," she explained.
The next day a woman called me from AirTran claiming to be outside my apartment complex with my suitcase. I told her I was about a 5-minute walk from my building and to hang tight.
"Oh no, that's way too long. I can't wait for you," she said.
Perplexed at how AirTran conceptualizes time, I asked a simple question: "I've been waiting for my luggage for 12 hours and you can't wait five minutes?"
Speed-walking home, I found the AirTran woman driving her own personal car, blankets spread across the backseat with six suitcases waiting to be delivered.