Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: A letter to Delta Airlines


Dear Delta…

First off I’d like to thank you safely flying me to Austin, Texas, and back. Secondly, I should also thank you for the free cookie and pop. Finally, I have to admit that over the years I really haven’t had much that’s been worth complaining about to ya, so all in all I guess you’re an okay airline.

However, the last couple trips haven’t been much fun, especially the one last Saturday. Except for the miserable seats in your shuttle service from Minneapolis to Austin the trip there was okay. Even so, I do wish I could meet the employee who convinced you to buy those flying culverts. You see, I’m 6’3″ and I don’t fit, and from what I can tell no one over 5’4″ does either.

My first problem is that I can’t stand up in the dang things, so I invariably whap my head on something (the door, those damn overhead bin doors, the overhead bin). Then the seats seem to be more designed for midgets than me.

Frankly I gotta tell ya, sitting in one of those flying culvert seats make me wonder if they weren’t designed by a sadistic contortionist. They must be great for the chiropractic business but they are torture to me.

They’re real pretty looking with that blue leather, but once I finally squeeze myself into it I literally can’t move until it’s time to de-plane. Rather than the seat back wrapping around my shoulders, the headrest hits the bottom of my neck causing a crinkle in my neck. When I try to adjust for this I discover there is no lumber support, which causes my lower backbone to pinch my buttocks, which makes me clinch my teeth and stifle a groan as I try to get me feet under the seat in front of me which is difficult to do because my knees are already crammed into the seat back of the seat in front of me. I also have big feet too, so once I finally grimace myself into position I discover that I can’t comfortably put both feet under the seat without twisting either ankle. By the time I settle into one of your flying culvert seats I’m left to wonder if I wouldn’t be better off packing myself into a Fedex box and shipped as cargo.

For the record, I can’t adequately express how grateful I am that technology has improved to the point that I rarely have to sit in this position for more than three hours at a time.

Back to my recent trip to Austin.  The trip there was mercifully uneventful; the trip home not so much.

I left Austin around noon, got to Minneapolis around 2’ish… and that’s when things fell apart. Now I gotta give God some of the blame here because he created last Saturday’s blizzard that shut the airport down, that caused Delta to cancel flights for the rest of the day at which point we Bismarck and Minot bound stranded folks were herded down the hall to rebook our flights home. It was a mess; folks who literally flew to Bismarck and back to Minneapolis because they couldn’t land here were a bit more frazzled than most. But frazzlement could be seen on all of us as we wondered what to do next.

I was put on standby for the 5:45 p.m. Saturday flight and confirmed for a Sunday 5:45 p.m. flight. Hoping to see what my chances were of getting on the Saturday standby, flight I asked how many travelers were standing by and was informed that the flight was not only over booked by two but had a standby list of 40.

Noting my chances were slim, I got a motel room in some town I’ve never heard of and gave up for the nite. I caught the first shuttle back to the airport Sunday morning thinking that I’d just stand by any flight that might be leaving for Bismarck before 5:45 p.m. So I headed to the airport, looking as forlorn as I could and stood by three flights before finally getting on one. Of course, it was one of those 50-person shuttles and to top off my time with Delta, I banged my head good on the exit door whilst scrambling off the plane.

This experience led me to conclude that if you’d like to live up to the ad in the terminal that you’re not just building a bigger but a better airline, might I suggest that you start by understanding that standing by is not a pleasant experience… and a quick solution would be that when you have bad weather experiences like this you replace those flying culverts with a bigger plane. My math shows that flying culverts seat 50 and your bigger planes fly over a 100 passengers per flight and I rest my case.

And both of my loyal readers would probably like to know that my new 2011 Chevy Silverado I bought from Kupper Chevrolet had a dead battery, and I had to call a tow truck to jump me… So, as you can see, I can’t blame all of last weekend’s problems on Delta.

Here’s hoping all your travels are safe and mercifully uneventful…