Day 7: Magic Kingdom and a Sad Farewell

Day 7: Magic Kingdom and a Sad Farewell

The 9:00am alarm marked the beginning of the saddest day of the trip – the last day.

We finished packing, ate some granola bars, hung out in our living room and on the balcony, and headed downstairs at about 11:00.  We were going to use the Resort Airline Check-In Service, but AirTran’s servers were down. So, we stashed our bags with Bell Services and took a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

We went straight to Columbia Harbor House for lunch.  When we arrived, we were greeted by a woman who said we’d been selected for a Magical Moment.  She told us to place our order with the cashier, and then give her our receipt – so we did. She then escorted us upstairs to a private table that was roped off from the rest of the seating area. It had real silverware wrapped in cloth napkins, a centerpiece, and sugar packets!

She brought us drinks in real glasses, and then brought up our entrees on real plates.  When we were finished, she brought up our desserts.  It was literally a Quick Service meal with a Table Service experience.  It’s a new thing that some of the Area Managers are trying, and we thought it was a pretty cool way to end our trip.

We called Bell Services and found out that AirTran was back online. We took the boat back to the Lodge and checked our luggage with the Resort Airline Service – which meant we could bypass the AirTran counters at the airport and head straight to security. We highly recommend it…and it’s free!

My brother and SIL wanted to relax a bit, so they stayed at the Lodge and checked out the pool and grounds. Kayla and I (mostly I) wanted to have some real “closure” at the Magic Kingdom, so we caught the next bus back over to the park. It’s a short ride, which is nice.

We looked around the Main Street shops a bit, took in the music, smells and atmosphere one last time from the balcony on the train station, and then hopped on the WDW Railroad for a grand circle tour of the Magic Kingdom.  We came back around right at 2:00, so we said our final goodbyes to the Magic Kingdom, took one final PhotoPass picture outside the main entrance, and caught the next bus back to the Resort.

We changed our clothes in preparation for our travels home and got on the 2:35 Magical Express bus. After picking up guests at the Grand Floridian, we were off to Orlando International. We got there pretty quick, went through security in RECORD time (Orlando Airport is known for their long lines at security).  My brother and SIL grabbed some food at one of the airport vendors in our terminal, and we just snacked on things we brought with us. Since we were all in Business Class, we boarded first and enjoyed some complementary cocktails and snacks before we taxi’d.

This is when the worst service experience of our flying history started.  For the record (I hope someone involved reads this and is embarrassed), we were on AirTran flight 1094 from Orlando International to Indianapolis International on February 5, 2011.

The 4 of us were in 4 of the Business Class seats, and another pleasant couple took up another 2. The other 6 were occupied by the most obnoxious, perverted and disrespectful people I’ve ever been forced to be around. They were coming home from a Harley Davidson convention somewhere in southern Florida. Apparently they had a short layover in Orlando, and had been on the previous leg of the flight with the same flight attendants.

From the moment they boarded, it was a non-stop high-volume “discussion” about Steelers vs Packers, interspersed with comparisons of cars, engines, motorcycles, women and how much alcohol they were each able to consume. Obviously, it wasn’t AirTran’s fault that these people were on the plane, or that they were all animals, but the following account of the flight lies completely on AirTran’s shoulders.

The 5 men and 1 woman (who might as well have been a man, based on the way she behaved) were obviously intoxicated, likely from the alcohol served to them by our flight crew on their previous flight.  They were extremely loud and obnoxious – as stated above. It didn’t help that the flight attendants encouraged their behavior and continued to supply them with a steady stream of alcohol.

One man in particular, who sat in seat 2D, was the worst of them all. He was wearing a Jersey for one of the two Superbowl teams (I can’t remember which, because I would have rather pushed him out of the plane than concern myself with his favorite football team), and any time he’d see the pilot (a blonde 40-something woman), he’d hoot and holler at her, and ultimately forced his way up there to get her to put on his Jersey and pose for photos he took with his cell phone (which he had to get help using because he was too stupid to work it himself). In fact, the lead attendant took a photo of them with HIS phone and told 2D he’d e-mail the pic to him.

Again, the flight crew encouraged this activity, which continuously disrupted the boarding of the plane, annoyed guests as far back as the rear seats, and offended just about any civilized woman (or person) sitting within ear shot. The group was yelling sexist comments at the pilot, which she accepted, and when 2D showed his buddies the picture he took of her, one of them said, “Damn. That’s the machine flying this bad boy? I would hit that in a second!” loud enough for any child in rows 4-20 to hear.

This was all before we even pushed back from the gate. When it was time for the safety spiel, someone from their group made a smart-ass comment after every single safety instruction.  Sure, we all know how to buckle our seatbelts and use the oxygen masks by now, but there is a time to have fun and a time to sit down and shut the hell up. The safety spiel on an airplane is the latter.

Once airborne, the lead flight attendant – a male – was catering to their every comment, need, and drink request.  While Business Class promises complimentary cocktails, it does not grant you the right to get drunk. In fact, the law requires that you stop serving a person who is noticeably intoxicated, or else you become responsible for their actions.  I would sit on the witness stand and attest that our flight crew OVER-served this group of passengers.  They were obviously and undeniably intoxicated, to the point of bragging about how many mini-bottles of each alcohol they’d had by the end of the flight. In fact, they were discussing ways to get extra bottles to take with them. Since they were behind me, I never saw it happen, but I’m 99% sure the flight attendant gave them each a bottle shortly before landing.

At one point during the flight, the pilot called the lead attendant because she needed to use the restroom. The attendants are required to block access to the galley and front lavatory while the pilot comes out and goes into the restroom.  When 2D found out what was going on, he decided he needed to get up and greet the pilot while she was outside the cockpit.  He actually walked up to the lead flight attendant and got right in his face, insisting on “getting her” before she went back up front. He finally sat down after a whisper conversation with the lead attendant.  It’s a damn good thing there wasn’t an air marshal on the flight, or 2D would be in jail right now.

The lead attendant was egging them on the whole time, starting little tiffs about Packers vs Steelers just to stir them up. When one of this group’s friends boarded and sat a few rows back in coach, they were all giving him grief, and the lead attendant said, in a loud voice, “Sir, you’d be able to afford Business Class if you were a [whichever team] fan!”  Funny? Yes.  Appropriate? NOT AT ALL! He basically insulted everyone in coach.

When making his many announcements about our flight destination, flight number, and so on, the lead attendant would say that we were a non-stop flight to Hawaii.  Obviously a joke, but he never made that clear by saying, “I mean Indianapolis”.  Toward the end of the flight, he gave the usual spiel about seatbelts, initial descent, and said “as we prepare for our landing in – unfortunately – Indianapolis.”

He also made mention of the pilot being a woman on more than one occasion, with some sort of witty comment meant to whet the appetites of the Harley animals in Business class. Additionally, he routinely made jokes about collecting any of their extra alcohol for himself. He even leaned over to my brother and asked, in an extremely loud voice, if he “was going still drinking that or just playing with it?”  The Harley group had a big laugh. Later, he held out a cup and whispered to my brother, “you gonna finish that vodka? pour a little in here, would ya?”  He implied that he was joking, but I routinely saw him sipping from a cup of soda in the front galley, but only when the other two crew members weren’t up there. I can’t assume anything else was in the cup, but it was suspicious.

Upon landing, 2D was quick to grab his bag and barge to the front galley and await the appearance of the pilot. He was not at all discouraged from doing so by the crew. In fact, as soon as she came out, he bombarded her, tried to exchange e-mail addresses, gave her his business card, and literally held up the opening of the plane’s door (I know, because I saw the jetway mate with the side of the plane and felt the new air feed begin to flow into the plane).  We sat on the plane for at least 2-3 minutes while he flirted disgustingly with the pilot.

We FINALLY got off that dreaded flight and went to baggage claim. We knew exactly when they were on their way, because we could hear them while they were still at the top of the escalator.

I’m going to do a little more research on FAA laws and regulations before I send my e-mail to AirTran’s customer service department. I want to make sure I have my facts straight before I tell them what an abomination their flight crew was, and what a disgrace it was to fly with them that day.  It’s too bad Southwest is buying them, because that means my threat of NEVER flying with them again will go by the wayside.

I apologize for the rant, and want to be clear that while I always judge people and scenarios, I never do anything about it. This time will be different. AirTran will be hearing from me. They need to know what kind of people they have working for them, and that they had crew and passengers who were (likely) breaking federal laws.

Well, that ends our trip report.  Aside from the flight home, it was a fantastic trip. The weather was great, with highs in the 70s and lows never lower than 60 (by my account). It only misted on the last day, and just for a few hours. The rides and shows were fantastic. The food was delicious.

We can’t wait to return, and look forward to helping our many clients take equally magical trips 🙂

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