My Wonderful Trip To South Africa That Didn’t Happen Thanks To The TSA And Delta Airlines

I don’t normally post personal items, but I think that everyone should know about some of the horrible things happening at San Diego International Airport and with Delta Airlines. I wrote this immediately after the events that transpired so that I would have an accurate log.

Summers are the busiest travel time of the year. Each year more than 750 million passengers move through our country’s airports raking up more than 800 billion miles of travel. (Source) Along with the increase in demand, air travel complaints are up as well. (Source PDF)


Now, we all know this year has been a special one for the airlines and air travel as a whole. From the JetBlue hostage crisis, the terrorist “dry runs” on airport security around the country, and the most recent debacle on Southwest Airlines where they asked a woman to cover up because of her lewd attire.

Also, after learning about Xeni’s experiences, reading Bruce’s article, I decided to post this. Here we go!

Recently, I had to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa for business. I had an important meeting for a big bid that was scheduled for Monday. I was scheduled to arrive on Sunday. The thing that was going to make the 25+ hour trip worth while was the opportunity to spend some time with my relatives that I have not seen in many years, so I had planned to have an extended stay.

Any way you slice it, it’s pretty crappy flight, mine was supposed to be the best of the worst according to friends that had made the same flight previously. It was certainly the least painful of all the previous routes that I have taken to Johannesburg in the past. My flight was from San Diego (SAN) to Atlanta (ATL) and then on to Johannesburg (JNB) via Dakar for some fuel. All flights on Delta. Flying coach.

I was scheduled to depart Saturday morning at 6:30 AM. I arrived at the airport on time, checked in at the Delta desk in Terminal 2 (PDF). I checked in at the First Class counter, they let me because no one else was waiting in that line.

That is when the fun began.

At the time that I place my bag on the scale I look over my left shoulder to scope out the security screening line.

Side note: Delta only lets you take 50 lbs. per bag, but they let you take two bags. I got charged $25 in overage. So much for the 70 lbs. of other international carriers.

“Jesus”, I thought to my self.

The security line was the longest I had ever seen it, dozens of switch-backs, and even extending onto the sky-bridge! Memories of the lines I endured at London Heathrow during the ‘liquid bomb’ scare flash through my mind.

I ask the Delta agent if I had a fighting chance, she said that I should have “no problem, it moves fast”.

As I get in line, I look out over the sky-bridge just in time to see the sun beginning to rise.

The line shows no sign of life for minutes. Suddenly, some action – three steps forward…

The mother in front of me with her two little girls lets out a sigh. I tell her “just when you think there is no hope.. it moves”. She laughs and asks where I’m from, I tell her that I’m a San Diego native and ask her the same question. We chat about San Diego, and where we are traveling and things of that sort. I then ask her “What time is your flight?”, “7:30″ she replies. “What about yours?”, “6:30″. She tells me that she will gladly hold my spot in line while I go to the front. I told her that I’ve got 45 minutes and there is no point getting nervous.

After fifteen minutes finally I make it inside the terminal, clock on the Blackberry reads 6:00 AM at this point. I see another nervous guy jump out of line and go up to the TSA staff and “First Class” security line. A minute passes and he returns discouraged and starts speculating about his flight leaving at 6:30, I asked him what they said. He was told to get back in line and that he would be fine. I was unimpressed with this, but figured it was just to early to start escorting passengers. I decide to wait.

The entire security line is snapped to attention when a rather large TSA employee decides that 6:05 AM is the perfect time to make an announcement at the top of his lungs. He requested that everyone make sure that all water bottles were out of the bags and that if you had anything larger than 3 oz. to come and get a zip lock bag from him. He also said that “If you have any questions, I am at the TSA desk and will be happy to help.”

It is now 6:12 AM on the Blackberry, the sign on the turnstile reads 25 minutes to go (the previous one read 15 minutes), I tell the woman and her husband, who had just arrived, that hopefully I won’t see them later (because I’ll be on my plane), but I would appreciate it if they could hold my spot. “No problem, good luck!”.

So I quickly walk up to the area where the loud TSA employee is standing and approach a woman wearing a maroon “Supervisor” polo-shirt. I tell her that I have a 6:30 flight. “Get back in line”, she tell me. With no eye contact.

I then hold out my ticket and say “Ma’am I’ve a 6:30 flight to Atlanta, I think I am going to miss my flight.”

“Get back in line”, louder this time, still no eye contact. (Think nightclub door man/bouncer.)

“Ma’am, please, I have an international connection in Atlanta I cannot afford to miss my flight.”

“I told you, GET BACK IN LINE” (Even louder, still no eye contact)

I then realize that this is going no where with this woman, and say to the TSA employee who made the announcement; “Sir, I beg you, please may I go through, I am going to miss my flight to South Africa.” He was standing right behind this “supervisor.”

This entire time, first class passengers are being allowed through their VIP entrance to their own x-ray and metal detector. No lines for VIPs. Just like a night club.

This lovely “supervisor” then snaps to him “Don’t get involved! Don’t make me call Frankie.”

Thinking that maybe this “Frankie” might have more intelligence and compassion I say, “Who’s Frankie? Lets call Frankie!”

“You don’t tell me who to call, sir!”, snaps the “supervisor” (Very loud and aggressive).

At this point, there were no more first class passengers going through this entrance.

I decide to hang around and wait, perhaps this “supervisor”, Jackie, would have a change of heart and let me through to make my flight. Given that there were no first class customers waiting, no sweat off her back. There is also no point in going back to the line, if I do that I am guaranteed to miss my flight.

At this point, I turn around and am confronted by two Harbor Police Officers. Officer Columbus Offord (Badge #3306) and Officer Walter Tucker (No badge number on his card?)

“This guy refuses to move!” Jackie pipes in from over my shoulder.

“Whats the problem?” the officers ask me.

At this point, we are in the middle of the terminal. Before I respond, the officers and I walk off to the side near the check-in counters.

“There is no problem officers. I am going to miss my flight, I have an international connection to make and she will not let me go through. I have been here with plenty of time to make it through security, but the line is not moving.”

“Well, we cannot just put you to the front of the line, you have to speak to Delta”

“Ok, I’ll go speak to Delta”

The Delta check-in desk is the closest to where I am now.

I walk over there, the officers stay put. I ask the First Class Delta employee – “Will they be holding the 6:30 flight for people that are waiting to get through security?”

“No, and if your not at the front already you wont make it”, she responds.

“Thanks” (Read: SHIT!)

So I walk back towards toward the line.

The officers then ask me, “What did they tell you?”

“That I’m not going to make it” I say.

“Let me have your passport”, demands one officer.

“What do you need it for?” (I’ve seen this movie before, I’ve done nothing wrong, but you know… abuse of power, police state, post 9/11 age, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc)

“So that I can know who I am talking to”, he says.

“Ok, here you go”, as I hand him my passport.

The officer then proceeds to radio my details in, and his partner just stands with me.

He then must have gotten word back from dispatch that I am NOT a terrorist, or he just wanted to log it in for their records.

He then gives me back my passport, waves his hand, and says “Go through.”

I then hand my tickets and passport to another first class “document checker”, and then Jackie says “What do you think your doing?”

“The officers said that I could come through!”, I plead.

“Oh no they didn’t, you get back in line where you were!”

Now, remember back now to the family holding my place in line? They had been watching this entire thing and were now at the front of the line, literally next in line. They waved to get my attention and say “We are here! We’re up here!”.

“I’m with those people, thats where I was”, I tell Jackie.

“Oh hell no, he’s not up there with those people, he’s got to get at the back of the line where he was.”, Jackie says.

“No, I was standing with them”, I plead again.

“They’re on Continental, they don’t know him!” (How could she know this?)

“I do know them, they are here from Florida on holiday, they were here for a week. Their flight connects in Houston!”, I say.

At this point the husband of the family, my hero – got love New Yorkers (living in Florida). Screams at the top of his lungs “He’s with us, you let him up here right now!” directly into the face of the TSA bouncer that made the announcement earlier.

The TSA officer says to the husband, “Sir, lower your voice.”

“Fine go through”, Jackie says knowing she could no longer deny me and had lost.

At the same moment I walk through the First class line behind the TSA officer. I hear the husband ask, “Why are you guys doing this to this guy, he just wanted to get on his flight?”

As I walk by, I hear the TSA officer respond – “Sir, that gentleman made a death threat on my life”. AN OBVIOUS LIE! I ignore it, as at this point I am shaking from the stress of the situation and I am nervous that I am not going to make my flight.

“Oh, I didn’t know anything about that”, the husband says.

The family and I are now parallel in the lines. I say thank you to both the husband and wife for their help and they try to calm me down, I was visibly shaking. I give the husband my business card and say please get in touch so that I can thank you. I hope he reads this and does.

I did not think a thing about the TSA officer’s “death threat” statement and went to the x-ray machine.

I take out my Powerbook and put it in a bin with the case, and toss my sandals and backpack in another.

No x-ray or metal detector alarms, and I get re-dressed.

I then run to Gate 40, basically the farthest gate in the terminal (check map linked above). I though the adrenaline would have got me there faster, but by Gate 38 my legs were running at half speed. Note: It must have been the sandals :)

I get to the gate counter nearly dying and say to a Delta clerk, named Ana, “Did I make it for the 6:30?”

“Nope, its already gone.”, she says.

“How long did I miss it by?”, catching my breath.

“Technically you missed it by 5 minutes, but actually you missed it by 2″, she says. (Read: SHIT!)

“Let me see you ticket”, she says.

So I hand her my ticket, tell her I’m catching a connection to Johannesburg.

She then puts me on the 8:00 AM flight to Atlanta, and tells me that I will need to run, “No Starbucks”, and puts me as far forward on the plane as she could. Seat 12C.
I ask her about my bag.

She says that it left on the plane without me, but assures me that it will be on the plane to Johannesburg.

I thank her and then go to the bathroom for a little moment. “This sucks, is it still worth going?” I think to my self.

I gather my composure and start walking back to the security screening area to find out the names of the people I had just dealt with so pleasantly at the security screening.

I spot a “security guard” on break and ask him if he knows who the woman (Jackie) at the front was and who the guy (TSA) was. He explains that TSA wear all white, and that some are private employees but still employed by the government.

He then says that he wants to see who these people were also and starts walking back with me.

On the way I see the two officers, Walter Tucker and Columbus Offord, sitting on coffee break and I approach them.

I say “Hi officers, I just wanted to let you know that I did not make my flight.” I continue, “I know you were just doing your job, but I would like to get your names and badge numbers.”

“What do you need that for?”, one says.

“You don’t need that!”, the other proclaims.

“What do you need it for?”, they both say obviously feeling defensive and threatened.

I respond, “I need it for the same reason that you needed to see my passport, so I know who I talked to. I want to be able to remember everything accurately.”

They then begin to pull out their business cards.

As the first officer, sitting on the right, hands me his business card, he says “You know you don’t come to the airport and make death threats.”

I respond by saying, “That is a ridiculous lie! You and I both know, you better than me, that if I had made a death threat to a federal officer that I wouldn’t be here right now, I would be arrested. You probably would have been the ones to do it. Its very easy for that TSA employee to make false accusations, I am just a regular citizen and I have no recourse, and he has no repercussions for making these false accusations.”

“Ok”, they say as they stare at me blankly.

After that, I walk towards the TSA kiosk, on the “secured” part of passenger screening.

I walk up to, a senior looking officer. Scott Stanfield.

I tell him, that I had a problem with some employees and I would like to know who they are so that I can file a complaint.

He says OK, but wants to make sure that he knows who I am talking about. So I tell him the woman in the front, with a maroon polo shirt, and the larger gentleman with a white TSA shirt at the desk in front. He walks me over to a more direct line of site, and points at them. I confirm that those are the people, even though I could not see the woman at the time.

He begins to tell me that the woman, Jackie, is not a federal employee, but is employed by a private firm GAT Security. I tell him thats fine, give me GAT Security’s number and the manager’s contact information and I will file a complaint with them.

Then I say I want to know who the TSA employee is, he says that he cannot give me his name because he is a federal employee. At this point I look at his badge and say “Scott Stanfield, are you kidding me? I can just go walk up and read his name off his badge, but you can’t tell me?”

“No, Sir I can’t. If you tell me what your complaint is, I will file the complaint for you”, he responds in a serious manner.

“Ok then”, I say.

At this point, several other TSA employees start to crowd around like school children trying to eavesdrop on a secret.

I tell him, that I don’t feel comfortable where we are standing and move over to the side a few feet.

I then explain to him, that as I walked behind the TSA officer he told another passenger that I had made a “death threat on his life.”

I tell Scott that this is a blatantly false accusation, and that his employees should not joke about these types of things. I also tell him, what everyone knows, that if it were true. I would be in custody.

I can see that this is not going anywhere, as he hardly agrees that this was a problem.

“This type of behavior must be encouraged”, I think to my self.

Before I go, they give me a piece of paper with – “G.A.T Security – Kyle 619-491-2864″, written on it. They say that Kyle is the Jackie’s manager. I thank them and go on my way.

When I return to Gate 40 I speak with Ana, the Delta clerk again. She says that I should go over and speak with the Delta manager, she points him out for me.

I walk up and ask the Delta Gate Manager about GAT Security and tell him my story.

He then says he will call a GAT manager to come speak with me.

I wait about 10 minutes and a guy shows up with a reflective safety vest, the GAT “manager”. He has been out on the runway, with his vest and ear plugs. This guy looks like a baggage handler, not the manager of airport security.

I explain to him what happened, and he tells me this in not the first time they have had problem with Jackie.

He then gives me the office number 619-491-2864 and Kyle’s name. I decide to give the number a call, it goes straight to voicemail on a cell phone, its Kyle’s cell phone. I start to wonder why is this number for the office going to Kyle’s cell phone?

I then go back up to Ana, she asks for my tickets again, and says if the plane doesn’t board in the next twenty minutes that I won’t make it. She wants to put on me on the same flights for tomorrow. I tell her “Ok, thank you”, and wait like the rest of the passengers.

At about 7:45 AM the plane has not boarded yet, and I get approached by another Delta manager who asks if the GAT supervisor was helpful. I tell him no. He then says, “come over here I want to lookup your flights.” He confirms that Ana had put me on for next day and says, “see you tomorrow.” It turns out that the bolt that they use to attach the plane to the vehicle for towing into the gate had broken and the plane was stuck on the runway.

I go up to Ana and thank her for being “the nicest person that I had dealt with today.” She said she was actually in a bad mood, but liked me. She asks for my tickets again, and at this point I figured I would ask about bulk-head seats for tomorrow. She said that they are only assigned the day of the flight. She then said, but don’t worry I have upgraded you to Business class. Don’t tell anybody.

I thanked her graciously and left the airport.

On my way out I see the TSA’s Scott Stanfield coming up the escalators near where this morning’s events began. I tell him that the second flight had mechanical problems and thanked him.

I spent several hours after I got home trying to find GAT Security in the White Pages and online, I could find nothing. I then decide to call the San Diego International Airport and ask for a manager… there is none. The only person to speak with is the directory assistance person.

I then try call the Harbor Police, I finally manage to get hold of a Sergeant Micksel. I explain to him what had happened with his two officers, that they initially refused to provide their badge numbers and names. I then spend nearly an hour and twenty minutes explaining to him why it was NOT appropriate behavior for them to tell me “You know you don’t come to the airport and make death threats.” He could not see why this was a problem. I tell try to walk him through the logic that it was a lie and a false accusation, and they knew it was false because if it were true they would have had to act.

Finally I tell him, “If you are not going to take my complaint seriously I will find someone who will.”

That gets his attention and he says he wants to get the dispatch logs and call me back. I wait for his call, and twenty minutes later he does call back.

He says that I dealt with “one African American officer and one Asian American officer.” I tell him, “No, actually they were both African American.” I don’t know why this was relevant?

He then tells me that all the dispatch logs said was that someone, called in “a disturbance”. I tell him that I had not created a disturbance, and the tells me that all the Harbor Police do is respond when they are called.

I then ask him how I can go about filing my complaint. He tells me to contact Internal Affairs and speak with John Reilly at 619-686-6590.

I thank him and hang up the phone.

The next morning I then decided that a trip of that length, when I have already missed my meeting is not worth taking.

My next mission is to get my ticket refunded.

I call Delta and ask for a refund, they tell me that I can’t get one even though it was a mechanical failure that prevented me from making my flight and even though I no longer need to make the trip.

I then ask how I can go about getting my bag back to San Diego… Remember? It flew WITHOUT me!

They tell me that they cannot get it, I have to go to the baggage desk at the airport.

So I go back to sleep and when I wake up I go to the airport to request my bag.

The baggage desk requests for the bag to be sent back to San Diego and delivered to my home.

My girlfriend, then says “Lets go to the Delta desk and ask for a refund.”

I oblige.

I tell the Delta clerk what happened, and that I no longer need to make the trip and would like a refund.

Interestingly, she does not offer me another ticket for another travel date. At the time I did not know that was the typical response. To be honest, I have never missed a flight before. Let’s hope this is not a new trend for me.

She then proceeds to do a TRR (Ticket Refund Request).

The manager comes over and explains that because I didn’t buy my ticket directly from Delta the amount that I purchased the ticket for does not show up in the system. Therefor, he cannot refund me today.

I tell him that I understand. The clerk then gives me a print out and tells me to call 1-800-847-0578 on the 23rd of August. They will take about two weeks to find out how much I paid and then be able to process the refund.

I thank her, and ask her about the $25.00 in over-baggage that I had to pay.

She says that they will be able to refund me when I call.

I thank her again, and go home.

Two weeks later, on Monday the 27th I call the refund center and give them my TRR number.

I am told that they can see my name in the system, but they have not yet received the actual request from the airport for a refund.

“What? I don’t understand, you have my name and the TRR number? What else do you need?”, I ask.

“We need the actual paper receipt from the airport, it can take up to 40 days”, the customer service representative replies as if this was normal.

“I have a paper copy”, I tell him.

“Ok, you can fax it to us at this number: 404-715-9256″, he explains.

So I fax it through immediately.

I wait until Wednesday and call back. I give the representative my TRR number and they tell me again that they have not received anything from the airport.

I tell them that I faxed it through already.

“When did you do that?”, she asks.

“On Monday”, I reply.

“What time?”, she says.

“Around 11:30 AM”, I tell her.

“Ohhhh I see that here, it will take at least seven business days to before anyone can get to that”, she explains.

“Ok, thanks”, I say and hang up.

Several days later I call back and ask for an update.

They tell me that they have refunded me $1943.71

I ask why the amount is $1943.71 and not $2143.71, which is what I was billed.

She tells me that there was a $200 penalty.

I tell her that I missed the flight because of Delta, and should not have to pay ANY penalty.

She says that its the policy.

I ask her about the $25.00 over baggage fee.

She says that it was not included with the refund request and cannot do anything.

I tell her that the Delta desk told me that the refund department would be able to process that at the time that my ticket will be refunded.

She tells me to go back to the airport and ask them.

And that is where we are today… So my friends, I pose the following questions:

What recourse do passengers that encounter things like this with the TSA have? This is obviously a case where the TSA officer felt that it would be easier to lie to justify his actions, rather than do the right thing and help someone.

How can Delta let my bag fly without me? I thought that airlines are supposed to remove passengers that do not board? Isn’t this a HUGE security risk? I mean, you could read my story and find a massive loop-hole in the security system at airports. Especially given that in recent “dry-runs” bags with simulated bombs made it onto planes. I know I don’t feel safe now, knowing that the baggage belonging to the guy being detained at security is on the plane even if he is not. Does keeping him off the plane make us safer?

Why should coach passengers be discriminated against? Why do first class passengers receive special security treatment? Are they paying more taxes to support the TSA? No! They should be in line with every other tax payer in coach.

Seriously, what if I end up on a “no-fly” list? What recourse does one have in a situation like this? Like this guy?

Who is GAT Security? How did a company with two employees, Jackie and Kyle, with only a cell phone get into a position where they can over rule the TSA and dictate what passengers get on to their flights and which get delayed?

Why did the TSA’s Scott Stanfield refuse to provide me the name of the other TSA employee? His excuse was bogus, if the employee wears a badge… his name is not a government secret!

Why does it take Delta? Two weeks/40 Days/Seven days to process a refund? The kicker here is that my credit card was billed by “DELTA AIR LINES ALEXANDRIA VA” and not by the website that I purchased the tickets from – Cheapoair.com? Is this just an excuse to keep our money and make it difficult to get refunds for things that they did not provide?

Thanks for reading!

So much for the friendly skies.

If you are looking for some other interesting reading check out these articles:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20298840/site/newsweek/

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/07/airport_securit_7.html

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/behavioral_prof.html

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/court-says-trav.html

http://consumerist.com/consumer/travel/flight-delays-will-only-get-worse-say-experts-296266.php

http://consumerist.com/consumer/travel/united-airlines-hires-customer-service-specialist-from-disney-296134.php

Editor’s Note: This post was not proof read and was written on my blackberry. Please excuse any grammatical errors.




240 Responses to My Wonderful Trip To South Africa That Didn’t Happen Thanks To The TSA And Delta Airlines

  1. Joe says:

    I had a similar experience with United about 3 years ago. In my case, I had a 9:45 am flight from Dulles to Savannah, GA. I cleared the ticket window and was in the security line by 7:00 am–2 hours and 45 minutes before my scheduled flight–planning to catch breakfast on the concourse.

    When 8:00 arrived, and I was still less than halfway to the metal detectors, I was getting concerned, and I started asking every “official-looking” person whose eye I could catch. They all assured me that I would make it in time. At 9:00, I got the couple near me to hold my place in line while I went up to the front to ask about it. I was told to get back in line, that I would be fine.

    I nervously waited my turn, but the line was moving, and it began to look like I might actually make it after all. I finally made it through the security checkpoint with no problems and ran all the way to my gate. I arrived at the gate at 9:40 sharp, only to discover that the flight was gone. The gate agent informed me that the posted schedule of 9:45 am is a “wheels-up” time. They closed the doors TEN minutes prior to the posted departure time! Four other passengers came running up right behind me. We were all flabbergasted that, given the obviously excessive security check time, United did not hold the flight a few more minutes, especially since we had already cleared the front ticket window, so United knew we were on our way to the flight.

    Since I had missed the meeting I was supposed to attend, I demanded my money back, and they refunded. But nobody ever offered anything like an apology.

    So, to those who say “you should’ve gotten there earlier,” I say “poppycock!” It’s impossible to get there early enough if they are not going to exercise a modicum of common sense in easing the delays — they could make concessions to passengers with special cases and never have to compromise security. They are just too stupid to want to try.

  2. mongo says:

    You had a rough experience. I’m not going to attempt to add to your suffering here. I would simply like to offer a few practical suggestion on how others can avoid such experiences:

    1) Know what time the ticket counter opens. If your flight does not allow enough time to wait for the ticket counter to open, consider a different flight

    2) Do not offer your opinion to any airport personnel who do not ask it. It won’t solve anything, and whatever ill treatment you get will have to be hashed out through bureaucracy of some kind anyway.

    3) Don’t pack 70 pound bags. The extra $25 charge does not go to the poor guy on the tarmac who has to pick up that bag. Be kind, pack small.

    4) If your flight involves tight connections, you will suffer. Avoid tight connections. Better to sit around an airport for hours with nothing to do than to scramble desperately to a flight you can’t possibly connect with.

    5) Travel is suffering. Has been throughout most of human history. Do not look upon your suffering as something unusual. But file complaints with the appropriate bureaucracies if you are singled out for particular misery. Don’t argue in the terminal or at the gate. Just take notes and file the proper forms afterwards.

  3. Travel Search Engines

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting

  4. Wanderer says:

    To the person from the TSA who is saying “We have to take away your liberty to save it” and “We’re justified in being rude to you because someone else was rude to us”, a few points:

    1) The “water plot” was chemically impossible. The individuals behind it were wanna-be’s, planning for something they could never carry out … in fact, that a Nobel Prize-winning chemist would be unable to carry out. What they thought they could do, and anything remotely like it, was quite simply not possible for them to do. In layman’s terms, “it don’t work like that”.

    2) You’re an actor in a theater. Nothing more. You’re doing nothing to keep people safe. You’re a walking, talking pacifier. Just call yourself “Binkie”. They’ve put you out there to make the voters *think* the politicians are doing something Important, but the real security happens nowhere near you. Just like people think if Grandma’s home remedy for a cold tastes terrible it must be really good, they think if they’re hassled and abused at an airport, they must be really safe. Neither one is true. So don’t feel so high and mighty. You’re just a prop.

    3) The Golden Rule is not “Do unto others as totally different people have done unto you.” Really, it’s not.

  5. darkbhudda says:

    In Cairns, Australia they use private security firms. They use people who are also prison guards. They’re as charming as the people you described.

  6. [...] Netstumbler.com: My Wonderful Trip To South Africa That Didn’t Happen Thanks To The TSA And Delta … Permanent Link [...]

  7. Joel Odom says:

    I avoid commercial air travel as much as possible. I have a private pilot’s license, which is great for many domestic trips.

  8. Hal says:

    I’ve had bad experiences with Delta before– nowhere as bas as the ones you mention, but still extremely annoying. I had already vowed never fly Delta again, and your story underscores it.

  9. CK says:

    You can file a police report on Jackie for making a false police report (she lied to the police about you making a threat). Once you do that you can sue GAT for the damage their employee did (when she lied). GAT isn’t responsible for missed flights but they are responsible for their employees’ behavior.

  10. dc user says:

    Make sure you make a complaint to the Inspector General of TSA or the Dept of Homeland Security.

  11. Dreew says:

    I gotta tell you I can sympathize with your story, you should have been pulled out of line by Delta and escorted to the front of the line, you should add that to the delta questions. I fly several times a week and see this happen all the time.

    The first class line needs to stay however. Most of the people in this line are people that fly frequently, know the rules and can get through security very quickly. They know they have to take off their shoes, know you have to take the metal out of your pockets, know nothing can be on top of your laptop, know the liquid rule. The general traveling public does not realize these rules and cause the line to move very slowly. That is why that line is frequently empty, I’d bet that on average that line sees as many people go through it as the other lines.

    So maybe they should rename the line to “People who know what they are doing” but everyone thinks they know what they are doing so that probably won’t work….

  12. [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerptRecently, I had to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa for business. I had an important meeting for a big bid that was scheduled for Monday. I was scheduled to arrive on Sunday. The thing that was going to make the 25+ hour trip worth … [...]

  13. Nathan says:

    Horrific story. Regarding your financial issues, and assuming you paid for your ticket via credit card, next time you speak with the Delta employees inform them that failure to refund the price of the flight they did not provide and the luggage surcharge that is not applicable is considered fraudulent and that if they will not refund your money, you will (and can) instruct your credit card company to issue a chargeback (the credit card firm refunds you and refuses to pay Delta, also if Delta gets enough of those they lose the ability to accept that form of payment).

    That should motivate them to refund you, but if it doesn’t, what they are doing certainly entitles you to the full protection of your credit card, so I would strongly encourage you to contact them regarding getting a chargeback put in place and having them handle your refund.

    Slight disclaimer: I work for Bank of America’s credit card division.

  14. Next Time Show Up Earlier

    I love my new section on whiners. The Internet is full of them, and this mental giant complaining about missing an international flight to South Africa is a good one. The post is your typical TSA/FAA/Airline bitch-fest. … Lines at…

  15. aquanetta says:

    I’m from San Diego too, all these travel horror stories that have come out of San Diego International Airport lately are really embarrassing.

    Some thoughts:
    1) Duh…If the airline advises their passengers to check in 3 hours before a scheduled international flight, then the desk should be open at least 4 hours before the flight. Delta sucks for that, but San Diego International Airport is not really international. I don’t think they even have an “international arrivals” area for customs and immigration, and the only direct international destinations are a couple of airports in Mexico and Canada. Since the first leg is a domestic route, arriving 3 hours early seems like an overkill. But still, if they make that recommendation to customers, they are obligated to have the counters to handle customers who follow the rules.

    2) Early morning and late afternoon on weekdays are rush hour, they seriously need to add screening lines during those times. Other times of the day it actually goes really fast.

    3) If you think San Diego International Airport sucks, try LAX. If you’re connecting to or from an international flight, you have to get out of your arrival terminal, wait for the one bus that rarely comes and takes forever to stop at each and every single terminal and only in one direction, then go through LAX’s horrendous security again to get to your departure terminal. I don’t think the international terminal is even connected to the other ones with interior walkways, just the curb that’s tough to navigate if you have a rolling carry-on. It’s really faster if you’re a fast walker. I’ve missed connections even with a 3 hour layover.

    3) Several travel magazines (I believe Budget Travel and Conde Nast Travel) have travel ombudsman. Your story is shared by many frustrated travelers, you may be able to get this issue mediated by them. Have you thought about emailing Mike Turko (the TV guy)?

  16. Jeremy says:

    I work for an airline…

    We have problems all the time with the companys that are hired to check ID’s and manage the entry into the TSA Security Checkpoint.

    We have people that get down to the gate with the wrong persons boarding pass…their online boarding passes from the wrong day (that they present on accident) all of this gets checked by these people, and still this happens!

    As far as your bag riding without you. That is common practice.

    The only way your bag CANNOT fly without you is if you were randomely selected as a SELECTEE (SSSS on your boarding pass) and you do not board the aircraft. At that time your bag must be pulled for security reasons.

    Otherwise, your bag can fly wherever it wants without you.

    The Delta agent should have advised you that by doing a refund request you are subject to the fee. Ours is only $75.00. But still, you should not have had to pay that anyways…

    Delta did not offer to reroute through JFK to get to JNB??

    Glad you got a good agent who knew what they were doing though…that could have easily made your day worse.

  17. Dominic Contreras says:

    I am an airline employee not with Delta but a domestic carrier here in Arizona. First off I would like to ask you how long before you scheduled time of departure you got to the airport for your first flight you missed cause of TSA? Second I would like to say that for connections especially international ones you should have showed up to SAN airport at least and I stress at least 2 hours before your SCHEDULED departure time. I prefer to get there 3 hours but if I know that the airport is going to be busy might be smart for a little more leeway.

    Now as far as your problem issue with Delta and TSA, first off this issue you had missing your first flight was not Delta’s problem. TSA on the other hand granted if everything you say is accurate then Jackie was wrong. The first thing you should have done was to go back to the Delta ticket counter and ask that they give you an escort to the front of the line. All airlines will provide this service if they determine that you will miss your flight. If they say no to you cause they believe that you will make it then I dont know what to say.

    When you did finally get through security I understand that it was getting to crunch time on the flight so you did the right thing by running. Although and I cant remember exactly if Lindberg Airport has electric carts to and from the security checkpoint. If they don’t then running was the only option. Once you got to the gate and they said you missed your flight at that point most airlines seeing as this was your fault in the long run not the airline would have put you on standby for the next flight.

    The next flight that you were waiting for had been canceled because of a mechanical problem with your aircraft, so Delta is responsible to reimburse the passengers that were scheduled for that flight, not you being that you are a standby pax on that flight due to yours or TSA’s problem not Delta. Now with that said had you at the time requested compensation for your travel I might have been more than happy to assist in getting it to you then. You waited till the next day which is fine I mean you had to make up your mind but that caused problems. Long story short the refund whether it be full or partial was a customer service to you cause technically Delta owed you nothing seeing as they were not the ones that made you late to your first flight.

    Oh and by the way as far as your little remark about your baggage first off if you read the fine print or just have common knowledge of domestic flights your bag was too heavy so you had to pay simple as that. They don’t charge you for pocket money I mean this is money that goes in to paying for the fuel of the flight and the poor ramp agents that have to deal with your heavy luggage ( Being an ex poor ramp agent myself) thank god I am now upstairs in Weight & Balance and ticketing. When my ramp agent tells me he has 15 heavy bags that is bags over 50 lbs I have to add that to my figures which raises my payload which could cost my airline in fuel. I am not saying your one bag made a difference but add it together it does. Plus as a ramp agent you are getting paid close to minimum wage to haul around some heavy bag. When you stated that unlike all the other international flights allowing 75 lbs well first off you are still traveling domestically second ohh well pack less or spread your weight a little better.

    Final say in all this is this traveling is a privilege and a right. There are rules to it just as any other business out there, the rules are clear and precise and there for your safety and for yours and all passengers pleasure. There are many resources you can use before traveling such as going to the TSA.gov site and checking on what is allowed through security and also getting appropriate times for wait and stuff. You can also call your airline in advance say 24 hours and check-in with the flight and get any info you need such as typical times for flight and what needs to be done if there is a problem. Last but not least and this is the most important GET TO THE AIRPORT 2-3 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR FLIGHT.

    I would love to hear back from you on this issue and would also like to know if you ever travel through Arizona. Email is cinimodaz@gmail.com more than welcome to contact me.

  18. Wayne, please ignore the unsympathetic whining of the many commenters that are in love with authority. All is as it must and should be, and we certainly deserve no human compassion in life, right? No this is not right.

    Just watch the US tourist industry start to nosedive as foreigners simply ignore the US. Come to think of it, for most asian and european citizens, There are plenty of much friendlier wonderful vacation destinations, not to mention friendlier safer places to study, work, and live.

    Tokyo, Japan, resident for 3.5 years.

    A friend of mine, through shall we say over-joyful celebration on his farewell sendoff, arrived at Narita airport FIFTEEN MINUTES before his flight to London was due to take off, and they still re-opened the closed checkin counter for him, whisked him through security and on to his flight.

    That is customer service.

  19. b747 says:

    GAT is a gound handling contract company that primarily handles delta at san diego airport

    Here’s there webiste. PLEASE COMPLAIN LOUDLY

    http://www.gatags.com/home.htm

  20. swordie says:

    very long story but worth to read… i just hope it will never happen to me.

  21. Brother Maynard says:

    SETH DELACKNER sooooo according to you we shouldn’t ever expect anything on time. There is always one asshole like your Nippon friend who thinks they are so important that the rest of the world should have to wait on them. If he left his medicine on the plane or if he were heading to the hospital I could see that, but his travel was not life and death otherwise he might’ve taken it easy on the sake. I am not a tool of authority- that is a defense mechanism you use when you have no other real arguement as in this case. What about the other people that actually got there ON TIME and waited in line?? This prick was jsut “whisked” on through. As long as there are feel good liberal dandies like you two in the air everyone would be here compaining about late flights. If you spend thousands of dollars on something, maybe you should buck up and act like it. Otherwise, I guess money isn’t very important to you and you deserve to part ways with it. Nice slight to the US there too. Ya just slipped that one right in there. Trolls all over the world are jealous. I just wish we could e-punch people online already.

  22. TedG says:

    You are an idiot and it sounds like you are a pain in the butt. If you would have arrived early and planned accordingly, you would have made your flight. You are an adult now so take responsibility for your own actions!

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    [...] I’m not convinced that current security measures do much more than deter  garden-variety crazies. A determined terrorist will get through if he or she really wants to. Think of the millions of people flying each year then try to recall the last time you actually heard of someone dangerous being stopped? Usually, all the screeners do is inconvenience ordinary people with their zealotry. [...]

  26. [...] Wayne Slavin wrote a fantastic post today on “My Wonderful Trip To South Africa That Didn’t Happen Thanks To The …”Here’s ONLY a quick extractNow, we all know this year has been a special one for the airlines and air travel as a whole. From the JetBlue hostage crisis, the terrorist “dry runs” on airport security around the country, and the most recent debacle on Southwest … [...]

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  37. [...] is a fairly typical story about the treatment of fliers by the TSA and it’s contract cronies. Crap treatment and then Not doing there job at [...]