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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Delta Lottery, I mean Airlines

 

This week I got to spend a few days shooting in Florida. It was great to see and work with some old friends for a few days. Getting there is another thing. If you do location work, flying is a misery of life and its gotten worse over the years. I'm often now just driving because its sometimes actually faster, certainly simpler, and usually cheaper plus no rental cars . I can have my van with full gear package.
 
Delta : I had always complained that NorthWest should of been called North Worst. Since they merged into Delta, I can say Delta is by far worse run. If you fly its a lottery of chance now, but you can hedge your bets.
 
1: Check in early - either online via their website, or using their iPhone app. The problem is if you are traveling with a couple cases of gear and want media rate which the website doesn't support you can't complete the check in process.
 
2: Miles - you have a frequent flyer account, right ? people with more miles have less chance of getting bumped, its stated airline policy. Makes sense that you take care of your better customers, even if it may not seem fair. 
 
3: Media Rate on those cases. Have a network ID card, or letter from your employer that you are on location assignment. Media rate is $50/ bag up to 100lbs which is a much better deal then the standard consumer rate. Not all gate agents know how to deal with this, so they may need to call a supervisor or more senior agent over.  You will have to go to a gate agent to the the rate as the kiosks don't have the option. You can of course always ship the gear out ground ahead of time, but if you have a busy production schedule this isn't always possible.
 
4: Be On Time : if 50 people show up before you, you may not get a seat so being at the head of the line counts. Online check in helps. 
 
5. New airline rules : They have to get you there on the next flight within 2 hours of your original arrival time. Well good luck when you are going into a smaller regional airport. My local airport used to have a flight about every 2 hrs in or out, so missing one wasn't a big deal if you got bumped. All that has changed now and it generally has only 3 flights coming in, late morning, late afternoon and mid evening. This is due to the phase out of smaller turbo prop planes and the use of larger regional jets as well as   the fact they are just cutting back on the number of flights altogether. Good luck if you miss the last flight out.
 
6. Don't take flights with close connection times. They offered one flight with just a 30 minute layover time. Given they almost always tend to run 10 minute late on arrival time, even if you run thru the airport and make the boarding, you luggage may not…. ya those cases of gear you need to do your job. 
 
If you plan ahead, you do well too on Delta Lottery too. As for some other airlines like Southwest, I won't even fly them.