News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2005


Time to spare? Fly USAir

David Bronner loves a good joke as much as he loves a good drink.

We tried to share both with him long distance from Washington, D.C., on a recent Friday night but couldn't find his home telephone number in Montgomery, where he runs the Retirement Systems of Alabama.

Perhaps it was just as well, because the joke was on USAirways in which he's invested millions of state pension dollars, and his voucher was buying the airport-lounge drinks.

David has a fondness for outrageous conversation like that Regina and I wished to have with him about 10 p.m. when we were in the middle of a four-hour flight delay.

Time to spare? Fly USAir.

He's probably heard it before, but we thought it wouldn't hurt for him to hear the jingle again.

We flew USAir the last two times we traveled because the tickets cost less and because we're trying to help save the bankrupt airline.

And we didn't have to fly through Atlanta. But two flights, two awful delays — one overnight and into the next afternoon.

Time to spare? Fly USAir.

"What do you mean we don't have a flight crew?" I asked the person who gave us the delay announcement at Reagan National.

"We've got a plane but no crew to fly it," he said.

"I've been booked on this flight for at least a month, why didn't you book a flight crew then, too?" I asked.

"Sir, if you'd like to talk to a supervisor you can find several downstairs," he continued.

One supervisor, dressed in cutoff jeans and a T-shirt, gave a confusing answer.

"We're having mechanical problems in Pittsburgh," she said.

"But our plane is here," I followed up.

"But the crew is in Pittsburgh," she explained.

Our flight crew's day was long, too.

"We're not any happier about this than you are," the attendant said after apologizing for the inconvenience.

During the delay, somebody apparently forgot to load the baggage. We waited again.

Time to spare? Fly USAir.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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