Nightmare at PHL

Not sure about anyone else, but my experience at PHL was horrible. How was service at Philadelphia International Airport if/when you flew out of there?

I had a flight out of Philadelphia International Airport last Friday, and it was a nightmare just dealing with the airport. My morning started out at 6:30, when I arrived 90 minutes ahead of time for my 8:00am flight. For a domestic flight- you’d think that 90 minutes was more than enough time to check in and get through security.
Storms/Weather had canceled most of the flights the night before- everyone was told to return the next day, and of course- everyone comes back at the exact same time. Right before my flight.
To make things better- there was no order or any kind of logic to the lines, and everyone was forced to wait, so I got into the line for e-tickets and waited. If someone with any sense of logic had any idea of how to run the airport- they would have made two lines- one for people with confirmed flights, and one for people that had cancelled flights and needed to get booked onto other flights.
Forty five minutes later, I got called to a kiosk to print my boarding pass and baggage stickers- type my name in, and the destination airport code, only to find that the kiosk isn’t working. Lucky me. The three other people standing in front of me that tried to print out their boarding passes from the same kiosk and now we were all waiting to be helped by one of the counter people- so we wait for the person who worked behind the counter to help us.
20 minutes later, the person working at that station still has not come back, one of the passengers in front of me has missed their flight, and she decides to leave the airport. Line moves up. We complain to the manager(whose name I will keep off this post), and he just tells us that we have to be patient and wait. Another 20 minutes pass, we continue to complain to the manager, and nothing is done. The other two people still waiting in front of me miss their flight, but continue to wait. I’m about 5 minutes from missing my flight, and stay in the same spot.
Someone from another desk comes over after helping their customer, and helps the two people in front of me print out their boarding passes and tags their bags. I get to the counter and the person walks away. Back to the manager who tells me that I have to wait again, I ask why I should be waiting in line for an hour after getting to the airport with more than enough time to be ignored at the counter- and how he was not in any way helpful- Then the Magic Words- Can I speak with your supervisor/boss?- and he brings me to the front of another line of 500 people to get re-booked.
I get re-booked for the next flight out- which according to the ticketing attendant is 3:55pm- So they expect me to wait in the airport for over 6 hours, and don’t even give me access to the frequent flyer lounge(any time my flights were delayed at JFK, they would give me day access and a meal or two). I decide to go into the airport to find the Customer Service counter to lodge a complaint- and guess what I find there- another line, not as long as the last two, but still would have taken over an hour if I decided to wait in it. I whip out my phone and call up the airline directly and tell the person I want to file a complaint, they ask for my information and tell me that they can put me on the 11:15 and that I will need to get back on the 500 person line to print out a new ticket. I get her information, hang up, and head back down to ticketing. I find the manager again and tell him the situation- only to be told that I will have to wait in line and basically he tells me that he is not responsible for any of the mistakes that his staff has made. I head to the line, spot another employee and flag her down- turns out she was nice enough to head behind the counter and print out my new ticket.
So at least one person had the right thing in mind, but still- how is it possible that the airline gets any business at that airport? If I had not threatened to file complaints to the employees I would have been there all day- probably wouldn’t have gotten onto the 3:55 flight because of the lines.

4 Comments so far

  1. Wendy (unregistered) on August 15th, 2007 @ 10:48 pm

    I’ve had trouble every time I have taken a morning flight out of PHL from multiple airlines. They can’t seem to deal with any type of crowd with ease. I’ve learned that the line for security in Terminal D has always been extremely long and you can easily walk to Terminal C to go through a much shorter line. They could easily reroute some people that way, but a security person at Terminal C told me they’d rather be less busy than more helpful.
    Basically I try not to fly out of PHL at peak times or peak days unless I want to spend many hours waiting in line.

    On all of my return flights to Philly this year I have had speedy service with no problems at all the other airports.


  2. Andrea (unregistered) on August 16th, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    I’ve only ever once been on an airplane, and I was flying out of PHL on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving a couple years ago. I was told to arrive early, as it’s one of the most crowded traveling days. We get to the airport at 4:30pm for a 7:30pm flight, and by 5pm I’m sitting in the terminal near by gate, twiddling my thumbs and wishing I’d brought an extra book.

    All other times that I’ve dropped before off or picked people up I’ve had no trouble, and just once was a friend’s flight delayed. They don’t let you down the terminals anymore if you don’t have a ticket, so we grabbed some coffee and hung out near the baggage claim.


  3. jen (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 9:52 am

    PHL is one of the worst things about living here. on occasion, we drive up to EWR and park there, it’s worth it. continental airlines even gives you free food. never, ever, ever fly us scareways.

    if possible, print your boarding passes from the website, check your bags at the curb and skip the inside chaos.


  4. Michael Kovach (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 11:01 am

    I work for an airline at PHL. The local media tends to exaggerate the extent of problems at PHL and elsewhere. Gernally the infrastucture at PHL is old and needs action by our elected officials to improve the flying experience here and elsewhere.

    It is true that there is a bad attitude among the TSA employees at PHL. I don’t understand this but I don’t think I imagine it either.

    We need to admit that money must be dedicated to improve our airport or we must learn to accept that the the air traffic system on the east coast is overwhelmed and we will pay for this lack of investment with delays.



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