I recently took 2020 to a whole new level by single-handedly delaying an entire Delta flight. I have had some weird things happen in what has already been a crazy world this year. Just this year, I washed an entire money order in my laundry, including the receipt, and I also experienced Visa gift card fraud on a gift purchase at Staples. But causing a flight delay will rank up there as one of my biggest 2020 blunders.
I was enjoying my Delta One seat on flight #864 from Atlanta to Las Vegas sitting in seat 9A. As we approached Las Vegas, I was trying to get some photos and time lapse footage with my phone. I'm not sure how, but I dropped my phone right in the gap between the window and the seat pod.
I had never noticed just how big that space is. I could probably fit two cell phones in there. Keep in mind my seat was already completely upright as we were almost on final approach. I immediately notified the flight attendant as they were making their last pass through cabin. I could still see the phone. The only thing I tried to do was to grab it on upon landing, which made it go all the way down. I was really worried that my phone might be gone.
After we landed, I waited until everyone was off and the flight attendants notified maintenance. It was 11:22 AM and I was looking forward to a night in Vegas, but not without a phone. They told me I am not the first to do this and I would not be the last. Apparently, this happens frequently. In fact, a passenger exiting the plane told me he has done it twice.
I know a lot of people that work for Delta. I have heard that if you cannot retrieve an item right then and there, you may never see it again. In fact, it will end up at this spot in Alabama of all places. Maintenance came onboard and looked at the seat pod. They could not see the phone, which I already knew. The crew and and the maintenance person even questioned if I had really dropped it.
The maintenance person said he needed to get other tools. At this point, the crew said I had to leave the plane. You can watch my short-lived time lapse video attempt here.
Off the plane, I went to the gate area to wait for the crew to find my phone. I got on my laptop and started to message friends, since I was without my phone. I also started looking up local Sprint/T-Mobile stores. Thoughts were racing through my mind as I started wondering what I would do. I was only supposed to be in Las Vegas for 18 hours. Doing so without a phone could be difficult. For starters, no Lyft or Uber.
It Gets Worse
The maintenance crew and gate agent came off the plane without my phone. They weren't able to retrieve it. The maintenance person took down my phone number so they could try calling it and went back on the plane. These employees knew I would not see the phone if it wasn't retrieved on the spot.
After some more waiting, the maintenance person returned from the plane again and said they knew where my phone was. That was encouraging news, but still no phone. It was well past noon by now and all I could do was continue to wait.
As if all this is bad enough, this plane was doing a turn, and so was the crew. This meant they were landing, cleaning the plane, and flying right back to Atlanta. Now the gate agent gets on the intercom and dimes me out. “I don’t know how to explain this to you folks, but a passenger lost a phone under a business class seat.” I was sinking lower in my seat in the gate area. She continued, “We are not leaving until we retrieve the phone for safety reasons.” The grumblings around me were not pleasant.
The gate manager got on the intercom and began to preach about the safety video. She reminded everyone via an announcement that you should not adjust your seat if you drop or lose an item. She kept going on and on about it. Yet this is a well-known issue with Delta One seats, apparently. I'm sure the maintenance crew is sick of having to fish passengers' phones, especially when the solution involves a simple piece of plastic to block the gap.
A Happy Ending
I felt even worse after the repeated announcements and tried to make myself invisible. Finally, the maintenance crew came off the plane with my phone. I attempted to tip the maintenance crew, but they would not let me. They finally began to board the plane but announced they could not board first class as maintenance had to put the pod back together. They said they needed at least another 25 minutes to do so. I slithered away quietly away from the gate and took the longest way possible as to not walk through the angry passengers. No time lapse video or photo was worth this headache!
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