Australian claims on hold with Qantas for 16 hours ... Bee swarm delays plane
The wonderful and wacky world of travel rears its head following a long weekend (that's a three-day weekend for you Americans in the audience). And we have a couple of good ones.
The first is apparently not that goofy, although it sounds like it. Word out of Pennsylvania via USA Today is that a Delta Air Lines flight from Pittsburgh to New York LaGuardia "was delayed by about 40 minutes last week after a 10,000 honey bees swarmed onto the wing of the aircraft.
The bees were discovered as ground crews were preparing to fuel the aircraft, which was operated by one of Delta's regional affiliates. Airport officials then called master beekeeper Stephen Repasky to come handle the honey bees, which are a protected species and should not be killed, according to WTAE TV of Pittsburgh.
I guess you could say airport officials made a bee line for Repasky. I wouldn't say that, but you could.
"Normally these days, people just take a can of Raid to any stinging insect. In this case, the plane could have taken off and the colony probably would have been lost," Repasky told the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review.
Isn't it nice that they're environmentally sensitive? Seriously, they could've just taken a giant hose to the colony, although I wouldn't want to be the guy standing next to 10,000 angry bees.
Since I've never heard of this sort of thing, I sent an email to Scott Armstrong at the Greater Toronto Area Airports Authority. He told me the strangest delays he can remember at Pearson are from dogs escaping their cages.
"That’s happened a couple of times in the last few years. Our wildlife control folks will then come out to help get the dog out of the cargo hold. Obviously that’s an operation that can’t be rushed, since its risky for the dog and wildlife control."
But Armstrong said he's "never heard of this bee situation."
KDKA TV of Pittsburgh, which broke the story, writes "swarms of bees are actually nothing new at the airport. Last May, 25,000 to 30,000 landed on the Taxiway-C light." Repasky tells the station that last week's incident was the fourth time this year that he's been called to handle a swarm at the airport.
I had no idea.
PATIENT AUSSIE WAITS ON QANTAS ... AND WAITS SOME MORE
Here's a completely crazy one. There's a story out there about an Australian who was kept on hold for 16 hours by Qantas. Adelaide businessman, Andrew Kahn says he wanted to confirm a flight to New York City and was on his mobile phone for 15 hours, 40 minutes and one second before he finally gave up. He says he placed his call at 7:22 p.m. on a Wednesday night and finally called it quits on Thursday morning at 11:01.
15 hours? I'd have quit after 45 minutes, I'm sure. Especially on a mobile phone. (And wouldn't the Muzak drive you insane within a few minutes?)
According to reports, Kahn said he waited on the phone all night while he read and completed a lengthy academic book on management. He said that part of the motivation to keep waiting was curiosity as to what Qantas meant when they said that someone would speak with him “as soon as possible.” He says he also did not want to lose his place in the phone queue.
After just under 16 hours, he gave up and hung up, describing the experience as “just about the worst customer service any customer could ever receive.” (Actually it could've been worse. He could've got onto his flight and then been delayed by a swarm of bees and then put on hold when he called the beekeeper).
Kahn noted he could have flown from Melbourne to Los Angeles in the time he had been holding on for Qantas to answer the phone.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Kahn called the airline after hanging up and managed to speak to someone in customer service, who said he was not even on the flight because of a code error in booking the ticket.
Qantas is investigating the claim. The airline said it had no evidence of the marathon call and insisted that the average phone wait during the time Kahn complained about was under a minute and the longest was 17 minutes.
Okay, so that's crazy. But this is even more nuts. Openjaw says a poll conducted online by the Age and other Fairfax publications down under indicated that only 4 per cent of respondents would wait as long as Kahn did.
They got four per cent of folks to say they'd wait 15 hours, 40 minutes and one second on hold? Four per cent? Now THAT'S crazy. I mean, maybe for tickets to see Usain Bolt at the Olympics or to give that Canada-USA women's soccer referee a piece of my mind. But not to confirm a flight, methinks.