Well after 8 hours of boarding the plane, sitting, deplaning, sitting, sitting, sitting, sitting, and sitting I left...not for AZ unfortunately. I'm back at my place in SB wondering if I'll be able to make it home for Christmas.
U.S. Airways forced everyone to deplane because there was so much fog in AZ but they didn't tell us if the flight was just delayed, cancelled, or what they were planning to do with us so there was 150 people sitting on the floor in the Santa Barbara airport wondering what is going on for the past 6 hours. A KEYT news crew even showed up and interviewed people but still no announcement from the airline. The flight schedule at the airport remained as it was when I arrived and the online system showed that our flight had taken off and landed at 12:28...lol...it's pretty funny that the airline gives actual departure and arrival times when the plane is sitting at the airport.
After sitting around since 5:30 in the morning with no communication I was over it so I convinced a baggage girl to go get my bag which had been sitting with everybody elses out on one of those carts and I came home.
It was really interesting to see people's attitude shift through the entire experience. At the beginning everybody was calm....even for the hour and half we sat on the runway. We understood that it wasn't the airlines fault and that a weather delay had caused the problem. We got this information from the pilot who was fantastic about apologizing and communicating the updates every chance he could. I was very impressed with the pilots handling of the situation.
...but once we were asked to deplane the communication ended AND the decision making ended. Nobody from U.S. Airways communicated anything to anybody for the next 6 hours about the status of our flight, our bags, or even where to wait or what to do...and that's when people started to get bothered. U.S. Airways actually called in a security guard to stand behind the ticketing agents and I don't blame them. It was madness and nobody from the airline took charge.
It appeared that a bunch of interns were left to run the airport while the boss was out enjoying the holiday. I actually started to organize lines so people could get to the right agents and not be in a big moshpit of bags and angry people. It was kind of fun because I was moving those poles with the stretchy ribbon in it and I felt kind of important at that point.
Moral - The importance of communication and leadership in "crisis" situations. When something goes wrong, and we all know that things will go wrong, communication becomes 100x as important and decisions need to be made - FAST! In situations like this the longer that customers go without hearing from a business the more negative the perception of that business. Make decisions and communicate through the entire process.