Mike Hendricks

Mike at Night

Mike Hendricks recently retires as social science, criminal justice instructor at McCook Community College.

Roundtrip to Denver

Friday, March 30, 2018

Iím beginning to think itís not my own bad luck that causes me problems whenever I fly because it happened yet again. I was due to fly out of McCook at 7 a.m., making connections in Denver later that morning and getting into Bentonville, AR at 4:30, in time to see the Razorback baseball team play Kentucky.

Well, that didnít happen. I got a call at 2:30 am, the night before, informing me that my morning flight had been delayed five hours until 12:10. That meant I had to rebook my Denver flight to XNA (Bentonville) to a later time also which meant I would miss the ballgame I was going to see. Luckily I made the connections, even though it cost me an extra fifty dollars, and went back to sleep.

When I woke up at 6 am, I had 12:10 fixed in my mind because thatís when the plane would leave I was told. So the rest of the morning revolved around departing McCook at 12:10. That wasnít going to be either. I got another call at 10:15 telling me that the plane had left Denver, would be here in an hour and they needed everyone at the airport so we could get to Denver as soon as possible. That meant that some chores I was doing wouldnít get done but I thought it was still better to leave for Denver earlier instead of later. So thatís what we did.

Iíve never had any problems with Delta connections and didnít this trip either. From time to time, they run a little late because of circumstances usually beyond their control, this time being heavy thunderstorms, but they almost always make up lost time in the air as we did this time also. No Delta flights ever get canceled or delayed for hours unless itís a system-wide problem which fortunately Iíve never been a part of. So the rest of the day was fine but long and I landed at XNA at 10:30 that night.

Returning 10 days later, my biggest fear was having problems with my Denver to McCook flight. I know several people in McCook who have had the same problem which has led to the saying, ďYou can get to Denver but you canít get back.Ē I didnít want that to happen to me since Iíve already spent the night in the Denver airport once in the past several months due to reported mechanical problems with the plane.

The McCook flight was due in Denver at 7:30 and was pretty much on time so I felt a false sense of security thinking this flight would be problem free. I was wrong.

The plane was on the ground for 30 minutes without customers being notified of anything, which is standard operating procedure for those at the ticket counter in Denver. I finally went up to ask and was told there was a problem with the planeís GPS. I wonít fill you in on the details of what was said but it wasnít a very nice conversation. It ended with me being told that mechanics were working on the problem and as soon as it was fixed, we would depart for McCook. Four hours later, those of us flying to McCook were summoned to the ticket counter and told that the mechanics had decided to call it a night and would return to work on the GPS again at 8 am.

So that meant another night in the Denver airport. If youíve never been in DIA, you have to understand the logistics of the airport. Boutique Airlines is in the bowels. That means the basement. I would guess that over 90% of the customers and employees upstairs donít even know weíre down there. Itís at the extreme end of the concourse so itís quite a foot journey to get to, even when you finally make it to the basement. I suspected I would be there by myself for most of the night but luckily, a lady also flying to McCook decided to stay in the airport too so at least I had someone to talk to.

Every seat at DIA is exactly the same with armrests that arenít moveable. That meant there was no way to lie across three seats to get a little shuteye. I ended up on the hard floor with my head resting on my bag and coat under a seat and managed to get a few minutes of fitful sleep but that was it. A night in an airport where you canít sleep seems longer than you can possibly imagine and this was no different. It was as unpleasant as it could be.

Boutique finally put us on a plane the next morning at 8, getting us into McCook at 10 a.m. which was 12 hours later that when we were first scheduled.

Iíll say again that some of you who have flown Boutique have not had these problems, but I also know that many have. The woman that stayed behind with me has never had a flight on Boutique without problems and neither have I. Not once has my Delta flight landed, I proceeded to check-in with Boutique, the plane was on time and I got to McCook when I was supposed to. Not once.

So my experience with them is over. I would be remiss if I didnít thank the people who work for them at the local airport, in particular, Terri Gray, a former student of mine at the college. Most of the time the problems are beyond their control and when they have a problem, they do everything to try and solve it, unlike the employees in Denver who seem to never do anything to solve a flight problem.

But good service here doesnít make up for bad service and bad experiences in Denver so I wonít be flying them again. Iíll either drive to North Platte and fly the United jet or drive myself to Denver like I used to.

We were all hoping Boutique would be head-and-shoulders better than Great Lakes Airline but as it turns out, itís not.

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  • You are not alone in having bad experiences with Boutique Air - GUARANTEED !! I have written two letters to Boutique Air and copied some McCook organizations and the FAA regarding my flights on February 19 and March 10. I have not heard back from Boutique Air or any of those copied. I like you will be flying United in and out of North Platte or hitching a ride to and from Denver. I realize having commercial air service to McCook is a "draw" to attract new residents and businesses but the unreliable service can cause many hardships and increase travel time and usually costs.

    -- Posted by dameister on Fri, Mar 30, 2018, at 8:36 PM
  • We have also had delays both going and coming from Denver. Also flights that we could not travel with luggage so we had to return to the airport to pick it up the next day. Still waiting for the McCook airport to be able to have direct baggage transferred to other flights in Denver. Good news is the flights are not expensive and most are full or near full. Much better than Great Lakes that suspended all flights nationwide starting April 2.

    -- Posted by dennis on Sat, Mar 31, 2018, at 9:39 AM
  • Mike,hi! Nice article. I too would never fly that airline either. I wish that I could share what I know about that outfit, its pedigree, its operations, and its leadership. Unfortunately I cannot. I have not, nor will I ever, fly on an aircraft affiliated with that outfit. I made that decision in 2010!

    -- Posted by MSPFlyGuy on Sun, Apr 1, 2018, at 3:47 PM
  • MSPFlyGuy, I would hope if public safety and if reasonable expectations for reliable service are not in the "cards" I would hope you would share your knowledge with the McCook Airport Authority and the public.

    -- Posted by dameister on Sun, Apr 1, 2018, at 10:15 PM
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