Instead of telling you all about my trip, I will go in semi-reverse order and will tell you about my flight first, particularly the return flight.
Around 30 minutes before I was going to leave work for vacation on Wednesday, I checked the Delta website and realized that they now charge for checking one bag (the last time I flew Delta, they didn't). I was determined to not have to pay any more money than I already did, so I managed to pack everything into a carryon sized suitcase and a "personal item." When I got to JFK on Thursday to check in, I was told by the ever-so-friendly attendant there that I could not carry my bag on and I had to check it, not gate check it, and pay $15 to do so and he was not going to let me into security with it. Lovely. What choice did I have? I checked my bag and went along on my merry way without any more problems.
On the way back, I didn't even bother attempting to carry on my bag and just checked it. There went another $15. When I got to JFK, I arrived in Terminal 3. I did not see my bag and waited for about 20-30 minutes, at which point it became apparent that my bag was not coming out. I went to Delta's baggage customer service (using the words "customer service" very loosely here, folks) and was told that my bag would be in Terminal 2 and I had to go over there. Anyone who is familiar with JFK, knows that to get from baggage claim in Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, you have to exit the airport, walk through a maze of taxis and walkways, and go back in the building. I did that, and lo and behold! my bag was not in Terminal 2. I went to the Customer Service kiosk in Terminal 2, where they scanned my claim ticket and informed me that my bag was, in fact, in Terminal 3. I had to go out of the airport again and repeat the trek to Terminal 3. I got to Terminal 3, went to the exact same kiosk where a lady who looked like she was occupying herself by watching paint dry scanned my ticket again. She told me to hold on while she retrieved my bag. After about 30 minutes or so, she came back and told me that my bag was not where the system said it was. Lovely. She then called Terminal 2 where they had to manually check every single suitcase and confirmed that mine was among them, apparently about to be shipped to some Midwestern State. At this point, I told them that I was not going to be spending my day walking the labyrinth that is JFK, and someone was going to have to bring my back from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3. At this point, the Delta lady made me sign for my bag, before I had even received it. About 45 minutes later, I was told that my bag would be arriving on the carousel any minute now. 20 or 30 minutes later, it finally came.
I should mention that in all of this going on, in between two terminals, there was only one other person in the customer service line, so they weren't exactly swamped. Now that Delta is actually charging me $15 for the same service that they provided for free around 6 months ago, I expect them to be on top of their game. Especially since less and less people are checking bags on domestic flights, which should really make the work of the people who work at baggage claim so much easier. While I appreciate the fact that Delta thought my suitcase was thirsty and attempted to ship it to Milwaukee, if it ever wants a good brew, I will take it to the local watering hole by myself.