Most times when flying, it will be a great experience. A few times there might be somethings that go bad, but is it the end of the world? Nah.

Most times when flying, it will be a great experience. A few times there might be somethings that go bad, but is it the end of the world? Nah.

One of the positive parts of running this blog are all the emails I get from readers and random people. Some are amazing story ideas, some provide great conversation and others are looking for some advice on a bad situation they had with an airline. I try to make an effort to write everyone back, no matter what the email is about (or how crazy it might be). Although some “I hate airlines” emails I receive are legitimate, most letters that I receive are… well… stupid.

I do not mean to make fun of people that feel they had a horrid experience with an airline, but most of the “omg please share this horrid story, so others will not have to go through the same thing” emails are pretty ridiculous to say the least. It just goes back to the idea that so many people are looking for any reason to hate on an airline.

Most emails start out by saying that the person will never fly the particular airline ever again. Just a word of advice; if you are looking to get the attention of an airline, I might suggest not starting a letter that way. I think that airlines see so many threats like this, that they mean nothing anymore. Personally I know many people who have made threats like this, but still end up flying the airline again in the future.

When skimming to see how long an email is going to be (many of these rants are quite large), I know it is going to be good when I can spot a few swear words. This normally means the person wrote their letter while still angry and even some I have even received while the person is still on their flight. Again, I would kindly suggest that cutting out your swear words will probably get your further versus using them. Airlines get a lot of crazy people just yelling at them for no real reason, so to stand out, I would suggest being calm and collective and providing a rational argument on why they might have messed up.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not some calloused person who can’t feel bad when someone truly has a bad travel experience. But out of the 100 or so emails I have received over the years, I can honestly say that about five were ones that I felt needed some actual attention. I cannot tell you how many times it turns out that the person’s flight was delayed, their luggage was lost or they can’t believe they had to pay to check their bags. I mean really? What am I supposed to do with these? What are airlines supposed to do with these? Yes, they might be annoying, but surely not something to get so upset about.

The most common letters deal with airline delays. The majority of those end up relating to weather, which the airlines have no control over. Yes, it frek’n sucks, I have been there, done that and hated it. Even if the airline might drop the ball on a few things, it is not easy organizing a huge cancellation.

Probably the second largest complaint I receive is about lost luggage. Of course, no one likes it when an airline loses their luggage. I know it is a huge pain, but it is one of the risks with traveling. Airlines are required to compensate you, if they lose your luggage and yes, if they do not, then that is something to truly be upset about. But am I really supposed to write a story about a passenger’s luggage being lost? Amazingly, many upset passengers expect just that. I will suggest people to  follow up with me if they do not hear back from the airline for proper compensation, but to date, I have had no one follow through.

Really,  If having your flight delayed for a few hours or have a bag lost is one of the worst things you have gone through in life, things aren’t going to shabby for you. I think people need to stop and look at the bigger picture every once in a while. Mistakes happen with airlines and almost every other business out there. If you are the person who goes through the situation, yes it sucks. But this is what we call life and the benefits to travel around the world in a few hours.

Next time you are fuming and thinking of sending off a heated letter to someone, stop and think if it is really that big of a deal. And if you give yourself some time and it turns out that you still feel something was done inappropriately, by all means send away.

As we approach a very busy season of airline travel, remember to take a deep breath and relax. Weather is very likely to cause delays, people are already on edge already and planes are going to be very crowded. I find that keeping a smile on your face does wonders at not only keeping yourself sane, but also those around you.

Image: BetaOps9

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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16 Comments
James Burke

I prefer to find silver linings – I was travelling with my family from Winnipeg to Halifax in December a few years back (leaving YWG, thank goodness…) and delays due to weather at YWG caused our connection in Montreal to be super hot. We made it on the connection as the door was closing (Indiana Jones style), and of course, the bags didn’t make it. On the plus side, the four of us were being picked up in a sub-compact car, and all of our bags would not have fit. AC had our bags at our house the next morning, and no one had to have a suitcase on their lap for the drive back from the airport… Plus delays at the airport mean more plane spotting…

Mark C. (OKC)

Well I’m sure you’ll get lots of replys about this post David 🙂

Shout out to Alaska Airlines Maintenance Personnel that came to my son’s Aviation A&P school here in OKC to speak to the students about what they do and what to expect when they graduate. They were fantastic.
Thank You Alaska!

I completely agree with you on this one. Yesterday I came across a story in the news about how a flight from India to England had to stop in Vienna to refuel. The airline, however, forced the passengers to cover the cost of the fuel, even escorting the passengers without cash to ATMs to withdraw money. Definitely one of the worst, if not they worst story I’ve ever heard of.

http://www.reuters.com/video/2011/11/18/stranded-passengers-forced-to-pay-for-fu?videoId=225325234&videoChannel=1&refresh=true

Holy crap! I thought you had to be wrong on that story, but sure enough, it is true. Now, THAT is horrid service and has got to be illegal.

I might have to write on this story. Thanks Ben,

David

I saw that story a short while ago and this would NOT happen here…the DOT would have banned and shut down airport from opening for a year!

The Real Ben W

What would you say was the worst of these emails that you have received ?

M Paul Lewis

In some ways the airlines have set themselves up for this sort of love-hate relationship. I blame the Frequent Flyer programs as the seed of this great fount of discontent. (And I am a VERY frequent flyer.) If I ride on a Greyhound bus, I don’t expect much. I pay my fare, get a seat and they get me (usually) where I want to go. Doesn’t matter how many times I ride the bus, what fare I pay – they just provide a service and usually get it done.

The FF programs have led me to believe that I am somehow special. That I deserve more. I need to have a special seat, a special meal, to board first, to avoid the indignities of security, etc. etc. And though I pay a lot for that, somehow it is all “included”. And I’ve come to expect it. If I don’t get it, I feel like I’m being cheated.

When they don’t or can’t treat me special, I feel slighted. If I’m really tired and jet lagged I feel annoyed. And for some passengers, that annoyance turns into downright anger.

While I enjoy the perqs elite status and take advantage of them whenever I can, I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t “deserve” anything more than anyone else – only what I’ve paid for. If the airline fails to get me where I want to go within the limits of our mutually agreed contract, then they owe me. If I haven’t lived up to my end of the deal (showing up on time, bringing only the amount of baggage I’ve contracted for, etc.) they don’t owe me anything – and probably, I’ll owe them. If they’ve done everything they can and should and can’t deliver, then we are both disappointed. But I’m not special. I don’t deserve to miss the consequences of bad weather or natural disaster. Generally, I’ve found that the airlines go well beyond the terms of our contract more often than I do (have I ever deliberately checked in less baggage than I’m allowed – just to help them save on space or fuel? Ha!).

Yes, there are times when I’m bothered by delays or cancellations (not very often though in close to 3 million miles of flying). But I don’t deserve any better treatment, even though I could wish it were otherwise.

Here is a joke to a lighten up the mood:

Guy arrive at the check-in and asked the agent to sent one bag to Denver and one bag to Phoenix.

Agent sanswers: Sorry sir we can’t do that

Passenger: Why not…you did it last week

(Insert rim shot here)

Hi David, just found your site and I love it already.

This past summer our Virgin Atlantic 747 was delayed out of JFK for 3 hours due to a broken leading edge flap drive motor. By the time we reached LHR though, we were to miss our BA connection to Hamburg, which unfortunately led us to lose our hotel room there, it was given away less than an hour prior to our arrival. We attempted to call the hotel from London but we must have been dialing wrong and couldn’t get through. To make matters worse, our luggage was not placed on the connection they put us on, and we had to wait until later that evening to have them delivered to our new(and much, much more expensive) hotel room.

I flipped out, but at the hotel owner, not the airline- because I know what a complex operation an airline is. We had reserved the room with a credit card and he knew we were coming from the other side of the planet, so I was pretty irate. But in the grand scheme of things, we had great vacation, and the trip back, while also delayed but this time only an hour, went pretty smoothly.

Hey William,

Thanks for reading. That does sound like quite the little adventure you had and I would say that is worthy of being a bit frustrated. At least you made the most of it and were still able to have a good time!

David

You are looking to get the notice of an airline, I might suggest not starting a letter that way.

I would suggest being calm and collective and providing a rational argument…

Here’s the rub. For any other service industry – say, car washes – if they missed 25% of your car when they washed it, or instead, took 2 hours to wash your car when they promised 30 minutes, you would think you were justifiably angry when they just shrug their shoulders and say thats the best they can do. Airlines, however, when Delta has a 70-something percent on-time rating, and loses bags left and right, then we are supposed to just understand and go about our day? I don’t think so!

Here is what I expect: Friendly ticket counter attendants, or even better, fast, automated ticket machines; properly staffed counters, so that I wait less than 10 minutes when I’m 3 hours early for my domestic flight; friendly TSA agents who are reasonable about things, don’t yell, and aren’t passive-aggressive/condescending to me; on-time departure and arrival; friendly flight attendants; and luggage that doesn’t look like it went through a blender.

For the on-time departure, arrival, and bags, if they don’t fulfill these, I feel entitled to a partial refund. After all, they didn’t keep their end of the bargain. *I* can’t decide to reserve my seats 4 days after the sale ends without my price going up, so why do they feel entitled to be late for arrival without the price going down?

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