I have not really gone on a rant in a while and I think it might be time. My apologies for those of you who might not be rant-fans, but this is happening.
Part of running this website means I get quite a few emails, Tweets and stories on how people had the worst experience ever flying on an airline. I feel it is a duty for me to read every story to see if there is any merit. Out of the hundreds of “horror” stories I have received, a handful (at best) have had any merit. Anyhow, I decided a recent outburst on an airline was a good time to share some thoughts I have on passengers overreacting and customer service in general.
My semi-apologies to @rexfox for being my real-life example on this story. His experience and actions are an amalgamation of hundreds that I have seen, he just gets to be the lucky one that I use. Do I feel bad calling him out? Not really. I mean almost all these angry passengers are asking me to write a story on their issues, to “spread the word of mistreatment.”
Probably not exactly in the way he wanted, but oh well. He publicly ranted on an airline, pulled me into his rant, so it is fair game for me to use. Unfortunately, Alaska Airlines also gets dragged into this mess, but I think this could be any airline.
Okay, let’s start this… I first “met” @rexfox after he replied to a Tweet, where I let my followers know about Alaska Airlines posting their college internships.
NOTE: Some of the language that he uses isn’t the best. I figure most of us are adults here (if you can’t handle it, stop reading please).
Okay, this is not that bad. But I had time on my hands and was curious why he would take the time to message the airline and me to let us know about his mistreatment. I went to his Twitter account and next found this.
Hmm. Not as nice sounding as my Tweet, he seems to be a bit angrier with @theflyingpinto than he was with me. I can promise you that actually being an “asshole” is something that Alaska is NOT looking for in new employees. I can also say, that if you want a legitimate response from an airline, do not use cuss words. I decided to keep reading.
First off (I had to look this up), but the Kenai seems to still have fish. Secondly, threatening one airline by saying you will fly another is quite overused and doesn’t really work. You know how many times airlines hear, “I will never fly you again?” Don’t get me wrong, an airline should want to try to keep your business, but passengers threaten this all the time, so it makes no impact. My advice is to stick with the problems you experienced and see if the airline can resolve them. If they can’t, show them with your pocket book and actually never fly them again.
Sometimes throwing out that you are an elite mileage member can be helpful, but others it can backfire. The first thing is do not lie. If you say you are some uber golden child member and the airline looks you up and lied, you hurt your case. Yes, airlines have more invested in those that fly often, but no company wants any of their customers to be treated poorly — so just own your status (no matter if you have none).
They also will know that if you have a bazillion miles with the carrier, you aren’t going to start flying a new airline at the drop of a hat. You have worked way too hard getting those miles just to throw them away. Because of these reasons, I normally suggest keeping your status on the down low — at least for now.
I digress. @rexfox never states he is an elite member of Alaska’s mileage program, but does hint that he has a miles credit card. I have to give him props (pun intended) for not trying to throw status around.
One of the most amusing parts of his rant is he makes it seem like he is leaving Alaska for American, but only a bit earlier, he threw them under the (air) bus:
This Tweet is amusing for a few reasons. First off, he just said that he was moving to American, but now is saying to boycott the airline? Also, he went back to April 2012 to make a comment on this Tweet? That is dedication to show off your anger for an airline.
He spent quite a bit of time trying to prove his point. In a matter of less than four hours, @rexfox Tweeted 24 times about being angry at Alaska Airlines. Many of them were just Re-Tweeting negative stories on the airline.
I guess the point he was proving was that he was angry — quite angry, but I still did not know why. I was starting to think that maybe this guy actually had something that was so horrid to warrant this response. I kept on scrolling… ah, here we go:
The F-word. Nothing says, “please give me a legitimate customer service response,” like dropping the F-bomb. With my experience in customer service, even if you have a legitimate complaint/request, it is all over when that word starts to be used.
See, even I got distracted about his initial complaint because of his language. Let’s take a look at his actual complaint, which could be legitimate. Do not mind the grammar, that is just since it was on Twitter, let me try to sum it up:
He has flown 3 times around the world (which is 300,000 miles I guess) with this bag and never been hassled before. Then an employee (I am guessing gate agent) in Vegas explained that his bag was too large and even though he requested she measure it, she refused. Did I get that right? I am guessing it resulted in him having to gate check his bag, which normally Alaska will not charge in those situations.
I can see this being frustrating. I have had this happen to me before as well. I also realize that Alaska operates the 737NG with larger overhead bins and the older 737-400 with smaller bins. I know my bag will not fit in the -400, but will on the NG. I am sure most passengers do not realize it and not really sure how well the airline communicates that to passengers.
Even giving @rexfox the benefit of the doubt and Alaska was rude and forced him to check his bag with no explanation, does all that warrant his reaction? (I am also going to take a wild guess that based on his Twitter rant made after he cooled down, he probably did not treat the Alaska employee with much respect).
Maybe he just needed to rant to feel better. But then why bring in the employee’s name (which I removed, since she was doing her job). With his initial complaint, along with flight and name details, I would be willing to bet he would have received some reply from Alaska. I am sure they want their gate agents to be able to explain that this particular airplane has smaller overhead bins than others that they fly and that is why his bag needs to be checked.
I have found that Alaska is quite responsive to upset customers, but after his rant, no good pubic relations or customer service representative is going to mess with his situation.
The lesson here is simmer down and put things in perspective. Is being told that your bag is too big and forced to check it annoying? Sure. Is it worth getting this angry and spending four hours letting people know how horrible you think an airline is? Probably not. Will Alaska change their bag policy? Doubtful. Will he actually change what airline he ever flies because of this? No. If you have a legitimate complaint, let the airline know (in a calm manner) either via social media or email. I promise you that almost all airlines read every letter and passenger feedback (good or bad) that can change an airline’s policy.
What do you think? Am I being too hard or soft on this guy? What advice do you have for interacting with an airline when you have a complaint? Leave those thoughts in the comments.
|This story written by…David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder. David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube|