A few times per week, I get emails from upset passengers. The vast majority of these emails come across as entitled people who’ve had a bad experience, but think the world owes them — big. Many times I am cc’d with dozens of other media outlets, in hopes that one of us will create a story: “BREAKING NEWS: Passenger’s Flight Delayed 30 Minutes Due to Weather.” As-if. Sadly, I do get emails like that.
Rarely I will get an email describing a true bad experience, where the airline messed up. In those cases I will take the time to either explain things to them or point them in a good direction to get assistance. Heck, I was getting so many poorly written emails that I even posted a story on how to write a good airline complaint letter.
Often, the emails are just plain entertaining and I want to share. Not only to give an insight of what airlines get on a daily basis, but also to really give these people what they want — publicity of their “horrid” treatment. Maybe even a reality check.
Every time I think about posting one of these emails, I chicken out. Yes, I am calling them out and making fun of them, and that is not very nice is it? Well… I am going to give this a try… and really, with this example, they clearly want to, “inform the masses about [Spirit’s] despicable treatment of its paying customers.” Alright Angry Passenger X (that’s obviously not their real name)… let me give you what you think you want. After, be sure to check out Spirit’s reply.
This is a direct copy/paste of an email I received recently addressed to Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza. This one was more interesting since I was one of only six people cc’d on this email (I think the record is 100). Some of the others were the CEOs of Alaska, United (Oscar, not Jeff), and Southwest. Alright… enjoy:
I wanted to share with you the horrible experience I had with your airline and why I will never be flying Spirit again no matter how low your fares are.
First the extortion scheme, or as you call it the a la cart system. Now I understand looking at your business model that you are a discount airline and need to charge extra to compete with the big guys. That being said, my issue is with the lack of upfront disclosure on your process and policies at the time of booking. Having never flown your airline before I was quite shocked when I was asked to pay to carry on a bag as I have never been charged for this before. But it was the day before my flight, what could I do? Next I had to pay for our seats….wait I had already paid for our seats, but not if I wanted to sit by my fiancee her on her birthday trip I would have to pay extra to do so to avoid randomly seated. Again what was I going to do, I had no other options and no time to make other arrangements. So you say a la cart, I say extortion scam.
Next my flight times. First my return flight was pushed up about 3 hours. Well this conflicted with a very important appointment I had set in Chicago. The day of my flight my departing time was pushed back, also causing me to reschedule with little heads up. I am sure that with you being a CEO you are a very busy man and can understand how inconvenient it is to have pre set appointments changed at the last minute.
Your phone team (I will not call them customer service as they absolutely did not service their customer) was abysmal on top of that. They offered to move me to the next flight, well that went from 3PM to 12AM the next day, again not a viable solution as I had to work hence my evening flight to get me home in time. Then they offered to cancel my flight, and while this was by far the best option given to me (since I was now wondering where else your airline had chosen to cut costs, maybe the building and maintenance of the plane, or the training of the pilots) it would have cost me and extra $1400 to book with a different airline as it was just hours before my flight time. Again I felt extorted, terms were set and agreed upon when I purchased the ticket, your company changed them, and I was left to figure it out. Your supervisor team refused to even offer any sort of comp, not a free drink, not a free checked bag, not a big seat upgrade, nothing! They sounded very unsympathetic and melancholy as they read their scripted replies, “Sir we do understand and apologize for the inconvenience, however blah blah blah we are gonna screw you and what are you gonna do about it because you are stuck blah blah blah.”
Bottom line Mr. Baldanza is that in a competitive marketplace you need to take care of your customers. I have flown many airlines such as Alaska, United, and Southwest multiple times and although flight times have changed with them, they have always taken care of me somehow. Upon reading your reviews and numerous complaints I can clearly see that you do not. The internet is a powerful tool for marketing both positive and negative as is social media, but the biggest motivator is shame and I hope you as the CEO of this company feel ashamed of what you represent. You can rest assured that I will be posting this email to every travel blog, review site, airline agent, Facebook, twitter and wherever else I can inform the masses about your company’s despicable treatment of its paying customers.
Please do not misunderstand my intentions, I do not want a voucher, I do not want a free flight, I would not fly on Spirit again if it was free. I am writing you this to open your eyes and hope that you will change your policies, or at least start to do the right thing and disclose your misleading practices to your customers before they are stuck like I was.
Sincerely your former customer,
Angry Passenger X
So what do you think? Is this extortion? How would you respond to this email if you were the CEO of Spirit (and could say whatever you want)? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Please do.
I was really tempted to just reply with this link: http://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/04/the-five-stages-of-flying-an-ultra-low-cost-carrier-epic-comic-style/. I would say this guy is at stage 4… and my guess he will soon be to stage 5.