Monday, October 22, 2007

Whatever the opposite of customer satisfaction is

My North American Tour starts in twelve hours or so.

Already, it's hit its first snag. Today, I hung up on an airline. Seriously.

You see, I have plane tickets this weekend, to go to Rhode Island for a family thing. (My cousin's wedding, to be specific.) I booked these tickets months ago, flying out on Saturday, back on Monday. I was planning on taking a day off work.

Today, I found out I have to be in Boston on Monday afternoon for work. As much as I'd rather have the day off, it's really not a big deal -- especially when I consider that it'll save me a couple of hours of travel time, since I was already going to be about an hour away. So, I call the airline and attempt to explain the situation -- I have a ticket to fly from Providence to DC on Monday afternoon, and won't be using it. Instead, I need a shuttle ticket to fly from Boston back to DC.

They couldn't help me. So, I decided that I'd book a one-way ticket back from Boston through work, and I told the airline that I wasn't going to use my return ticket from Providence. They told me it would cost about $200 to change my roundtrip to a one-way, not including the $100 change fee.

I laughed at them at first. "You mean it will cost me less to not use my ticket?"

She didn't laugh back. "That's what I just explained."

"Then never mind."

Since I was already on the phone with her, I dared to ask about my Thanksgiving trip -- because, as it stands, I will not be making it back from my least favorite Southwestern city in time to catch my flight to Florida. But this time it wasn't $300 to change the whole thing -- it was closer to $1000.

My response was "Great. Don't bother. I'll find an airline that wants to work with me." I then hung up before she could respond.

So, I went on the work website and booked my shuttle flight from Boston, and the last trip of the tour, which currently consists of one way from DC to my least-favorite city, and another one way from that city to Florida. It wound up costing less than the contract fare.

Now I have two plane tickets that will go unused. And it's entirely the airline's fault. This is not a good business model. No wonder airlines keep having to file for bankruptcy.


Caroline said...

I think this is what you are looking for.
I apologize that I can't figure out how to do hyperlinks this early in the morning.

Joe Grossberg said...

Don't say "that airline".

Call them out. They deserve to have their feet held to the flame.

Paige Jennifer said...

Oh please. I stood at the counter of USAir who kept canceling flights to CHG for no good reason and asked them to put me on another airline they don't have a partnership with. I was told (a) they wouldn't do it and (b) I'd lose my return ticket rights on USAir if I didn't fly out with them. Um, er, but you can't fucking get me there!

(deep breath)

So yeah, I TOTALLY follow you on this one.

dara said...

Caroline: Having mad HTML skills takes practice. You should post on PH4H more often to hone your skills.

Joe: As much as I want to, I can't bring myself to do it. But it's flights from DC to Boston and Florida. It's not hard to figure out who I'm talking about.

That said, if you google my full name and the word "Airways," about the sixth item down, you'll see an interesting case.

Paige Jennifer: I had that happen before too, when I was flying to Sacramento and my connecting flight through Chicago kept getting cancelled. Wound up having to fly to San Francisco and take a shuttle flight in the morning. Which probably wouldn't have sucked so much if I (1) had landed in time to see any of the city and (2) didn't have to stay in a crummy hotel near the airport.

Ryane said...

hahahaha. I know in the long scheme of things, hanging up on that lackey probably doesn't mean much to an airline, but man--i know that had to feel good. Airlines are the worst business model ever. They go out of their way to piss people off, then confine them into tuna cans for extended periods of time with no food and expensive booze.

I said...

Not that I'm any great fan of airlines. I have plenty of nightmares of my own to share, but just wanted to point out that as you already paid for the unused part of the ticket and bought another ticket,I would say that is a good business model. Not to mention that your unused seat will probably not be empty as air-line over sell the flights on a regular basis. Until the airline industry becomes truly competitive we can forget about customer service. As much as you will try not to fly this airline again I bet more than half the time you won't have a choice and will have to get onto one of their flights.

dara said...

Ryane: Actually, the snarky comment felt better than the hanging up. But they got me back -- they told me today that if I don't use the first part of my ticket, they'll cancel my return flight. Serves me right.

I: They may be making money off of me, but they won't when I choose not to fly them anymore. Like how I've been boycotting BWI since 2004. I can change my behavior -- and, in fact, I've already started. For example, despite not liking the train, I no longer take their shuttle flights to New York if I can help it. I can take another airline to Florida; I can choose to fly out of Dulles intead.