Airline Outrage: Cruel, Stupid & Stingy

  • Airline woes

    Flying by plane these days is an experience similar to watching Kristen Stewart act—torturous. We all have our own airline horror story. So, we asked the public to share their experiences… and this is the resulting product, where we post the cream of the crop. Keep reading to see what one unscrupulous airline (allegedly!) did to a woman’s bags, and 13 other tales of sky terror. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    “Husband” stolen
  • “Husband” stolen

    From Dayna: “Went to Toy Fair in NYC. Had two bags of samples divided evenly for my kids in my baggage along with a small ‘World’s Perfect Husband’ talking doll as a joke for my husband. Got home, bags had been ransacked, toys dumped from bags and the ‘Perfect Husband’ was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t the value but the principle of it all so I filed a theft report with Continental Airlines. Over a year later I get a call from a NYC Detective who sounds like he came right out of the movies. ‘Ma’am, we broke up a ring at La Guaw-dia and found a warehouse full of stolen stuff. We sees you filed a theft report during this time. Can youse describe what chew lost?’ After a pause, I started laughing and told him a ‘Perfect Husband.’ After his pause, I explained the whole story. He finally said, ‘Ma’am, youse just made my day’ and let out a wonderful laugh. I apologized for wasting his time. About a week later, he left me a message saying he had searched high and low but was very sorry ‘there was no sign of the Perfect Husband.’ With that great laugh, he once again thanked me for my story and hung up.Still makes me smile….” Dayna’s story may have turned into a humorous tale, but the next flyer wasn’t so lucky. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Lost my wheelchair!
  • Lost my wheelchair!

    From Robin: “I just flew to Bermuda and back and I'm handicapped and they lost my wheelchair and were really lousy about helping me with their own.” It wasn’t just the loss of her property that Robin was upset about: “It humiliated me in front of my friends, when I pride myself on being able to be as functional as possible, and have gone to great lengths to not let my physical problems handicap other people.” Yeah, that sucks. I am truly sorry that they lost your wheelchair and didn’t act gracefully. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Charging for changes
  • Charging for changes

    Here’s a complaint about United (Stock Quote: UAUA), from Ben: “…While it certainly wasn’t UAL’s fault that I missed the first flight, they did nothing to help me resolve the situation and the attempt to charge me a $100 change fee to retain a seat I had already paid for was outrageous.  I wasn’t asking for a refund or any other accommodation, simply that they honor the already paid for seat even though I was not going to be using the first two seats I had paid them for. I can’t think of any other industry that thinks it can charge you a penalty for only using part of what you paid for. That experience merely renewed my preference for other airlines when I travel.  I’ll fly United if I have to, but I prefer Delta or just about anybody else if the schedule and price allows.” United has had its own set of headaches related to destroying guitars, too. Maybe Ben should write a country song and get YouTube notoriety for himself, just like this guy. Photo Credit: ChicagoKoz
    Honeymoon ruined
  • Honeymoon ruined

    Karl brought this tweet from @MattRMiller to our attention: “LAPTOP STOLEN ON #DELTA FLIGHT RETURNING FROM HONEYMOON. TOLD ME BAG HAD TO BE GATECHECKED AND NOTHING COULD BE REMOVED. NEVER #DELTA AGAIN.” What a way to end your honeymoon. I’m sure after a week of relaxing at a nice resort on a beach somewhere, returning to a stolen laptop and an uncaring flight crew would tarnish the memory. Photo Credit: Pylon757
    Can you deny this child?
  • Can you deny this child?

    From Karen: “This story actually happened about 10 years ago, but it was in Logan Airport in Boston through United on Thanksgiving weekend. They lost my husband's reservation, and so we were no longer sitting together. They checked us in and then told us to go to the gate to attempt to get our seats changed, which we did. Then, once we were on the plane and all set up, the gate agent came to us and told us that they had overbooked the flight and that we needed to get off to make room for a woman and her child to get on the plane. Needless to say, I was not pleased. When we said that we had made quite a few compromises based upon their problems with reservations, the agent picked the child up and put her in front of my face and said ‘do you want this child to be alone?’. I'm actually surprised the mother wasn't more upset, but here was the weird part. When I said ‘no, I want you to do your god d#@n job, and quit asking me to absorb your inadequacies’, I was reprimanded in front of the entire plane for swearing. Not, ‘I'm sorry’. Not ‘Could you please work with us’. Not ‘I appreciate that this has been trying but we will give you 1,000 miles to assist us out of this situation which WE CREATED’. It all worked out, but I was just shocked at how they were angry that we might say NO to getting off the plane to accommodate their overbooking. Which begs the question, why ask?” Yeah, I hate when the fake-smile airline staffers ask for something you can’t refuse—unless you don’t mind spending the next six hours getting grilled by TSA officials. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    An evil Spirit
  • An evil Spirit

    From Amakeda: “My husband and I went to the Bahamas for our honeymoon and we flew Spirit out of Orlando. They lost our luggage on the return flight, they didn't answer the lost baggage line, which had a recording that said that they will contact you IF they find your bag. The link on the site was broken and the only available number on their site is the reservations number. I sent an e-mail and someone called me back unrestricted and that's how I was able to obtain a number. After calls over several months, dealing with rude customer service reps and exchanges of receipts and other documentation worth over a few thousand dollars, they decided that my claim wasn't processed in the proper timeframe. To add injury to insult, they said all they could send me was a check for $146. How's that for outrageous?” Sometimes budget carriers are great. Other times, not so much. This seems to be the latter. Photo Credit: PhillipC
    $150 grift
  • $150 grift

    Garrett was planning a trip from Baltimore to Los Angeles on Delta Airlines. He also wanted to take a bike to his son in college, so he called the airline and asked what was permitted — they said as long as it was boxed, fit within certain dimensions and weighed less than 50 pounds it would be treated like any other checked baggage. He already had five bags, so he handed the boxed bike off to his daughter, who was supposed to join him in Los Angeles two days later. “When my wife brought our daughter to the airport to check her in a ticket agent insisted that the bike box was too large and could not be checked. My wife told him that it met the dimensions we were given when we called. He pulled out a tape and measured the box and realized that it fell within the needed dimensions, but told her that the only way she could check the box was to pay $150 dollars. She told him that when we called they said that it would be handled like a normal bag, but the attendant would not check the box unless she paid $150.” Misinformation is one of the most frustrating problems you can encounter when flying, especially since you feel like you’re at the mercy of flight attendants and crew members. We hear you Garrett, stay strong. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    An eight-hour wait
  • An eight-hour wait

    A reader was taking a trip with his wife and their 2-year-old son (baby’s first flight!). The terminal at Continental was supposedly a “complete mess”—overcrowded and difficult to navigate. They arrived at the check-in counter with 30 minutes on their side and had to do a “special check-in” since they were cutting it so close. They arrived at the gate (via golf cart) with 15 minutes to spare, but the airplane door was already shut. You shall not pass! Then it only got worse: “Continental rescheduled our flight but we were stuck at the airport for eight more hours. In that time, we saw that no other Continental flight boarded and shut the doors that early. It was very aggravating. My son blew through his nap and was cranky going on the plane. He was fine until the person in front of him decided to recline his chair all the way. My son kicked the chair, screamed and cried but this jerk wouldn't budge. He just laughed and kept his chair down. Even the flight attendants made comments to him but he wouldn't put his seat up. I know the crying was getting on the nerves of the passengers (and flight attendants) and countless times we tried to get him to calm down, but nothing worked. Needless to say, our son cried the entire five-hour flight and we decided to let him kick the chair as often as he felt like doing. Fortunately, he slept the whole flight back home.” If I were a passenger on this plane, I would have been pretty annoyed by the screaming 2-year-old too. This whole story gives me a bit of a migraine. I hate when kids cry on a long flight. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    A painful walk
  • A painful walk

    Madeline sprained her ankle the week before her trip. This made walking long distances painful for her and she required crutches. After her flight touched down in sunny Orlando, “the flight attendant told me to wait at the front of the plane for my wheelchair. Well, in the meantime, they withdrew the jetway from the plane. When someone finally came to help me, I had to walk down the tiny stairs of the plane with my crutches (which aren't the most stable). The best part is, the woman waiting didn't even have a wheelchair. She was there to escort me to my waiting wheelchair, which happened to be at the gate. At this point I was in a lot of pain from the stairs, but had to continue on. We walked to a basement entrance to the airport and attempted to take an elevator up to the main concourse, but the elevator was broken. I then had to walk all the way around this bottom level of the airport looking for another elevator with this airport employee, and then she finally instructed me that I'd have to walk up stairs to get to the gate where my wheelchair was waiting.” You would think that a massive airline like US Airways (Stock Quote: LCC) would know what to do with a  passenger that needs wheelchair assistance – it’s not that rare, come on people. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Broken windshield
  • Broken windshield

    From Carla: “Does being a passenger in a plane from Sofia, Bulgaria to London when the windshield broke count? My husband, a pilot, said when he learned I had survived, kept saying that we were all extremely lucky. That wasn't as bad as not being allowed to make reservations on another airline but having to wait 8 hours for a replacement plane to be brought to Frankfurt (it happened at cruising altitude about Germany). The plane that had the problem was actually an Aeroflot replacement for the originally scheduled Balkans Airlines flight.” Yikes. Glad you made it in one piece. Photo Credit: mnsc
    Meet the Parents scenario?
  • Meet the Parents scenario?

    Rachana says her story is the best since she claims she was, “the one who created the premise for the movie Meet the Parents.” You see, she went to Dublin in order to meet her boyfriend’s parents for the very first time. She spent many days packing and preparing—deciding what to wear in order to make the right first impression with the folks. Too bad it was all pointless: “When we got to Dublin, my bag didn't show up, although my boyfriend’s did. My bag didn't come for another three days. I had to immediately go out and buy new clothes for my trip to meet his family. I swore I would never fly with them again!! My cousin got married in Dublin about eight years later. Well how bad could BMI still be? I again packed and planned what clothes I would wear for each function of the wedding. I took a flight from New York to London. And then met with relatives in London to take a BMI flight from London to Dublin. Again, BMI lost my luggage and I didn't get it until the wedding was over so I had to buy all new clothes. … They would barely reimburse me for all the wedding clothes I had to buy so I sued them and won. WILL NEVER FLY THEM AGAIN!!!” Angry airline passengers should take a cue from Rachana – don’t take things lying down. She filed a lawsuit and taught them a lesson, something customers rarely do, but can really teach an airline a lesson if you have a strong case. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Unfriendly skies
  • Unfriendly skies

    Marti wrote to us about his disappointing trip to a meeting in Austin, Texas. He was flying from Portland to Austin, with a connection in Chicago. When he arrived at O’Hare International Airport, however, he learned that due to “mechanical problems” his flight would be delayed. It’s all downhill from there. Marti missed his Austin meeting because his flight was delayed, then was called a liar by customer service representatives: “The customer service person then asked me and the other person who was sent from the gate why we were there. We told her the gate agent sent us. She looked at us and said ‘no she didn't’. We both insisted that the gate agent told us to come to the customer service desk. This woman then picked up the phone, called the supervisor and told her what the gate agent said. She looked at me and said ‘Nope, the gate agent never said that to you. Why are you here!’. I couldn't believe it. No, I was not lying, and more importantly how in the world was accusing me of lying going to help me to get to Austin?? …  I eventually made it to Austin. Now, on the way back, flying US Air, we had Atila the Hun for a flight attendant. She walked up and down the aisle barking orders ‘turn off that phone, take that computer out of the seat back. SIT DOWN!’ Whatever happened to a simple please? So much for the friendly skies!!” So much, indeed. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Old aircraft, terrible food
  • Old aircraft, terrible food

    Pekka was less than thrilled with a Finnair flight after she called the airline and was told the flight, even though it was seasonal, would qualify for frequent flyer points. When she boarded the plane in Boston, it turned out to be “one of the older Finnair planes – no in-seat entertainment, worn out carpeting, only two of the three audio systems worked in our row, terrible food with no choices (which was not the case when we had previously flown with Finnair)” and they had to pay for drinks! NO! And when you are forced to pay for your own drinks, you know that is just the tip of the iceberg, right? “Talking to other passengers I found out that Finnair operated the seasonal flight out of Boston as part of its leisure flight programs - package tours usually organized by Finnair itself (flight-hotel combination, etc). Those I spoke to had paid less for their trip than I had and that had included, for them, hotel accommodations and return flights. When I asked the flight attendants about this I was [told] there was nothing they could do. When I arrived in Finland I called Finnair and was told there nothing I could do. I asked what if I wanted to change my flight to use the New York service. I was told it would cost me several hundred dollars for each person. … The straw that broke the camels back for me (which means that I have not since flown with Finnair) is when several weeks later I called Finnair and enquired why I had not been awarded any One World Alliance frequent flyer points. I was told Finnair does not offer them for leisure flights. When I pointed out I was not using the flight as a package deal and that I had been told points would be awarded, I was told ‘policy is policy.’” This is another example of how important it is to get policies in writing. Sometimes, it’s best to correspond with customer service via e-mail and take a copy of your e-mails with you when you fly. It’s easy to deny a customer’s version of a conversation, but cold hard facts in writing are hard to dispute. Photo Credit: simbe
    Insanely delayed
  • Insanely delayed

    From Lori: “How about a 10-hour delay sitting at the gate of a flight from JFK to Cabo, Mexico. When we were finally given clearance that we could take off, the plane pulled away from the gate and proceeded to sit on the runway for another two hours with no food or snacks provided the entire time due to airline policy. We were then greeted with the captain's ‘good news’ announcement that we were going to depart but before we could, we would need another crew because he and the current crew could no longer fly due to the long hours and airline policy. We departed the flight by ladder at 8 p.m. (they couldn't bring us back to the gate) and boarded a cramped standing-room-only bus. We were taken to a holding area where we were detained for another 30 minutes. When we finally got inside the airport again we were told that there was no additional crew to help us and no additional flights for four days (it was Valentine's day week and Winter Recess). The only hope was to make it to an airport 30 minutes away and pray that we could get on the last flight there. My boyfriend (now husband) and I cabbed it to the other airport, boarded the 11 p.m. flight, transferred at two aiports the following day, slept on benches and finally made it to Mexico about 30+ hours later. Unfortunately, our luggage never greeted us on the other side until day five of our trip.” It seems like airlines love to ruin romantic vacations. Maybe this was a bonding experience for Lori and her husband, though. Nothing brings people together like collective hatred for a company. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    8 Terrifying Airline Secrets
  • 8 Terrifying Airline Secrets

    Oh, it gets worse. Now that you’ve heard some first-hand accounts of ancient aircraft and terrible customer service, here are eight potential hazards (some of them deadly) that you and your loved ones will hopefully never encounter. Click here to see what they are. Don’t be afraid. Photo Credit: Dave Heuts
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