View Full Version : Advice from Travel Veterans

Bob Dole
06-04-2001, 09:19 PM
Bob Dole has travelled commercially quite a bit, but has been one of the lucky few who has encountered no significant problems.

Presently, our 17 year-old recent high school graduate is sitting in the DFW airport waiting for her 2:45pm flight to depart. Unfortunately, the destination airport closed at 9pm this evening, so the flight will not be departing any time soon.

It appears that an earlier flight had mechanical difficulties, so they bumped the passengers on the 2:45 in favor of the earlier flight's passengers. They've boarded the plane at least once, where they enjoyed a leisurely hour on the ground with no functional a/c before they were returned to their spots on the floor of the DFW terminal.

At about 9:30pm, she called to inform me that they finally gave them meal vouchers for use at the airport food establishments that closed at 9pm, as well as handing out blankets and pillows to make their graduation trip more pleasant.

Anyone have any experience with this sort of crap and suggestions for the best avenue to achieve some sort of reasonable resolution?

06-04-2001, 09:56 PM
Mr Dole- I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's misfortune at the hands of the almighty air travel god-sadly they probably number in the thousands every week. I've found if one is persistent enough, and persistent is the key word, actually, vocally persistent, certain accomodations will be made, including vouchers for future flights (as if one would ever want to use that airline ever again). My wife, a frequent air traveler, raised so much hell under similar circumstances that the airline put her in a hotel for the evening, and upgraded her ticket to first class the following morning. She may have had a leg up on most because she worked for a corporation that flew exclusively with that particular airline. But I have read that there is pending legislation to make it a given that people bumped from a flight with another not available until the next morning, such as your daughter, are put up in hotels.
I think it all depends on how much hell one wants to raise at the ticket counter.
Let's see... it was DFW-it had to be American.

Bob Dole
06-04-2001, 10:02 PM
Actually, it's ATA.

Tried to call the airline, but of course only got voicemail. Rest assured, they'll be hearing more. (The local travel agent that made the arrangements was pleased to hear from Bob Dole at home at 10pm, as well...)

Tomahawk 11
06-04-2001, 10:12 PM
I heard somebody talking about an Oprah thing on this. I don't watch Oprah myself so I had to take their word for it. Some "travel expert" was on Oprah last week and said something to the effect of a "240 rule" or something in that regard. They said that this rule required the airline to put you on the next available flight if your flight is cancelled or delayed for longer than a day. Supposedly that means even with another airline. Maybe they were talking about this upcoming legislation though

I'm sorry that I can't remember the exact thing of it. I agree with KC. It seems like no matter what service you buy these days if you want what you were promised then you have to be a loud mouth S.O.B anymore to get it. I'm having problems with my Sprint PCS service right now (hell... since I got the damn thing) and I can't seem to get any help until I resort to cussing out the "Customer Care Representative".

Bob... Tell your daughter to use the F-word loud, a lot and in front of millions. :eek:

06-04-2001, 10:27 PM
Yea T-Hawk-I really do think that the more vocal one is about something, definitely when the service provider is clearly in the wrong, the faster it will be rectified. I mean, nobody at an airline ticket counter wants to see a paying customer dragged out by airport security police, screaming at the top of their lungs, "THESE MOTHER######S RIPPED ME OFF!" not only within earshot of all travelers, but all their competitors also. The prospect of that terrifies PR people, and they'll do anything to prevent it.

Tomahawk 11
06-04-2001, 10:44 PM
It's really a shame that it has come to that. :( And people act so surprised now that we are hearing about "air rage". Not that I condone it, but should it shock anyone that this is occurring?

06-04-2001, 11:37 PM
I am a naturally loud person, and am told that even when I think I am controlling my anger I come across about as nice as a drill instructor in a steroid rage. Whatever the case it has always served me well with airline counter personel, they have even given me first class seats on another airline to get me out of their line. Persistence might be putting it mildly. My parents taught me very young that as the customer I was right and it has always served me very well.

Take that for what it is worth, but my experience is that passive people get poor service. That does not mean cussing, screaming or threatening is going to get you anywhere. Just that a very forceful persistence is extremely effective.

keg in kc
06-05-2001, 08:17 AM
I've always found that a quiet rage works well in these situations, too. Maybe it's because I look like the embodiment of Death itself when I get mad, but in any event, you don't necessarily just have to be loud - confident and intimidating goes a long way. The words "well, I'll just have to contact my lawyer about this" seem to work wonders, as well, especially when you pop the cell phone out as you turn around and act like you're walking away. Another good one is "can I please talk to your manager"...

You get the idea.

I've you're persistent enough, they will give in to your requests, as long as they're reasonable.

I'd at least go for tickets, maybe with an upgrade to first class (hard to pull that off though, sometimes)...

06-05-2001, 08:22 AM
<i>best avenue to achieve some sort of reasonable resolution?

an AK-47(w/ 2 bandoliers), 20# C-4, 32 Mercury-Switch Blast Caps and about 12 thermite grenades. :)

06-05-2001, 09:10 AM
I had a similar experience with American, and got the token six dollar meal voucher, which barely covers a hot dog and coke, and nothing more at the counter. Loud profanity, nor soft spoken threats had a lot of impact. When I did get home, I started a paper trail of threats an innuendos, which in a short 5 or 6 months, resulted in a 300 dollar voucher. I also had an experience with Delta, much better I might add, I was on a Vegas bound flight from Atlanta, and they grounded the plane, since I was using frequent flyer miles, I was sitting in first class, and could see the efforts they were making to get the damn thing off the ground, however, they finally cancelled it. As we deplaned, an agent intercepted each of the 16 of us in FC, and took us to a waiting area, where they booked us on the next available, unfortunately, I was about halfway down the list, and the best they could do, was an 8 hour delay, on Delta to LA, then United Shuttle to Vegas. For this they allowed us in the Crown Room, and a 20 dollar per person food voucher. Trouble was, I got to LA, and the damn Unite flight was fogged in, in San Francisco. I arrived in Vegas at 3 am, instead of 1 pm the day before. For the 250 in coach, they just handed them there tickets, and said go to Customer Service, don't know what happened to them.

06-05-2001, 09:16 AM

I've seen it both ways. I put on about 35 domestic roundtrips and 6 International flights per year (mainly to Beijing). I see all sorts of people, including myself, get the shaft while trying to get from point A to point B. I've seen people get physical and threaten airline officials to within 1" of their life, and I've seen folks be so nice and cordial to airline personnel that it would make you sick.

The best approach, IMO, is to use what you are most comfortable with to negotiate and speak to the person in charge. It does no good to scream, yell and threaten a booking agent, when they have zero authority in the 1st place. Get to the person who makes decisions. Use logic and reason as your defense. Plea to their sense of decency as to how you have been inconvenienced, and ask to be compensated for your time. Tell them it is your right to be placed on the next available flight on ANY airline. Tell them you expect an upgrade in your seating arrangement. Let them know that you expect hotel and food vouchers for your inconvenience. Also, tell them that you plan to write a letter describing how poor the service and follow-up was, if you are not taken care of. Make sure you get the proper spelling of their name and address so that you can CC them on the letter.

This approach has worked wonders for me. I have receieved mileage advances, free flights, seating upgrades, food and hotel vouchers, etc. It's who you talk to, not how loudly you speak that will get you the greatest level of success with the airlines.

Best of luck.

06-05-2001, 09:18 AM
Only problem I've had: jet 'broke down' at SFO, so we were delayed 5+ hours. Wasn't a problem tho' - preseason SF -v- Oakland game was on the tube at a bar in SFO and the airline paid for our food /drinks (sans alcoholic beverages of course). They then put us on a competitor's airline in FIRST CLASS - had a 2-hour stop-off in Vegas, then first class again back to KC.

Interesting side note: Tom Osborne was on our flight from LV to KCI (he sat in coach - and looked <i>really</i> pissed off... must have lost a bankroll) ;)

Chi is right: the people in front of us were b*tching & moaning at the poor ticket-agents(like it was <i>their</i> fault). I was friendly and polite, so they expedited our <u>upgrade</u> and gave us meal vouchers. :)

Bob Dole
06-05-2001, 12:21 PM
After a number of telephone calls, Bob Dole has learned that Li'l B arrived in Cancun at 3am, and has been assured by both the airline and booking travel agent that there will be forthcoming compensation.

At least the kids made it there safely (which was Bob Dole's primary concern).