SHE SAID: US Airways

January 12, 2010

I don’t know the stats on how often this happens, but this past holiday season, I had the misfortune to be on a flight that was overbooked.  No, no one I know lost a limb or had a freak holiday baking accident, so I realize how petty my complaint is in the overall grand scheme of things.  But let me tell you how frustrating being third on the standby list is when you bought your ticket weeks in advance and were at the airport to check-in more than an hour in advance (this is Burlington, Vermont, not JFK – usually an hour is more than enough time).

I arrived, innocently thinking my biggest issue was going to be my golf clubs, and was informed at the counter not only that I was on the standby list, but that all remaining flights until Tuesday were booked.  It was Sunday morning.

I won’t go into depths about the rudeness of the woman I was dealing with behind the counter because I’m assuming that she had people screaming at her all morning about how infuriating overbooking is and so some bitchiness is to be expected.  But I did inform her, probably not for the first time, that overbooking was a terrible business model and that people were making plans based on the ability of her company to follow through with little details like having a seat on a plane for someone who has purchased a ticket.

I was inconvenienced.  The couple in front of me needing to get home to their child was pretty livid.  The woman going to meet her husband, in the states on break from a tour in the middle east, was in tears.  The scene at gate 8 was not a happy one.  A passenger who had just landed, whose bag had been torn to shreds in transit on US Airways, felt the need to use profanity at a high decibel and swear he was never traveling on US Airways again.  This outburst made me feel better for two reasons.  I felt better having not lost my temper, but he also said everything I was thinking and trying to refrain from saying.

I understand that airlines need all the money they can get right now.  I understand that air travel companies are hurting and while I grumble about having to pay $40 for a checked bag … I get that they need the money and I can deal with it.  I am okay with not getting meals too, they were pretty nasty to begin with.  I even understand delays.  As long as I get where I’m going, I can wait.  It’s usually still a heck of a lot faster than driving or taking a bus or walking.

But when someone has bought a ticket, planned a vacation or a trip, all the details that go with someone planning on being somewhere, you can’t tell them that you oversold the flight and they will only get on if someone else has opted to get off the plane.  Don’t sell them the ticket!  It’s not like they don’t know how many seats are on the plane.  And while I know if I got there earlier to check in I would have made the flight, I still think it’s ridiculous and that me having spent money and gotten my confirmation email should be enough to get me on the plane.  Would we tolerate ordering something on line, getting the email about it being sent and then hearing someone got to the post office to pick it up earlier and so it’s gone?  This policy should not be tolerated.

I vowed never to fly US Airways again.  Instead, I got to my destination on JetBlue, an amazing airline that doesn’t oversell their planes, offers more leg room, delicious Blue chips and individual TVs.  The ticket was a little more expensive, but I wasn’t charged for my checked bag and JetBlue did this amazing thing and got me to my destination.


HE SAID: US Airways

January 12, 2010

As someone who traveled through airports constantly over the past five years, I sympathize with anyone who has miserable airport/airline experiences.  I mean, I was the guy who looked into buying any URL that sounded like “”  So, Nifer, I sympathize with you in this situation in every way.  Overbooking flights is a horrific way to do business, and as a result airlines are losing clients such as yourself (however, I’ve flown just about every major US based airline, and they all do it, so avoiding US Airways probably won’t solve your problem.)

However, my issue with you, Nifer, lies in the fact that you know airlines overbook; especially the Sunday after New Years!  Knowing this, and knowing that you do everything short grocery shopping and sex with your iphone, how the hell did you not think to check in online?! Actually, for the record, it would not surprise me to learn that you use your iphone in some sort of creepy cyber-sex way.  You are a seasoned traveler, who should have been able to avoid the situation.  And, there is no one that knows you that actually believes you got to the airport on time. No one.

That all being said, you got screwed by an industry that likes to bend people over all the time, in every way imaginable.  My trip this past weekend out to Hawaii (yes, I’m blogging from Maui, though I think I’m still enjoying my vacation as I am currently writing 10 yards from the Pacific Ocean), went incredibly smoothly, considering I had to fly through O’Hare – a shitstorm 12 months a year, even moreso in the winter.  But when I get on a 9 hour flight, I was really shocked I had to pay $9 for an effing roast beef sandwich (and by roast beef sandwich, I mean shitty stale bread with one slice of roast beef between it).  I’m not trying to compare my situation to yours in any way, merely trying to show no matter how good a flight goes, there is always something to complain about with the airlines.  For more, see an old blog.

While we are here, I’m going to briefly touch upon the new TSA rules pertaining to international flights after the recent attempted bombing.  The whole”can’t go to the bathrom last hour of the flight” thing really pisses me off.  Is this because a terrorist is more likely to blow up the plane right near the destination as opposed to somewhere over the atlantic?  If so, this really isn’t comforting anyone of the 300 or so passengers on the 777.  I have a better idea…how about the TSA hire competent people to do their jobs properly so nothing gets on the plane that doesn’t belong.  And in case TSA is reading this, I think you do a wonderful job, please don’t put me on any watch list, and search me everytime I fly.