This summer, airlines takes “ridiculous” to the next level

We'll guarantee on-time arrival ... for a price. / Photo JB Self - Flickr
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you hear from someone like Stewart Sheinfeld, a reader from Chicago who is flying to Morelia, Mexico, on the discount airline Volaris.

Sheinfeld says when he booked online, he was offered an “On Time Performance Guarantee.” Now normally, a performance guarantee comes with the product. But not this one.

For just an extra $7, Volaris said it would guarantee his flight would arrive within 30 minutes of his scheduled arrival time. And if it was late?

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“We’ll give you $100 USD of Volaris electronic credit to keep flying with us,” it says.

Pay for a guarantee. That’s a new one to me.

“It’s like Vegas,” says Sheinfeld. “Place your bets.”

I had never heard of Volaris’ $7 guarantee. Then again, I’ve stopped asking the question, “What’ll they think of next?” My friends at Spirit Airlines cured me of it. I don’t want to know. You probably don’t, either.

Air travel in the summer of 2012 is fraught with ridiculousness that goes far beyond fees, though. It extends to policies, processes — and to you.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about United Airlines’ new reservation system, which had a few bumps when it merged with Continental. More than a few, actually.

It was only a matter of time before someone forced me to invoke Kafka in reference to the new system, but Linda Schofield made me do it.

Her United flight from Denver to Aspen, Colo., turned back because of inclement weather and landed in Denver. That’s not uncommon. But the United misplaced her luggage (also not uncommon) and left her in Denver with no way to get to Aspen (that is uncommon). She had to rent a car to get to the resort town.

But that isn’t why she contacted me. She says a United agent promised her a refund on the unused flight to Aspen, and when she tried to get it, she got lost in a maze of call centers and confusing web pages.

“I have tried calling the refunds office and the customer service office and got nowhere,” she says. “They keep referring me back to the website to submit another request, which I feel is complex and useless.”

The problem is that the site won’t accept her refund request without a confirmation number, which she no longer has. And the call center employees refer her back to the website, even when she tries to explain her problem.

“This system is clearly designed to thwart any reasonable attempt at communication and to prevent them ever having to process any refunds,” she says. “I’m so angry at United, I could spit.”

I’ve sent her a few high-level contacts at United, and I’ll help her get a refund. But in the meantime, I wonder how many other passengers who need refunds have gotten stuck in this Kafkaesque process.

Too many, I would bet.

Of course, the “ridiculous” cuts both ways. Consider what happened to Helton Harrison on a recent JetBlue Airways flight. It wasn’t the in-flight experience, which he says was “wonderful” but the other passengers, that made him cringe.

“They didn’t put their carry-on in the bin above them,” he remembers. That forced him to stow his luggage in the bin several rows back.

“This caused chaos and confusion when the plane landed and some in row 4 had to be searching for their luggage in row 11. This simply was ridiculous because some passengers do not learn to follow rules and apply common sense,” he says.

If this conflict, which is a variation of the “bin hog” problem, is bad on JetBlue — an airline that includes the cost of your checked luggage in its ticket — you can only imagine what’s happening on the rest of the airlines, which charge for the first checked bag.

Can you say “chaos”?

But as the busy summer travel season unfolds, here’s a question for you: Which of these is the most ridiculous? Is it the creative new fees travel airlines invent? The maddening systems that prevent us from getting what we’re entitled to? Or is it … us?

The pool’s open.

120 thoughts on “This summer, airlines takes “ridiculous” to the next level

  1. As far as Volaris goes…what if some people on the flight pay and some on the same flight don’t? Are those who don’t pay not allowed to deplane until after 30 minutes after the scheduled landing time? After all, they didn’t pay to be guaranteed to land within 30 minutes of their scheduled time. I don’t see how this could logistically work at all, unless I’m missing something.

    1. It sounds more like “On Time Insurance.”

      You pay a small fee.
      If the flight is on time (or within 30 minutes), you’ve paid that small fee for nothing in return.
      If the flight is more than 30 minutes late, you get $100 voucher for another Volaris flight. 

      So it’s a way to hedge your risk against delays. While a normal contract of carriage doesn’t give you any remedy at all for a delay, this gives you some compensation if your flight is late.

      Plus, at the prices listed above, it makes decent sense. Assuming that at least 1 in 14 flights you take is late, you beat your break-even point ($98 spent on the insurance for a $100 voucher…) That seems reasonable.

      Now, if this is a *mandatory* fee, I have a problem with it. 

      1. And what do you want to bet that there are loopholes, written into the rules, you could fly a plane thru, just designed to let the airline deny that $100 worth of vouchers?

  2. The Volaris guarantee is pretty simple. If it’s scheduled to land at 10:00 and lands anytime prior to 10:30, no one gets anything extra. If it lands at 10:31 or later, then whoever bought the “guarantee” gets a credit. Has nothing to do with deplaning. Air Asia does something similar.

    If you want to see bin hogs, fly from Asia to North America. Those pax bring HUGE carry-on. I’ve sometimes had to wait until everyone gets off before I can go retrieve my carry-on if it’s a few rows back (altho if the bins in my section are full, I’ll try to go forward rather than backward). It’s a vicious cycle.

    Too bad for Ms. Schofield. You trust the airlines to get you to point B in a timely manner and when that doesn’t happen AND they’re slow to compensate, that’s the worst. Hope she gets the refund++.

  3. Bin hogs drive me nuts. There are rules for carry on weight and size, and they should be enforced. If someone tries to bring a large bag onto a plane, and that carriers charges per checked bag then they should have to pay to get the bag checked.

    I pack carefully and follow all rules for checked baggage and carry on items, and I’m sick of having to hunt for bin space or have my small backpack squished by a large suitcase by those that don’t follow the rules.

    1. The people that put there stuff in other rows is annoying at times but sometimes there’s no room in the bin above your own seat so you’re forced to find somewhere else. It’s inconvenient for them too. What bugs me more are the people who put one small bag up there in a way that takes up most of the space when several other articles could fit AND they close the bin as if “My stuff is up there, nobody else can use it” and they get huffy when you start rearranging things. OR they stuff their giant jacket up there…

      My favorite was the person who stuck their bag under THEIR OWN seat, aka the space under the seat in front of me….I pulled it out and handed it to them and said this goes under the seat in front of you and they got all pissy. Seriously, are people that ignorant?

      1. Why do they do that!  The FAs always announce repeatedly that the space under the seat in front of you is your primary storage, yet they seem to put it under their own seat pretty often.  Usually when I tell them, they move it and apologies.  But a few times they have yelled at me about how they won’t have any leg room then.  Jerks. 
        And the bin closers annoy me too!  I was on a flight recently where they started having to gate check, and then after we were in flight, the guy in front of me gets up, opens the bin, and takes out a back pack.  All that was in the entire closed bin was a back pack and a coat, and he didn’t have anything under the seat in front of him. If he had put his back pack and coat under the seat in front as he was supposed to, 3-4 people would have not had to gate check.
        Your post really hit my hot buttons.

          1. That and a test of common courtesy. Fail the common courtesy test and walk, because we don’t want you on the road either.

          2.  LOL. Notice it only takes one or a few jerks to destroy a nice flight or cruise. They need to add these idiots to the do not fly [or cruise] lists.

      2. Actually, BC, it’s not ignorance but narcissism that drives the people you use in your examples.  OF COURSE they know that bag should go under the seat in front of them but why should THEY be inconvenienced.

        I was flying just last week and the guy in front of me put his seat in a fully reclining position.  I’m just over six feet tall so this put my knees pretty much under my chin and when the drinks were brought around, I had no place to put mine.  I asked him (politely – seriously…) if he would mind putting the back of his seat up slightly, not all the way, but just about an inch, and he refused.  He wasn’t sleeping, he was reading.  When the flight attendant saw what he was doing, HE asked if the man could put his seat up as it was injuring me remaining in that position (I really was in a great deal of pain at this point).  He again refused.  My solution to the problem was – every time I had to get up, I put my hand on the top of his seat and pushed down as hard as I could, thus when I let it go, he went flying.  Whenever I sat down, I used his seat top to balance myself, pulling back on it while I leveraged myself to sit (and with his seat being so far back I needed to be a contortionist to sit down).  When I adjusted myself in the seat, I shoved as hard as I could with my knees (they already hurt a great deal, what’s a little more?) and after about an hour of that, he finally put his seat back up again.  Thank God for my pain meds…

        The bottom line is – people DO know they’re inconveniencing the rest of the travelers; they simply don’t care.

        1. I sympathize with you.  I am 6’1” and have had the same type of person in front of me many times.  When I have asked polity if they would mind putting their seat up a little, they sometimes do so very nicely.  And other times they argue and refuse citing things such as “The seats recline for a reason.” Or, “I am entitled to use the space behind my seat as far as it will recline”.   The sad thing is, they often sit up right, and aren’t even leaning back.  I always wish I had some sort of itching powder or something I could throw on their heads.  And when this happens, I have no way of getting into my bag under the seat in front of me, let alone if I could, I can’t even read because my book is up against the seat.  And it’s impossible to use a laptop. 
          I personally never recline for 2 reasons.  1. I think it’s rude to the person behind me, and 2. It just seems less comfortable to recline partially while not elevating my legs.  When I have reclined on a red eye after confirming the person behind me was asleep, I stared getting back spasms.
          I’ve heard from friends abroad that on some of the non-US carries, when you recline, the bottom of your seat slides forward so that you take up your own space, and actually provide more space for the person behind you and less for yourself.  Now that’s my kind of plane.

          1. I’m surprised they haven’t done away with reclining seats altogether. Since the rows got scrunched closer together they cause more trouble than they’re worth. It’s not like it’s amazingly more comfortable to have them reclined–people do it pretty much just because they can.  I’m sure reclining seats cost more to produce, as well.

          2. I really think they should give up on those recliners. All they do is create misery for the people behind your seat.

          3. Yup. I had never even tried to recline my seat until recently on a United flight from SF to Chicago where I was in the very last row, so no one to bother behind me. I put it back the four inches or whatever and I was actually less comfortable than just sitting upright.

          4. Re:I personally never recline …
            Me, too. Reclining makes me more uncomfortable. Cathay has that seat that slides down (the one you are referring to). I don’t  “recline” that either.

            Funny, we just bought 2 Lazy Boys to replace older non-recliner sofas and chair. I kept my old Ethan Allen oversized chair since I have learned to fall asleep pretty well without reclining.

          5.  I only recline if the person behind me has, and then only fully if it’s an international flight where everyone is sleeping.  And I always look back prior to doing so to ensure they’re not eating, working, etc first.

            I wish all airlines had the feature that if you reclined you took up your own space and not the person behind you.

        2. A woman after my own heart!  I experienced something similar on a 7-hour flight. 
          We were in F/C and the man in the seat in front of me reclined his chair to the fullest extent and put his large feet on the bulkhead before him.  His head was almost in my lap!  The FAs serving meals asked him on several occasions to raise his chair, but he ignored them totally.  As a result of his hostile attitude, I didn’t want to say anything to him directly.  I was unable to sit, eat t or read comfortably.  However, as I had hands, knees and feet, I found an occasion to bang or kick the back of his chair “inadvertently” quite frequently.  I did this while pretending to change my position or to retrieve something from the floor.  Every time I returned from the w/room, I averted my eyes so I didn’t have to look at him, but I gave his chair a few kicks and bangs as I resettled myself.  None of that convinced the boor to place his chair upright. 
          When we landed, he stood, turned around and gave me the most terrifying glare imaginable. I put on that innocent look that I am famous for while inwardly daring him to say a word.  He didn’t, but then I knew that he knew what I had been doing.  At home, my travelling companion said he was convinced that from the conversation he was having with the person next to him and the unusual (to me) language they were using that they were foreign secret agents.  LOL

      3. Its understandable if you use another bin because yours is full. I just flip at the size of some of the bags in there. And I agree that people should use the space wisely. I carry a 16x12x5.5 bag and always take up as little space as possible. So I was really steamed when someone with a full size hardshell suitcase which violated the max allowed started to actually force their bag in on top of mine. Yes, because I’d like my things broken, please.
        I also hate it when people put things on top of your feet too. At 6 feet I need my space.

    2. I was recently on a flight that I got to board early for (zone 1 instead of 4). Hardly anyone was I the plane when I got on, so the bins were all basically empty. The guy in front of me actually told the flight attendant that he was sitting toward the back of the plane and he hated having to carry his carry on back up the aisle. So could he please put it in a bin at the front of the cabin? And the flight attendant actually told him yes! On a full flight! I told the flight attendant how unfair I thought that was to the people who were going to be sitting in those seats, but he didn’t seem bothered by it. And don’t get me started on the fliers who put both carry-ons in the bins even when we are specifically asked to put one in the bin and one below the seats. Gah!

    3. I was the last to board an evening flight once and it was the last leg of a very long week/flight for me and I was on my way home.  My prior flight was late getting in and by the time I got to the plane, everyone else had stowed their stuff in the overheads.  I KNEW I wasn’t going to find anything open for my bag.

      But LO, as I walked towards my seat, miracle of miracles, the bin over my seat was empty enough for me to put my laptop/camera bag!  I was about three or four steps away when some young chippy in the row behind me jumps up and puts her coat and a dried flower arrangement in my slot then sits back down (both things that would have fit nicely under the seat in front of her).  I started to scoot her stuff over so I could put my bag in when she shrieks (as Drama Queens are wont to do), “You can’t put your bag there!  I have a dried flower arrangement in there!”

      She said it with just enough whine in her voice (I have children – my tolerance for whining is pretty much zilch) and it kind of pissed me off she took MY space with her coat and flowers.  I no longer bothered with “careful” and I slammed my bag in, crushing her flowers and said, “Wow, you must feel really stupid right about now.” and sat down.

      She complained to the FA who looked at her feet (and the empty space, save her feet) and said, “It wouldn’t have been a problem if you’d put them under the seat behind you.”

      Victory was mine.

      1. Wow, remind me never to mess with you again! While I wouldn’t have destroyed her flowers on purpose I understand the temptation. 

        1. BC – I began with doing some rearranging so I could get my bag in.  There was room enough if I just shuffled her coat and flowers to the top of another bag.  She didn’t want that – she wanted to inconvenience me, as was evidenced by her not putting them there until I showed up.  And it wasn’t something she did to make it personal to me.  She’d have done that no matter who showed up.  She just wanted the space and wanted her foot room and she didn’t care who she had to offend to do it.

          I’m really big on – I give what I get.  Treat me respectfully as a human being who walks terra firma and I return the same.

  4. A few weeks ago, I wrote about United Airlines’ new reservation system, which had a few bumps when it merged with Continental.

    Shouldn’t you say when United dumped all of its data into a 30 year old reservation system to save money at the expense of their customers and employees?

  5. Tough call…

    “Stupid Travelers” would’ve been more appropriate choice. Most of the folks are reasonable. Well, maybe not on my FAVORITE route, but, still. 

    Policies….well, if airlines enforced their own policies, maybe it wouldn’t take an hour to board. The fight for the bin space is absurd, made worse by some of the bags that make it past the gate agent. 

    Maybe if airlines gave everyone 1 free checked bag and then charged for use of bin space? I don’t know what the answer to that problem is going to be, but I’m sure no one will like it.

    1. In theory, I like idea of 1 free checked, charge for bins.

      However, in practice, it just means that much more lost luggage, even on flights that go nowhere, as Christopher pointed out in the DEN-Aspen story above.

  6. Not surprising that “other travelers” received the most votes on this forum, when it seems most that post here are seasoned fliers. It’s frustrating to those that know & follow the rules, both written and unwritten, to stand in a security line waiting for someone to empty pockets, get rid of oversize bottles, take off shoes, and argue with agents about what can be taken through, and have to scramble for overhead bin space. Not enough hours in the day to list all frustrations with air travel, but the three Chris listed are right up there.

  7. One of the best things that can be done for flying is to uas a travel agent that knows which airlines offer the premier seating with ealy boarding and for a $100.00 roundtrip have a little extra leg room, no screaming kids in front of you, and early on to beat out the baggage hogs.

    1. Huh? I can count the number of large [US] airlines left (with pre-seating) for any US airport with the fingers in ONE hand.

  8. Definitely has to be other travelers. I tend to pay a bit extra to board as as early as possible, but it’s also so I know where my one carry-on is located. 

  9. The bin hogs get my vote….I know the flight attendants don’t assist in putting bags in the overhead bins because of possible injury, but why can’t they insist that no one can put bags towards the front, when they are seated in the back, or even middle…this causes 2 things..the forward row people have their “space” taken, and it forces the people behind the bin hog to wait, causing delays.

  10. Better yet remove all overhead compartments. Only allow luggage on the plane that fist under the seat infront of the pax. Stop charging for the first checked bag. Bet you could board and deboard in less than 15 mins saving time and money.

    1. I like this idea except then I think the cargo hold will not have room, and if the make the cargo hold bigger by moving the floor up, the seats will be narrower.  Also, they will still need a place to store medical devises that must be with the passenger that may not fit under the seat.  But I still like they idea, if planes were designed slightly differently so we could have the same size seats an no bins, it would be so much better.

    2. Wish I could like this a few more times but…  

      Scenario: I travel with two carryons – my purse and my laptop/camera bag.  Both won’t fit under the seat in front of me (with some pushing, they might). 

      Question: Which one do I check? I really don’t want to check either of them.  My purse, for obvious reasons, and my camera bag because I don’t relish the idea of $7,000 worth of electronics being tossed around or disappear entirely.  Were my laptop and camera/gear not be available for a trip, I can’t do my job as a travel writer.

          1. You cry or wait for the airline delivery guy the next day. Hey, I waited for a Delta delivery man at my home till 1AM this morning. They misrouted a gate checked hand carry on a nonstop LAX-JFK flight the other midnight. All overhead bins packed, no space.

          2. If your bag is mishandled on your home bound flight, and you have backup electronics, paperwork, etc. then you are correct, you wait for delivery of your bag. If it is mishandled on your outbound flight, SOL. Can you afford to roll the dice? Sometimes not.

          3.  OK, so if it is that important to you, then you need POSITIVE bin space. To make sure people don’t hog then airlines should charge for carry-ons. Right now I see oversized stuff crammed in the bins that should be checked in. So I am one with whoever suggested here to remove FREE carry ons.

          4.  Or somebody – TSA or an airport/airline employee – decides to help themselves to your gear.

        1. I’m planning to look into something like that already.  I get so many dirty looks from people when I whip the bag up in the bins.

      1.  Create a system like handicap parking. There must be a solution to STOP folks from taking in luggage that they can check in JUST BECAUSE they don’t want to pay the fee.

    3. How about an unspoken rule allowing people who are ready to leave IMMEDIATELY to deplane first? If you need help getting your crap or it’s too big for you to physically handle speedily, simply sit your butt down and WAIT for the fast people to get off first. That would save loads of time.

      1. This will never work. Once I was on a very tight connection and we arrived late the captain made an announcement and requested everyone stay seated so that the FOUR people who were connecting to XXX (don’t remember where) could deplane quickly and make their connection. Once the seat belt light was turned off every jerk on the plane stood up and started grabbing their stuff trapping the people behind them. People are just inconsiderate jerks. 

        I barreled through them and when I got dirty looks I just said thanks for being seated as the captain requested. Thankfully I made my flight. 

    4. Great idea… and if they raised everyone’s seats by another 12″ (taking care to make sure there’s enough headroom), they could turn the under-seat space into footlockers.

      1. Which would also probably be safer since objects couldn’t fall. There would still need to be room for the lights and oxygen system, etc overhead, though.

  11. “The problem is that the site won’t accept her refund request without a confirmation number, which she no longer has.”

    How do you not have your confirmation number any more?  It’s all over every e-mail, piece of paper, receipt, reservation, etc. related to the ticket.  Did she purge every last bit of documentation as soon as she got home?

      1.  Yep!  As I said, this six-character code (also called the PNR by travel-industry types) is printed on everything.  The airline doesn’t even care what your actual name is when dealing with your reservation… all they care about is the PNR.  Your name is only relevant as a backstop to make sure you’ve given the correct PNR.

        1.  coincidentally, today i had TWO sets of passengers that i couldn’t find by name or flight. thankfully they both brought their PNRs. and that’s when we discovered that the 1st one had booked for July, and the 2nd had reversed the city pairs and had the wrong date.
          without the PNRs, i never would’ve found them.

          1. Of course, and by now they have learned to manipulate a screenshot to “prove” it wasn’t their error!

    1. And if she has a FF account, it’s in there, too…  I’m with you, dear sirwired…  There’s no excuse for not having it.  Doesn’t the Credit Card statement also include it in some form in the memo?

      1.  Yes, the credit card memo should include both the PNR AND the full ticket number.  Either one should enable United to locate and refund the ticket.

    2. And while we are on her case (Case as in Chris’s Case with her, not on her case), they left her stranded in Denver with no way to get to Aspen and that’s uncommon?  But it says they turned around due to inclement weather.  So what are they supposed to do?  If it’s not safe to fly into Aspen, the airline can’t magically change the weather.  And it’s not un-common at all for flights from Denver to Aspen to get canceled due to inclement weather.  The snow has to get on the ski slopes somehow after all.  I hope she finds her PNR so she can get her refund, and I sympathize with her, UA is a horrible mess and very hard to get through to.  But a flight that didn’t make it due to weather is not uncommon, and there are transport services and car rentals.  Though depending on the weather, it’s not always safe to drive either.

      1.  EXACTLY what i was thinking, all of it.

        turned around and canceled due to the weather. how did she then expect United to get her to her destination? bus? they fly airplanes, they don’t have buses on standby in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. and who’s to say the roads were in any better condition? just not sure what she felt was reasonable for United to do (other than refund the ticket) when the weather prevented them from flying the airplane to the Aspen airport.

        yes, she should be getting a refund for the unused flight. and she should have numerous records of her PNR *somewhere*.

  12. I actually watched a flight attendant take purses, briefcases, etc. out of a bin one time, and when people got huffy, she reminded them that it’s “One up, and one under your seat. What didn’t you understand about that.” I darn near stood up and applauded this courageous woman.

    1.  i saw a passenger do that just last week! grabbed a guy’s windbreaker that was balled up in the bin, and said “who has this?” and then told the guy to put it underneath the seat in front of him. he did it, but was majorly miffed. i even heard him complain to his traveling companion, something along the lines of, “well why is her bag more important?” Because it’s what belongs in that bin, not your dang coat, jerk!

      1. I was in FC on a flight to Puerto Rico. A bridezilla boarded with her carryon, purse, and her wedding gown. The FAs attempted to find a place for the gown in the closet, but bridezilla was crying (really!) and screaming that it had to lay flat.

        One of the FAs actually took bags out of the FC overheads and was telling FC pax to “put them under our seats.” We all refused; why should we be inconvienced for this bridezilla?

        FA wasn’t happy, but the gown was placed on top of our stuff and bridezilla yelled at the entire FC cabin “None of you better touch my dress!”

        Well guess what, her dress was touched. She kept coming up to “visit” it, and after the third visit, the on-board lead told her to stay in her cabin and told the FA that wanted to move our stuff she was totally in the wrong.

      2. As I’ve said before, I think the overhead bin situation is generally overblown simply because the airlines don’t enforce their own useful rules regarding their use:

        If you’re sitting in the back of the plane, don’t be putting your stuff in bins in the first. Use the space under the seat in front of you. Etc.

        I had a flight awhile back where there was no overhead bin space left by the time I got on the plane. I had a garment bag I needed to put up there. I dislike having to fold it up in the first place, but, well, planes no longer have proper storage areas for garment bags.

        Finally a lady volunteered to take her oversized PURSE out of the overhead and move it to under her seat.

        Is it any wonder I generally hate people? 🙂

  13. On a recent US Air flight from Seattle to Charlotte a couple got on the plane at the very last minute. The seat next to me was still empty and I figured one of them would be taking it. Since they were not sitting together, the wife asked me to swap my “choice” aisle seat at the front of coach (for which I’d paid a $56 premium) with her husband who had a window seat back in the middle of the plane. I was almost speechless because the wife was wearing her US Air employee badge and they were obviously flying non-rev, yet she had the nerve to ask me to switch seats. When I refused and explained I’d PAID extra for that aisle seat in row 6 because I had a tight connection in Charlotte and needed to exit the plane quickly when we landed, she acted all huffy and said, “Well, if you don’t ask-ee, you don’t get-ee.” What a b*tch with an entitled attitude. I wanted to slap the big grin off her face. Not only was she rude, she was so obese that she took up half the seats on either side of her, even with the arm rests down.If I ever have to fly US Air again, I’ll stay home. Uncomfortable planes, not even a complimentary snack on a long haul flight, and the rudest employees (and flight attendants) in the air. Quite possibly the worst flight I’ve been on in the past twenty years. I will say that the check-in agent in SEATAC was extremely nice and helpful. Otherwise, it was a horrible experience.

    1. I’ve had this happen to me before…I was in the first couple rows and was asked to switch so she could sit with her son, she was in row 40 something, I told her NO. She got all huffy and said real loud “You want to sit next to my 12 year old son??” I stood up and said, “No and I don’t want to sit next to an entitled bitch either, I’m sure the person in row 40 will be willing to move up front” and sat back down. A couple minutes later I had a very happy neighbor who got to move up front. 

      Screw rude people. 

  14. I didn’t vote because there was no (D), all of the above.  And as if to put a cherry on the sundae, United just announced this morning that they will begin charging a whopping @JamesinPhnomPenh:disqus 
    100.00 for the second checked bag on international flights – each direction!  I wonder if there is some sort of double secret pool on which ancillary fee is going to be the one that tips over the bucket and causes travelers and ultimately politicians to rise up indignantly.  Our agency has been getting calls from people purporting to be passengers inquiring about ancillary fees and services that really seem to be more like governmental oversight staffers gathering information.

    Pull down the security bar.  The ride that is the “We’ve Taken All We’re Going to Take” express may be leaving the station and somebody(ies) seem to be filling an ammunition box.

    1. That $100 extra for a second bag was announced back in May, not this morning, and it’s for long-haul flights to and from certain airports in Africa only.  It’s not for all international flights.  Also it was done to match the fees already being charged by KLM, Air France, and other Sky Team members who dominate the African market.  I am not saying I favor the fee; I just want to point out that it’s not all International flights.

      1. Besides, how many travelers need 2 bags? I have trouble filling up my 25″ suitcase which (fully loaded) weighs about 32-35 lbs.

        1. I’m with you; a second bag is a lot.  I only checked a second bag two times that I can remember, both times I was commuting to a client where I got a local apartment and when I moved out, I had accumulated enough that I brought my regular roll-a-board and a bigger suitcase.  In one case I also had a printer too, but shipped it rather than dragging 3 bags.
          I am wondering if its safari gear or rock climbing gear.  I have a friend who claimed Kilimanjaro recently, but he shipped his gear in advance to avoid second bag fees.
          Either way, you inspired me to make sure correct info is posted here, so I did 🙂

        2. Personally, I love the business travelers who pack light. My personal hero is my SO, who left Monday with his rolling briefcase and small duffel for a 3 night trip to Chile. Don’t know if I could do it, but I applaud those that can & do.

          1.  When we travel as a family, we give all our extra space to my wife. After all these years, she still can’t figure out that she probably does not need everything she brings. The real problem is when you have to dress up for one occasion and hit the beach on the same trip. Those formal wear stuff are the worst to pack. Those who have to go on trips very often have learned that it is not worth it NOT to pack light. Maybe a few bumps and bruises and a painful back is all that’s needed.

          2. My GF wanted to bring 10 pairs of shoes on a dive vacation of 2 weeks…

            I don’t get the shoes thing. 
            I really don’t.

          3. My SO sees this the same way you do – it will make his day when I show him he is not alone. He rents his tuxes for the formal nights, I just can’t bring myself to do that for my formalwear, so I am in your wife’s camp.

        3.  ohmygosh, it seems EVERYONE i check in is crying over that 2nd bag! i’m just of the mindset that NO ONE needs 100+lbs of stuff on vacation. if it’s overweight or you have excess of the allotment: PAY IT.
          and if you’re moving: SHIP IT.

          1. I don’t have to pay (yay, status) but when I dive, I do pack a second bag full of dive stuff. 

            If I did go over my allotment, I would gladly pay than rent my equipment.(Ewww…)

          2.  see, now that amount of stuff on that type of trip totally makes sense!
            and behalf of all agents out there, i thank you for not putting up a fight when you’re items are over the limit 🙂

          3.  The one exception need wise that I would suggest is military deploying and or moving.  With the uniforms/gear we are required to carry, and for the amount of time we need it, we need the second bag.  But the government can and does pay the fee for us (and a lot of airlines let us check it for free on orders anyway).

            But you’re right in most cases.

        4. If I want to take my photography equipment I need two bags.  And no way am I going to check a bag when I am flying to catch a cruise – if your bag misses you, you are really out of luck.  

        1. Your link states, bolding mine:
          A second bag service charge of $100 applies for travel between North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa to/from the following countries in Africa: Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

          1. UA has IMO the worst baggage allowance to ASIA. Except Japan (since they are partnered with NH), the second bag to Asia is $70. Other US and Asian carriers give 2 bags free to some Asian destinations. If fact, I get deals with Asian carriers that give the 3rd bag free.

          2. You are 100% correct. A long time ago (and the last time I will ever do this), I took a United flight and a bathroom door was taped shut. Having one less CR in a very long flight is just crazy. Never flown United again. But I do keep selling United to Asia by picking the codeshared All Nippon (NH) flights. Also the Continental flights from EWR and IAH are fine. I rarely come across a customer who says they prefer UA to Asia unless they want to upgrade to BC with points.

          3. I had a UnitedExpress flight from MSN-DEN once on a plane with 1 bathroom, and they announced beforehand that the bathroom did not function and to go before we leave.  This is about a 2.5 hour flight.  I still wonder if that is even legal, to operate a plane with no bathroom?  Legal or not, we flew.  I wonder what would happen if someone really had to go?

  15. A few years ago I boarded a Continental flight. Obviously my boarding pass was scanned at the gate. The plane was pushed from the gate but the engines would not start. They could not tow us back to the gate because of icing. About an hour later they managed to put chains on towing equipment and push us back to the gate. In a mean time I called my travel agent and got new ticket on another airline. I rushed to catch my new flight as soon as we were parked at the gate. After I arrived home I had really hard time to get my refund from Continental, since my boarding pass was scanned at the gate they’ve been telling me my ticket was used and therefore no refund. Eventually after spending hours on the phone and filling online forms I managed to talk to someone at customer care who agreed to call another airline and verify that I was on another flight and they issued a refund. The point is the new United has the same website, same reservation system and same customer care department as old Continental.

    1. Given the crop of anti-social FAs I’ve wondered whether a gate agent would cooperate with processing a refund if:  (1)  You have a fully refundable ticket;  (2)  You were seated and, voluntarily, left the aircraft  (3)  The only reason (for leaving the aircraft) you provide is that the behavior of one or more flight attendants was making you uncomfortable.  Or, is it possible the gate agent/airline might say–“we scanned your boarding pass and as far as we’re concerned, you’ve flown–no refund!”  This argument probably wouldn’t hold-up in small claims court, but going to court is a step most people would like to avoid. 

      1.  My ticket was fully refundable. The plane had mechanical issues. At the time we parked back at the gate there was no word on how long is delay or cancellation. It didn’t have to do with the airline personal. I had to fly to a meeting and did not have time for a flight delay. When I called my travel agent I thought they would just exchange the ticket I had to a new one, but they simply booked me a brand new ticket for a flight that was leaving in 15 minutes on a different airline and the gates were on another side of the airport. As soon as the broken plane was parked back at the gate and door was opened I had to run as fast as I could to make it to another flight. There was no time to talk to a gate agent. When I arrived to a new gate the gate door was already closed but aircraft door was still open. They printed my boarding pass and let me board the flight. What Continental should have done after they fixed the plane several hours later, do a head count or re-scan boarding passes. That way they would see who was actually flying.

  16. Amazing I’ve never seen your survey so evenly split, it’s almost 33%, 33%, 33%!  Personally the Clampets that travel in the summer are the real challenge, bless their hearts.

  17. nearly everyone here has a comment or story about passengers bringing on oversized items. i’m proud to say, not on my watch!  my coworkers who board flights are zealous about making sure every bag fits in the sizing box. i make announcements that we KNOW the box is smaller than the bin… that’s because the bin isn’t designed to hold items only for YOU…. it’s for 3 people.  i also point out that I FIT IN THE OVERHEAD BIN! but i’m clearly not carry-on size!!!
    and yet when we see a large bag and ask them to test it in the sizing box that’s right there by the jetway door, they FREAK OUT when it doesn’t fit and we require them to check it. i mean, GO BONKERS!  “I always fly with this bag.” “I used this bag on the way here.” “It fits in the overhead bin.” “I’ve never had to check in this bag.”  the list goes on & on.  so if we don’t police the carry-ons, we get blasted by some travelers. if we DO, we get blasted by the others. can’t win!!!

    and don’t get me started about when they have to pay to check in that giant refrigerator-sized bag after checking in their entire apartment at the ticket counter….

    1.  Why don’t the airlines make a rule that the overhead bin which is labeled with the seat numbers are ONLY for those seat numbers and each seat occupant can have a MAXIMUM of one item (no larger than 6 x 20 x 9 in / 41 x 51 x 23 cm). Anything that is found inside that does not belong to the legitimate occupant will be gate checked or left behind. 🙂

    2. As long as you guys are consistent, more power to you.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been harassed by FAs about my camera backpack, which fits perfectly under the seat, and then I watch idiots put huge “carry-ons” in the overhead and take up everyone’s space.  It makes me want to put everything in the overhead bin no matter how full the flight, which is not nice and a testament to how flying these days puts even usually considerate people into bad moods.  

    3. The general carry-on size limit is a joke.

      I have two backpacks of equal width and depth. Both are within the general carry-on limits.

      Yet, one of the two is twice the length, ie, ‘height’ of the other, and so isn’t in the size ‘limit’. Yet, I’ve not only never had a problem getting int on the plane, I’ve never had a problem getting it to fit in the overhead bin length-wise.

      The limits, as currently designed, are more about encouraging the shakedown of customers than they are about what can actual fit in the bins.

  18. @flutiefan:disqus First, I agree with your strict adherence to things fitting in the sizer box.  I have a carry-on bag which fits under the seat of a Beachcraft 1900.  I’ve never put it in a sizer box, but I’ve carefully followed the dimensional limits for the Beachcraft operator (Great Lakes Airlines) by measuring with my tape measure.  Accomplishing the feat of fitting all my carry-on needs into my “Beachcraft bag”—without any offending buldges in the bag—is not easy.  It requires a lot of thinking about what is most important.  In the winter, and when I’m travelling on “mainline” aircraft, I’m just thankful there is room for my coat in the overhead.  Just one question flutiefan:  If you are strictly enforcing the “sizer box” rule, doesn’t this significantly delay boarding anyway?  You’re arguing/negotiating with customers and (perhaps) collecting additional checked bag fees.  Or do you, routinely, have the “national guard” (airport police) standing by?  Finally, the airlines need to get serious about lost baggage.  The old saying of “there are only two kinds of baggage–carry-on and lost” is sadly true for most US-based airlines.  Also, the people who take lost baggage reports need training on dealing with people.  There is a small (scheduled service) airport near my home where it is impossible to file a lost baggage report.  If you approach the counter agent, she will signal for the local Sheriff’s Deputy to come over to the counter and intimidate you out of filing a report. 

    1.  no, it doesn’t significantly hinder boarding… after we’ve made (more than one or two) announcements about what is allowed,if someone tries to pass by with an oversized item, we ask them to step aside and and test it in the box .  we continue boarding, and if it doesn’t fit, they’ve gotta check it. meanwhile, boarding is still happening.  one of my announcements even mentions that if you’re asked to step aside and try the sizing box, you will miss your zone; therefore, it’s better to take care of it prior to boarding.

      and perhaps that particular airline/location needs to train people on how to file a report, but please don’t lump us all together. i know how much it totally sucks not to get your bag on the flight, and i will empathize. i won’t, however, take blame (i have never loaded a bag on a plane in my entire career), nor will i accept loud, foul, or abusive language (same with the ticket counter and the gate). there are only 2 people who care about where your lost bag is. don’t piss off the one who can actually do something about it.

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