Stranded in London: Her rebooking and luggage nightmare

Stranded in London with a rebooking and luggage nightmare on her hands, Jo Vlastaris decided to do what any self-respecting author would: She wrote a novel.

Her story is a terrific example of self-help, but it’s also a cautionary tale about what not to do when you have a problem. Don’t write your heart out.

Her 1,861-word story about being stranded in London on a British Airways stopover, having to rebook a flight to the United States, a hotel problem, and a luggage disaster, is not light reading. Here’s the full letter from our forums.

“I hope my letter gives you pause to consider what you can do — as a leader of an airline once at the forefront of quality and excellence – to restore your image and reclaim your passengers,” she concluded.

Oh, it gave us pause, alright.

“What would you like from us?”

I referred her lengthy complaint about her rebooking and luggage nightmare to our forums. A case like hers deserves a public dissection, but there are also broader lessons to be learned for other forum-dwellers.

The response from Neil Maley, our forum advocate, was priceless: “What would you like from us?”

“I would like to have my claim processed and my expenses reimbursed,” Vlastaris replied. “I would also like to be compensated for the vacation day I was forced to take which amounts to $800.”

Had Vlastaris said so in the first place, we probably wouldn’t be here.

Of course, my advocacy team furnished her with British Airways executive contacts and specific instructions for resolving her complaint.

And thanks to our strategies and a little persistence, she fixed the problem.

Related story:   "A tough but doable trip has turned into a nightmare"

But I’m not done with her.

Keep it short

Vlastaris’ efforts to untangle her rebooking and luggage nightmare underscore the importance of brevity.

Customer service agents don’t have all day to read your novel. Keep your request to 300 words or less, and don’t forget to include the following in your travel complaints:

  • Names, reservation numbers, cities, and flights.
  • A concise description of what happened.
  • An even more concise description of what you did to fix it.
  • Your requested resolution.

Any more information and you’re endangering the success of your claim.

And in the spirit of my advice, I’m going to cut myself off now. Keep it short. Words to live by.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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