real talk tuesday: legal theft. aka airline policies

With the exception of the waiter my husband met on his Florida trip who apparently aspires to be a pilot for United Airlines, (bless his little heart) I think we can all pretty much agree that United is like the Walmart of all the major airlines.  Like, you don’t love going there, but when you’re in a pinch and you don’t want to spend a buttload of money, they’ll get the job done.  However you grudgingly head into this knowing that, ultimately, you’re getting exactly what you pay for.  This lesson was confirmed in spades this past week when Anthony flew down to Florida to see his grandma, as she isn’t doing very well.

As I mentioned yesterday, my in-laws don’t have very good luck with air travel in regards to arriving on time.  Normally this isn’t anything more than an annoying inconvenience, but this time, given the circumstances with his grandma and Anthony only able to have one day with her as it was, time was of the essence.  So it was a tad outrageous to me when we found that they not only had just TWO FLIGHTS to Tampa all day, (the second one taking off nine hours later) but also in knowing that, they made no effort to try and rebook them sooner possibly using another airline.  Their response was more or less, “if you don’t sit and wait for nine hours, you’re on your own because weather.”

IMG_1851Cut to having to Twitter blast United for screwing the pooch, as per usual, and Anthony’s mom coming in with the assist.  No, no one was dragged off the plane battered and unconscious, but I mean, when compared to being doomed to wait in the airport for NINE HOURS for the next two-hour flight to Tampa when you had literally hours to see a dying relative, I think I’d actually opt to be beaten up by airline police, because at least then I’d get something out of the lawsuit.

Very very fortunately for us, the particular United rep who responded to my tweeting was incredibly accommodating and not only gave us a $150 voucher for a future flight, but also refunded both my husband & father-in-law’s flights.  Thank God, since we had to pay another $384 to rebook them for an earlier flight with Southwest.  Feeling extra grateful that hell froze over and an airline did what was basically unheard of and actually gave money back to the traveler, I of course deleted my tweet, but refund or no, my feelings are the same, because while this was the first time anyone did anything about it, this was not the first time this has happened.

United aside (they are getting a one time pass this go around.. granted I could still be in shock) there have been a healthy handful of times we have dealt with either delayed or missed flights wherein the airlines claim no responsibility and basically leave you stranded citing “weather” as their excuse for withholding a refund.

aircraft airplane blue cargo

I get that they can’t give every delayed passenger their money back, and that it probably costs more to operate a commercial jet than any of us realize.  But somehow I refuse to believe there is ever a need to charge $608 for ONE person to fly from Boston to Milwaukee and back.  I could rent a car and drive there and back for cheaper.

Unfortunately as a world we are dependent on air travel, and not only do they know it, they take full advantage of taking our money and sleeping on their beds of millions as we scramble trying to spend more money trying rebook missed connections.  Unless of course we run through airports like madmen & women after stressing for the duration of the flight that it won’t land in time.  Try and squeeze past people to get off the plane sooner to catch our next flight.  Skip the bathroom on the way to your next gate only to miss the flight anyway and be met with “sorry not sorry” at the desk.  It’s a ruthless industry, and it makes me furious to think that there are people who miss last-minute emergency events such as loved ones on their deathbeds or funerals because they can’t afford a plane ticket.

Anywho, I don’t have any real solutions for this problem, since boycotting the airlines doesn’t appear to be an option in a country or world as big as ours.  Does anyone happen have several mil lying around to start a new airline that doesn’t financially rape its customers to put the rest of them out of business?  If so, that’d be great…

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