It's hard for an industry to be more hated than insurance or telemarketing, but airlines have been trying for decades. Whether it's charging $50 to check one bag or bumping paying customers at a moment's notice, it truly seems like they couldn't give half a damn about their passengers.
Then, on some occasions, they really put in the extra effort to openly make the customers overtly hate them. For example...
#7. "Sorry, ma'am, but we mishandled your luggage. With fire."
Everybody who parts with their luggage at the airport does so with a twinge of nerves; afraid their bags will end up in some other city, or that some crazed baggage handler will sneak off to some private room to start trying on their undergarments. So when a United Airlines employee approached Shannon Tadel and asked to speak with her privately about a problem with her luggage, she probably assumed the worst.
We're guessing even by assuming the worst she was not prepared for when the man said that her bags were on fire.
As it turns out, Shannon's luggage was placed too close to an exhaust port on a belt loader, which was so hot it ignited the bags. She thought it was a prank until the pilot revealed himself to not be Ashton Kutcher and pointed out a Tarmac crew attempting to extinguish her clothing with a fire hose.
To make matters worse, her smoldering, water-logged luggage wouldn't be allowed on the flight. We're not sure if this was some kind of regulation or if they just wanted to see the look on her face.
United apparently thought that a first class upgrade was enough of an apology for destroying a bag full of her clothing, and didn't respond to her reimbursement claim. They forced her to jump through many hoops and even dry-cleaned her destroyed clothing to try and lower the amount of the claim.
As usually happens, they kept running her through a maze of bullshit before Tadel went out and got the story made public via the Chicago Tribune. Suddenly United was all about pleasing the customer, becoming very compliant and apologetic, issuing her a check to cover her loss and assuring her that in no way did the public embarrassment factor into their decision to replace the possessions they set ablaze.
#6. "Either pay up, or leave your infant with me."
A fairly standard rule in the airline industry is that children under two can fly for free if they can sit in a parent's lap, at least on domestic flights. International flights generally levy a 10 percent charge on the parent's ticket, called a baby fare, we guess for the extra gas it takes to transport a baby.
Probably varies according to size of the baby
So Brian Burns paid for his tickets to Greece, took his infant son and had a wonderful trip. Then when it was time to return to America, he went to the Athens airport where he was told he'd have to pay a little more to get his child back home.
And by a little more, we mean $320. That's how much the fuel surcharge was on the baby ticket that Delta Airlines forced Burns to buy to get his kid on the plane to return home. They had managed to not bring this up when Burns was buying his ticket in America to get to Greece. The options were basically either pay the fare, or dump the child at a Greek orphanage and go back without him.
Though we guess for less than $320 he could probably have just mailed the baby back. Just stick lots of Styrofoam peanuts in there and some jars of baby food...
#5. One Flight Forward, Two Flights Back.
AeroMexico Flight 670 was heading nonstop from Mexico City to Seattle when, near their destination, they ran into a bank of fog. They were forced to divert to Portland, in order to get their customers to their connections on time. Never an industry to pass up fucking with non-white customers, the airline made sure this didn't happen.
To be fair, AeroMexico couldn't control the fact that Portland International Airport didn't have any customs agents available to process their foreign passengers, so they were powerless as their customers sat on the tarmac for four hours, gradually growing more pissed off. In fact, the passengers became so irate that the cops had to show up to keep them on the plane after they realized that they were trapped in the plot of a bad Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg collaboration.
In light of the escalating situation, and taking into consideration the proximity of the flight's intended destination of Seattle, AeroMexico did the only intelligent and courteous thing it could do: It made them fly the 2,000-plus miles back to Mexico.
Oh, also, the flight left without stocking any food. The situation was so offensive that local firefighters literally went to McDonald's and got everybody onboard a hamburger out of pity.
Upon landing back in Mexico City, AeroMexico didn't bother to offer any of the passengers food or hotel vouchers, though they did hand out several coupons for free entrees at T.G.I. Go Fuck Yourself.
#4. Hyphens Are Confusing, Evil
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee booked a ticket from Toronto to Florida, arrived at the airport and walked to the ticket counter, all without knowing that her day was about to be ruined by punctuation.
A keen eye might notice that Stephanie has a hyphenated last name, just like around 10 percent of new brides do. Ms. Pearl-McPhee had actually run into problems before where airlines had missed the hyphen and assumed that Pearl was her middle name. Of course, after showing her passport, the ticket was always corrected. It's not the sort of thing that takes a team of physicists and a supercomputer to figure out.
However, on this trip, the airline decided to screw logic right up the ass, saying that altering her ticket to include the hyphen constituted a name change and thus was against the rules.
After arguing through about 15 minutes of this, Pearl-McPhee decided to cancel her original ticket and just buy a new one. The airline informed her that there were no more seats available on the flight. Even though she just opened one by canceling. They presumably couldn't give a seat to this "Stephanie Pearl-McPhee" person because "Stephanie Pearl McPhee" could still show up and demand it back.