7 True Stories That Prove The Airlines Hate You
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...
"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.
"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...
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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.
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.
Camera Phones Are Clear Indicators of Terrorist Activity
Marilyn Parver was grabbing a flight from Vegas to NYC on JetBlue when another passenger finally did what we have all wanted to do when dealing with a screaming child: cuss out the bastard's mother.
Parver, not participating in the screaming match but still amused by it, decided to record the exchange presumably to drive more subscribers to her YouTube channel.
The flight crew immediately recognized this for what it was: A terror attack.
Parver was ordered to delete the video by the flight crew. When she refused, they told her the order had come directly from the captain, but didn't allow her to speak with him. When Parver objected to her inexplicable harassment, the crew responded in the most sensible way they could: They called in federal marshals and arrested her video-taping tits off.
By the way, Marilyn Parver is a 56-year-old grandmother.
Parver ultimately was tossed in the drunk tank and released without being charged. She wrote a letter to JetBlue, which was promptly ignored. The airlines' position seems to be that Parver was trying to get photos of the cockpit, doubtless as part of some nefarious terrorist scheme hatched with her bridge club.
Still, imagine what would have happened if she had been from a certain part of the world, like...
Attempts to Use the Bathroom are Also a Clear Indicator of Terrorist Activity
Dr. Sivaprasad Madduri (oh, shit) boarded a Southwest Airlines flight heading from his home in Missouri to a convention in Las Vegas. At the time he happened to be on a medication that acted as a diuretic i.e. it makes you have to piss a lot.
During the flight he got up to use the restroom, and the flight crew flipped the fuck out.
A flight attendant stopped Madduri, told him the restroom was occupied and to go back to his seat. He did as he was told while trying not to piss himself, until he saw the lavatory door open and a second time went to try to use it.
This time, he says the flight attendant started screaming, and pushed him back into his seat, apparently convinced the plane was now under full-on assault from this 65-year-old urologist.
"Give me an excuse, you goddamned terrorist!"
He eventually made it to the bathroom, presumably waiting for the flight attendant to turn her back and making a run for it.
But it only got weirder from there.
When the plane landed in Las Vegas, the cops were waiting. They handed him over to the FBI, who put him in handcuffs and ankle chains, interrogated him and held him overnight in a Las Vegas holding cell with 43 other prisoners. The next day the public defender said they could fight the charge, which would require him to make multiple trips back and forth from Missouri to Las Vegas, or he could plead guilty and pay a $2,500 fine and be done with it.
Later, Southwest Airlines issued an apology and $100 flight voucher... to the other passengers, presumably for the inconvenience of having this brown person disrupt their flight.
A Real Life Family Tragedy, Thanks to United
Anita Cabral did everything right for her vacation. She booked a beach house in Hawaii a year in advance and bought the airplane tickets six months in advance.
Why? Well, the trip was for her children to visit their father, probably the last chance, due to his illness. She spent so much money (including a non-refundable five-figure check for the beach house) that she actually had the trip insured.
You can tell this is going to be a bad one.
After a year of planning, the day before they're set to take off, United tells her the flight had been canceled. This is last minute, but still understandable in the constantly-changing world of air travel. Maybe the engine fell off the plane. Who knows, but flights get canceled and dammit, there's just nothing an airline can do.
She relayed this to another family member, who said that was strange because he in fact was still booked on the flight and everything was a go. Confused, Cabral went back to the airline, who admitted the flight had not in fact been canceled, and said that instead their computer had lost her reservations. Cabral was even more confused by this, because she had gotten an email asking her to confirm her reservations the night before.
After calling them on their second line of bullshit, United just came out and admitted they'd bumped her and her entire family, all eight tickets, from the flight for no particular reason.
But that's OK, because United then offered to make it up to her, by sending her family in pairs to different islands of Hawaii on different days of the week. When she pointed out how retarded that was, they offered to put her on a flight five days into their week-long vacation. Finally, they just gave her a refund.
Some airports display oversized dong sculptures to symbolize the gigantic raping you are likely to receive.
You'd think that'd be the end of it, but the buttfuckery continues. Remember that insurance policy? Well, Cabral's claim was denied, primarily because United refused to write her a letter admitting they had fucked up.
Remember the father Cabal's children were supposed to see? The one who was dying? He passed away before another visit could be arranged, although we can't confirm as to whether natural causes or a United Airlines assassin were responsible.
By the way, if you needed more confirmation that "my family is dying" doesn't get you special service at United, there's the tale of this woman who rushed to the airport to catch a flight to go see her dying mother.
However, standing between the rushing woman and the soon-to-depart airplane was a ticket agent who refused to process her reservation because she had to go on break, effectively informing the poor woman that her final moments with her mother were worth less than a grape soda and a package of Ding Dongs.
For more depressing stories about airport help, check out The 7 Dumbest Things Ever Done by Airport Security. Or read about some failures to help outside of the airport, in 5 Horrifying Tales Of 911 Incompetence.
And check out Cracked.com's Top Picks because your flight's going to be canceled anyway.