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Thread: The United debarcle

  1. #81
    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    ***I find this can be equally applicable both to airline employees and the public***
    As much as I love dogging airline management and policy, my beer $ and blame is on the passenger more than the 'systematic abuse' in the case in the link below.

    https://gma.yahoo.com/video-shows-ka...pstories.html#

    I'd have thought the pilot would have zip tied this guy...but I guess the authority to zip tie anyone of the pilots choosing (including, but not limited to, assault, threat, interference, intimidation or refusal of safety command) only exists on the plane or with special captains?
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  2. #82
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    This is despicable:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39659166

    It's really outrageous that airlines are allowed to intentionally "oversell" flights. It's hard to wrap your head around the logic that consumers do not have a right to the thing they have purchased. It a clear sign of the time we live in, a time when corporate ethics have vaporized and government is unabashedly in thrall to their lobbying machines. It's also mind-bending to witness how complacent and tolerant people have become to this casual abuse. I wonder what it's going to take for people to finally stand up against this. When they finally do, they will look back upon these days the way we look back upon the lawlessness of the early industrial age, with a sort of horror.

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ***It's hard to wrap your head around the logic that consumers do not have a right to the thing they have purchased.***
    If it were only that simple.

    Airlines have over booked since [no real clue, but a REALLY long time]. A great percentage of the time, it's not a problem. And when it is a problem, the great percentage of time you can pay volunteers and solve the problem...so the vast vast majority of the time, it's not a problem.

    The subtle psychology is that it's no big deal UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU, OF COURSE.

    And the issue is not really the over booking- the issue is a bunch of other 'subtle' changes.

    1) Big #1 is the ratcheting up of load factors and ratcheting down on extra flights. In the olden days, it seems like there were always open seats and slightly rare occurrences of extremely empty flights. Now, a 99 or 100% full plane is quite the norm and the 'empty plane' is hard hard hard to find.

    2) Is a really big elimination of give and take...used to be, standby was free. Used to be, changes and customer cancellations (within a reasonable time period) were free. Now there's hefty...very hefty...fees and/or fines for exactly that.

    Everything is take for the airline. They don''t 'give' passengers very much.

    If I want to change my schedule, I OWE the airline (and that's almost all of them) a significant chunk of money.

    If THEY want to change my schedule, they owe me NOTHING!

    #3) Is that you really don't have many other choices. Hubs are now dominated by relatively few airlines...Some places have choices, but to specifically get from one place to another, your list of choices is often very short.

    Last January Delta spent 6 hours getting me from flyover to Atlanta, then canceled my flight to Birmingham, but offered me a rebooking 30 hours later than my original arrival. I rented a car.

    Damn good thing I called customer service. I even had to CHEW ON THEM that the COC kind has a 24 hour promise because their big HAL computer AND the agent was set to AUTOMATICALLY cancel my return flights since I had skipped the ATL - BHM leg...the chewing started when the agent said my flight would be canceled...UM NO, MY FRIEND, YOU DIDN'T DELIVER ME TO MY DESTINATION WITHIN 24 HOURS...KEEP MY RETURN RESERVATION.)

    (Ok, it was weather, but cue my repeated rant that it was an average stormy night (a slower Sunday night) and they went full cascade failure as the tight crew, gate, rampie, plane-cleaner and aircraft schedules melted down.)

    I can forgive weather...I'm no longer forgiving huge meltdowns for ordinary thunderstorm outbreaks...but isn't it just plane wrong that the system tries to cancel my flight AND keeps the money for the flight I missed when THEY were the ones who didn't have a crew to fly to BHM and I had to do it for them by driving?

    (PS, I deliberately chose a mid-afternoon flight with numerous backups, just in case there was weather breakdown...but it was stormy around the airport for a couple hours- so there goes the rest of the evening AND THE WHOLE NEXT DAY)

    Anyway- not really out to argue as much as augment.

    Overbookings ARE accepted by the traveling public. It USED to be offset by free standby, free cancellations and a lot more open seats.

    I guess I would favor a big consistent regulation that totally outlaws over booking- It seems so wrong for them make big profits when we cancel on them, but they are free to cancel on us....you can't have it both ways!

    And maybe one big over-booking policy with liberal pay outs for overbooking. I'm sure someone else could have gotten off for Ms. Canada to make her cruise.

    You love to play the 'scientific engineering' card. Figuring out how much to over book and what your risk of bumping people is a fairly straight forward exercise...I guess it will continue (even though a second ago, I said it shouldn't). Put in a decent voluntary seat system (and actually, again, that usually works pretty darn good-even though United stepped in it pretty good here with not using good practice).

    (By the way, shouldn't AA1818 be coming on here with a serious rant of how many people the airlines safely and cheaply move...or is somehow United wrong and AA without reproach?)
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    PS: I still marvel at the congressional 'trapped on a plane' law.

    I tend to believe it was a good thing.

    But, instead of lifting a finger and developing some 'scientifically engineered' contingency plans like a couple extra gates and a parking plan and a few busses and a couple meg-tugs-with-snow-tires, the airline's now preemptively cancel 'everything'.

    Kind of an interesting study in 'be careful what you wish for'.

    A long time ago at Flyover, they were having a good ole fashioned snowstorm...The schedule was going to hell, but TWA WAS operating...My 1:00 PM flight to MSP was delayed till 3:00...but at 12:30 darned if I didn't walk past the undeparted 10:00 AM flight...Out comes my paper ticket (with COC details on the back), "hey, you got any seats?"...Yeah, sure, no problem, no charge.

    The good ole days where there was BOTH give and take...and the system was not so totally stressed that thousands of folks were stranded in planes on the tarmac...

    Should "we" get congress to say 'no overbooking'...maybe so...the airlines may ratchet their missed flight policies up a notch, but so what, they are already pretty damn unforgiving, unless you pay bigtime up front for flexible fares.
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  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    Should "we" get congress to say 'no overbooking'...maybe so...the airlines may ratchet their missed flight policies up a notch, but so what, they are already pretty damn unforgiving, unless you pay bigtime up front for flexible fares.
    Well, I prefer draconian missed-flight policies to total fricken anarchy seat booking roulette. If you miss your flight and you have to buy another one, that at least makes sense. You can say "Unless I am prevented from getting to the gate by the gate time, I WILL be travelling on this flight". But this woman was on time, ready to go, with once-in-lifetime plans, maybe took time off from work, maybe even rented out her place, packed thing away, left her dog with friend, basically all the things you do to prepare for a vacation—not to mention the psychological build-up—and then the airline just gave her the shaft. Cold-blooded corporate hijinx. What if her head just exploded like mine certainly would have? There outta be a law...

    The reason we have 'trapped-on-a-plane' laws is because it became politically expedient. People expressed a lot of collective outrage and politicians—being the parasites they are—saw political opportunity in that. The same force of outrage could be the death of "overselling" flights, if only we didn't live in an age of sheeple.

  6. #86
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    This is despicable:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39659166

    It's really outrageous that airlines are allowed to intentionally "oversell" flights. It's hard to wrap your head around the logic that consumers do not have a right to the thing they have purchased. It a clear sign of the time we live in, a time when corporate ethics have vaporized and government is unabashedly in thrall to their lobbying machines. It's also mind-bending to witness how complacent and tolerant people have become to this casual abuse. I wonder what it's going to take for people to finally stand up against this. When they finally do, they will look back upon these days the way we look back upon the lawlessness of the early industrial age, with a sort of horror.
    I agree, but I also think that to cut the right of the airline to oversell must be accompanied with a cut to the tight of the user to get a refund if they change their minds. All sales are final, for both parties.

    --- Judge what is said by the merits of what is said, not by the credentials of who said it. ---
    --- Defend what you say with arguments, not by imposing your credentials ---

  7. #87
    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    I agree, but I also think that to cut the right of the airline to oversell must be accompanied with a cut to the tight of the user to get a refund if they change their minds. All sales are final, for both parties.
    Wrong... they ALREADY penalize customers for that. Its called the 'unrefundable fare'/'flexible fare' and rebooking fee and no more free standby.

    Acknowledged- I can't make an absolute statement on this, but now, its a very slanted double standard. You change you pay. They change, the COC gives them WIDE leeway.

    One other subtlety...

    I have noticed a new, significant and efficient standby system (5 to 10 folks each flight) which I'm sure is profitable... but, no, we gotta have every last penny, so we'll STILL overbook.

    PS- no disagreement that Ms. Canada got screwed, I just also lean for an improved 'universal' volunteer system...

    By the way- is there not even a hushed policy that an 'elite frequent flier' can purchase a last minute ticket and bump a 'serf passenger' who got a cheap, early reservation?
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    By the way... in the aggie/smaller town world, we have many times accused regionals of canceling scheduled flights AT THE LAST MINUTE to the hub BECAUSE THE FLIGHT IS UNDER BOOKED...

    "We can get 'em on the noontime flight and later connections", and they arrive at the final destination at 8:00 PM instead of 11:00 AM...(within our COC)...
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  9. #89
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    I agree, but I also think that to cut the right of the airline to oversell must be accompanied with a cut to the tight of the user to get a refund if they change their minds. All sales are final, for both parties.
    I'm good with that. For basic ecomomy.

    3WE is right (sudden lightheadedness), the airlines have already made this the case with their cheapest fares and they sell you the more expensive ones by building in the expense of flying empty seats. It's basically the insurance industry model: everyone in that booking class pays extra for the provision to cancel or rebook, but most never do, so when one passenger cancels, all the others make for it and they come out with more money in the end than if they flew a full flight in basic economy class.

    So you can toss that argument.


    By the way- is there not even a hushed policy that an 'elite frequent flier' can purchase a last minute ticket and bump a 'serf passenger' who got a cheap, early reservation?
    Probably, but let's me clear about that: it's not a 'frequent flier' anymore, it's a 'frequent consumer earning points on everyday purchases with an affinity card'. So, it rewards consumerism, not flying, and that reward is paid for by a kick-back from the bankcard providers to the airlines.

    If you haven't noticed, a serf passenger with a ton of actual flown miles doesn't get buttkiss these days.

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    p.s. the answer to the entire problem is this:

    Regulate the airlines so that they MUST include in their price:

    - A carry-on bag + personal item
    - one checked bag (50lbs/23kg) on short haul domestic and two on long haul international flights.
    - a basic-level seat reservation (aisle and window seats included)
    - basic refreshments
    - basic snacks or meals depending on the flight duration
    - basic IFE where available
    - pillows and blankets
    - a minimum seat pitch (perhaps 30")
    - rebooking for a fair, regulated fee
    - cancellation up to a fair, regulated time before the flight

    BOOM, you're back to the 90's, when prices were maybe a BIT higher, airlines were profitable enough and everyone was happier.

    The internet pricing sites have created a race to the bottom and it will just keep getting worse until it is prohibited by regulation that forces ALL airlines to include basic dignity in their price.
    In my working life only one airline tried to do just what you describe. They were all about the "warm'n'fuzzy" customer experience, mood lighting, FAs under 45yo and under 200lb etc etc. Said airline had a mighty hard time getting off the ground (pun fully intended), had an even harder time making a profit, and eventually got absorbed by another carrier.

    It's hard to regulate "dignity", especially when the consumer is more than willing to sell it for $5. Or even $4.

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    Some airlines do not advance book the last few seats. That way they can provide those seats to last minute flyers at higher prices. Only then do other booked seats, or boarders, get allocated or given to standby passengers.

    What I like about SW is that I almost always get on a earlier flight (as standby) rather than the one I booked at no extra charge (makes economic sense to the airline).

  12. #92
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    In my working life only one airline tried to do just what you describe. They were all about the "warm'n'fuzzy" customer experience, mood lighting, FAs under 45yo and under 200lb etc etc. Said airline had a mighty hard time getting off the ground (pun fully intended), had an even harder time making a profit, and eventually got absorbed by another carrier.

    It's hard to regulate "dignity", especially when the consumer is more than willing to sell it for $5. Or even $4.
    That's the entire point of pricing regulation. Said airline couldn't compete because everyone else was racing to the bottom. People buy the cheapest flight, then complain about how nothing is included. This is because a) corporations have no respect for basic human dignity and b) people are sheeple, just frighteningly stupid for the most part.

    However, regulate pricing as I proposed and EVERY airline offering a dignified experience will be able to compete on a fair playing field, because regulation prevents the race to the bottom. Ticket prices will go up but ALL prices will go up and people will pay only a bit more when the hidden fees are removed from the bottom line.

    Or, you know, keep resisting the obvious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Highkeas View Post
    ***I almost always get on a earlier flight (as standby) rather than the one I booked at no extra charge (makes economic sense to the airline). ***
    Yes...the plane is going anyway and it costs 'nothing' to give you that empty seat and maybe then you can sell your original seat at a higher price...win win, right?

    It sounds wonderful and would seem to make good sense.

    But, are you aware of the travel 'scam' where you purchase the cheapest fare of the day (during a slow time) and then standby on the high-priced flight at the busy time?

    Bean counters did some analysis (and not too many years ago, jet fuel was REALLY expensive and airlines were LOSING money in general)...and apparently they were losing big $ on this. It does not make economic sense to the airline.

    Plus, they are looking at every thing they do and 'how can the profit from it'. So, now we have pay for standby, pay for flexible fare, pay for seat pitch, pay for seat selection, pay for early boarding (and dibs on overhead space) and if you go CHEAP, you are screwed.

    Time out to ask what industry ISN'T looking at 'everything' and considering it's profit vs. cost? Example: I'm not an MBA but I have bought non-refundable reservations at Holiday Inn Express...AND have seen hotel over booking too! We could take this thread WAAAY off topic and list crappy policies in all sorts of industries.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ...That's the entire point of pricing regulation...Or, you know, keep resisting the obvious...
    As much as I want to be on Evan's side, ATL also has a decent handle on the obvious.

    One painful, obvious issue is that overbooking happens EVERY day on EVERY airline and is scientifically engineered to do really amazing things, and make some money for airplane drivers, and give volunteers some reasonably OK 'cash' prizes.

    And the second obvious issue is that there's a small percentage of human beings with mental issues...

    People that have no business being postal workers, police, rampies, rent-a-cops, gate agents, or even pilots or doctors. In some ways the whole United thing can be laid on policemen who were unfit, who violated procedures. And then secondarily on a gate agent who didn't know a lot of rules...hard rules like that they did not have the right to bump people, and a number of soft rules, like- finding alternative flights for your Republic crew, that there's a time and place to go above $800, and that EVEN IF YOU ARE GOING TO LIE AND BUMP SOMEONE, you sure as hell don't let them get on the plane.

    The system works when you follow fundamentals and procedures...but we will always have that human element...they forget that on a 737-236A, the Cessna 172-worthy procedure for an approach in a thunderstorm...Watch the instruments, and perch your thumb over the click-clack-paddywhack give a man a plane button...and they forget some nit-picky-Tee-Vee-legal-fine-print on the COC.

    The system is finely honed and works kind of decent, until us people screw it up. Turn it ALL over to HAL...the flying, AND the boarding procedure.

    Final point- I can't stand to totally side with ATL...I would come back with telling ATL that even though you are not 'resisting the obvious', 1) This still kind of sucks and 2) do YOU have any suggestions, or is it the normal, 'this is what it is, deal with it'...

    Your management (that's a general term) screwed you over big time years ago with the regional-scam...if the current price war/monopolistic systematic kinda-sorta-screw-over inspired a few more laws for your management to jump through, I'd feel a little poetic justice.

    Obviously, management will pass the costs on to the consumer (and maybe squeeze your pilot contract a tad)...but, I will side with Evan that I at least THINK I'd pay a little more for some 'reasonable and fair customer service'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    EVEN IF YOU ARE GOING TO LIE AND BUMP SOMEONE, you sure as hell don't let them get on the plane.

    The system works when you follow fundamentals and procedures...
    How is that going to help the poor woman in Canada missing her once-in-a-lifetime trip? She got 'bumped' at the gate.

    The system doesn't work at all. Because it's not a system at all. It's corporate anarchy.

  16. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    *** In some ways the whole United thing can be laid on policemen who were unfit, who violated procedures. And then secondarily on a gate agent who didn't know a lot of rules***
    Look at me talking 'procedures' (sudden light-headedness).

    As I regain my composure, perhaps it's that the employees (with management inspiration) have forgotten the basic fundamentals of customer service, as customer service procedures have been pounded upon them.

    Procedure: If you have a crew that needs to get somewhere and the price hits $800, then you need to bump a passenger.

    Forgotten fundamentals- Check for other flights for your crew. Don't board the plane till you are done bumping people. And the biggie, the person bought a ticket, paid money, was assigned a seat, and allowed to sit on it...perhaps that counts for something.

    Ok, I feel better now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ***The system doesn't work at all.***
    As much as I joke about absolute statements, it would appear that you are the one resisting the obvious.

    The system does work...every day.

    It's been asked if you have ever taken an airline flight...or exactly how rare it is that you take one.

    The odds are near 100% that if you fly somewhere, you will hear the words, "we may have an overbooked situation and are looking for volunteers". Maybe not on your flight, but you'll hear it at an adjacent gate, or as you stroll the concourse between flights or to/from your first/final flight.

    I hate it as much as you do, but (try to be scientific)...the system works (it's actually pretty fascinating and beautiful if you look at it with an 'engineering mentality'). (Admittedly, a relatively small, pre-calculated % of the time it doesn't work, but hey, those scientific engineers calculated it out incredibly well and really close.)

    What's that one liner- "If it didn't work, they wouldn't do it".
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  18. #98
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    Default "Today's" incident.

    Uht Oh... (and hello AA1818 )

    This one is great! We see a passenger directly threaten a flight crew...(and no use of zip ties).

    We have conjecture that the FA may have crossed over a fine line of physically 'assaulting' a passenger. (AND, it's a young mother...oooo, bad PR)

    We have a double-wide baby stroller...betting that doesn't work on the aisle, "completely under the seat in front of you" NOR fit in the overhead.

    We have video...(that does not catch the initial incident). (too bad the FA doesn't have a body cam).

    We have the airline doing VERY prompt and significant damage control (is this an admission of wrong doing?...or is it more that right and wrong doesn't matter...only IMAGE?)

    AND we see preemptive, situation-controlling threats from the FA too.

    All sorts of beautiful, woven gray area.

    There's all sorts of subtleties here to judge from the keyboard and generate parlour talk. (Total speculation, but should there not be a 'talk nice phase' with an accurate discussion, followed by, OK, last chance before I switch to our COC and my right to tell you to leave the plane now, or I call security with instructions to physically remove you if you do not go voluntarily...(again, said with calm and legal correctness))

    https://gma.yahoo.com/american-airli...pstories.html#

    We also have what I'll call inconsistent customer service: Have you ever noticed a flight crew doing major back flips for a disabled person, or even a person with small children? The suddenly we have a double-wide stroller, and the back flips switch to off and we (allegedly) pull the stroller away with force...I'm sure it's all in the COC, which is not printed on the back of the lady's printed-at-home boarding pass.

    And nothing to do with overbooking!

    Indeed, systematic, engineered, predictable screw-overs (synergized by human factors, of course), procedures AND the lost fundamental of customer service.

    Bring on the regulations (even though the system works most of the time).


    ***Breaking update: No zip ties for passenger...but a $25,000 fine 'is threatened' to passenger who tried to defend the poor-defenseless woman. Perhaps the answer lies not in the 'right and wrong' of 'the law' but perhaps a threatened $25,000 boycott of AA if they press charges. [Special note: I am not sure WHO is threatening the $25,000 fine...possibly not_AA, but FA groups citing the laws...] Question to Tee Vee: are the words 'if you tried that with me' a threat- or a non-binding, indirect/not direct at all, hypothetical statement.
    Last edited by 3WE; 04-24-2017 at 08:11 PM. Reason: Passenger fine update
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    Senior Member TeeVee's Avatar
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    y'all wanna be REALLY pissed? how's this: executive platinum members in aa's aadvantage program are GUARANTEED a coach seat on any domestic flight. so, if i decide i want to fly on a completely sold out flight and am willing to pay, i can bump another pax just because. good for me, bad for everyone else.

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    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeeVee, above
    y'all wanna be REALLY pissed?...
    HA! I remember you saying that a while back!

    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE, in post #87 View Post
    ***By the way- is there not even a hushed policy that an 'elite frequent flier' can purchase a last minute ticket and bump a 'serf passenger' who got a cheap, early reservation?***
    Sorta doesn't seem particularly 'right' in the basic scheme of things, but apparently, it's profitable to some degree.
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