Good / Bad
Good / Bad by cogdogblog posted 5 Dec ’08, 12.11am MST PST on flickr


This has been a year of travel clocking close to 60k miles so far in 2008. I wanted to take this opportunity to hang some travel providers on appropriate hooks (I seem to be lacking a hook for “Ugly”) for my most recent trip.

When travel plans go awry there is not much you can do except bitch about it. And then you realize, stuck on some city you did not plan to stay in, that there’s not much you can do being more or less a mere human package which may or may not get shipped to its desired location.

On the Bad Hook is Icelandair– my Nov 29 flight from Reykjavik was fine (and they may get a good hook for the in seat video screens in coach), but landed at Logan Airport in Boston 15 minutes late an then took 45 minutes to even get my bag on the belt. With a line in customs, it looked dicey to catch my connection flight.

Also on the Bad Hook is the lousy, confusing, bus system between terminals at Logan. They are poorly signed and the schedules are erratic at best. I lost 15 minutes waiting for the number 11 bus, and those minutes cost me a connecting flight, and more than $1100 in extra fees.

Hanging on the sharpest point of the Bad Hook are the rude gate agents from American Eagle at Logan. I got to a darkened ticket counter abut 25 minutes before my departure. There were actually no gate agents there, just some maintenance guy who gestured towards an automated checking machine… which then spit out a piece of paper saying I could not check in because it was less than 30 minutes to departure, and I needed to see the gate agent… who were not there. Mr Maintenance caught said agents leaving the premises and asked for help. Their contorted faces said, “You’re too late, come back tomorrow.” Did they stop to help? Did they offer any compassion? No, they walked out and left me stupefied (and then spewig expletives) in Logan Airport.

Somewhat on the Good Hook was the agent at the US Airways counter. As I was not going to get to JFK that night and would then miss my next morning flight from JFK to Phoenix, he managed to sell me a ticket directly from Boston to Phoenix in the morning. But I’ll toss USAirways on the Bad Hook for the $828 they charged me for this (no credit for my purchased ticket) PLUS a $35 fee for buying it at the counter. I’m glad my bag was flying to JFK as they would have charged me for that.

Impaled on the rusty dull point of the Bad Hook is Hotels.com. Because my original plans had 12 hour layover at JFK, I booked a room at a nearby Best Western. When I called Hotels.com to let them know I had missed my flight, they told me the hotel would not refund my reservation. So for not delivering a service, they get to keep my money. They only dodged the poison tip of the hook by offering a “24%” refund. I have a name for keeping money I paid for a service not delivered– “theft.”

Perched on the Good Hook is the Suburban Extended Stay hotel I found listed at the Boston Airport- it was reasonable, close, and the staff and shuttle drivers friendly. They did forget my 3:30 AM wakeup call, but I never count on them anyhow.

Also on the Good Hook was the friendly staff in Phoenix at US Airways baggage service who took the whole sad story and arranged to get my bag to Phoenix form where it was sent to JFK.

Back on the Bad Hook is the web site of Icelandair where I submitted a request for compensation via their web form which has been completely ignored. They are side by side with the American Airlines web site which customer service form where I complained about the rude and absent gate agents has been ignored. Toss on top of them expedia who’s web site ignored my request for credit/refund for 2 un-used tickets.

I cannot imagine that airlines are so flush with business they can stand to treat us paying sheep like trash, but apparently they do.

Any of these companies stuck on the Bad Hook have an opportunity to change their position by coming through with at least an explanation/response from their Customer NonService Departments, but until then, these companies will not get any future business from me:

  • Hotels.com
  • expedia (I had sworn to never use them, but were only option to get my Iceland tickets delivered- WTF, Icelandair only does paper tickets)
  • American Airlines
  • Any future international travel through Logan Airport… at best, allows 4+ hours to make any connection.

I am not optimistic, but am out of more than $1100 extra it cost me to get home.

All of the airlines ought to be taking some notes from Southwest Airlines — I just returned today and made a change in my flight to an earlier flight cause I got to the airport early enough; not only did they get me on a non-stop from a one stop flight, I got a refund for the fare difference (they don’t charge penalties for fare changes), they don’t charge for bags, and I got a free pair of socks! W00t! People may snicker at the lining up for seats at the gate, but they run the business right, and treat customers better than the other likely to be bankrupt airlines (and guess what hook US Cheapways is on for charging $1 for coffee and $2 for water?).

Good Dog or Bad? They decide…..

The post "Good / Bad ? Travel" was originally emerged from the primordial ooze and first walked on land at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2008/12/good-bad-travel/) on December 5, 2008.

4 Comments

  • David McGeary

    Alan,
    I have had similar experiences with some of these same companies. I’ll sort of look upon your post as a call from Spartacus and I’ll join in the ban!

    Cheers (and here’s hoping that you’ve paid your karma tax in full for this year)!

    David

  • Stephen Downes downes.ca

    Sounds like a disaster.

    I’m a bit puzzled. Why would it cost $1100 for a missed connection? I read what you wrote and I’m still not getting it. I have missed connections on numerous occasions; you just go to the agent and rebook your flight. Doesn’t cost anything (except for the overnight stay).

    I’ve also used expedia.ca numerous times without incident; I wouldn’t recommend them for all cases (eg. booking flights in Europe) but they have certainly done the job for me.

    Totally agree with you about Logan, though. It should be used as a destination airport only, never for transfers (contrast with Newark, which is an excellent point for transfers).

  • Susan Miller-Cochran mediatedlife.edublogs.org

    I completely agree with you about Southwest, Alan–I try to avoid flying anyone else now if I can. They’ve definitely got it right when it comes to customer service, and it shows in their bottom line.

  • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

    @Stephen Downes: I was tired, it was late, and the gate agent was like the third string. He looked at my ticket and said he could not do anything with it. I just needed to get home and felt I could deal with it later. I am calling US Airways today to dig a bit.

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