A freelance writer for the Washington Post penned an essay entitled “Air travel shows what happens when we give companies ruinous power over us”, sharing of an “ordeal spanning 53 hours, six gates, three airports and two airlines.”
His essay is a mash of emotions and stream of consciousness that tries to blame everyone but himself for what turned into an unnecessarily long flight delay. Here’s my condensed version:
- United sends him an email warning of potential flight delays and cancellations due to a storm
- He shows up to the airport anyway
- His Newark to San Francisco flight is cancelled
- He calls United and reaches an agent after a long hold
- United rebooks him out of JFK on American Airlines so he can make his friend’s wedding
- Agent also tells him he is not eligible for a hotel voucher because weather is outside United’s control
- He still decided to wait in line 12 HOURS for a hotel voucher
- When he reaches the front of the line, he is denied a voucher
- He heads over to JFK and falls asleep in the gate area
- He misses his flight, having failed to set an alarm
- Placed on standby, he misses the next flight but is accommodated on a late-morning flight to San Francisco
- He makes the wedding
Are You For Real?
So let me get this straight. United warns you that your flight may be canceled, rebooks you on another airline when your flight is cancelled, you oversleep and miss your flight, you are accommodated on standby, and you still have the gall to complain?
More than a century after conquering the onetime impossibility of flight, we have yet to master the long-time impossibility of fairness.
Unfairness? Sounds like he was treated more than fairly. In fact, it sounds like he was treated very well.
You really have to read his commentary to appreciate his whininess.
He laments he has no savings and lives paycheck to paycheck:
“For those of us living hand-to-mouth — which is to say, most of us — it takes years of nothing going wrong to earn your way out of poverty. I had gone wrong: I had slept, awaking back at square one.
Yes, man up and take responsiblity for not setting an alarm. The “I had thought the commotion of boarding would wake me up” is really a stupid defense, whether you are an expert traveler or a non traveler.
“Overbooking is addictive, nonlethal overdosing on greed.”
And yet he is accommodated via a standby on a flight that was oversold by 10…precisely validating why airlines overbook in the first place.
I’m doing all I can to avoid ripping into this statement and taking this post in an overtly political direction…
My point in sharing this story was not to rip the poor man, who no doubt encountered a lot of stress over his 53-hour journey from New York to San Francisco. But quite honestly, I see nothing United or American did wrong. I guess United should have provided snacks and drinks to those in the customer service line, but they often do that…maybe our author just missed it.
I know not everyone is a travel expert. But when there are storms, expect delays and cancellations. When you are told there are no hotel vouchers offered for weather delays, don’t wait in line for 12 hours expecting a different answer. If you are going to camp out an airport before your flight, set an alarm.
Is this really special expertise? Isn’t it just common sense?
“Maybe a few of us were in dire straits because we were confused or uninformed or lazy or irresponsible.”
And to that I say, yes.
I’m disappointed that the Washington Post would publish garbage like this.