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Real life stories of airline failures

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Short of having a first-class seat on an airline flight, there really isn’t much to look up to in a commercial flight. While most airlines try their best to deliver great service, their sheer size means that personal service is barely unheard of. Because we rely on them so much, they have faults which we have become used to. We have tolerated them for long enough that it feels normal—assuming that that’s their nature. When you travel commercially, so many things are beyond your control. From the airplane to the staff to fellow commuters, you have to count on everyone doing their best to make everything happen smoothly and comfortably. Recently we were looking at the advantages of charter flying and how it solves some problems of conventional flying. Here are some instances when airlines let their clients down.

Loss of luggage
Traveling, especially with luggage, can be stressful. What happens when your luggage gets misplaced by an airline? How long would it realistically take to get your items back? While there are plenty of cases, a few stand out. In 2013 a concerned son took to Twitter to explain displeasure at an airline losing track of his dads’ luggage. What makes this case stand out to date is the fact that he spent a tidy sum of over $1,000 to run the promoted tweet that bashed British Airlines for their mistakes. What followed was not just a demonstration of terrible airline customer care but also showed how devastating terrible service could be.

United Breaks Guitars
If you have heard of the sensation, you know of the story. Dave Carroll was on a united airlines flight when he noticed the staff toss his Taylor guitar. The baggage handlers paid no heed to the nature of the guitar. It was as if he was seated on his seat, all he could do was watch while the guitar was destroyed. Later, it was found out that the guitar had been damaged. Compensation was sought from united airlines but to no avail. The customer service was not helpful, and being an artist, he took justice the best way he knew how. He wrote the song “United Breaks Guitar” on YouTube after months of frustration. The song became a sensation and even caused United Airlines stock value to drop by 10%– an estimated $180 million.

Seats oversold
What could be worse than missing a flight? How about arriving on time for your flight. Every procedure is followed and then find out at the last minute that the flight is oversold? When a couple wanted to fly to Paris for their anniversary, they were pleasantly surprised to find last minute flight deals to Paris. Upon arriving at the airport, they followed the checking procedure as usual, but things started to look suspicious with the unusually high traffic at the gates. “You would think two flights were boarding,” they said. This would have been a happier outcome; the reality was that the Airline staff were not counting passengers or enforcing seat regulations.


Because of this, people were seated in unassigned chairs, and others were standing in the isles, not knowing what to do. When eventually the seats were filled, there were 20 extra passengers—the flight had been oversold. The airline had failed to respond to delays earlier in the day, and now there was a backlog of passengers on makeup flights.


Overbooking itself is a mistake, but the impact it has later is the bigger issue. Imagine changing your current travel plans and the subsequent ones because the flight was overbooked. Worse, if you had to wait at the airport while an alternative was found or having to cancel plans entirely.

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