Just One of the Reasons Why I Hate the Airline Industry


Well, technically, it was Sprint's fault. Always good to have multiple redundancies...
Man, I feel so bad hearing the horror stories about "green" Seattlites jetting off to Europe for their vacation. Wow, your trip was delayed a day? Sounds awful.

Yup, it's an unfair policy. But seriously, cry me a river.
Yeah, Sprint lost two major fiber optic lines simultaneously. Blaming this on Alaska Airlines would be like us blaming you guys if the Stranger's web-host went down.

Goldy you are an idiot. Just go ahead and walk everywhere. Oh I-90 is busy, oh flights get cancelled, how awful Everyone knows sometimes the plane no leave on time. Yawn.

Even so, it's ridiculous for Alaska to posit it as though they're doing their customers a favor. Rebooking without a fee is literally the least they can do.
Here's what happens when Goldy travels:

Whatever. I'm sure nobody in Mitt Romney's tax bracket was inconvenienced in the slightest; quite the opposite actually, since this would have meant fewer commercial flights crowding the tarmac for the private & corporate jets.
@2: Instead of crying, you could read the article, which has nothing to with greens, Seattleites, or Europe (Alaskan doesn't fly there). But you and your straw men have a great evening!
see also: "Rule 240," which was lost when we deregulated the airlines, but lives on to some degree in their contracts of carriage, and requires them to put you on another airline's flight if one is available when yours is delayed and it's the airline's fault.
It is always possible to purchase fully refundable tickets. You make the choice to buy the lowest fair with significant restrictions.
Remember when it was fun to fly on a U.S. airline?

One more thing to thank Ronnie The Fool for…
Meanwhile, I flew round-trip to New York a couple of weeks ago for $319. That kind of boggles the mind. Take the bad with the good, but let's keep some context, here.
You could say that the compensation and upgrades and blow jobs from the executive of your choice -- or the lack thereof -- are priced into the ticket. Given some percentage of downtime and some percentage of canceled flights, airlines could add a few bucks to each ticket and use it to compensate people who suffer such disruptions.

Or, you know, you could handle it yourself. If it's a potentially big deal to miss a flight, you can buy flight insurance.

But you can't have it both ways -- rock bottom prices and generous compensation for inconvenience. It's like the morons who shop at Walmart because it's cheaper but complain about jobs going to China.
First world problems, remember it was only 150 years ago when you took your life in your hands, and like two months, to travel across the country.

Alaska doesn't owe you anything, you could always ride Greyhound.
My daughter is actually caught up in this mess. So is my mother. Every year, my mother takes my daughter down to Mexico for a vacation with that side of the family.

I thought it was bad when a broken luggage strap delayed a flight from Sea-Tac to McCarran, and then the turnaround (my flight) was delayed again when something went wrong with one of the aft toilets. As it was, we were only an hour behind schedule, thanks to a strapper and the crapper. And, besides, I was in Vegas to see Peter Gabriel. I'm not going to let an hour's delay take me off that high.

But a network issue? Four hours?

Nothing to be done, I guess. I'll leave the sound and fury to them.

How are the airports in Mexico? I mean, I can smoke at LAS. And I can even get a drink and gamble while I do. Four hours waiting at SJD? I do feel badly for them.
"I'm sure nobody in Mitt Romney's tax bracket was inconvenienced in the slightest; quite the opposite actually, since this would have meant fewer commercial flights crowding the tarmac for the private & corporate jets."

I know you're a fucking moron, so let me explain it to you: virtually all private jets in Seattle fly out of King County International Airport/Boeing Field, not Seatac.

Remind me again how liberals are so much smarter than the rest of us?

Oh no, people are flying and have a carbon foot print! They should travel by rickshaw! That way we can have the wealth and productivity of Bangladeshi peasants!
Wow. Didn't realize so many of Slog readers are airline executives. My apologies.
@3: Computer networking is not part of Alaska Airline's service. If I show up with a ticket or boarding pass and they refuse to transport me, citing reasons like their accountant having quit, the office copier being out of toner, or their intranet being down, that *is* their fault. If I risk my travel on showing up at the airport without proof that I've arranged with Alaska to transport me and expect someone to be able to retrieve that information with a high-tech ticket dispensing machine at the airport, only to find that the machine is malfunctioning, leaving me without access to such proof, then shame on me.
@17: I think they're just libertarians until this happens to them.
I flew Alaska today, and received an email during my flight offering me a refund of any non flown airfare on October 8 or 9. From my seat it appears that they offered refunds just about as soon as their network was back up.
Don't apologize, Goldy. One of the great rules of capitalism is that there should be no risk. Sure, Alaska Airlines can implement the system, but, you know, they shouldn't be blamed when their system fails. After all, it's not their fault that "redundant" means two lines on the same network system. Or something like that.

I'm always amazed at the lack of planning for catastrophic failure. I mean, shit, you know? If my network goes out at home, I still have my smart phone. True, it's easier to back up my personal needs than an entire airline network, but, then again, I'm not charging anyone hundreds of dollars a pop for each Slog comment I write.

But for some people, it's unfair to expect a large business to actually have a failsafe. You know, it hurts the bottom line to spend that money, and if it comes down to executives not being able to buy vacation homes or expensive cars? Well, then they're going to have to fire some people.

And, well, why should we hate jobs so much?

The things that are in your control? Like leaving too late to the airport? They're your responsibility. The things that are in Alaska Airlines' control? Like making sure they have alternatives in the event of catastrophic network failure? Well, that's not the company's responsibility, and if you suggest it is, well, you're a job killer.

Or something like that. Sorry, my Republican-speak function is permanently set somewhere between sarcasm and high disdain. But while some things are our responsibility (check traffic, &c.), other things are not (TSA, &c.). I'll split the difference with you on those points. But these folks who are so upset at you for expecting an airline to be responsible? Don't apologize to them.

Many are happy to think of corporations as people when rights are the question, but most of those will freak out if the concomitant responsibilities enter the discussion.

Don't apologize.
You could always vote with your feet and not fly airlines who don't treat you the way you like. except that you won't, because the value of fast convenient travel is way more than the cost of the ticket.

So complain, but you'll be back. You wouldn't do any different
@22: Unfortunately modern airlines have a strong lobby in DC and an informal cartelization that allows them to avoid having to worry about pesky things like one of their competitors offering free perks or customer service akin to any other private industry. The best you can hope for these days is no baggage fee or maybe a free movie.

You'll be back because fliers have no choice.
@22 I've voted with my feet. I don't fly nearly as often as I did 10 years ago. I've taken the train when I could, but mostly, I just don't see my family back East as often as I used to, because I am sick and tired of being treated like a terrorist every time I travel, and of never knowing whether I'm going to get where I'm going when I'm supposed to get there.

Yes, flying is a helluva lot cheaper than it was before deregulation. In every way.
Apparently some morons around here think the clowns that ran Occupy Seattle could do a better job running an airline.

Seriously, want to fly decent airlines? Fly Asian airlines - few, if no unions and no menopausal women working in the cabins.
Jesus people. The one time Goldy kind of has a point, you guys are all defensive of airline companies trying to fee you to death?

It's not that they should even give you a a full refund, but a free meal or a $25/$50 coupon would be good.

Also, you can bet your ass that Sprint will be getting fined up the ass for this failure. Alaska will profit from it.
@23 then fly Virgin. Young, attractive flight attendants and great service. Did I mention no unions or legacy pensions?
Vacuum tubes!

Just sayin'
Greens: I'm pretty sure Goldy considers himself somebody who cares about climate change

Seattlites: most of us reading this live in Seattle

Europe: The "airline industry" most certainly has one or two flights there, and Slog readers comprise higher percentage of folks who board those flights.

Sorry @8 and Goldy, I just can't fucking stand people bitching about how awful flying is. Very few people on Earth get to fly. Getting treated like a terrorist, Goldy? Really? Even Noam Chomsky accepts as legitimate the TSA's authority to search his shit when flying.
I sat at SeaTac for five hours today. They told most of the people trying to fly that they weren't going to try to get them on standby either.
Back during Snowpocalypse 2008, my wife and I were stranded at Sea-Tac for 12 hours because the airport had to truck defroster liquid over from Spokane.

The Virgin people were total dicks about everything. Sure, it was the weather, so "not their fault" but they yelled at us when people asked for blankets and pillows. Then the supervisor came by and she was even nastier. I think it's because people asked for meal coupons.

It's true Virgin didn't owe us anything beyond flying us out eventually. But I'm never flying Virgin again and I tell people about our stupendously awful experience with them whenever the conversation turns to airlines. If they had been nice to us I would probably fly Virgin all he time and talk about that one time they went above and beyond and earned my loyalty.

It's called customer service: spend a little money to make your customers happy, and they will buy your services more often. It's pretty simple in theory, but often so difficult to execute correctly.
The asymmetry is pretty bad; airlines sink hundreds of millions - frequently billions - into long-term capital equipment, training pilots who are in charge of hundreds of lives every day, and maintaining presence in lesser hubs that don't really merit service financially.

On the other hand, air travel is now disturbingly affordable. That's pretty fucking asymmetrical. Any asshat who can't even read the boarding pass to figure out when to board gets to fly.

I fly around 100k miles per year. I have been fucked over by airlines in ways most people can't imagine. This incident, while bad in Alaska's hub, doesn't even rank.
Once upon a time, the airline industry was regulated...
Out of curiosity - is it normal for an aviation group to be fully dependent on a single company for their network? Not having any kind of redundancy with another group for a mission critical system seems risky. Do the big boys (UA/DL/AA) also do this kind of thing, or is it just rinky-dink Alaska?
I was stuck at OAK for three extra hours today. Alaska Airlines should have to pay my bar tab.
And to the guy who thinks Virgin America's sh*t don't stink - wait a few years. People were saying the same thing about JetBlue when it first came down the pike (snappy crew, shiny new planes, etc)... then they got old. Their workers got restless. Their planes got old and started to break down. Those costs were invariably passed on to customers.

Getting old is a bitch, ain't it?
@33: And it cost hundreds of dollars in 1960's money to fly anywhere. Which is why almost no one except business people and the wealthy did it.
Until they start treating their pilots with the kind of respect they deserve I'd rather not fly. I'd still love to go to Europe next year, and I hope to use as little air service as humanly possible while still seeing as much of Europe as possible. Their loss.
Don't know about aviation but multiple ip services are an expense and it's quite possible to run into problems even then; e.g. It isn't unknown for multiple companies to share a trench or have set ups that aren't entirely co-operating.

I am surprised Sprint couldnt fire up some pre-arranged reciprocal deal to route around the fails quickly using other networks.
What(thefuck)ever! Last year this week my wife and I were stuck all day at sea-tac, flying Alaska. 10am flight to boston turned into a Delta flight to Chicago getting in at 1am, free hotel, 3 hours sleep then a flight out of Chicago at 6:30am. We just rolled with it, drank, snuck off and screwed, and never complained. flying is still an amazing feat of Man, and we should be grateful if we can afford the cost and time it takes.
@29 You could use that argument to say that, since most people are lucky to have legs, we should walk everywhere.

There's such a thing as striving to be the best. It's kind of an American thing. Perhaps you've never heard of it. We know we can do better, but the same Randian/Libertarians who feel that industry should be completely unfettered also are quick to defend industry's shoddy & lazy practices. Gov't regulations aren't designed to hold industry back, but to force them to act in a proficient & excellent manner.

No, of course that doesn't always happen. But if the wingnuts really wanted "government off our backs," then why do they continue to act in such a way that demands oversight for the system to run smoothly?
@26 - goldy has no point.

if he's upset that modern technology is not perfect enough to get him on a flight he wasn't scheduled for maybe he can give somebody some vegetables while he brags/masturbates about it.

goldy is an asshole.
Again, this is why I avoid US carriers as much as possible. If more people would start doing this, things might approve. Planes are becoming the the Greyhouds of air travel. Service sucks at every level, and they act like they neither want nor need customers. Let's show them what their business looks like without customers.
It does not seem that any of the negative commenters read the last line of the post.

The point is, when you mess something up, you get screwed, when the airline messes something up, you get screwed, despite paying for a service.

Goldy, I'm with you on this. I've only ever been slightly screwed by an airline and it was regarding my baggage but the idea that a person might miss a funeral, a job interview, or dare I say a vacation, and receive no compensation pisses me off.

I go out of my way to be a pleasant customer but as a customer I expect decent service. If an airline wants my business they should have a contingency plan for ensuring customer satisfaction.

As for the critics, Goldy is not some high highfalutin elitist for taking a vacation or being disgruntled by the prospect of missing a vacation. Everyone should be able to take a vacation and not enough people are able to.

This country does not value concept of vacationing properly.
I mean, this country does not properly value the concept of vacationing. That is, if their response to someone missing a flight is to say "fuck you, it's only a vacation. Cry me a river."
Alaska is equally helpful when THEY are the customers. A few flights back at SeaTac, I was looking out at the ramp as an oaf in a Menzies jumpsuit loaded bags onto the conveyor by tossing them into the air, then slamming them down onto the belt. I mentioned this to the gate agent, who retorted that it's not Alaska's fault what Menzies does.

Yes it is! You're paying them. You can complain if they are abusing YOUR customers' luggage. So I have a completely clear conscience about avoiding their checked bag fees and cramming my weirdly-shaped luggage in the overhead bin.
You're sitting in a chair in the sky! You're like a Greek myth right now!

@26 - I will take your bet on Sprint getting fined. Who would fine them?

Alaska has a contract for services that limits their ablility to recover damages - generally these terms set the limit at the pro-rated cost of the OOS time itself. So if they were paying $10k per day and incurred 5 hours of outage time the damages would be ~$2100.

The WA UTC has no juristiction to fine, since they only regulate telephony. And as long as the outage is reported to the FCC, there would not be any action from them. Worst case with the Commission would be a relatively cursory exchange of regulatory documents.

Alaska may decide to drop Sprint, but they certainly will not profit from this.
@43: Do tell me how to avoid U.S. carriers when I live (and primarily fly) in the U.S.
"asymmetry of the relationship?"

what the hell does that mean? Planes cost millions and your ticket cost hundred(s)
@11, Actually, Carter deregulated air travel (along with trucking, telecom and the financial sector)
@37, In fact, airfare decreased fastest before deregulation and most of the lowered fare since has been due to low energy prices during the oil glut. Also by the mid-70's (Carter deregulated air travel in 78), ~70% of Americans had used air travel. There are lots of myths floating around about the benefits of deregulation but the great reckoning is coming as the nation's air travel network is falling apart.