AirTran Agent Screams, Curses At Travelers While Supervisor Looks On

Forget about those dowdy old-school Olympics. What we need is an international competition to see which airline can suck the most, since everyone is getting so good at it. In the category of Random Rudeness, this AirTran agent and her equally hostile supervisor would have a good shot at the gold—especially since they aimed their hostility at a honeymooning couple.

Completely unrelated to delays, bumpings or overbooking, we had a shockingly traumatic customer service experience with Airtran coming back from our honeymoon yesterday morning that I wanted to share with you.

We were checking three bags at Boston’s Logan airport and the woman checking us in said one of our bags was oversized and would incur a $29 oversize bag fee. We were surprised, since we weren’t charged a fee for an oversized bag on the first leg of our trip. When we asked her about this, she acted really put out and annoyed and got her supervisor. Her supervisor came over, even more annoyed, and said “If you don’t watch it, I’ll charge you for that first leg, too.” (From a conversation with a customer service person 20 minutes later on the phone, we learned that this is absolutely not authorized under Airtran policy…I’m not sure where that “retroactive extra fee” would have gone).

We protested, and asked for her name and title. She refused to give us her last name and walked away. We asked the woman checking us in for her name–she too refused, and tucked her name badge inside her sweater so we couldn’t see it. Fortunately I had already looked and wrote it down. Deciding that our conversation was over, she yelled out “Next!” We didn’t leave, and asked again for her name and title because we wanted to complain about her hostility and her threat to charge us retroactively for something that obviously wasn’t our fault.

Her response? She yelled “Get the hell out of my god damn face!” in front of about 100 people waiting in line, including many families with small children. We were absolutely shocked, and when I asked her “Did you really just say that to me?” she screamed it again, making threatening gestures and frightening both us and the people around us. Her supervisor watched from about 20 feet away, doing nothing.

When we approached her supervisor to complain, the supervisor’s response was “She didn’t say that”, and her tone insinuated that we had made it up. She added, “There aren’t any witnesses.” When we pointed to several people who could attest to the fact that a) her employee had indeed exploded in the unprovoked, threatening manner described above, and that b) there were dozens of witnesses, the supervisor responded to the effect of “Don’t worry about it. Go to your flight and I’ll handle it.” Her tone was casual, dismissive and condescending, and I’m fairly certain that no disciplinary action was taken since she had essentially watched the episode unfold before her eyes without doing or saying anything.

I’d like to note, too, that when asked again, this supervisor refused to give us her full name.

We had a plane to catch so all we could do was file a formal complaint on the phone and demand our money back for being subjected to such an emotionally traumatizing experience without cause or provocation. They said the best they could offer us was a $25 travel voucher, since “the airline doesn’t compensate for rudeness.” When we explained that this incident transcended rudeness to include being physically threatened and lied to about corporate policy, they didn’t budge.

Any ideas for what we should do next? As you can imagine, we’re furious and want some kind of appropriate resolution–no company should be permitted to treat paying customers like that without repercussions, and we feel like Airtran knows it can get away with this without any consequences.

Sincerely,
Jon

Jon, your best solution is to buy your own airplane. Ha ha, but seriously, we hope you didn’t accept that voucher just yet. Check out this soldier’s story of how he persisted with his demands until they were finally met—it may give you some idea of how to proceed. Check out our “Fighting Back” post for other tips.

However, if AirTran really doesn’t compensate for rude treatment, then the voucher may be all you’ll be able to get—in which case we suggest you cross AirTran off your list of desired carriers.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What a fantastic start to a marriage. Usually it takes a few months before a husband is subjected to such terrible verbal abuse.

  2. esd2020 says:

    Yeah, that’s pretty bad even for a crappy airline. I dunno about “emotionally traumatizing” though.

  3. seamustry says:

    @esd2020: I’m sure some the “small children” were traumatized from that exchange…

  4. @esd2020: Seconded. Unprofessional but the world keeps turning.

  5. MyPetFly says:

    Too bad anti-terrorism security policies can’t be applied to airline workers like this.

  6. beavis88 says:

    Rude airline agents? In Boston? I’m shocked, just shocked…

  7. sleze69 says:

    Remember that Airtran is a budget airline so customer service isn’t why you fly them. If you want good customer service, go with Southwest.

  8. Quilt says:

    My personal reaction to a person screaming that at me would have been to comment on what a horribly depressing life that person must be leading. Pathetic.

  9. Jubilance22 says:

    Wow, this is really surprising. I fly Airtran exclusively because they are the one airline I’ve NEVER had a problem with. Never any lost luggage, no bad treatment or customer service, no problems at all. The only semi-weird thing I get is when I go to check-in using the AirTran Elite line, the agents always question me. I guess they don’t think young people can fly enough to be Elite members *shrugs*

  10. asujosh1 says:

    @seamustry: Why would that have traumatized a small child? The kids don’t have ears that can hear worse language than that on the street? And why is rudeness traumatizing?

  11. sketchy says:

    Threat of physical violence in an airport? Doesn’t that deserve some attention from the TSA or another agency? I would be tempted to report it, don’t the agents always threaten that when they view a customer as ‘threatening’?

  12. tom2133 says:

    Emotionally traumatizing? Pretty thin skin if that’s an emotionally traumatizing experience.

    But honestly – the airline agents probably knew they were in trouble when they asked their name. I hate it when people do that – refuse to give their names.

    I remember one time working in retail, I had a customer that was pissed off at me (rebate hell). Long story short, I saw him trying to write my name from my name tag. I took out a piece of paper, and wrote my name in BIG letters. Told him this is my name if you want to complain. “I’ll get you fired,” he said. Funny – never heard about that situation again.

  13. econobiker says:

    WTF- do we have to have personal recorders for every business transaction now???

    This would have made great audio…

  14. bigvicproton says:

    Next time someone rude refuses to give you their name, take out your phone and snap their picture. Or better yet video them. Say its the only way you can make sure your complaint doesnt effect the wrong people. Oh and a little hint: Should security or anyone ever make you “delete” a photo from your memory card, go right ahead. Then go home, dont take any new pics in the meantime, dowload PC INSPECTOR for free, and get it right back.

  15. FrankenPC says:

    “Jon, your best solution is to buy your own airplane. Ha ha, but seriously,” -LOL!

    If I crossed off every service provider that pissed me off, I would be living in a shack buring wood for energy and growing my own crops.

    Times are TOUGH and everyone needs to relax. If all the customers could tone it down a bit, then the underpaid, job threatened people behind the counter would relax as well. God knows how much shit the airline customer people get on a daily basis because of the moronic commandments which rain down from above in the form of random daily fee changes.

  16. esd2020 says:

    @bigvicproton: You really shouldn’t try to photograph or videotape anything connected to airport security. Unlike most bogus anti-photography rules it actually is a crime.

    @sketchy: But there wasn’t really a threat of violence. And pretending someone is a security threat just because you don’t like them is a crappy thing to do no matter who is doing it.

  17. RenRen says:

    When I was in High School, my parents cleared me to punch-out a bully if said bully kept up the bullying. How long are we going to take crap like this from “service” employees in a position of power? I would have gladly thrown my bag at her, paid the fine, spent the time in jail, just to show her that some of us do not take it.

  18. totoro says:

    Since most calls we make to companies are ‘recorded for training purposes only’ I truly don’t see why we shouldn’t do the same to them. Have a personal recorder that we wear, and that records (in a loop) the last hour of any conversation. If something like this happens, you have the evidence to screw them right back. Call the device “ouitnes” ™.

    Come on gadgeteers – get hacking! Make it so.

  19. VeryPlainJane says:

    My rules on having a problem free flight…

    Do NOT expect good customer service

    Expect to pay much more then you expected

    Bring your own food

    Never make eye contact with airline/TSA employees

    Bring reading material (books, magazines, newspapers) you will be delayed

    Bring a change of clothing in your carry on baggage they will lose you baggage (in fact if at all possible ship you luggage to your destination)

    Never ask for anything “extra” (blankets, pillows, food, and again good customer service)

    Keep conversations with all airline employees to a minimum if at all

    Expect whatever the airline employee is telling is wrong or a complete lie

    Good Luck!

  20. alejo699 says:

    So weird. People say the OP should expect the treatment he got and should have used another airline, should get thicker skin, and should be more patient with the overworked employees. Not much sympathy from a blog called Consumerist! Do we not agree that when we pay for service we have a right to expect service?

  21. ObtuseGoose says:

    An agent that says “Get the hell out of my god damn face!” might be better off not working directly with the public. If I was the supervisor I would have fired them on the spot. But obviously the AirTran supervisor had lost the passion for their job a long time ago.

  22. jamesdenver says:

    @bigvicproton:

    you don’t even have to delete it. just refuse. I agree. Pictures are worth 100x more than you word. I take photos everywhere. Even if you DON’T plan to act on it, just the act of taking a photo makes people think about their actions and behavior…

  23. bigvicproton says:

    @esd2020:

    Someone yelling at you who is working at a ticket desk is not security. You will not go to jail. You are doing everyone a favor by recording this and complaining about it. And if some goon comes over and tells you its illegal, which it isnt, you can do the “oh I’m so sorry” routine and delete it, making said goon happy. But its not deleted. And maybe Youtube…

  24. Ass_Cobra says:

    First, the ticketing agent was way out of line and the supervisor was actually worse. If front line employees get carte blanche from their supervisors in dealing with customers incidents like this should not be shocking.

    However, the OP needs to get their expectation for compensation in line with reality. A full refund is not appropriate and very unlikely to be given. They took the flight, both there and back. They were obviously not emotionally traumatized enough to keep from flying. Since the amount in question was $29, I’d expect that and a little more as comp. Let’s say a $50 dollar credit back to them. I would resist the voucher as I don’t think that I’d be using that particular airline. I don’t think this is unreasonable and I think the airline would go a good way to remedying the situation. A large part of getting what you want is wanting something that is realistic. Asking for the moon and stars weakens the argument to the point that you just end up getting blown off.

    On a similar point, I wish there was a check in line for people that realize we bend over when we decide to fly. I just want to follow the rules, keep my hands inside the care and get on the damn plane. Standing for 15 minutes behind the guy that insists a live chicken is an approved carry on item, or the family that insists their clearly 4 year old child is 2 and doesn’t need a ticket gets my blood boiling. This is not a joke suggestion, they should have a separate line of “negotiator ninja” style reps that deal with the 10% of cases that aren’t straight down the pipe kind of situations. It would probably improve efficiency and outcomes. I mean your ninja would have told the OP something along the lines of “I apologize for the inconvenience, but an error was made on your earlier leg. I can’t make the same error here just because one of my co-workers elsewhere made it.” rather than threaten to retro charge them.

  25. AgentTuttle says:

    @VeryPlainJane: “My rules on having a problem free flight…
    Do NOT expect good customer service
    Expect to pay much more then you expected
    Bring your own food
    Never make eye contact with airline/TSA employees
    Never ask for anything “extra”
    Keep conversations with all airline employees to a minimum Expect whatever the airline employee is telling is wrong or a complete lie”

    Gee, you forgot:
    Bend over
    spread your cheeks
    Roll over
    play dead
    Submit
    OBEY
    Leave dignity and principles at home

  26. jimmydeweasel says:

    AirTran is Valuejet with a new paint job. There are over 100 people still buried in the everglades because of the corporate attitude.

  27. coren says:

    The treatment you received is unacceptable, absolutely.

    But the one thing in your story that bothers me is that it’s “not your fault” that the bag is oversized. Unless you’re trying to blame the airlines for how they defined oversized, or someone else packed it – it is. Of course you didn’t *know* it was oversized and I sympathize with that, since it’s what sparked this whole situation, but if it isn’t your fault, who’s is it?

  28. lightaugust says:

    @alejo699: Service, yes… but to debate whether this was ‘emotionally traumatizing’ is a realistic argument here. I’m not clear on what a ‘threatening gesture’ is…. the finger, or a slitting across the throat gesture?

    And, I know I’m gonna catch it for this, but management of these airlines hangs the front line agents out to dry, until frustration is bound to boil over and this happens. As rude as the CSR was, and there should be consequences, we might wanna include management in our list of gripes for putting CSRs in the position of having to collect these bullshit fees. Anytime you put people in charge of enforcing crappy policy, this type of confrontation is nothing but inevitable.

  29. jamar0303 says:

    @VeryPlainJane: This is why I am very happy about the choices of airline I have flying over the Pacific. Would this behavior be acceptable for Singapore Airlines? JAL? Asiana? NO! In those companies, a person like this wouldn’t even have made it past training. I can only hope that someday, the US just says “screw it” to the American airline industry and opens up to foreign competition.

  30. OminousG says:

    Late to the party here, but I’ve only ever flown AirTran. Great prices, great service. The staff has always been polite me.
    Of course I’ve only flown into Tampa, Baltimore, and Atlanta.

  31. wgrune says:

    Not excusing the behavior of the employees but maybe the bag was actually oversize. I know that when I go on a trip I usually come home with more crap then I left with, and since they had three checked bags maybe they packed a little differently going home and one bag ended up heavier. Just a thought…

  32. BigHeadStu says:

    Jimmydeweasel beat me to it…

    sounds like typical for the airline FKA Valujet…they never did recover after their plane made an unscheduled stop in the Everglades…

  33. vdragonmpc says:

    I can honestly say that no matter what the OP did the employee under no circumstances should have cursed them. That should be a termination on the spot.

    Its a line that once crossed can and will lead to retaliation. It has no place in any business. Honestly if it had been me the first time I would have stated watch your tone. The second time she would have been in police custody.

    Sorry its verbal assualt and my phone records at the press of one button.

  34. alejo699 says:

    @lightaugust:

    Agreed. I don’t think that I would describe an experience like that so dramatically either. And as far as the rest of your comment — isn’t that sort of the state of the service industry overall these days, where the airlines are just the most heinous example. Isn’t it the American way to pay your service people an absolute pittance and then expect them to stand up for a completely crappy product? It’s always about the penny they can save today as opposed to the dime they could make by keeping a customer.

  35. snowburnt says:

    @Ass_Cobra: Just make sure you don’t say you’ll never use the airline again when trying to get compensation.

    What motivation will they have to help a customer they will never get money from again?

  36. ThinkerTDM says:

    @FrankenPC: Sheeple. That’s a perfect response. Just look at the floor, and shuffle off. After all, it’s our fault that these people have to do their damn jobs.

  37. Welcome to Boston. You’d get the same treatment at a convenience store. I find it unacceptable and it’s one of the reasons I’m seriously considering moving away. Rudeness is a given. Kindness is the exception.

  38. ludwigk says:

    My girlfriend and I had terrible experience with AirTran when we were in Boston just last month. We were vacationing with family in Cape Cod for the weekend.

    On our return flight, we were scheduled to leave Boston Logan at @5:30 for Milwaukee, then had a 28 minute layover before heading back to San Francisco.

    Because our layover was so short, we checked with the ticket agent several times to make sure that the flight would be on time (we got to the gate hours early because our schedules didn’t quite line up. They kept telling us that they assumed they were on schedule, but had “no way” to determine the incoming flight’s location or ETA, as if planes didn’t have radios and pilots, and airlines simply let people fly their $10-50M planes wherever they please on their own schedule. Right.

    Anyrate, 5:00 rolls around, and there’s no plane. 5:30 rolls around, and there’s no plane. We get in line at the ticket counter, because we KNOW that we’ve already missed our return flight. At about 5:45, they announce that the plane was rerouted due to “weather”, and that everyone would miss their connectors to either SF or LA by about 1 hour (this, by the way, was just about everyone at the gate).

    What was really silly is that the connecting flights from Milwaukee were going to go to their respective locations with 1/2 or less of their passengers, because they wouldn’t hold the flight for the delayed passengers (I guess two wrongs don’t make a right.).

    Further, the airline would do NOTHING to help anyone get home, other than rebook people for a flight that left 8PM Wednesday (it was a Sunday). No meals, no hotels, no re-booking on another airline. They made it pretty clear that standby on any other flights before that basically wouldn’t work.

    Just when the gate was turning into chaos with sobbing moms and screaming business passengers, we ran away, and bought tickets on Jet Blue. It set us back another $400 on top of the refunded tickets, plus a $45 cab fare because it flew into a neighboring airport instead of SF, but we went to sleep in our own bed that night. Ok, we got home around 12:45AM on Monday, but still. Lesson learned: NEVER FLY AIRTRAN.

  39. Sugarless says:

    @MeSoHornsby: Please tell me you’re still single.

    It sounds like AirTrain encourages rudeness.

  40. Chongo says:

    Am I too empathic? I get SOOOO angry when I read about stuff like this. ARGGG! I want to give this AirTran employee shaken baby syndrome!

  41. dragonfire81 says:

    Although the employees were really sucky, I have never worked for a company that required employees to give their last names to customers.

    We could give them VOLUNTARILY but could decline if necessary (which I often did because my last name was so uncommon).

    However, each one of those jobs also provided me with a unique employee ID number so all you would need is my first name and ID number to identify me to the company.

  42. dragonfire81 says:

    I should also add, since you know the counter location, the agent’s name and the time she was working, you probably have enough info for someone at the company to figure out who she was.

  43. bigtimestuff says:

    This sounds awful…I do hope they were reimbursed for this and that further action was taken. HOWEVER (and this isn’t an attempt to blame the victim), it really makes my skin crawl when Jon says, above, that he was emotionally traumatized. How amazing has your life been that an airline employee being rude to you seriously emotionally harms you?

  44. sketchy says:

    @esd2020: …she screamed it again, making threatening gestures and frightening both us and the people around us…

    In Massachusetts…”Assault is attempt to batter, or a threat which places the victim in reasonable fear of bodily harm.”

    Fail East Side. Even if the TSA doesn’t have jurisdiction threatening behavior is still a crime and should be investigated by the local constabulary.

  45. usa_gatekeeper says:

    @totoro: I’m with you – I’ve actually been watching for a home phone add-on recording device which automatically announces that “…this call is being recorded…”, or such when phone is picked up, then proceeds to do a voice actuated recording of the conversation. I’m a buyer waiting for a product on this one.

  46. buckfutt says:

    File an FAA complaint. That’s the only way you’ll get an airline’s attention. I had to file one against ASA last week; they were blatantly manufacturing “maintenance” excuses to push passengers from three not-full flights onto a single aircraft that left much later in the day. Gate agents weren’t quite as rude as in the OP’s experience, but they still had the patented Atlantic Southeast “You can make your flight or drop dead, it’s all the same to us” attitude.

  47. relax_guy says:

    uhmn… maybe she needed to get out of her face? lol

    i’d just really like to hear the other persons side of the story.. if it isn’t snarls curses and spittle.

  48. MrMold says:

    Oh you people…didn’t you pass English? The subtle clews are there. A supervisor standing up to your Entitledness. A clerk telling you off. And how dast she have a “tone”.

    Yep, you’ve been trolled.

    Gracious me! If you are not literate, maybe you’ve procreated and have dealt with the little darlings. How they leave the incriminating stuff out. This reads very much like an eight-year old describing the altercation with their sibling.

  49. lawyergay says:

    I know this might sound weird (for this site at least), but I have never had a bad experience with customer service when I fly. Most of the time, I find that people are nice–and willing to do me favors even!–if I am pleasant and (maybe this is the key) reluctant to anger. I always say “thanks,” for instance, even if the desk agent or whomever is just doing what he’s paid to do.

    The experience above sounds pretty bad, but maybe there was a way the couple didn’t see to defuse the situation–with some humor or small-talk–that would have resulted in them a) getting what they wanted and b) not having to escalate things to the “Can I have your name?” level. Because let’s face it, that’s unpleasant for everyone.

  50. MercuryPDX says:
  51. esd2020 says:

    @sketchy: I don’t it would have been reasonable for the victim to fear bodily harm. But then neither of us were there, were we?

    She was rude. Really, really rude. That sucks. But I think it would suck more if being rude were a crime.

  52. Mr_Mantastic says:

    @jimmydeweasel:

    Know your facts. AirTran and ValueJet were two separate companies at the time of the crash. ValueJet was the larger company and was later assimilated into AirTran. Therefore, AirTran is, and has always been, Airtran.

  53. Alpine75 says:

    In April my wife and I flew AirTran and had a terrible experience.

    We had to switch planes in Atlanta for a flight to Dallas. My wife and I were seated in the emergency aisle. As we were being seated, a stewardess came to our seats and explained that what we were doing was very serious. Fine, nothing to abnormal at this point.

    Then, she proceeds to ask all of the 6 people seated in this area, very slowly one by one, if we understood what she just said. One person responded “uh-huh”, and she snapped on him and said, “it will either be a yes or a no!”
    He quickly said, “yes”. all of us kind of looked at each with shock.

    Then she asked me if I understood what she said, I said, “Yep.” She then very loudly said with an angry tone in her voice, “It IS a YES or NO!!” I was taken aback, and replied… “yes…”

    My wife and I were so disguested by her behavior at that time we complained to the airline.

    They gave us two vouchers for $30 off our next flight on Airtrans. We’re not sure if we will ever use them.

  54. u1itn0w2day says:

    I think customer people anywhere today are ruder than ever.Someone has to remind them that they are the ones PAID to keep calm and be courtesous at all times.The ‘if you don’t watch it’ is a rather aggressive response if you ask me.Should’ve have been a little more professional/understanding but the ‘if you don’t…’ phrase can be percieved as threatening.

    It sounds like an us verse them attitude.

    Must side with the AirTran employee on the last name deal.Number one,if you file a complaint all that you need is the first name and time for starters.If you sue or take legal action I guarantee you a lawyer will get the last names.When you ask a stranger for their last name in today’s litigious society that’s a threatening gesture to many.

    Do what everybody else here has done:emails,letters and/or exec carpet bombs.Formally state your case.If they get enough formal complaints maybe they’ll stop beating around the bush and just raise ticket prices.

    And where were the likes of TSA when probably an entire terminal can here raised voices talking in an agressive tone.

  55. CowboyRob says:

    @Alpine75:

    It sounds like you had this stewardess:


    + Watch video

  56. The Dude says:

    Two things to take from this story:

    1) She almost certainly DID have an oversize bag. Ok, pay your fee and move on. Whether you paid the first leg makes no difference whatsoever. I can imagine this is what got the staff ruffled.

    2) The ‘rudeness’ as told by our storyteller is sure to be embellished or just inaccurate. She was traumatized afterall. I would be willing to bet she had a part to play in the escalation and they were too busy to deal with her.

  57. Fly Girl says:

    I worked for a major air carrier for several years as a Customer Service Agent. Never once did I ever get a single complaint filed against me and I won several customer service awards.

    That being said… Even I wasn’t immune to the occassional snark. While I have no doubt that the OP’s account is accurate, as far as the rude agent goes, I also have no doubt that there’s some blame to be shared all around…

    I can’t tell you how many times I heard the “But I wasn’t charged on my way here and my bag was the EXACT SAME WEIGHT!” defense. Seriously, it gets really old really fast. It’s pretty standard for the agent to turn it around on the passenger.

    For instance, I would usually put on my best smile and reply with something like, “Wow, thank you so much for your honesty! It’s really refreshing. I don’t know how we missed that the first time around, but I’d be happy to bring your booking current on the charges. So, that’ll be $25.00 for the way here and then $25.00 on the way back. Would you like to pay for that with cash or credit?”

    That response would usually be enough to turn the about-to-freak-out passenger into an “I see what you’re doing there… I still don’t want to pay the fee, but I will anyways” passenger or, if I pulled it off well enough, the about-to-freak-out passenger might even become a “I can’t believe I was going to freak out over something so trivial, let’s have a good laugh over it and here’s my credit card for the fee” passenger.

    And you know what? If the passenger evolved into either one of those passengers (really, anything but the freaking out passenger) I’d usually waive the fees all together. Because that’s what being nice gets you. (At least in my book.) I was only a hard ass to the rude passengers.

    Had the OP handled the situation with more grace, they probably would have gotten a little compassion from the agent. Instead, they pushed each other’s buttons and nobody won.

  58. Mr_Mantastic says:

    @The Dude:
    So it’s the OP’s fault for “Get the hell out of my god damn face!”? There is never an instant where anyone who provides me a service yells that in my face unless I am threatening and/or brandishing a weapon. Secondly, if she did have an oversized bag, why wasn’t it noticed at the initial weigh-in? This indicates that some, if not all, of AirTran’s weigh machines are inaccurate. As a customer, that in itself is cause for concern.

  59. Fly Girl says:

    Also: Don’t think I’m saying that the agent’s behavior was acceptable. It wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination. But it wasn’t “emotionally traumatizing” and it most definitely wasn’t worth AirTran reimbursing them for their entire ticket cost. They got where they were going, didn’t they? If I was going to put a number on it, I’d say they deserve a written apology and a $50.00 credit/voucher/whatever per person. And that’s it.

    By asking for their money back, and using phrases like “emotionally traumatized,” they pretty much ensured that their complaint was tossed into the circular file bin. Anyone reading their complaint is going to think that the OP is A.) not going to be a repeat customer B.) not going to accept any smaller gesture and C.) a drama queen/king.

    Next time, try to write a less inflamatory letter and to ask for something that is more proportionate to the alleged wrong. You’ll probably get a more satisfactory response.

  60. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @The Dude: Posting helpful comments is allowed. Calling the victim a liar is NOT allowed and not helpfu.

  61. Fly Girl says:

    @Mr_Mantastic: That’s a decent point. There are lots of reasons that the initial overweight bag fee wasn’t charged on the way out.

    First, however, you’re assuming that the bag on the return trip was the exact same weight as the bag on the outbound trip– which is RARELY the case.

    If the limit is 50 pounds and the bag weighed 49.5 pounds on the way out, they wouldn’t have been charged and it wouldn’t have taken much to push them over the 50 pound limit. Even a few brochures would have done it.

    And even if they didn’t buy a single item, they might have moved items around– maybe they were wearing sneakers on the way out and flip flops on the way home. Now those sneakers are in the luggage, and they obviously weigh more than flip flops. Maybe they had a book in their carry-on on the way out, finished it on the vacation, and now it’s in their luggage. That weighs down a bag, too.

    Also… The possibility that they didn’t buy a SINGLE item on their honeymoon is pretty slim. Really? Not a single item? Not one?

    And there’s the possibility that it WAS overweight when they left and they just weren’t charged. That happens. If the agents are in a hurry, the lines are long, they’re about to leave for a break… They might have just not felt like charging them. Maybe the agent saw that their bag was over the limit but knew that they were on their honeymoon and wanted to be nice. That could have happened too.

    I’m not suggesting that people just blindly pay airline imposed fees. However, instead of arguing with the agent, the OP’s could have just said, “Wow. We didn’t realize our bag was so heavy. Can I see the scale?” And then they could look at it and verify that their bag was, in fact, overweight. They could even verify that the scale was showing zero when empty. No agent should have a problem with that.

    And when it showed that the bag was, in fact, overweight, they should have just paid the fee instead of making a federal case to the overworked/underpaid employee about how they shouldn’t have to pay it because they didn’t pay it on the way out. That’s not going to do anything but piss off the agent and ensure that they’re not willing to bend the rules for you.

  62. Brazell says:

    I love the AirTran flight attendants. I flew to Vegas with five of my friends back in June and had a very cool flight attendant who hung out with us the whole time. I also asked her to set me up with the other flight attendant and she actually tried. It didn’t work out, but still.

  63. ironchef says:

    Being a flight attendant must be one of the worst jobs out there. Not condoning what happened. But the day to day stress amounts to a powder keg about to blow.

    The airlines need to increase staffing and training to take some of the pressures off the front line people.

  64. ironchef says:

    Another interesting tidbit: I chatted with a Virgin America flight attendant to find out why their service is pretty good…they hire flight attendants for good personality, friendliness, and professional temperament over what looks good on a resume.

    I think a lot of airlines can learn from that.

  65. Remember this was a ticketing agent and not a flight attendant. My sister was a ticketing/gate agent for American for 5 years in the late 80s/early 90s and it was a stressful and frustrating job, according to the stories she told us of abusive passengers. I think Fly Girl’s and lawyergay’s advice probably holds true, or at least would have worked on my sister.

    Obviously *I’m* not blaming the OP because hey, I wrote the post, but I just wanted to draw a distinction between flight attendants and ticketing agents.

  66. bwcbwc says:

    @wgrune: Oversize != overweight.

  67. cametall says:

    I’d have called the cops on the employee for assault.

    Making threatening manners is a no-no and against the law.

  68. Meathamper says:

    This feels like you can file for a discrimination suit. I don’t on what kind of discrimination, but you can.

  69. meamgood says:

    I have been to this airport several times and it seems to be a symptom that all the workers there carry. From the ticket staff to the TSA agents. Even the janitors are not above verbal abuse on unsuspecting out-of-towners. Gotta love Boston, friendliest place on Earth!

  70. ra8s says:

    If you don’t know what kind of discrimination then it probably isn’t discrimination. On this story I bet the truth lies somewhere in the middle. They were after all on their honeymoon and we all know that no one ever buys anything when they are on vacation. It is entirely possible that their bag may have been within weight limitations on their outbound but not on their return due to souvenier purchases. I would advise that if you aren’t happy with the airlines service or response then take your business elsewhere. Just think in the very near future we won’t even have people to argue with, just machines that refuse to check us in till we pay whatever fees they demand.

  71. scoosdad says:

    @Mr_Mantastic: Right, and this is the second time in a week here on Consumerist that someone tried to claim a current airline was actually Valuejet reincarnated. Last week it was JetBlue. I’d cite the post but apparently the search function is broken.

  72. majortom1029 says:

    This is why i fly southweest. Yes you dontb get assigned seats but everything else makes up for that fact. Plus i fly out of a lesser used airport. I fly out of macarthur in islip instead of jfk or laguardia.

  73. shufflemoomin says:

    Doesn’t this come under putting passengers in a state of fright in an airport or some other new useless US terror law? I’m sure it applies to staff as well as passengers. They should have called airport police. Mind you, I’ve had to do that once in Canada due to overhearing a drunk guy make racist and terrorist remarks and all I can say is I may as well have called the teletubbies for all the use it did. So maybe ignore my advice on this…

  74. JerseyJarhead says:

    I would find the closest large Christian organization and let them know that their local airline is using God’s name in vain. Then I would contact the consumer reporter at the area’s largest TV station and provide what information you have. Point out that it’s frightening enough to fly on AirTran (originally ValueJet, the airline that plunged an entire planeload of passengers into the Everglades) and being cursed doesn’t help. Then write the Secretary of Homeland Security, sending copies to local and major national newspapers, and ask if it’s ok to threaten passengers at an airport under federal jurisduction.

  75. kretara says:

    Rude people in Boston! That’s not new.
    I lived there for many years and never found a helpful service type person who was from New England. Maybe it’s the weather or something, but New England is the rudest place that I have ever lived in/visited. Heck, New Englanders are even ruder than Parisian’s.

    As far as overweight bags. I was once almost hit with the overweight bag fee. It was a slow day at the airport and I had arrived 3 hours early, so I decided to check the weight at a few counters after being told my bag was overweight. Every scale had a different weight with a spread of 10 lbs. It went something like this: scale outside the airpot for quick checkin: 50.5 lbs, scale at the USAir counter: 55 lbs, scale at the Delta counter 45 lbs, scale at the Southwest counter: 46 lbs, scale at the American counter: 48 lbs.

    I asked the ticket person for some documentation that their scale had been validated/tested. Neither the agent nor the supervisor could tell me if the scale had ever been validated/tested. They eventually let me go through without paying the overweight fee.

  76. sunnypies says:

    Well I just sent them the link to this post and this is their response

    ” from Zack Milledge
    to —-
    date Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 4:37 PM
    subject Re: i can’t believe this >

    hide details 4:37 PM (16 hours ago)

    Reply

    Dear (not disclosed),

    Thank you for contacting AirTran Airways. All of our crew members are instructed to professionally perform their responsibilities while providing the highest level of caring customer service. The behavior described is not the quality of service we strive to provide, nor is it the kind our valued customers deserve.

    Please understand, that if a formal complaint was filed by the passenger, then the agents station manager was notified about this situation. I can assure you that our station managers and department heads do take our passengers complaints very seriously, but any corrective action taken is confidential and no one other than the employees involved and their direct superiors would be privy to this information.

    Please let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with. I hope we have an opportunity to serve you on a future AirTran Airways flight. Have a nice day!

    Sincerely,

    Zack Milledge
    Customer Relations Department
    AirTran Airways

    — Original Message —
    From:
    Received: 8/25/2008 10:36:12 AM Eastern Standard Time (GMT – 4:00 )
    To:
    Subject: i can’t believe this

    COMMENTS I’m a big fan of http://www.consumerist.com that site allows for consumers to share expieriences with companies. I thought you would like to be aware of this link which involves your company. [consumerist.com]

  77. blackmage439 says:

    “… we suggest you cross AirTran off your list of desired carriers.”

    Already done, thanks to the horrible experiences we had with AirTran on our last trip to Florida. Instead of just bringing over another plane, they had us wait for over three hours while they attempted to fix their flying coffin. In the end, their efforts were fruitless, and another plane had to be brought in anyway. The whole experience was a clusterfuck of non-information and non-reimbursement. We MIGHT have received meal (read: bag-of-chips) tickets for the airport, but that’s stretching the limits of their robotic service.

    If I can help it, I will never fly AirTran again, even if I’m not paying.