Pie-lot

| Sydney, Australia | Working | July 11, 2017

(A delicious aroma wafts through the cabin on a budget flight with no hot meal service. The food trolley comes past.)

Me: “What do you have?”

Air Steward: “Sandwiches, cookies, chocolate bars.”

Me: “But what’s that yummy smell?”

Air Steward: “Oh! That’s the captains’ pie. We’re just warming it up for him.”

(At least they toasted my chicken sandwich.)

A Fee-ble Excuse For A Refund

, , , | Working | June 13, 2017

(I’m on the phone with a major airline trying to pay for my son’s infant-in-arms ticket. The website let me add his ticket but not pay for it and I know from prior experience that I need to brave customer service and call in. Then, after a lot of holding and back and forth… this happens:)

Representative: “Okay, so there are two fare options on that ticket: $87, which is non-refundable and can’t be changed or $99, which can be changed with the applicable change fee and is our recommended ticket.”

Me: “That’s not bad. How much is the change fee on this kind of ticket?”

Representative: “$200.”

Me: “…I’ll do the $87 ticket.”

Representative: “But it can’t be changed. You’ll lose the full amount if you change plans. If you get the $99 ticket, you can change the ticket and just pay the change fee.”

Me: “Which is $200, yes?”

Representative: “Yes, ma’am.”

(Silently banging my head against the wall and fearing for humanity…)

Me: “I’ll take the $87 ticket.”

That’s One Way To Get Kicked Out Of The Mile-High Club

| USA | Right | May 1, 2017

(A man calls my flight-attendant friend on one of her flights:)

Passenger: “I keep fingering the flight attendant but she wouldn’t come.”

No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 9

| Helsinki, Finland | Right | April 18, 2017

(I work in a call centre for an airline making flight bookings to customers. Time difference between Helsinki (GMT+2) and New York (GMT-5) is seven hours.)

Me: “[Airline]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I want to book return flights from Helsinki to New York. I need go there for a meeting and then come back quickly to another meeting in Helsinki.”

Me: “Sure. When is your meeting you need to attend in New York?”

Customer: “It’s day after tomorrow at 17:00.”

Me: “Okay, that’s really quite a quick departure. Our flights to New York depart at 14:10 and they arrive in New York at 15:55 the same day. I would suggest that you leave tomorrow since you probably won’t get through passport control in an hour to make it to your meeting. Then you would also have at least some time to get used to the time difference.”

Customer: “No, that won’t do, I have a meeting tomorrow here that I need to attend. The meeting is at the airport in New York so I can fly day after tomorrow.”

Me: “Okay, if you’re sure, I’ll book you the flight the day after tomorrow. When would you like to return?”

Customer: “I have meeting the next morning at 9.00 in Helsinki, so I need to get back from there right away.”

Me: “Oh, that is a problem. Our direct flight back to Helsinki leaves at 17:45, but you won’t make it since your meeting starts at 17:00 and that’s the time you would already need to be back at the gate for boarding. Even with that direct flight you would be back in Helsinki the next morning at 8:50 so you would not make it to a meeting starting at 9:00.”

Customer: “What do you mean?”

Me: “If you wish to be in Helsinki the next day at 9:00 you would need to leave latest with our 17:45 direct flight to Helsinki and even then you would be late cause the flight arrives in Helsinki at 8:50 and it takes some time for you to go through the passport control and customs.”

Customer: “What are you talking about? How can it take so long to get back?”

Me: “Miss, the flight time for our direct flight from New York to Helsinki is 8 hours and 5 minutes.”

Customer: “Then what the f*** are you talking about the arrival time? If the plane leaves New York at 17:45, it should be in Helsinki somewhere around 2:00 in the morning? I would have plenty of time to get to my meeting!”

Me: “Miss, please note that these times are always on local time of the city stated 17:45 departure time is local time in New York and 8:50 arrival time is local time in Helsinki and there is a seven-hour time difference in between.”

Customer: “What the f*** are you talking about? If the flight leaves Helsinki at 14:10 and arrives in New York at 15:55, and then you’re telling me the return flight is from 17:45 to 8:50 the next morning? Check your facts, little miss. The flight from here to New York takes about two hours and the return flight fifteen hours?”

Me: “The flight time to New York is 8 hours 45 minutes and the flight time back to Helsinki is 8 hours and 5 minutes, but you need to consider also the time difference. When the flight leaves from Helsinki at 14:10, local time in New York is only 7:10 in the morning, so the plane arrives in New York 8 hours and 45 minutes later at 15:55…”

Customer: “So what you’re basically saying is that it takes for the flight almost 8 times longer to come back from New York than to fly to New York. Look, you little girl, I’ve been flying so much these flights that I know how this works. You’re incompetent. I want to talk to someone more experienced who knows how to make my booking. Transfer me to your supervisor!”

Me: “Certainly, miss.”

(I took a call to my supervisor, explained the situation, and transferred her through. She ended up yelling to my supervisor that our whole company was incompetent and that she was going to make her bookings through another airline that was more professional.)

Related
No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 8
No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 7
No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 6

Should Speak Plane-ly

| Germany | Working | April 18, 2017

(My husband is flying from the US to Germany. I will be picking him up at Frankfurt Airport when he comes in. Before he boards his plane he texts me that they are boarding 20 minutes late. When I get up the next morning and check the website the plane is expected over four hours (!) late. I am wondering how 20 minutes turned into four hours so I decide to call the airline to see if I can get more information and verify that this is correct.)

Airline: *automated message* “Thank you for calling [Airline]. All our representatives are currently busy helping other callers. If you want to switch to an English speaking representative to cut down your waiting time please press 1.”

(I have lived in the US, so my English is fine, and I press 1.)

Agent: *with an Indian accent* “Hello, this is [Agent] with [Airline]. How may I help you?”

Me: “My husband is on [Flight] from Houston to Frankfurt. He texted me last night. They left Houston 20 minutes late, but now the website says that the flight is expected to arrive four hours late. Can you confirm this for me? Do you happen to know why this is?”

Woman: “So, you calling about [Flight]?”

Me: “Correct.”

Woman: “I see here in my system that it left Houston yesterday at [Time].”

Me: *thinking* “Yes, I know. I just told you this. This isn’t new information.” *actually saying* “Yes.”

Woman: “It will arrive in Frankfurt today at [Time].”

Me: “Yes, I know. This is the scheduled arrival. So, you are saying it WILL arrive at this time? What about the delay listed on the website?”

Woman: “Yes, it is scheduled for [Time].”

(At this point it is painfully clear that basically she hasn’t understood one word of what I said about why I am calling. I consider asking to be transferred to someone who could understand me but I don’t feel like arguing.)

Me: *one last effort* “Yes, I know this is the SCHEDULED arrival. But do you have any information about the EXPECTED arrival?”

Woman: “I don’t have any information about that. You could check the company website…”

Me: “Okay, thank you.”

(I remained neutral and just hung up, figuring it would probably be just as effective to simply call the same number again. This time I waited for a German speaking representative who was local and was able to answer my questions. Am I a bigot for thinking if you work in an English speaking call center you should actually speak enough English to understand why customers are calling?)

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