Asking For Flights Of Fancy

, , , , | Right | December 22, 2018

(I work at an airline.)

Caller: “How much to fly return with you to Bangladesh in two weeks?”

Me: *checking* “I see that neither we, nor our partner airlines, travel there, but [other airlines] do. I can provide you with their contact numbers—“

Caller: “What I asked you was, ‘How much will you charge me for a return ticket to travel there?’ I didn’t ask for you to fob me off onto someone else. Answer my question, please.”

Me: “Sorry about that. On what date do you intend to travel there, when would you intend to return, and in what class would you prefer to travel?”

(He gives the details; the price is around €4,000 in economy class before the various taxes and charges, which is the maximum allowed by law and the only fare that head office has programmed into our system. I wince in anticipation of his reaction to the news.)

Caller: “What? Why is it so insanely expensive?”

Me: “It’s the highest price in economy class for that route and time that’s allowed by law. [My Airline] doesn’t offer any discounts or reductions to travel on other airlines that aren’t our partners, much less to destinations where we don’t go. If you were to contact the airlines that do fly there, they’d probably have prices closer to what you were expecting, since they compete for passengers on that route.”

Caller: “That’s ridiculous! You should be ashamed of yourselves for charging such a rate. It’s no way to do business!”

Me: “I don’t claim that it is good, sir, merely that it is so. Shall I get those other airlines’ numbers for you?”

Caller: *frustrated growl or snarl, followed by a click as he hangs up*

Will The Real Sheldon Shady Please Speak Up

, , , , | Right | September 8, 2018

(I am changing a reservation for a customer over the phone. She is not happy that she will have an extra charge because she waited to make the change. She knows the fee policy (I confirmed it) but is upset there is a charge. She waited until the very last moment to make the change when she had several weeks in advance to do it for free. She wants to impress me that she is a trainer in customer service skills and that she is an executive. That charge is $150 and it will give her 100,000 frequent flier miles if she keeps the ticket.)

Customer: *screaming* “I am an executive! You make no money at all! I own my company and I train people in giving good customer service. You are horrible at customer service! You are stupid and useless! You are worthless! Do you hear me? Worthless! You are not worth the air you breathe!”

Me: *feeling my face get red but keeping my composure; about to be beyond nice and make an accommodation for her* “Ma’am, if you like—”

Customer: “You don’t listen! You are stupid! I train people in customer service and you are horrible at it. What is your name?”

Me: “Sheldon.”

Customer: “Your name isn’t Sheldon! Your name is Shady. You’re shady. You’re stupid and shady. The airline is shady.”

Me: *trying not to laugh* “Ma’am, I would like to assist you if you will let me speak.”

Customer: “You are shady. Say it with me? Admit it! The airline is shady. Shady, shady, shady. Say it. Say it!”

Me: Ma’am, I’ve very sorry to have upset you but I will not call the airline shady.

Customer: “Give me your manager’s name and get him on the phone. You are stupid.”

Me: “Absolutely. I will get you to my manager right away.”

(My manager comes on phone… and customer starts screaming.)

Manager: “Mrs [Customer], Sheldon was correct in what he said. If you continue to disparage Sheldon I will terminate this call.”

Customer: “YOU’RE A D***!”

Manager: *hangs up*

(All I could think of is, “Man, I’m glad I do not work for him.” And can you imagine his customer service training classes?)

Putting You In The Hot Seat

, , , , | Right | January 25, 2018

(I work in a call center for one of the major airlines in my country. Of the four top airlines, three charge additional money for certain types of seats. My airline is one of them, but if you don’t want to pay extra, if there are no regular-priced seats, you will be assigned a seat of any kind at check in. Having a seat assignment makes no difference of whether or not you could be bumped from a flight.)

Customer: “I wanted to choose our seats for our flights next month, but they all cost more money!”

Me: “Yes, I see that there are no regular-priced seats available on that flight. If you do not wish to pay additional charges, you will be assigned seats at check-in at no charge, though there is no guarantee that you will be seated together.”

(She goes on a long rant about how much she has already paid for the tickets and how far in advance they booked, all the while I am wondering why she didn’t choose seats when she booked six months prior.)

Customer: *continuing rant* “It’s like you guys are just trying to get more money! Is that true?!”

Me: *before I even know what I am saying* “Well, I mean, it’s a business.”

(Thankfully, she did not get mad at that slip of my filter, and I ended up advising her to ask the ticket counter or gate agent if they could be seated together on the day of departure, if she still decides she doesn’t want to pay extra. For the record: we think paying extra for seats is stupid, too, but you can choose them at the time of booking, and it’s not our fault when you wait so long to even bother checking what seats you have.)


| 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.”

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