If only air travel were as easy as VOIP

Some things can’t be done via VoIP – visiting college friends at homecoming is one of them. This generally involves air travel.

I could write about the lack of customer service in the airline industry, but it’s been done.

So instead, here are eight notes from my trip:

1. You are not alone – 50K level frequent fliers get treated just as bad as everyone else.

2. Airline employees will tell you what you want to hear to move you along and make you someone else’s problem.

3. Get everything in writing and note the names of the employees you talk to (see #2).

4. If you are told you are confirmed on a later flight, request a departure management card or new itinerary and make sure the new flight information is listed on the paperwork (see #2).

5. If your flight is delayed, stick your head in the cockpit and ask the captain for the reason and note the captain’s name. A mechanical delay (airline’s fault) in Bloomington can magically turn into an air-traffic control delay (not the airline’s fault) in Chicago.

6. If a gate agent says they will hold the fight at your connecting flight’s gate, run anyway (see #2).

7. 10 minutes or more before the flight departs is the all magical closing of the jetway door. Once the door is closed, it can’t be reopened for ANY REASON (see #6), even if the jetway isn’t pulled back from the plane for another 20 minutes.

7. Keep asking for a supervisor until you get a straight answer (see #2). Supervisors are tired of other employees passing-the-buck (see #2) and have some authority to somewhat improve the situation. A sympathetic supervisor can be the difference between a hotel room with a confirmed seat on the early morning flight or sleeping in the airport.

8. Write a letter to the VP of Customer Service (you’re already delayed, so you have plenty of time) and explain what happened, include names and as much detailed information as possible. A handwritten certified letter works best. Be sure to explain in your letter that a $25 travel voucher, for future travel, that expires in one year, can’t be combined with other offers, has blackout dates, and can’t be used on-line (especially with a $25 phone order surcharge) will not make you happy and keep your business. You might just get a coupon for a complementary snack.