As I am sure many of you fly frequently as I do, I thought I’d share this ‘world’s worst customer service’ story with you. This afternoon I was supposed to fly to the Bay Area – this is a pretty much weekly trip that I’ve been doing since June. Since the client is still in turnaround mode, costs are an issue, so we’re trying to do our part by limiting expenses, which has led to all kinds of creative itineraries and new low cost carriers to try.

Thus, since June, my repertoire of ‘flight from hell’ stories has increased many fold, and mostly due to one carrier in particular, AmericaWest. Or as we call them in the office now, AmericaWorst. So today is no exception, we sit on baking asphalt at Houston in 90 degree weather, with no A/C because fuel is too expensive, tincan in the sun, for about 2 hours while some issue with the exterior of the plane is dealt with. Turns out some port for the potable water supply is open, and we can’t take off until it’s closed. Problem is the port is behind an engine, and we’ve already left the jetway. So the maintenance company doesn’t want to go behind the engine while it’s switched on. Something that everyone can understand 🙂 Eventually we pull back up to the jetway, and someone (probably experienced from cattle travel restrictions with the SPCA) decides to let the sweating human mass back into the terminal. The flight is cancelled due to this port issue and other things, so 100+ people have to get put onto new flights. I tell you this background only to put in context the remark that comes later, I realize this is a far from unique situation for any frequent flyer.

The people in front of me in the line, a trio of Gen X’ers, are trying to get rerouted to San Jose. The already overworked, severely harassed with major attitude to match, gate attendant is trying to help. Some issue arises about getting new boarding passes for the trio, and the time crunch is on, since we only have 20 mins to get on the new plane (the last flight out) at this time. The self check-in machines don’t let us print our boarding passes since we’re ‘too late’ to check in. The trio are concerned they’re not going to make it. The attendant, exasperated, YELLS, and I mean YELLS, ‘I will get you on Flight 192, otherwise I’m going to throw up on you!’ Now there’s something you don’t hear everyday.

I don’t know who was at fault in this situation, but I do know that’s something you dont say, let alone yell, to customers. I talked with one of the trio afterwards, who is a high potential manager at the YMCA, returning from a leadership development program to ask him what he was going to do. ‘Complain’ he replied grimly, ‘but I couldn’t get her surname, so it will probably go nowhere.’

So I’m five hours late, I won’t get to the hotel before 1am, but hey I’m feeling really lucky, I didn’t get thrown up on :>