Planning any kind of travel these days can be somewhat of a headache; depending on what sort of transportation you intend on taking. Today, I’m talking about airline travel; regardless if you make your arrangements in advance or last minute, the airline industry has its’ own set of rules when it wants to. On my most recent travels, I discovered what it was like to have my reservation changed the night before my flight, by the airline in which I had booked a long time prior to these arrangements. They made it sound as if my flight changed, but in reality…the only thing that changed was my seat location, in which I paid for preferred seating, giving up to 6 inches more of leg room, a priority bin for carry-on items and free drinks. I was appalled that an airline agent decided to give up my seat for someone who is obviously privileged and most likely an ‘executive member’ who couldn’t get in first class. I say this with confidence because my aircraft never changed that day, nor did the time of flight; all remained the same except my seat, and then I was put at the rear of the plane. It was a man that took my seat, and pre-boarded, practically rejoicing down the jet bridge as he was among the first five passengers. I undoubtedly was upset, as this was a longer flight than what I’m use to and have my own set of health issues as to ‘why’ I purchase preferred seating. What happened with my reservation was extremely wrong; leaving me more frustrated than ever with the airlines.

From the moment one makes a reservation….to all of the added questions the airline then asks you before you ever arrive to the end page of payment; it’s all of the ‘extra’ charges you can incur before finalizing your actual reservation. Beginning with travel insurance, if you’re unsure about possible changes, I say you should grab it. I like to choose where I sit, so I will pay for that. Not sure about food, sometimes you may order a snack on board, but for a cost. What people need to know about tickets is that when you choose the cheapest economy seat (reservation), they don’t offer the ability to choose upgrades of sorts, nor can you make future changes, even if it’s the same route of flight.

Airlines don’t seem to care much these days, but I’ll give a ‘shout out’ to Southwest Airlines. I may not like boarding the way they do, but their employees…on and off the ground always amazes me, with their smiles and attitudes. My worst experience is with American (to which I’ve always preferred) so it makes me sad. Their ticket counter agents in Phoenix have a lot to be desired, and always seem crabby, rarely smiling. This last trip on American Airlines I was charged $100.00 for my luggage being 2-3 lbs. over, but when I returned on a Southwest flight, they smiled at me, after seeing 52 lbs. on the scale, handed me my ticket with no other words than “Have a great flight!” There’s no comparison to most airlines anymore; Southwest however, continues to have better stories, of exemplary employees giving beyond their duties and more. They engage with their passengers, and often lighten the crowds with humor

After all of the recent problems I’ve had with American, I thought I’d give them an opportunity to make things right, but realized when they told me there’s no longer a customer relations phone number…well, I don’t believe they really care anyhow; but you may talk to a live person at Southwest Airlines for just about anything; including complaints (they seem to still care). For more information on how to file a grievance with an airline without live customer contact, you may go directly to Flyersrights.org or call their toll free hotline at 1-877-flyers-6.

Make it a great week.