18 July 2006 - 10:37 AM
Dear American Airlines:
I have figured out why the 'larger carriers,' such as yourself, are in financial difficulties.
Your customer service is so freakishly, nightmarishly bad that any reasonable being, having dealt with the harpies you call gate agents, would sooner walk cross-country than take one of your flights.
Had either of the women working gate C-17 at St Louis Lambert Airport on the evening of 16 July for even a second put away their attitudes, closed their mouths, allowed one of the party of five with which I was travelling to explain what our problem was, and then explained why we could not be issued seat assignments, I would not be writing this.
But they did not do that. They kept trying to brush us off, told us that it didn't matter that we'd booked our seats two months in advance, cracked their gum, argued when we asked to speak to a supervisor.
Shouting "Hey, what did I do to piss you off?" at the retreating back of a customer who is walking away from the gate angry and frustrated with your treatment of him is hardly professional.
And in this day and age, there is no excuse for overbooking flights. None. Seriously, what the hell was that about?
Dear Transportation Safety Authority:
I understand that you have a difficult job providing airport security, and I understand that people are often rude to federal employees because 'you work for me' -- as though that's an excuse. I understand how unpleasant that is. I work for a federal agency too, and I get the same thing. It sucks.
Nevertheless, I do not think you are helping yourselves in all respects. I mean, yes, there are situations in which your employees will have to use their judgement, and yes, I think you are right to trust your employees to do that. However, the keyword over at my agency, when it comes to regulations and enforcement thereof, is consistency. I think you need to work on that.
For example, flying out of BWI, your people wanted everyone's shoes off and through the x-ray. Sneakers? Heels? Flip-flops? In the bucket please.
OK, fine. I can do that. Not a problem.
Going through security at St Louis, however, it was quite different. The family ahead of us shucked off their shoes, put them in the buckets, and shuffled through. My husband and I, desiring to be helpful, keep the line moving, and otherwise make life as easy as possible for your people, shucked our shoes as well. However, when it came our turns for the x-ray, we were barked at.
'Whose shoes are those?' snapped the agent, pointing at my husband's flip-flops in the bucket. 'Put them back on your feet.'
"Uh, OK," said my bewildered spouse, putting his shoes back on. "The last airport ..."
But the agent was already snapping at me. 'Where are your shoes?'
'Here,' I said, pulling them out of my bucket.
'Will you put them on your feet?'
'OK. It's just the last airport we flew through wanted everyone's shoes off ...'
'I don't care about flipflops no thicker than paper.'
All right. Perhaps flipflops represent less of a threat to airport security than shoes in which one could in fact hide explosives. I'll accept that. But let's be consistent.
Also, let's not be rude to people who are only trying to do the right thing. If the TSA agent had smiled and said 'ah, you can put your shoes back on, we don't need to x-ray your flipflops,' I would probably not be writing this. But we didn't get a smile, we didn't get a reasonable tone, we got yelled at like naughty children.
Dear City of St Louis:
You have built a beautiful new ballpark. It is glorious, jewel-like, a cathedral of the game. The views from the third base side are especially amazing. Well done.
However, did the architect forget that it gets hot in St Louis in the summer? The heat index at gametime this past Sunday was 107 F in the upper deck. People were dropping left and right. My husband, mother, and I had to leave our seats lest those darling little ambulances come for us. And then, we could not find anyplace within the park where we could sit out of the sun.
Please, consider adding sunshades, mist tents, something. Those picnic tables behind the scoreboard? Perfect place for some umbrellas. I know you want to make money selling beverages and all, but somehow I think the cost of care to the people who drop from heat exhaustion will overtake the profits from the bottled water pretty quickly.
Love and kisses,