Airline Nightmare: You Can Be Right But Still Be Completely Wrong

The airline industry has really been under fire.  My 7-year old commented that the recent misstep has been the “fifth bad story” that he’s seen recently.  This latest airline nightmare had Delta kick a family off their flight because they wouldn’t give up the seat their infant was using.

Here’s the thing: They were actually right.  But then they turned into being completely wrong.

Where Delta Was Right

Delta had overbooked a flight, which seems to be the source of so many problems.  In looking things over, they found that one ticketed passenger wasn’t on the plane.  As it turns out, they had booked another ticket on another flight and already left.

But, the family still planned on using the seat.  They had an 18-month old that they wanted to have sit in the seat

Image courtesy of morguefile via dantada

(with their carrier).  Now, children that young are allowed to sit on parents laps, which I’m guessing is what they did on the way down.

This was a flight back from Hawaii.  I was on one of those once, and they’re long.  I know that I couldn’t take a child on my lap for that long.  I’m sure that the parents learned that a wiggly kid on a long flight is no fun for anyone.

So, they figured that they’d use the seat that they’d originally purchased for their oldest child.  Delta told them they’d have to give the seat up, and the argument started.  And of course it’s all caught on camera.  Everything is these days on a plane, I guess.

While the family had a point in that they paid for the seat, the airline was technically correct in trying to reclaim the seat.  The ticket was purchased under the older child’s name. That’s who was supposed to sit in the seat.  If the family planned on changing that, they needed to change the reservation.  They didn’t do that.

So the airline was technically in their rights to claim that seat back.  The entire reason they do overboarding is understanding that some people will not get on the plane.  The person whose name was on the ticket did not get on the plane.

Yet They Went Wrong….So, So Wrong

However, Delta took the situation and made it completely wrong, as anyone who has seen the video already knows.

They got angry with the family while on camera.  These days with the animosity against the airlines, that’s just crazy to do.  It’s like pouring gas on a fire.

They doubled down by telling the family that the parents could go to jail.  And if that isn’t bad enough, Delta told the parents that their kids could be placed into foster care.

Yeah, I don’t care how right they were about the ticket reservations, but they blew it.  In the court of public opinion, an airline telling parents that they could go to jail and lose their kids over a plane seat is an automatic fail.

What A Way To Blow Their Goodwill

Here’s the part that killed me.  They completely blew the goodwill that they’d earned just a few weeks back.  See, after the incident a few weeks back where a doctor was dragged kicking and screaming off a United flight, Delta came out huge winners.  They announced that they’d pay up to $10,000 to those bumped, way above the regulated maxiumum.  This was a huge PR win.

And they blew it, in spectacular fashion.

The airline industry is in a bad place right now.  It amazes me that they continue to shoot themselves in the foot over and over again.  Every time one of these incidents happen, you have people say “I’ll never fly <airline name> again.”  Assuming that people stick to their guns, there’s going to be a point where people are going to run out of airlines to boycott.

Maybe the behavior of these airlines will be the revival of the good old fashioned road trip!

Readers, what do you think about the airline PR nightmare?  Will it blow over or will they make actual changes to curb the tide of negative publicity?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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Disney World Planning. We’re Less Than 2 Months Away

A few months back I wrote about how we had made the decision to take a family trip to Disney World later this year.  Well, most of the year has passed and we’re now less than two months away from taking our trip.  I’ve been bad with updates (a whirlwind summer with mostly great weather has a way of doing that), but wanted to check in with some updates and observations!

So, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up!

We Splurged

The first thing that I have to admit is that we made a change of plans that increased our budget and is a big splurge.

We decided to go with a deluxe resort which includes a ‘free’ dining plan.  This raises the cost of our total trip.  We’re OK with that, though.  Here’s why:

  • This is a rare trip for us. If you’ve been reading my blog you know that most of our trips are local.  A trip to Disney is something we’ve been thinking about for five years.  After, it’ll probably be another five years before we go again.  My wife knows people that go down there every year, sometimes multiple times!  Since we don’t do that, we felt OK with the extra costs.
  • Our kids LOVE animals. We are staying at the Animal Kingdom lodge, and we have a room where we’ll see animals right outside of our room.  Many reviews state that you walk out on your balcony and you can see zebras or giraffes or other animals.  Our kids could go to the zoo every day, so we know they will love this element as well as the cool themes within the room.
  • My wife;s  business supported the cost.– I mentioned in the original article that my wife had decided to fund the trip with money made from her Etsy shop, and even with the change we were able to do so, as her business did better than she’d projected at the end of the day.  So, while it certainly would have been great to have that extra money, we’re 100% fine with having the same amount of money at the end of the trip as we would have with the original projections, and getting what we hope is an awesome trip.

Travel

I’d been following airfares before the trip, and was happy that we got what appeared to be a great deal.  I’m mb-2015-02-disneysomewhat obsessive and have been tracking the fares ever since, and we appear to have booked with the single lowest fare available since we started tracking.  Our flight is the ideal flight for the time of day, and is about twice as expensive as what we paid for it.  The flights on either side of the time are still 20% higher.

We are also looking forward to avoiding having to pay for luggage costs as we paid for it with a Delta American Express card.

One thing of note, they did adjust the schedule a bit so that we’re leaving (and arriving) about one and a half hours earlier than when we’d booked.  We’re cool with that.

Planning Is Nearly Complete

Because we’re on the Disney meal plan, we had to plan out our schedule pretty tightly.  We had to pick what park we wanted to be at on which day, as we made reservations on certain days for different restaurants.  My wife did a lot of research on what restaurants have the best characters present and some of the ‘must see’ places, and we were lucky enough to get things planned almost exactly as she wanted.

We later were able to book many Fast Pass reservations, which also ties into our schedule, and allows you to get on rides with a lot less wait time versus standing in line.  You’re only allowed a certain number per day, so my wife did a lot of reading up on what rides and attractions would be the hardest to get into that our kids would enjoy, and so far, it looks like we have a good plan.

It’s Looking Busy…But That Could Be A Good Thing

We chose our time with one of the reasons that it is typically a less crowded time, as it happens to fall before Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is when things often pick up.  Because of the different promotions (including the meal plan), it appears that the crowds will be pretty heavy.

But, that could actually be a good thing.  Why?

Because one thing that often happens during less crowded weeks is that Disney will offer pretty short hours for many of the parks.  When reservations indicate higher crowd levels, they’ll expand the hours, which they have started doing. This will give us flexibility to either enjoy the parks longer, or take some time in the middle of the day to return to the hotel, rest, and head back out.  With much shorter hours, this wasn’t looking like a possibility, and this worried us, as our kids (and let’s face it, the grown ups) need their rest.

We Told The Kids

We’ve been planning this for a while, and this past weekend we finally told our kids about the trip!  My wife wanted to tell them far enough in advance that we could show them information about the park and start getting them used to the idea of rides, and really increase their excitement level.  We also want to make sure to prepare them for the idea of a plane ride, as my daughter has never been on one, and my son was on one when he a year old, so it’ll be a new adventure for him, as well.

My wife came up with some great ideas:

  • We got some balloons with Mickey on them.  We put them into a box that was taped shut.  When the kids opened the box the balloons floated out.
  • Mickey Mouse wrote them a letter telling them that they were coming down.  He wrote about some of the great things that have been lined up for them to do.  This includes the hotel, the parks, and some of the restaurants.
  • There is a ‘How Many More Days’ picture frame.  This has a piece of glass in front where we change the number each day with a dry erase pen.  Now the kids look every day to see how many days left!

Thanks To The Planner

If you’ve read through all this, by now you may have noticed a theme.  How many times have you read the words ‘ My wife’?  Answer: A lot.  She’s been amazing and has pretty much single handedly planned (and of course paid for) the entire trip.  She’s great at planning things that turn into wonderful memories.  Her attention to detail is amazing and will be so wonderful for our family.

So much love and thanks to her for all the work!

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Airlines Continue To Stoop To New Lows

I was appalled when I read a story last week on NBC News where an airline attempted to charge a family an extra $60 so the parents could sit next to their 5-year old child.

Keep in mind, they booked the flight with all the seats together, but when the airline decided to change the aircraft for a different type with a different seating arrangement, they automatically re-assigned seats, then tried to stick the $60 fee to the family once they realized the change.

It’s garbage tactics like this that are exactly the reason we don’t even consider flying anymore.  I won’t unless I really have to and the prices and fees are so outrageous that many people probably have to look into a web based lender just to afford the tickets!

The last time we flew was in the spring of 2010 when we took a family vacation down to Florida.  Since then, we’ve taken a lot of different vacations and getaways and not once have I considered flying.

I don’t want to pay $50 for luggage, for which there is plenty of space allocated on the plane.

I don’t want to pay $60 so that I can sit next to and take care of my young children.

I don’t want to pay for carry-on luggage.

I don’t want the threat of having to change my flight to cost me $150.

Per seat.

I’m sick of it.

I can’t believe the projections that I see where air travel is projected to double over the next twenty five years or so.  Seriously, who wants to put up with it?

And think of this: All of the changes I listed above are within the last few years.  What do you think they’ll imagine up over the next twenty five?

It’s scary.

I’m just fine with staying in the wonderful state of Michigan to vacation.  I get more bang for my buck.  I can pay for fifteen camping nights as well as all the gas and the maintenance and storage of the camper for what I could get for airline flights to Florida or Mexico for my family.

I can leave when I want and don’t have to pay more if I choose to leave at a different time.

I don’t have to pay for luggage or anything I choose to take with me.

My wife can bring as many books, snacks, videos, or anything else it takes to entertain the kids and we we won’t be charged.

But, do you want to know the best part?  We can all sit where we want and there isn’t anybody that can charge us a nickel.

Forget the airlines.  They think they need to charge us all these ticky tack fees, but the truth is, we don’t need them to have a good vacation.

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Delta Miles No Longer Expire

This one kind of flew under the radar for me, but I saw a notice in my monthly Delta SkyMiles report that said that their miles would no longer expire.

This is pretty huge as someone who doesn’t travel very often.

Last year, my miles were set to expire, and in order to avoid losing them, I redeemed some for a magazine subscription.  It was for Entertainment Weekly, a magazine that I’ve always enjoyed but realistically live without.  Still, it’s been a nice add.

My wife recently got a notice in the mail offering redemption of magazine subscriptions, and was mulling over getting one to avoid losing her miles.  I told her not to bother.

The companies that work with Delta and the airlines must certainly want to stay in business, but you have to imagine that their bottom line will be hurt as people hold on their miles versus redeeming them for a subscription just so they can keep their miles on ice.

Did you know about this switch?  Have any other carriers followed suit?

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