Monday, January 12, 2009

2 Airlines, 2 Bizarre Policies, 2 Different Results

We have all run across airline policies that clearly make no sense. In fact, as I have documented, airlines in this country have serious credibility problems as they compete with automakers for the title of the worst managed industry.

Recently, I read two different articles about these type of ridiculous price gouging policies, both of which I have had personal experience with.

Problem Number One: United Airlines insists on charging 10% of their highest possible fare for infants traveling on your lap on international flights. When my wife and I flew to Israel last year, using United frequent flier miles for a business class ticket, they wanted to charge us over $800 to carry our infant on our lap. I was able to resolve the situation to my satisfaction, as the representative I initially spoke with quoted us a price of under $100. When asked later to pay $800, I launched an EECB that resulted in a reasonable payment of taxes and fees.

When another flier encounters the same absurd policy and complains, here is their account of United's response via Chris Elliot's blog:

This is a policy they’ve had in place that they will charge 10 percent of whatever cabin that the parents are in. She is not willing to budge as this is “not negotiable” and it is what it is.

She did say that she agrees that this is strange but that the policy has been in effect for a very long time.

They know this is stupid, but that is how they do it, so tough crap.

Problem Number Two: Airlines want to charge fliers enormous fees for carrying a bicycle, even if it folds or can be disassembled to fit in the same size of a normal suitcase. Using the word "bicycle" to describe your luggage's contents triggers both the fee, as well as a waiver of all damages. They can run over it with a truck, and they are not liable for a penny.

I have solved this problem in the past by putting the wheels in one box, and the frame in the other. I mark the large, flat boxes "photography" so that the baggage agents do not consider they contain a bicycle.

A contributor to the Consumerist complains about this absurd policy to JetBlue, and JetBlue replies:

"Thanks for helping to bring this to our attention. We pride ourselves on our customer service and when we’re faced with a situation where policy doesn’t make sense in practice, we’re always ready to correct or clarify......Our bicycle policy has now been updated to reflect that Customers traveling with a folding bikes in a bag that fits within the standard checked bag weights and dimensions (62 inches in overall dimensions and 50 pounds in weight — see our baggage requirements here) will not be charged the Bike fee and will be treated like any checked bag."

Conclusion: When faced with absurd policies, United says "Too bad, that's how we do it.", while JetBlue says, "The customer is right, we are changing our policy".

Which airline would you fly? Which airline do you think will be around in the future?

1 comment:

Darren said...

Niether! I still love to travel though I hope these airlines will improve their services!

Have you ever heard of this site? I got it in an email at work yesterday. From what I understand, it’s a place where you can swap stuff for frequent flyer miles or swap miles for stuff, depending which end you’re on. It’s like buying stuff on eBay without spending cash. You use your miles instead. It might be worth checking out.