I want to tell the following story because I think that too many times people fall victim to theft, or bad treatment from the airlines employees when they are traveling, with no support what so ever from those corporations.
I mean they are getting greedier and greedier and giving less and less service. I have been traveling since I was maybe 18 months old, I am only 35 now but I have seen the changes :
_Kids usually got a little something from the airline when flying be it a broach, a card deck, or crayons to color. That is not available anymore, or maybe my kids aren’t worthy enough….
_ A pillow and blanket were complimentary , now it is only for first/ business class
_Earphones were free, now you have to pay 5 dollars for earphones that will stop working after a week…
¬_ Dinner was included in the price of the ticket, now they decide how long your stomach can survive without food, so that most of the time they can give you just a complimentary drink or ridiculous snacks, unless you pay for a full dinner ( and yes I was one of those people who actually enjoyed airline food….)
_ And the biggy, you used to have the right to one if not two checked luggage no matter where you were headed, now they’ve decided that if you are traveling in the continental U.S you don’t need more then a carry-on, so if you want checked baggage you have to pay for it….
I will not be surprised if some day we have to pay for a sit on the plane or otherwise fly standing up…. And like it !
But I digress…. To get back to my story:
The other day I was traveling with my mom and my two kids. When we got on the plane in group 4, all the overhead compartments where full… Why ? Maybe the plane doesn’t actually have a spot for as many carry-ones as it has seats… Maybe some insensitive passengers put more than one carry-on each in their over head compartment….
So of course the steward tells us , “ we are sorry but we will have to check your carry-ons “.
Normally I am a very polite and easy-going person. But 2 years ago I lost all of the jewelry that I had put in my luggage ( I know stupid move..) while traveling with American airlines. Back then I called and wrote the airline, they asked for pictures of my jewelry which I sent and they told me they would send me a response by mail. That response never arrived . When I tried calling again, I couldn’t get through…
But I got it, it was my mistake, they warned people not to put valuables in their luggage, be it in fine print … In any case they could have acted like they cared, but fine….
Anyway , from then on, my valuables travel in my purse or my carry-on.
So without any stretch of the imagination , you can understand that from the get go I was like “I am not checking my carry-on, I don’t know what y’all gonna do, but my carry-on is staying with me “.
Now I must say that that comment got some people looking at me , as if they were wondering if I had a gun or a bomb in there….And I reckon that if this was happening right after 9/11, I might have ended up in solitary confinement; heck they put people aside just for having one of those faces…But at the time I didn’t think about that. I had some residual anger from my experience from 2 years ago.
So here we are at a standstill the nice steward and I, my mom muttering in our native tongue “ I am not playing, I am not checking my carry-on cause I have things in there , and they’re going to steal them” and also telling whoever was inclined to listen “ it’s true you know she lost over 3000 dollars worth of jewelry that time”….
And then comes in this surely, rude, manly, big female AA employee and she’s like “ I AM CHECKING THIS BAG “, to which I answered “ I said no “ ! And she’s like “ there no more space aboard I AM CHECKING THE BAG “ ! I told her : “put me on another flight then “ .
That’s when another steward came and said that they had found space in the front. And they went forward with our carry-ons.
Something told me to follow them. So I get to the front at the door and turns out they did find space for 2 of our 3 carry-ons but they were going to check the last one against my specific demand not to, it was already out the door. Outraged, I then reiterate that I did not accept to send my carry-ons under the plane.
Then came two other employees and they tell me menacingly “ maam you’re gonna have to get off the plane “ one of them even mentioned calling security…All of that because I just wouldn’t accept to check the carry-on to which I had a right to…
At this point I got off the plane and told my mom to go sit with the kids, and that I’m staying. She kept trying to talk me and them out of it, trying to get me back on the plane . I felt bad for her because she was starting to be scared, and I tried to get back on. But one of the employees actually stepped in front of me like : oh no ! You are staying off !
After a while the captain came out , he asked about what was going on, and without even acknowledging me , tells them dismissively to remove me from the plane. I wondered if he would have acted the same with just any passenger. But, maybe he just cared that his plane was going to be late and that I was a nuisance. Again, just because I was not doing what they wanted like a little lamb….
At the end they kicked my mom as well as my two children out of the plane also, even though I had readily stepped out.
An AA employee escorted us to the waiting area . He told me we would have to check-in again and just left us there even after I asked if we weren’t getting any assistance.
So we had to stay in line to get checked in again, although the employee who checked us in the first time recognized us and came to get our last names after talking to someone on the phone.
To what purpose he wanted our names, I don’t know . But the lady that checked us in the second time told me that she was nice enough to put us on the next flight “ even though we were supposed to be put on standby “….
And when we were about to board the other plane, another lady at the gate gave us a hard time, saying just by looking at it that our carry-on didn’t fit in the box. She wouldn’t even pay attention and kept saying it didn’t fit as I called out to her when it did fit after I removed a few things from the front pocket. It got to the point that I had to call out to another less aggressive employee to witness that it actually fit…
So, yes I was a nuisance because I wouldn’t let them check my carry-on. And I know we were at an impasse. But I was within my rights. Because had I done what they were pressuring me to do, AA would not have guaranteed my belongings in there.
There were better ways to handle the situation.
They could have asked around to see if another passenger wouldn’t have volunteered to check their carry-on. They could have asked me to remove my valuables from my carry-ons. They could have suggested to put a lock on my carry-on ( which I think they should have on-board for such occasions). But they didn’t, they were just too happy to make me and my innocent mother and kids leave the plane since I had an opinion and wasn’t “ compliant “….
Once off the plane , since after all it wasn’t our fault that the overhead compartments were full, they could have escorted us to the ticket counter, so that we didn’t have to go through the lines and security again. But they didn’t , despite the fact that I had asked for assistance.
Instead I couldn’t help feeling that they were punishing me, my mom and my kids because I stood up to them.
So in conclusion to my long , hopefully not too tedious story, if you are to be treated with patience , politeness and understanding in a difficult situation….. When it comes to the airlines, I guess you have to pay extra….
P.S. The skies aren’t so friendly……