Do you have a nightmare airline story? This one is mine on Alaska Air.

I don’t like to take to cyberspace and rant. But when there is abysmal service in the travel industry – you all should know about it.  By the way, I am forgiving – I think that the true test of a good business is how it performs when the company make a mistake. If it is handled professionally and well, I will be a more than loyal customer. But this is one of the worst cases of customer service I’ve ever encountered.

A couple from Abbotsford, Canada, Mr and Mrs Mills,  was on an Alaska Air flight from nearby Bellingham WA to Los Angeles…. they boarded their flight… and some time later were asked get their bags and to deboard due to maintenance issues.

No one at Alaska was helping them get to their final destination, so  they called the airlines themselves and rebooked on a flight to Seattle to connect to LA.

They made it to Seattle… boarded their plane in Seattle, but were asked to deboard after 25 minutes AGAIN due to mechanical issues. About an hour later, Alaska found another plane, and they boarded their fourth plane of the day. (Mind you now it is about 10PM and they have been in airports since 10AM trying to get to LA, which is normally about three hours away.)

They boarded that fourth plane…. 15 minutes later, were asked to get their bags and deboard AGAIN! They were starting to think maybe it was them.  It made me think that maybe Alaska is booking it flights too close together without allowing enough time for maintenance checks?????

More waiting… and Alaska found another plane -but the couple had to take a tram to another terminal in the airport, and walk a mile to the new gate, all at 11PM.

At midnight, they were finally on their way to Los Angeles.

I was there, so I was commiserating with them.  I met  them in Seattle. After the first time we were kicked off a plane, I rebooked myself on the next flight minutes later by calling a reservation agent, but Alex, the woman at the gate,  told a few of us,  “Don’t talk to me about it.” And there was room on that plane.

Alaska has policies that state they will do their best to get customers on the next flight. Also – the website says “We are prepared to do all possible to make the best of a difficult situation.”

Southwest – I appreciate you more and more. This has happened to me on Southwest, and the agent asks – “Do you have any checked bags?” and if not – I’ve boarded that next flight.

What made the situation worse, is that I told them that this is really bad customer service. Enter Paul, another Seattle gate agent. His response to my complaint about customer service was “Well, JD Power and Associates just ranked us best in customer service.”

My response: “Well, I think there are a few of us who won’t fly Alaska again.” Paul’s response: “Good.”

Really? And that’s considered the best customer service? Alaska Air management – did you hear that?

I find it entertaining because I fly so much and see the difference between truly good customer service, and that which falls apart in crisis.

My new mantra when booking flights is: Even if the airline you like is $30 more for a ticket, you have to consider how much it would cost you if something cheaper on a less reliable airline might cost you in productivity if you miss a work event, meeting, or just work hours.

I got home at 4AM. I lost most of the next work day. Alaska did offer 2000 miles in my mileage account (I don’t have an account) and a discount on my next flight…. but that can’t make up for the number of billing hours I missed at work … and besides – do I want to fly Alaska again?

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  • George Siegal

    I’ve had bad experiences with Alaska as well. Most recent was the late night flight out of Anchorage. It was four hours late. No apology, no meal voucher, no nothing. To make matters worse, my wife and I had an isle and a middle seat, and seated next to us at the window was a man with a lap child. Only problem was the kid looked to be about four years old. So cramped seats, late flight, and an extra body crammed in to a small row made it a miserable flight. I’d rather have taken a sled dog back then flown Alaska Airlines.

  • TracyGallagher

    Wow! Sorry to hear about your experience as well. How does JD Power and Assoc figure out its rankings?!??!

  • TracyGallagher

    Thanks for sharing!