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Unprofessional behavior from Check-in clerk at SFO

Posted Sun August 26, 2007 12:00 pm, by Aaron N. written to US Airways

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Dear US Airways,

Customer service must not mean very much to this airline company as you have employed some of the rudest individuals to represent the airline. On Dec. 26, 2006 at the SFO airport, I encountered one of the most unprofessional US airways clerks. I was scheduled for flight #1533 and was at the kiosk to confirm my reservation. My seat assignment for both legs of my flight was 3D. However when the screen showed me a map of the airplane, I did not see my seat, 3D, for the flight to Charlotte. As a result I ended up selecting another seat, 31C. It turns out that the original seat that the computer assigned me, 3D was a first class seat. When I spoke to this individual she said that it would be impossible for the computer to assign me a first class seat and began to belittle me. When I questioned her with, "Are you telling me that these computers never make a mistake," she kept insisting that the computers never fail and that I was the one who was clearly mistaken. What bothers me the most is that she did not have the courtesy to listen to what I was saying but rather assumed and insisted that I was being untruthful. She was extremely unprofessional and had a rude, denigrating attitude. Please put yourself in my shoes and imagine what it would feel like to be belittled for stating your side of the situation.

In my experiences with other airlines (Airtrans), these computers do in fact make mistakes and do indeed assign passengers first class seats eventhough an economy seat was purchased. This is the last time that I will ever fly US Airways since the individuals hired seem to believe that they are always right and it is acceptable to verbally denigrate and abuse their customers. I may not be in the airline business but in all my years of practice as a physician listening to someone's concerns is a very crucial trait to possess in any industry.

I would very much appreciate a hand written apology letter from this individual, not a computer template that plugs in names. Please understand that in the future I will never fly with US Airways and neither will any of the physicians in my practice until this company starts valuing their customers.


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by Firebrat Tracy Posted Tue August 28, 2007 @ 12:57 AM

I do this for a living, and I have to say I don't think I've ever seen
my computer assign a first class seat when he/she is booked in coach.

Not calling you a liar - just saying there was obviously a pretty
large misunderstanding.

But all of that aside, as someone who deals with the airlines every
day - it's time to let it go. You're fighting a losing battle.

Move on.



I do this for a living, and I have to say I don't think I've ever seen my computer assign a first class seat when he/she is booked in coach. by griffinpaul Fri September 7, 2007 @ 7:47 AM

by MA Loper Posted Mon August 27, 2007 @ 4:53 PM

While you may not have felt that this were a "time sensitive issue"
you need to realize that from a business standpoint, timing is
everything. If you have a problem with an establishment and you don't
at least attempt to remedy the problem or bring it to someone's
attention at the time, it calls into question YOUR motivation for
writing a letter.

Why now? Why does it even matter anymore?

Which brings me to my second point; I am guessing if you are praising
AirTran that you typically fly them rather than USAir. So I have to
wonder why, based on one bad encounter with one short-sighted employee
(and again, 8 months after the fact) you would insist that you will
never darken a USAir boarding area again?

And then to my 3rd point; whenever you swear off a company, it removes
any incentive for them to work with you. Why waste the energy chasing
after a customer that has already written them off?

While I don't disagree with you that the attendant was inapporpriate
and terse with you, I feel you're taking this WAY too personally and
even you have to admit it seems rather pointless now.

The fact that you waited this long to lodge a complaint makes it
appear that you're just out there to complain. That's neither
constructive nor logical because this long after the fact, what are
they REALLY supposed to do about it?

Just as a heads up, next time you have an experience like this 1) take
it up with a supervisor immediately, if only to get it on record that
there was a problem. 2) follow up within a few weeks, NOT a few
months. Believe it or not, in order to get the kind of customer
service you expect, there is a window of opportunity to make that
happen. If you don't get in that window, it slams shut and leaves you
out in the cold with nothing.


by Jeffrey Posted Mon August 27, 2007 @ 11:20 AM

I went through this "I want an apology" thing about a decade ago, with
another airline. Here's what I learned...

Most large business, such as airlines, have a strict policy against
having individual employees make after-the-fact apologies (especially
months and months later). There are several reasons. First, unless
there is evidence, it's a "he said/he said" sort of thing. Why you'd
like to believe that they ALWAYS blindly trust the customer, they
cannot do this.

Second, airlines employees are often part of a union. This handcuffs
what an airline can do. Union rules may prohibit (either explicitly
or via another rule) compelling an employee to apologize. If this
bothers you, contact the employee's union. However, you'll likely get
the same response.

Third, any big company needs to take employee confidentiality
seriously. Few businesses will discuss employee handling issues with
customers. Compelling an employee to apologize is exposing you to an
employee's punishment.

Fourth, the BUSINESS is responsible, not the individual employee.
Which is the point of your letter, actually. The business needs to
apologize to you. As much as this feels like a personal issue, to the
airline it's business.

If you really want an apology from the employee, then you need to find
that person, say that your feelings were hurt, and ask for an apology.
THAT would turn this into a personal matter. However, since you
wrote to a large corporation, it's not personal. It's about business.
It's about them making a decision if they'd rather lose you as a
customer or they'd rather have to force an employee (who will, not
doubt, deny everything) to write you an apology. Believe me, they'd
rather lose you than have to deal with employee backlash.

Anyway, I'm not disagreeing with how you feel. I have felt the same
way. And I'm currently having a similar issue with an airline.
However, I know that once I make my complaint, the best I can hope for
is to have a manager say that he's sorry, on behalf of the company.
Short of me hunting down the bad employee and berating him, I know
that I'm never going to get a personal apology.


by Peregrina Posted Mon August 27, 2007 @ 5:14 AM


Since you are being so gracious in returning and answering our
questions, I want to take the oppurtunity to ask a question that has
come up on this website many times.

Why do you want an apology? Most likely the clerk has no memory of you
and will resent the act of writing the letter. It won't have any
meaning beyond the fact that you 'won' and proved the clerk 'wrong'.
That attitude isn't much better than the attitude that so upset you in
the first place.

In the end, both computers and humans make mistakes. You made it home
safely and that is really the important thing here.


by RedheadWGlasses Posted Sun August 26, 2007 @ 8:40 PM

I think the "other physicians in [your] practice" will fly whatever
airline suits their needs, not boycott an airline based on your


by d K Posted Sun August 26, 2007 @ 5:33 PM

Why are you waiting 8 months to write this?

Second I assume there as a part of the story missing. You changed the
seat and then were talking with an agent about your seat? How did
that occur? Did you suddenly realize your seat was first class and
the decide you wanted it back?


original seat assignment by ADN Sun August 26, 2007 @ 7:12 PM

by griffinpaul Posted Sun August 26, 2007 @ 5:21 PM

By writing this eight months later, it is clear that this issue was
not important to you and the airline will not take the complaint


Time sensitivity by ADN Sun August 26, 2007 @ 7:07 PM

That's a long time by ♥Venice♥ Sun August 26, 2007 @ 10:50 PM

at least by Angelic Princess:) Mon August 27, 2007 @ 11:24 AM

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