It feels like you could go on and on about how badly airlines treat you from time to time, right?
But sometimes, 140 characters are just enough.
A mean tweet is perfect to reach out to someone and let them know your thoughts. Jimmy Kimmel's "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets" could easily be transformed into "Airlines Read Mean Tweets".
And who is more likely to fly into troubles with airlines than expert travelers who spend as much time in the air as on the ground?
One thing is sure, not everyone is as nice as Matthew Karsten from Expert Vagabond. Even after a 4-hours delay, he doesn't seem to hold much of a grudge. Or is that sarcasm...?
Woohoo! 4 hour flight delay. I ❤ travel.— Matthew Karsten (@ExpertVagabond) November 26, 2012
Others seem slightly more upset. Take the example of Caz and Craig from Y Travel:
Bloody plane is delayed again. An hour delay— Caz Craig Makepeace (@yTravelBlog) December 3, 2010
Sort it out #QANTAS
By experience, when you fly on a regular basis and your flights repeatedly get delayed, even one hour seems like a lot.
It’s perfectly understandable, right?
Who really enjoys staying at the airport longer than they need? Even if you know how to keep yourself busy, wouldn't you just rather be on the plane and get to your destination?
But here's the worst part:
It’s as though airlines are competing among themselves to deliver poor travel experiences. Travel bloggers usually don’t fail to capture the irony of the situation in less than 140 characters.
My fight delay is longer than my actual flight! #sfo2lax— Nomadic Matt (@nomadicmatt) March 23, 2017
There must be a medal for this kind of achievement, right?
Matthew Kepnes, widely known as Nomadic Matt, is well-versed in the art of tweeting to airlines, after getting his fair share of issues with flights.
A report from the European Consumer Centre highlighted that 69% of passengers indicated excessive flight delays as the main reason for trip disruptions and 15% of them think the worst is a flight cancellation.
Is there any compensation for the 3+ hour delay?— JohnnyJet (@JohnnyJet) February 21, 2017
Travel influencer Johnny Jet did exactly what he should have.
When your flight gets delayed by 3 hours or more, you may be eligible for a compensation from the airline. In this case, the delay was due to "mechanical reasons": since it's the responsibility of the air carrier, passengers on the flight could all have received a financial compensation.
By the way, was your own flight delayed or canceled? Check out if you're eligible now!
Here's what's most annoying for people who have been flying for some time:
When you look back at the standard that airlines used to have in terms of customer service and comfort, you can easily be astonished by how things evolved. Isn't that motive for an angry tweet?
Sometimes it’s the little things:
The food in this American Airlines flight from Paris is terrible. It's an affront to the destination this plane is coming from! pic.twitter.com/Qy8bPnJbbW— Nomadic Matt (@nomadicmatt) March 1, 2017
That is a nasty piece of food. As a Frenchman myself, I can't but agree that it's a shame to serve this when you fly to Paris.
On other occasions, it’s even more disappointing than a not-so-yummy-looking sandwich. Apparently, the bad experience can go as far as physical discomfort. That's what Ben Schlappig from One Mile at a Time had to go through.
On my smelliest flight ever. I'm in 1A, and I think the whole plane has gone #2 in forward lav. Feel like I should travel with nose plug.— Ben Schlappig (@OneMileataTime) August 4, 2017
Beyond that, it’s true that the customer service just doesn’t meet our expectations anymore. It might be hard to even find someone to tell you what's going on.
The worst part?
Everything can turn bad in a jiffy, and it's entirely out of your control:
@Fly_Norwegian Flight delayed by two hours and then you lost my bag... all short haul from London. Pretty shocking service guys.— Macca Sherifi (@backpackermacca) June 7, 2016
There are only two types of luggage, so they say: carry-on and lost. Macca Sherifi was unfortunate enough to experience the most annoying trip disruption according to 21% of air travelers: significantly damaged baggage or lost luggage.
That's when the pilots haven't disappeared themselves! France is infamously known for its workers' tendency to go on strike. Scott Eddy from the eponymous Mr. Scott Eddy learned that the air industry is no exception the hard way.
It’s just as though air carriers purposefully seek to harm the bond of trust they have with their customers.
Expert travelers are very pleased when their flight goes smoothly (and also tweet about it!). But as you would expect, they hate being taken for fools. Just like anybody else.
Gary Leff of View from the Wing doesn't fail to point out the inconsistencies in airlines' statements.
Scheduling a 9 minute delay when mechanics haven't even gotten to the cockpit yet just isn't real. 2/— gary leff (@garyleff) August 16, 2017
Some decisions made by airline staff seem to make as little sense as standing in line for 15 min before boarding when you know you already have seat saved for you anyway (seriously, don't be these guys).
It gets worse:
Tiffany Dowd had the bad surprise of not only being rebooked on a lower class, but also being stuck in a plane for over an hour... because the pilot didn't show up.
Thank you. Why board a flight if they know pilot will be 1.5 hours late as a no show. Plan full of irritated passengers.— Tiffany Dowd (@LuxeTiffany) June 3, 2017
This is absolutely crazy. That's a very long time to be stuck on a plane. And that's still pales to the 6 hours without AC that passengers had to suffer (they eventually had to call 911).
No matter how experienced a flyer you are, it doesn't take long to feel powerless.
Even solo travelers, used to being isolated, can easily feel very lonely at the airport, without someone to give you some answers:
Still sitting at Dubai airport...flight to JFK keeps on being delayed but no info at all from @emirates staff.— Derek Earl Baron (@WanderingEarl) February 4, 2013
This desperate tweet from Wandering Earl's Derek underlines one of the worst things about flight disruptions.
More than the delay itself, it's the lack of information that can quickly get on your nerves. It's one thing that the flight schedule isn't respected, and although it's never ideal, it's acceptable. It's another to leave your customers uninformed.
Provided that you know why and that this excuse is valid. But then again, what is a valid excuse?
And here’s the problem for a lot of air passengers, maybe even more from the US:
Most of them don’t know that they have rights as international flyers when they fly from and to Europe. The EU Regulation 261/2004 entitles air passengers to up to 600€ of compensation when they arrive at their final destination more than 3 hours after the scheduled arrival time.
The Two Bad Tourists Auston and David do know about their rights and don't fail to let the airlines know about it:
@united wow really unimpressed w/ your customer service at Newark. Came from EU and now delayed 5hrs. They have NO knowledge of EU 261/2004?— TwoBadTourists (@twobadtourists) August 12, 2017
Recently, airlines based in the US have been under the spotlight for the wrong reasons. The United Airlines scandal not long ago is just another example of poor service (well, in this specific case, I think it goes way beyond that...).
It might comfort you to know that flight delays, cancellations and overbooking don't happen only to American and European airlines. Samanta Brown had a first-hand experience with Asia's own flight disruptions:
Flt to Xi'an delayed 6 soul testing hours. Just in case you thought the U.S was the only one whose airport experience could break you. pic.twitter.com/Zrw5wUoJNV— Samantha Brown (@SamanthaBrown) June 12, 2017
That's probably ok with her: the "girl with the best job in the world" loves spending time at the airport!
That's just not the case for everyone. It's particularly annoying to have your flight delayed or canceled when your journey includes multiple legs. That's what caused this angry tweet from Rachel and Jeven of WanderWorx.
@united we need a refund for our flight. After a cancellation last night you delayed my flight today by 7 hours so I missed my connection— WanderWorx (@WanderWorx) April 4, 2017
Here's a tip:
If the airline didn't let you know at least 14 days prior to the flight that it would be canceled, not only can you claim a compensation, but you can also ask to be rebooked on another flight.
If the airline fails to put you on another plane themselves, buy another ticket yourself: they will have to refund it to you. Awesome, right?
Ok, I get it:
It's easy to get confused with passenger rights, especially when air carriers make it so hard for you and me to understand and get justice done by ourselves.
@united For the delay and for scaring people shitless with a cabin depressurization today, do passengers get any sort of compensation?— Nomadic Matt (@nomadicmatt) January 24, 2013
For example, "scaring people shitless with a cabin depressurization" will not grant you a compensation. At least not in the meaning of the EU Regulation.
EU 261/2004 does consider circumstances, labeled as "extraordinary", exempting the airline from responsibility.
To put it bluntly:
When it's not their fault, they don't have to pay.
One of the extraordinary circumstances most subject to interpretation is the alleged “bad weather” preventing the flight from being operated normally. There is no denying that the pilots sometimes have to cope with difficult meteorological conditions.
Snow seems like an obvious factor, but violent wind can also be a major obstacle to the normal operation of a flight. Back in the day, Derek was a victim of Romania's harsh winter climate, but couldn't do much more than powerlessly tweet about it.
Snow has already delayed my first flight...will miss my second flight...long day of flying ahead...OTP-PBI http://t.co/of0SBBky— Derek Earl Baron (@WanderingEarl) February 6, 2012
(Unfortunately?), airlines can’t be held responsible for the weather! As annoying as it may be for the passengers, in these cases, air carriers are not bound to pay any sort of compensation.
But very often as well, airlines tend to blame everything on the weather, leaving passengers like The Frugal Travel express their perplexity in a few characters.
Just seconds from landing on this BA flight and we pull *very* sharply out of our approach. Pilot says due to hot weather - it's ~86 F here— The Frugal Traveler (@frugaltraveler) April 11, 2017
And when the airline justifies a delay with bad weather, how to know if they're telling the truth?
Hint: We can help.
Some savvy travelers deal with flight disruptions head-on:
*Every single time* my flight's delayed, the @TripIt app knows before the airline's app does!— Vagabondish.com (@vagabondish) June 1, 2016
It’s true that TripIt is a must-download for every traveler used to taking the plane. I’m pretty confident that the app is on every travel blogger’s phone.
Adventurous Kate also loves it and stresses that airlines may forget to tell you about their schedule changes. I mean, why would they, right?
Thank you @TripIt for letting me know my flight time moved up 30 minutes, cause the airline sure didn't!— Kate McCulley (@adventurouskate) December 1, 2015
Another way for you to get the better of your flight delay or cancellation is to ask for advantages. You might be lucky enough to get an upgrade without even asking, but in most cases, don’t rely on the airline’s goodwill.
Hey Nadine certainly knows how to look at the glass half full!
Bad news: Gonna miss my connecting flight and have to overnight in a hotel. Good news: I was upgraded to business Win some, loose some.— Nadine Sykora (@heynadine) March 16, 2017
Expert travelers are just like you: they also get into trouble during their trip, and they also like to let the airline know about it. And while it sucks for them when things don't go as plan, you might at least be in for a good laugh!
Make sure to follow them to share their adventures!
In the meantime, if you have been victim of flight cancellation or delay, get in touch!
Note: The mean tweets of travelers mentioned in this post do not necessarily reflect their overall opinion of the airline they wrote to. Just because someone tweets their unhappiness to an airline at one time doesn't mean they won't have a great experience on the next flight and are not generally happy about them.
Expect quality from your airline, but do try to be forgiving when things go bad! After all, air carriers still let us travel the world, and that must count for something!