Old Jan 5, 2010, 11:58 AM
PJ_Paradox PJ_Paradox is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1
Default Stunned by Customer Service Behavior

I am a college student. I was attempting to fly to visit a prospective university campus to see if it was a good fit for me, so naturally I meticulously scouted for the best fares, and found my best chance at a cost effective travel on Craig's List (shame on me!) from a person who is "In the Industry" selling "Guest Passes."

All I can say is that I experienced one problem after another after another, each problem becoming worse and worse. The first several of such problems can be summarized as follows: The Guest passes work NOTHING like I was lead to believe, or outright TOLD they would by this supposed Alaska Airlines employee. The pass was real, but the claims surrounding how, when, and under what conditions it could be used were bogus. I'm not going to get into the details, because as it turns out the guy wasn't even an employee - he got the guest passes from someone else and thus they are irrelevant to this post.

The biggest shocker of my experience was a supervisor's reaction to my complaint about how the passes were not working the way I was told they would by a supposed airline employee. I'd been sitting in the airport all afternoon, I was told that I would be on this flight. I wasn't. Rather than seeming sympathetic however, the supervisor working boarding counters at Sea-tac THREATENED ME with being permanently banned from the airline for having such a pass! Apparently they are ONLY for family member and friends of employees, and absolutely NOT to be resold under ANY circumstance.

I couldn't believe it. In retrospect, I was was pretty foolish to trust something that seemed 'too good' to be true, but at the same time it was their employee that was crooked. What I saw was cheap air fare, to fit my current shoe string budget and I said "I'll take it!" Why am I being threatened over their employee's wrong doing?

I had been told tall tales about the airline having to compensate me if I don't get on the flight by putting me on the next available flight, free tickets, or cash compensation. None of that was true. What was worse was that somehow I managed to keep getting lower and lower on the standby list. Who was getting in front of me I don't know but some how I managed to go from 4th to 6th to 7th depending on who and how close to departure I asked. I was also told by the person who swindled me that I wouldn't even BE on the standby list if I did online check in and got my bording pass, so I was very much distressed by the turn of events.

Anyway... that supervisor REALLY upset me, I asked to speak to his boss, and he said that there was only him at the air port (I doubt that - he was young high ranking people are typically older). Instead I made my way to customer service, and explained the situation, and while aloofly sympathetic, they basically told me there was nothing they would do. I asked to speak to that supervisors boss, and FINALLY after much going back and fourth, we arrived at an agreement that made me feel like I wasn't -completely- cheated, but it was like pulling teeth to get there.

In the end I bought a full price ticket, but at the lowest price available in the next month. More than what I paid, but still (theoretically) getting me to school as of tomorrow AM.

I guess I just had a definite feeling of us vs the paying customer. I mean, I help them uncover an employee that is selling their benefits online via a third party (this person seems to have lots of guest passes available), and for over an hour they treat me like a criminal. They want me to help them with information regarding the transaction (which I was more than willing to do if they'd help me out of the bind) but didn't want to help me with my current travel plans in return.

C'mon... They are an AIRLINE. They give stuff away all the time, give me a consolation prize for being victim of an abusive employee here. Bad enough that my hotel reservation is shot for tonight. They get what they want - finding the rotten apples in their company, I get what I want - travel to see my University. I fail to see why this is such a hard concept to grasp especially when I already paid $74 each way TO THE AIRLINE (a discounted rate) for the guest tickets. I also paid 70 each to the middle man.

Siiiigh... anyway. I'd be happier if they were more fourth coming with their solution... I just got the impression that they realized I was ready to camp out on their customer service desk for them to budge.

I kinda got the impression that they didn't care so much about company reputation, and didn't really care at all about customers. You'd think that they'd want to please someone that'd bound to be traveling back and fourth several thousand miles every few months, but I guess not.

Anyway, I'm sleepy so I'm guessing there are a lot of errors in this message, but I needed to vent it somewhere.

For clarification on the relationship between the employee of Alaskan airlines, myself, and the person I bought the tickets from, it appears that an Alaskan Airlines employee was using a middle man to sell guest passes that she acquired from work, and that middle man answered questions as if he himself were an Alaskan employee. It's not completely fraudulent, as the guest passes were real, but they didn't work at all as I was told they would.
Old Jan 5, 2010, 12:36 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Get ready for the jetblast PJ!

In fact, the airline and you are both victims here. The airline has a crooked employee and you may help them to find out who it is. However, I am not sure this puts the airline in the position of having any obligation to you.

You are niave at best.. but I suspect you knew you shouldn't really be buying a "guest pass" but thought it would go ok. If it was legitimate for employees to sell guest passes, they would effectively be competing with their own airline. You should be more wary of what you buy on Craigs List, but really how does this create an obligation by the airline? If you bought a dodgy cable box from Craigs List, do you think Cablevision has any obligation to you?

The reason you kept getting moved down the standby list is because you are "non revenue" as far as the airline is concerned, they didn't get any of the money you paid. They will always prioritise the paying passengers. I have flown a number of times on "non-rev" passes myself (legitimately) and it is the risk you take.

On the whole, it sounds as if Alaska did ok by you in the end. Your real anger should be directed at the person who sold you the guest pass.
Old Jan 5, 2010, 4:45 PM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,366

"Spot on" Jim. May I also add the OP titled his post "Stunned by Customer Service Behavior." You were not a customer of the airline until you purchased the actual ticket that got you home. Until that time you were traveling on an employee guest pass which is space available and, as Jim mentioned, prioritized behind revenue standby passengers and actual employees traveling. Basically a guest or "buddy" pass has the lowest priority and you don't fly until all other standbys have been cleared. If you had realized this and just kept your mouth shut you may have eventually cleared and the airline probably wouldn't have been the wiser that the pass had been obtained "illegally."

The "tall tales" you've heard about an airline having to compensate you are true if the flight is over-sold and you have an actual ticket for the flight. When you purchase an airline ticket you, and the airline, enter a contract of carriage. This contract provides the airline with certain protections and also gives you certain limited rights. In the absence of a ticket, which you did not have, there is no contract of carriage. The airline was under no obligation to transport you anywhere. You said you were shocked when an employee threatened you with being banned from travel. That threat was legitimate because by purchasing a pass you, in addition to the employee and the third party who sold it to you, are a party to fraud. If you purchase stolen merchandise and it can be proven that the merchandise was stolen it can be confiscated. Would you buy a Rolex watch from a stranger on the street? Why, then, would you buy an airline pass on Craigslist?

Jim was correct when he stated Alaska Airlines did ok by you in the end. They allowed you to purchase a ticket at the lowest price they are selling it for in the next 30 days. Basically they gave you a waiver and allowed you to purchase a fare which normally requires either a 14 or 21 day advance purchase. That rarely, if ever, happens. They could have stuck to their guns and made you purchase the walk-up fare or even had you escorted from their gates.
Old Jan 6, 2010, 12:29 AM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

You lucked out big time. Guest Passes are illegal to sell, and it is a termination offense. The Guest Pass number can be traced back to the employee, and I am thinking that said employee is now looking for work.
Old Jan 6, 2010, 1:15 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Incidently, depending on the rules in your jurisdiction, if you know the identity of the person who sold you the ticket and/or the employee, you may report this to the police. It may well be a crime.
Old Jan 6, 2010, 6:47 AM
Leatherboy2006 Leatherboy2006 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 340

Always follow the old saying "if it sounds to good to be true, it is"
Old Jan 6, 2010, 7:00 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

I've changed sides too early. This one is a big, hanging curveball just waiting to be hammered.

Alas, the airline sounds like they did something pretty nice in waiving all the rules and letting you buy an advance ticket. Good for them and you so you didn't get screwed too badly. Don't buy tickets from craigslist or ebay or imo an online travel agent but certainly not the first 2 I mentioned.

Hope all goes well with your studies.
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
Old Apr 4, 2018, 7:09 AM
Pop Alexandra Pop Alexandra is offline
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 3

Originally Posted by Leatherboy2006 View Post
Always follow the old saying "if it sounds to good to be true, it is"
I learned that the hard way and totally agree. Always true, especially when concerning rates and institutions.

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