Old Oct 24, 2008, 12:26 AM
nathansmith nathansmith is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2
Default Gave away seats - newborn & 2 year old

I'm ****** at NWA. Even though I checked in 1 hour early, they gave away my seats. Instead of explaining the problem, I'm going to post my emails & responses directly from NWA customer service and how they used their 'canned' responses to the situation:

My family & I
experience very bad customer service on our current trip. > I am
travelling with my 2 month old son, my 2 1/2 year old daughter & > wife
on the way to my brother's wedding in Nashville. > We checked our bags
and received our boarding passes 55 minutes before > boarding. Having
kids, we had to change diapers and it took us until 25> minutes before
boarding to get to the gate. When we arrived at the > gate, the woman
told us they were over booked and we didn't have a seat > on the
plane!!> I asked here how a company can take your money, then not
provide you a > seat on the plane, she said to me:> "When you purchase
the cheap tickets on the internet, this sometime's > happens"!! THIS IS
ONE OF YOUR EMPLOYEES. 1 minute before boarding, > they founds seats for
us as others had not shown up for the flight!> Here is what make me
really mad. We had other friends on this flight! > They witnessed the
flight crew mention that they wanted to get away > early and there were
empty seats that they were giving away! This was > after we already got
our boarding pass. They knew these were our seats.> My parents live in
Nashville, my family, my sister's family & my > brother's family all
live in Ontario. We used to like NWA as a good > option to fly down as
they are inexpensive and direct to Nashville. We > all usually fly down
2-3 times per year (that's a lot of tickets). From> what your employee
told me, "buying the cheap tickets doesn't guarantee > you a seat!".
Well, I may as well spend more and fly Air Canada out of > Toronto.>
This in my mind is bad customer service. You don't take someone's money>
and MAYBE give them a seat on the plane! > I have to fly back today on
your plane, but I'm not sure I will anymore.> Your airline is not living
up to your customer service claim.


Dear Mr. Smith,> >
RE: Case Number 6438885> >
Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the service
provided while> you and your family were traveling with us to Nashville.
On behalf of > everyone at Northwest Airlines, I sincerely apologize for
the > unprofessional behavior of our gate agent.> > After reading your
remarks, I certainly understand why you wanted to > bring this matter to
our attention. I can only imagine how upsetting it > must have been for
all of you when you arrived at the gate and the agent> was very rude to
you when she advised that your seats had been given > away and the
flight was overbooked. I am sorry that she told you that > this was done
because you purchased cheap tickets on the internet. In > addition, I
apologize that the flight crew mentioned that they wanted to> get away
early. Please know that we expect our employees to be helpful > and
professional at all times. Please know that I will be sharing your >
comments with our Customer Service and Airport Operations leadership >
team for internal follow up. Thank you for taking the time to share >
this disappointing experience with us.> > Again, Mr. Smith, I apologize
for the unprofessional behavior of our > gate agent and flight crew. I
hope I have been able to address any > concerns you have about our
overall customer service. As our valued > WorldPerks customer, your
business is important to us and given the > opportunity of serving you
in the future, I am confident Northwest will > not only meet but exceed
your expectations.
Michelle Mohr
Customer Care
Northwest/KLM Airlines


although the agent was rude, this was not the main reason I'm ******
off, it is your business model of not having seats available when you
took my money. I have flown many times and have never experienced this
with any other airline. It is even worse when you have a 2-month old, a
2-year old going to a wedding.

I'm sure you will work at being more polite to your customers, however I
can't trust buying tickets from NWA anymore not knowing if I will
actually get what I paid for.

I will be telling my friends & family to avoid using your airline as
your email doesn't give me any renewed confidence in your company.
Perhaps you should take a lesson from a company like Jet Blue.


Dear Mr. Smith,

RE: Case Number 6438885

Thank you for writing and allowing me the opportunity to further review
your concerns. I am sorry you were dissatisfied with my first response.

I understand you feel I have not adequately addressed your concerns.
Again, I am truly sorry for the problems you encountered when you
arrived at the gate and were told that your seats were given away.
Please know that I thoroughly reviewed your correspondence and
unfortunately, there is nothing more I can add. I am truly sorry to
disappoint you, as I understand this was not the answer you were

Mr. Smith, I am truly sorry for your disappointment with our service.
Your support is important to Northwest and I thank you for your
additional time and effort. We look forward to the privilege of serving
your air travel needs again soon.


Michelle Mohr
Customer Care
Northwest/KLM Airlines
Old Oct 24, 2008, 1:42 AM
Leah123 Leah123 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Default Lots of words... no substance

That is appauling treatment, especially for a family with young kids.

I can't believe they gave away paid for seats!!! I don't know that our airlines here in Australia are as bad as that, but I won't say never!

Yes lots of "sympathy words" but no substance. Your response to their lack of understanding of the REAL problem was good. However, I don't read any genuine concern for customers in their subsequent response. They seem to "miss the point" of how unethical their behaviour was, regarless of whether you ended up flying in the end.

There should be more legislation on this type of unprofessional tactics.
Old Oct 24, 2008, 3:04 AM
Silent Bob Silent Bob is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: NY NY
Posts: 510

Just a question, for clarity here, but did you have seats when you checked in or no seats on your boarding pass? Because it sounds like you were on there overbooked list. I mean if you walk away with a boarding pass that shows I have a seat and come back, they can't simply "give away" my seat without my permission or volunteering, especially if I had a seat to begin with. Now if you originally had no seats (I don't think you did, because then you'd be more angered as you may have had seats together), then yes you were on their overbooked list.

But overbooking is a common practice among all airlines, not just northwest. (read any contract of carriage from any airline and they will have rules and such for overbooking). It does suck because you pay money for a seat, arrive on time and everything, and poof no seats! and its worse when your travelling with kids. From what I've been told in the past, and have since followed, though not always, is to check in the night before or confirm seats 24 hours in advance. But its definitely not an uncommon practice. I've been on my share of overbookings, and to be honest I look forward to it so I can cash in on travel vouchers. But as a single guy, its ok. Not good when you have kids to deal with. Thankfully they got you onboard, but their attitude was unnessecary.
Old Oct 24, 2008, 7:31 PM
nathansmith nathansmith is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2

It would appear that I was part of the overbooking as my boarding pass said 'seats assigned at the gate'. However, when on their website booking the tickets originally, they asked me what seats I wanted and I selected them.

They told me at the gate I had to pay extra for that features - which begs the question "why give me the option, when it is pointless - it sets the wrong expectation".

If this is common practice - it doesn't make 'customer service' sense. I'm sure it is profitable for the airline - just unfair. Also, if it is common, they should have better 'canned responses' prepared to deal with people when it does happen.

Feels like 'customer service' is gone from the entire industry - except for a few airlines. They now think that everyone is used to overbooking/poor treatment and will put up with it.

I wish there is more you can do.
Old Oct 26, 2008, 2:18 AM
Silent Bob Silent Bob is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: NY NY
Posts: 510

overbooking is a very common practice sad to say. However their wording at the gate, well they need more training in the response they give. Also its best to always reconfirm your flight, eventhough you had seats together when you booked it, I've learned that doing it in advance is sometimes moot to the point where I don't book seats in advance anymore. I always got the same response "plane change this" or "had to switch people around to make room for the elderly" that. I always accept the response because complaining gets you nowhere really. Plus I collect travel vouchers; got bunches of em. But with kids, best thing to do is to try and confirm seats 24 hours in advance.
Old Oct 27, 2008, 4:31 AM
airhead airhead is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 228
Default Overbooked flights

I agree that no passenger is should be treated rudely. Their is no reason for that.

Airlines are companies trying to make a profit and sometimes people do not show up for a flight. It is impossible to know when people do not show up. The airline wants every seat filled so they over book the flights. Over 90% of flights that are overbooked DO NOT have a problem since some passengers do not show up. The other 10% is a headache for the passenger with no seat and the agent at the gate. It is a gamble the airline embarks on that everyone is happy 90% of the time. Not bad odds.

It would be nice if everything always worked out and the flights did not have to be overbooked though. I personally hate explaining why flights are overbooked to unhappy passengers.
Old Oct 27, 2008, 8:54 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default Overbooking

It would be nice if everything always worked out and the flights did not have to be overbooked though
Lets be clear. The airline has already sold the seat once, and chooses to sell it again. They do not have to overbook. They choose to overbook seats in order to increase their profits. They then treat their customers with contempt when they are upset.

How would you feel if you booked seats at a concert and the venue told you "many people book tickets and don't turn up", so unfortunately today they did turn up, so you will have to come back tomorrow and be on standby to get in to the concert? Would it be acceptable? What is special about airlines that they are able to justify this behaviour?
Old Oct 27, 2008, 10:30 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

Nothing......nothing makes them special. But a concert doesn't have procedures in place to deal with this situation. An airline does.

Not many people like to be involved with an overbooked flight. I'll tell you who exactly.....the passengers who don't have a seat yet and the agent who is tasked with dealing with the situation that his upper management put him/her in.

Now we all know that most airlines will offer vouchers/cash/hotels/meals or any combination of the previous to entice people to give up their confirmed reservation for someone who is in more need to go. It's not fun for anyone but in over 20 years of dealing with this I had only 2 people I could not get on the flight they wanted to be on. I couldn't tell you how many flights I've worked but I dare say it's been thousands dealing with 100's of thousands of people and only 2 didn't get on their flight.

The airlines are greedy, I know first hand. They took all they could from their empoyees and they are now sticking it to the customer in many many ways. But the overbooking process, again IMO, is not a problem that needs an immediate fix. Other things are alot higher on that list.
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
Old Oct 27, 2008, 10:58 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default The overbooking problem

Well, lets agree on this. The airlines treat their staff and customers with contempt and are in a downward spiral to the bottom with each other fighting to see who can cut the most regardless of the costs to customers. Let me give you an example that happened to me...

I booked a Delta flight from Charlotte, NC to Atlanta, GA to connect with a BA flight to London. (This was some years ago when I lived in the US). The Delta flight was overbooked, and I was prevented from boarding. The offer of a voucher was of little use to me, because I had to be on the London flight. I had family who had travelled hundreds of miles from Liverpool to London to meet me, and I had a job interview on the Monday. No amount of remonstrating or begging would persuade Delta that if no-one volunteered, the consequences for me were greater than for some of the other passengers who had been boarded. When I pointed out that I would miss my BA flight, Delta washed their hands of any responsibility, stating that as the booking was not linked, they were not responsible. Before I get bombarded, I know this is technically correct, but from my perspective I was in a situation, not of my making, and Delta's best offer was cheap hotel overnight and first flight in the morning. Useless to me. US Air were also full and could not sell me a ticket either. Who rescued this? BA. I called them, they arranged to rebook me via Philadelphia from Charlotte, on USAir to Philly then BA to London. That is customer service. They were under no obligation, could have walked away, but the rep could understand my situation and helped me. I have never flown Delta again and never will. I regularly fly BA, who are far from perfect, but are not hostile to a customer.

I believe that where an airline has overbooked seats on a flight, ie, deliberately sold a service that they know they are unable to provide, they should be fully responsible for the consequent damages to the customer. It is time to regulate this practice and either make it illegal to sell things that you do not have or force airlines to take responsibility to for their actions.
Old Oct 27, 2008, 11:18 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default One other point on this

I realise that it happens to a relatively small number of people, but considering millions are moving every day, that is still thousands of people every day being denied boarding. Judge, if a concert venue did have procedures for denying people a seat, would it then be "acceptable" to overbook? Perhaps they can offer a voucher for a free drink next time you come to the concert, or a free ticket to a future concert. In addition, they can put you on standby for a cancellation at the concert the following day. Would you accept it? The fact that the airlines have procedures doesn't make it right. I know you are not necessarily defending them, but their actions are in my opinion unjustifiable.

If we take Airhead's figure that over 90% of the time there is no problem, that means that up to 1 in 10 do have a problem. How would it work if when you book a concert seat you had a 1 in 10 chance of being denied entry into the venue. I choose this analogy just to illustrate the utterly ridiculous assumptions which underline the airlines position. They seem to think that by putting their right to deny boarding in their Terms and Conditions absolves them of their right to do the right thing. As all airlines have this in their T&C's, it is ridiculous to suggest that the "customer" accepted these terms when booking. The customer was faced with two choices.. don't travel or accept the terms. Unacceptable and proof that regulation is needed.
Old Oct 27, 2008, 11:21 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

Fair enough. You seem like an informed traveler and took things into your own hands when you really shouldn't have had to. Glad it worked out for you.

I hope you followed up and were given the 200% of what the value of the segment was you missed. As far as Delta knew, you didn't get to London when you were supposed to. I believe it is a 4 hour window that DL has to get you there. Leaving the next morning for an involuntarily bumped passenger does not sound like they got you there within 4 hours. This rule/law, whatver it is, is so rarely used that I never had to deal with it in my career. Anyway, it sounds like BA really came through and hope all went well in London.
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
Old Oct 27, 2008, 11:43 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

I don't think a concert is a good comparison for this situation. The airline has options to get the passenger to where they are going the same day sometimes only hours later. In some cases, my personal experience, I've gotten people to where they were going earlier by putting them on a non-stop cutting out any connecting city they had. Also, but it's rare, other airlines can be used as a very last resort. That is really stupid though as you've already given out compensation and now would be giving the revenue of the ticket away as well. I've done it before but it's so rare not even worth mentioning. (Then why did I??)

Anyway, my point is the concert won't be happening at the same venue for who knows how long, if ever again. Airlines have flights to the same destination in many cases multiple times per day.

Airhead's figure of 90% is low. It is well above that. Going by my own numbers and my own experience, it would be over 99% of the people got on the flights they intended to.
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.

More options...
Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Complaint Complaint Author Forum Replies Last Post
Frequent Flyer Program Not enough Sky Mile seats! tomNY Delta Air Lines Complaints 1 Jun 7, 2011 6:40 PM
Reservations AA switched our seats nomad27 American Airlines Complaints 6 Aug 22, 2008 2:09 AM
Frequent Flyer Program Mileage Plus seats Rosh Wright United Airlines Complaints 3 Jul 3, 2008 7:32 PM
Frequent Flyer Program UA gave wrong information, ended up having to pay for flight WalnutCreek United Airlines Complaints 0 Mar 17, 2007 4:42 AM

All times are GMT. The time now is 4:48 PM.


About Us

We are the oldest and largest Airline Complaints organization in the world. We have been making your airline complaints matter since 2006. Learn more.



Advertise with us to reach a highly-targeted audience of airline passengers.

Copyright © 2006 - 2023