It never hurts to ask

When I get the time, I’m going to write an entry detailing all the reasons I use Alaska Airlines as my primary airline, as well as my catch-all frequent flyer collection account (although I did mention some of the reasons in my AA/US Airways post).  But for this post I just wanted to put it out there that if you are unsatisfied with an experience, it never hurts to tell the company or ask for some kind of compensation.

On December 23rd, I had a less than stellar experience with Alaska Airlines (or more specifically, Horizon Air).  First off, they knew they had an issue with the cargo doors when they were unloading baggage from the previous flight, (which came straight from the Captain’s mouth), but proceeded to board the plane (without a mechanic even on-site).  This resulted in more than an hour on the tarmac on a Bombardier Q400 (think narrow plane, uncomfortable  seats).  This is Edmonton.  In the winter.  And that’s just cruel.  But things really went downhill when we arrive in Seattle.

Let me jump in here and explain that Alaska Air has a progressive Baggage Service Guarantee, stating that if your bags are not at the carousel by 20 minutes after arrival to your gate, you are entitled to either a $25 discount code or 2,500 Mileage Plan Bonus Miles.  But here’s what happened: technically our bags got to the carousel within 20 minutes, but Alaska put the wrong carousel number up on the screen.  So that means that a bunch of people from our flight were standing around a completely different carousel filled with bags from Delta flights for about 45 minutes.  We all did the two-step of annoyance while looking at each other in confusion, until suddenly our flight dropped off the baggage claim screens altogether.

It was Christmas, I was trying to be patient.  But when the flight dropped from the screen, I lost it and walked over to the baggage customer service area.  I immediately saw my bag being taken off a different carousel by a porter and thrown onto a cart.  I asked the porter what was going on, and when he explained all the bags had been circling for a half-hour, I let him know that the screens were displaying the wrong carousel number.  Within seconds an announcement went out about the carousel change and other passengers migrated over.

After the delay in Edmonton and the delay in Seattle, I was pretty cranky.  This was a short hop of a flight that had now taken over twice as long as usual. I really didn’t want to get into the huge customer service line-up to collect my 2,500 points.  I sent out an admittedly snarky tweet to @AlaskaAir, not really expecting much of it.  I left the airport and also put a comment on the Alaska Airlines page.  While I have yet to receive a response from the website, Alaska’s twitter crew were great and ended up giving both my husband and me 2,000 Mileage Plan Bonus Miles as a goodwill gesture.  This is less than the 2,500 in the policy, but my husband didn’t have a checked bag, so we’re ahead.  Plus, with the snarky tweet, I felt a little bad anyway.

2,000 Bonus Miles for inconvenience... I'll take it!

2,000 Bonus Miles for inconvenience… I’ll take it!

So I learned two things: 1) be polite, but do contact customer service if you are not satisfied with a product and 2) Twitter is now the best way to reach almost any company when you have issues.  It never hurts to ask or comment, as hopefully the company will learn from its mistakes.

Have you had customer service issues when traveling that were resolved in a positive way?  I’d love to hear how it went.


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