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My Letters to US Airways.

25 July 2013

Dear USAir,

I was scheduled to fly on flight [XXXX] from [XXX] to [XXX] on June 2, 2013.
My flight was cancelled due to the inability to get the aircraft to
[XXX] (and not the weather, according to your email.). As a
result, I was rescheduled some 5 hours earlier on [XXXX]. Which was
promptly cancelled. Then, I was rescheduled on [XXXX], which was delayed
about two hours. As a result, I was deprived of several hours I could
have spent in the arms of my lover, [girlfriend], whom I had traveled to
[XXX] to see. Hours which, because of your inability to provide
me with the travel arrangements I had purchased, are now lost to me
entirely. Hours spent in the dry, institutional, impersonal confines
of [an airport], and not in the vitalizing embrace of my darling
companion. Nothing can restore that time to me, it is vapor and
unrealized memory. However, the dignified thing for you to do would be
to provide me with a flight voucher so that I could see her in [XXX]
on an upcoming weekend. Allowing me to restore to rightness the sense,
if not the facts, of the past. Please follow your conscience. You know
the right path.

Sincerely,

Dr. 24Hours.

Dear Dr. 24Hours:

Thank you for writing to Customer Relations. I’m so sorry your
experience with US was disappointing.

Based on your email I know the cancellation and further delay of your
flight to [XXX] was disappointing. Our records show Flights
[XXXX] and [XXXX] were cancelled and Flight [XXXX] was delayed all due to
Air Traffic Control for safety reasons. Because the cancellations and
further delay were not within our control, no compensation is due.

Dr. 24Hours, we appreciate the time you took to contact us regarding this
matter. Above all, we appreciate your business and look forward to
serving you on a future US Airways flight.

Sincerely,

[redacted]
Representative, Customer Relations
US Airways Corporate Office

Dear [redacted],

While I doubt that you are incorrect on the law (though, your first
email to me regarding the cancellation of [XXXX] did not indicate
anything about weather or safety. I quote: “The aircraft is
unavailable because of a prior cancellation due to air traffic
congestion.”), and you may not – legally – owe me recompense, this is
a perplexing customer relations decision.

I travel between [XXX] and [XXX] several times a month, as
does my previously mentioned lover, the incomparable [girlfriend]. We have
many options for travel. Road, rail, and air all provide us with
convenient avenues to join together that which circumstance has
sundered. We will not be thwarted! The many flight options the US
Airways offers makes you an otherwise attractive option. Your rates
are competitive. But your service is unreliable. Is there anything
worse that believing you are to be reunited with the love from whom
you are cruelly separated, only to have those hopes dashed as ashes
from a cup by the sterile and uncaring brutality of an airline without
regard for the desires, the demands, of love?

I implore you, as a man with the same desire in his heart for his
lover as you must have felt in yours, make right your error. Be the
beacon on the hill. Rather than grasping fruitlessly at the two
hundred dollars I spent on the last passage that went wrong, think of
storing up the favor for all the bookings I’ll make in the future!
Then, when my mind turns, as it so often does, to the fevered dreams
of my lover’s embrace, where will I turn? Amtrak? With its six hour
trips? Rental cars? Or shall I aim my browser at the reservation page
for US Airways, with its nineteen flights per day?

You, [redacted], have the power to secure my loyalty. Reunite me
with my love! Be not dulled by the grey apathy of indifferent
corporate policy (A cruel word; a ruthless word.). Grant me a voucher.
And you will win my admiration, besides.

In undimmed hopefulness,

Dr. 24Hours

*****PHONE CALL***********

Dear Dr. 24Hours:

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.

I understand that a flight cancellation of any nature will affect your
impression of an airline. Because the decisions made by Air Traffic
Control are not, in any way, under the control of the airline, we do
not offer compensation.

When your flight is canceled by the ATC, safety is always the number
one priority. There are simply some situations such as weather or
conditions at the station, that are out of the airline’s control, that
cause flights to be held back from the original departure time.

All airlines must adhere to the instructions given by the airport’s
traffic tower. We realize the cancellation of your flight was a
frustrating situation; however, the flight was cancelled in
conjunction with airport conditions and information from the airport
tower.

Again, we apologize for the difficulties you encountered. We value
your business and are working hard to earn your continued patronage.
We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.

Sincerely,

[redacted]
Representative, Customer Relations
US Airways Corporate Office

Dear [redacted],

I apologize that your call caught me by surprise, and I wasn’t in a
position to respond with the clarity of thought or presence of mind
I’ve come to expect of myself. For that, I am deeply sorry. I am
grateful to have received your call and explanation. I suppose that
you must reach out to many intemperate travelers, and I hope that your
experience speaking to me was among the least unpleasant.

I suppose the issue at hand in this experience, for me, is not that
I feel US Airways has done anything wrong. I’m convinced you’ve
conducted yourselves according to industry standards and within the
scope of the law and basic opprobrium. What perplexes me is that the
industry standard is so brutally indifferent to the carnival of
agonies fomented in the breast when travel – by whatever misfortune –
goes awry.

We, your customers (a word once pendulous with respect), have
invested our money and our time in your services. But more, we have
invested our hopes and aspirations, our goals and even lives with you.
In my own case, I entrust you with the delivery of own glass heart,
fragile and enraptured, into the beckoning embrace of my beloved
[girlfriend]. I do not transact with you out of vague necessity or caprice.
I do so for feverish dreams of liquid bliss, relying upon you to be
the chariot by which I am borne to the lofted spires of romance.

I concede, before you protest, that you cannot offer vouchers to
every traveler waylaid by weather and air traffic control. To do so
would surely rupture the already hard-straining membranes of your
purse. But surely, surely there is, printed somewhere among the cruel
lines of meticulous by-law, some dispensation by which you may
unclutch the skeletal hand of the miser from the throat of the bereft?
Once?

If there is not, then truly, you deserve my pity more than I do yours.

Very sincerely,

Dr. 24Hours

****************************************************************

I fear I will never see satisfaction.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 25 July 2013 08:44

    Reminds me of a vignette from The Last Lecture, where the author was at Disney as a young child (several decades ago). The child was extremely proud for saving up money and purchasing a gift for his parents at a gift shop. On leaving the gift shop to find his parents to deliver the gift, he dropped it and it broke. The clerks came out and consoled the inconsolable child and gave him a new trinket. His loyalty to Disney was cemented and it is one of his favorite places on earth.

    As an adult he had the opportunity to work for Disney, and he said he would tell this story to every executive he met. He then proceeded to ask if today’s policies would allow for such grace and restore a young child today.

    The executives always cringe and duck the question.

    All hail the almighty dollar.

  2. 25 July 2013 09:19

    Next time I need to complain can you write the letter for me?

  3. TellDrtell permalink
    25 July 2013 10:14

    You have the heart and tongue of a poet.

  4. 25 July 2013 12:27

    At least they didn’t break your guitar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

  5. 25 July 2013 21:04

    I actually wrote a similar letter explaining why their delays (due to congestion or whatnot) led me to miss part of my best friend’s wedding. And they actually sent me a voucher.

  6. Syd permalink
    25 July 2013 22:34

    Great letter, nearly Edwardian in content. You deserve the voucher!

  7. 26 July 2013 20:03

    Took a bus from Sheffield to Edinburgh in 2008. Bus got stuck in heavy traffic and I missed my connecting bus in York. Bus company, without my even having to ask, *bought me a train ticket to Edinburgh for that same day* (as I’m sure they did for others who missed their connecting transports). A **train ticket**. I got a much nicer means of transport than I had originally paid for, and I ended up arriving in Edinburgh in time as though there weren’t any traffic in the first place.

    At least *some* companies still understand how to appeal to their customers.

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