What to do when your airline offends you

1-Screen Shot 2013-12-014Nothing could have prepared Jeff White for the shock he got after printing his boarding pass for a recent Delta Air Lines flight from Pensacola, Fla., to Albany, N.Y., by way of Atlanta. Right there, next to his name, was a confirmation code that proclaimed: “H8GAYS.”

“At first I didn’t think I read it right,” says White, a student at the University of West Florida. “I was worried that another customer might think I somehow picked that code. If I were a gay male, I might have thought that a Delta worker purposely gave me that code, and that would have made me extremely uncomfortable.”

Every day, in ways big and small, airlines offend their customers. Most of these transgressions are fairly minor, from serving the wrong meal to addressing a guest by the incorrect name. But taken together, the incidents raise a larger question: How should companies respond, and what kind of compensation, if any, are travelers entitled to?
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So you have a screen shot of your Expedia booking — so what?

How much more proof does he need?
One of the cardinal rules of getting better customer service is keeping meticulous records. When you’re booking online, a screen shot of the purchase is your trump card.

Paul Towse thought he had that trump card when his Expedia UK reservation didn’t turn out as expected. Back in January, he booked a flight between San Francisco and Las Vegas on flights offered by US Airways and operated by United Airlines.
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“I am jaw-droppingly amazed at the lack of customer service”

Here’s a common problem for travelers who book a hotel room online: Once they “confirm” their accommodations with a credit card, the hotel doesn’t assign a room, leaving them wondering if they’ll have a place to stay.

My standard advice to homeless guests is: Don’t worry, you’ll have a room. And they always do.

But Robin Ross needed more than verbal assurances for an upcoming stay at the Signature at MGM Grand, a condo-hotel she’d booked through a discount luxury booking service called Blue Chip Vegas. In an email to Ross, Blue Chip had promised a “PH level corner unit one-bedroom suite” at $199 a night, not including the extras that Vegas hotels like to throw in, like daily resort fees, and taxes.

But in subsequent messages, after Ross plunked down a $499 deposit, Blue Chip Vegas seemed to waver.
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Here’s a receipt for your airline ticket (PS, you don’t have a ticket)

tranDoris Weller booked a set of roundtrip tickets from Wichita, Kan., to Houston on AirTran recently. Her husband, Lawrence, needed to be in Houston for an important medical treatment. The airline sent her a confirmation.

But it wasn’t the kind of confirmation she expected. On closer examination — which, unfortunately, didn’t happen until the couple arrived at the airport — it became clear that AirTran had sent her a notice that her credit card had been declined.

Result: the Wellers had to buy another set of tickets for $1,588.

Should AirTran refund the difference between the original tickets and the higher, walk-up fare?
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