Airline Seatmates From Hell: One Man’s Story

Hot off of blogger/travel writer Kelsey Timmerman’s Twitter comes his shocking account of nearly getting thrown down by an “octegenarian” seatmate.

Timmerman, who states he never reclines his seat during flights out of deference to fellow passengers, apparently shifted his weight a tad too violently, provoking the elderly gentleman behind him to take action. After jabbing Timmerman in the arm and informing him that he was “hitting” the gentleman in question’s laptop, Timmerman politely explained that he was just sitting there. The response? “I’ll kick your ass!”

The scene soon escalated to the octegenarian assaulting Timmerman in the form of violently punching the back of his seat and threatening to “kick [Timmerman’s] f–king ass” when the plane landed. A flight attendant then stepped in to defuse the potentially lethal seatmate situation (things can get ugly when catheters and Pacemakers malfunction at 30,000 feet). For his part, Timmerman was just hoping the cantankerous passenger would settle down, so the plane wouldn’t be forced to make an emergency landing.

Timmerman ended up with a sore neck and some sort of inner ear trauma, along with an epiphany. “Flying can be frustrating. Flying is frustrating. I’d rather be punched in the face than be delayed.”

We’d love to hear your worst seatmate stories (Mine involves an aggressive elbow/armrest war with an elderly Chinese woman on an overseas flight that led to her sleeping on the floor in front of her seat. I swear I didn’t hurt her, and the funniest part neither of us every uttered a single word.).

Discuss amongst yourselves, and share.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Olivier.Asselin]

New Airline Watchdog Pledges To Name Airlines That Don’t Respond To Customer Complaints

Did you have a bad experience with your airline? Was your on-board meal atrocious? Did a dispute go unresolved? Now you have a place to complain and have your voice heard, as the new Airline Customer Advocate website has just launched on July 1.

The website focuses on Australian carriers, and pledges to call out any airlines that have treated passengers unfairly. When you go on the website, you’ll be able to lodge a complaint that you were not able to resolve on your own. The customer will be asked to first lodge two complaints with the airline directly before using the service, as this gives carriers two chances to solve the problem. Interestingly, the service is funded by the country’s major airlines.

Said advocate Julia Lines, “I see the airline customer advocate as an ally for consumers when things go wrong. It’s another option for travellers. They should raise their complaints with the airline at first instance and if they are dissatisfied with that process they need to let the airline know that.”

Do you think there is a need for a similar service focusing on U.S. airlines?

[Image via Big Stock]

We complained, they listened, legroom is on the way

Airline passengers have complained about a variety of things over the years but some nagging topics rise to the top and just won’t go away, prompting airlines to do something about them. Eventually. Common to surveys of airline passengers and no big news to many frequent flyers, a great percentage of travelers said that limited legroom was one of their biggest gripes about air travel. When asked what airlines should offer to make the in-flight experience better, a high number lobbied for more legroom and requested roomier seats.

Delta Air Lines is in the process of making a $2 billion investment in its product and customer experience. In progress right now, Delta is renovating its Boeing 747-400 aircraft fleet to include full flat-bed seats in the Business Elite cabin and new “slim line” seats offering more personal space and individual in-seat entertainment throughout the Economy cabin.

“Our best customers want a full flat-bed seat with direct aisle access and the new Business Elite configuration our 747s provide,” Glen Hauenstein, Delta executive vice president told Travel News Daily.

Each 747 will have 48 Business Elite full flat-bed seats on the upper and lower deck of the aircraft with direct aisle access for every seat, a 110-volt universal power outlet, USB port and a personal LED reading lamp. Each seat also comes with a 15.4 inch wide screen video monitor with access to more than 1,000 entertainment options including more than 300 films, 88 hours of television programming, HBO and Showtime, 27 video games and more than 5,000 digital music tracks.

“The days of having to step over a sleeping customer in the seat next to you are over,” said Hauenstein. “These upgrades will make the 747 the premier aircraft in our international fleet and customers will immediately notice the improved experience.”

To date, more than one-third of Delta’s wide body international fleet have been upgraded and the airline’s entire wide body international fleet of more than 140 aircraft will be flying with full flat-bed seats in Business Elite by 2014.
Delta’s transition in Economy to a slim line seat provides customers with up to two inches of additional knee clearance. All seats feature a headrest with adjustable wings, height and tilt, USB power and a nine-inch touchscreen featuring personal on-demand entertainment, the same as BusinessElite.

Installing full flat-bed seats on Delta’s widebody international aircraft is a major component of the $2 billion investment Delta is making in its product and customer experience.

Customers also will see Delta’s investment in its more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs throughout the system, power poles at dozens of airports, mobile apps which include features such as baggage tracking and WiFi on more than 800 aircraft.

Flickr photo by Kentaro Iemoto@Tokyo

Another hilarious airline complaint letter. This time it’s the food

Back in June 2007, Justin wrote a post about a hand-written complaint letter to Continental Airlines. The letter included illustrations that were as hilarious as the text. There is a new airline complaint letter that is being touted as the funniest ever. This time the airline is Virgin Atlantic and the complaint is food–or what the airline tried to pass off as food on a flight from Mumbai to Heathrow.

The letter sent to airline owner Sir Richard Branson by a passenger is a tongue- in-cheek response to the passenger’s reactions to each dish on his tray–nothing he recognized. It all started when he couldn’t tell which item was the dessert and which was a main course. Each food complaint is accompanied by a photo.

“Look at this, Richard. Just look at it.” Is the description under the first photo of two custard like dishes. Utterly flummoxed by those two choices that looked like sponge shafts that moved every so often, the letter writer proceeded to the next item–also unrecognizable.

The third item, the one covered in foil that he opened with anticipation, similar to what one might feel opening a Christmas present, was worse. He likened it to finding his “hamster in the box and it’s not breathing.” That gem is what’s in the photo. Turns out the yellow stuff was gobs of mustard.

Attempting to watch the movie was as bad as trying to find something edible on his tray. The screen was grainy which made it difficult to see who was in the movie. The passenger thought, perhaps, Ray Liotta?

If you’ve ever had a flight that has left you exhausted, depressed, feeling like a sailboat that has lost its wind, you’ll certainly recognize the feelings expressed here. Yes, indeed. This is a funny, funny letter. Make sure you click through the photo gallery for the full effect.

As a note, the food, according to Sir Richard Branson who supposedly replied, would have made the Indian passengers happy. []