Air travel is unique. We are put into a stressful situation and are “trained” to follow orders. Think about this, when you first pull up to the airport, a police officer is normally close by and you need to follow his (or her) direction or else you could be in BIG trouble.
So this sets the tone from the start of your travel adventure. Once inside you may approach an airline representative to check in. At larger hubs these are “real” Delta people and there may even be some directing you what line to enter even before you approach check in. But at smaller airports they may be non-Delta people who are wearing Delta colors and look like Delta people. These may not be as good at the rules as “mainline” folks so keep that in mind.
So what, you may ask? It is all about the psychological impact of those around you and their telling you what to do. Is the information they are telling your correct? And if they give you bad information how do you know? Is it worth pushing it when you think the information is bad and just who should you push (if anyone)?
Take my example in the opening screen shot from twitter. The flyer reached out to Delta Assist, who normally is VERY good with info, but in this case gave out WRONG information. I jumped in and provided a link on Delta.com showing the correct information (and never even got as much as a thank you from the flyer or Delta Assist 🙁 ).
But let’s get back to flying. You may see “goons” hired by the airline to enforce carry-on size restrictions in front of TSA folks. They have NO power and the TSA will NOT stop you if you ignore them. They are NOT TSA and the TSA does NOT enforce airline rules. TSA is there for safety. I have in the past got a Delta rep to walk over and physically block one of these goons while I went through security. I would today just ignore them and ask the TSA personal if I may proceed. This one I would push! Just not the TSA folks 😉
The next interaction for many of us is the Skyclub reps (or another lounge). Here you may have to fight for access when you know the rules. For example, one of my fellow bloggers had Delta try to charge for his less than 2 year old to enter the club under the new 1MARCH rules. Delta allows those under 2 free with you when you enter. Again, know the rules, push or get someone else to help you or go to another club if there is one rather than make an issue. After all, winning is getting what you want, not creating new problems.
Next we have the gate agents. So much can and does go wrong at the gates. Gate agents have MUCH control over what happens until the door is closed on the jet. From bags to seats to if you are even allowed to get on the plane at all – THEY HAVE THE POWER! Respect that. Let me make this very clear – do not fight with a gate agent if you want to get on the jet. If you want to complain about a gate agent – do it after the flight. Winning is flying. Now I am not saying give up if things do go wrong. You can point out rules and even VERY nicely ask for a Redcoat to see if they could maybe help whatever the situation is, but please do it in a nice way.
Lastly we have flight attendants and flight crews. Many will say until the door is closed you don’t have to listen to all they say. Legally that may be the case, but once again winning is flying. I was reading a post the other day about a Delta flyer who went to the bathroom just before takeoff and the FA objected and told the passenger they had to get off the plane or the cops would be called. The flyer said call the cops. You can guess what happened next. Not winning. My advice, always always always listen and follow what your FA and flight crews say. Complain later once you are where you want to be.
The bottom line to take from this is DO have good information and share it with those at Delta, but do so in a nice way. Know what people have the power to make your day miserable – even when you are right. Never ever raise you voice. Never get angry. Just have the facts and, worst case, complain after the fact and get satisfaction from some kind of compensation for what went wrong. – René
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