Airline described as 'worst of humanity'

2012-08-06 12:57
Shoddy customer service towards an elderly man stricken with late-stage Parkinson's Disease has gone viral on the web after a complaint posted on Alaska Airline’s Facebook page.

According to a report on the Daily Mail, Cameron Clark called the airline "the worst of humanity", after witnessing workers repeatedly ignoring a disabled man who was awaiting a flight to Oregon's Redmond Airport.

Following is an excerpt of Clark’s post:

“I witnessed today, what I consider to be the worst of humanity. Standing in line at an @alaska airlines ticket check in, in redmond oregon, I watched as a disabled/mentally and physically challenged couple were left standing in the front of a line by the ticket attendant, melissa, who didn't say a word- no "final call, redmond to seattle"-- no "if you are flying to seattle, it's too late to make this flight," etc-- nothing.

When a different agent appeared 1/2 hour later-- the flight still had not left. i asked for a quick "side bar" with the new agent-- telling her that this couple needed some leeway-- some additional help.  she quickly informed me that "we treat every single customer the exact same here"-- she was annoyed by my insistence and advocacy. i tried to explain to her that her colleague had left the man and his companion alone, without saying a word to them. that they were "different" and that it would be ok for her to make exceptions for them (uttering something like, "exceptional circumstances sometimes require, exceptional responses").

Melissa finally agreed to try to get the man on the flight-- but he couldn't bring his luggage (ug).

he had a hard time walking-- no one offered him a wheelchair or asked how they could be helpful. he stumbled off toward the safety inspection line.

predictably, he didn't understand/comprehend their restriction of his luggage, and got stuck in security.

while this was going on, the ticket attendant and myself were continuing to have quiet words about how they needed extra help-- she told me that "i didn't know the whole story"-- that he had the "same problem yesterday, showing up late to his first flight." i told her that i thought there was a real reason he was struggling to make it anywhere on time, and that this was cause for some compassion and some exceptions to rules, and some additional assistance. by now i was fully annoying her. she had her rules, and she was growing tired of my moral compass.

security ended up sending the man back, telling him in the confusion around his luggage that there was no longer enough time for him to make his airplane, without the plane running late.
the original attendant, melissa, returned, and lightly shamed the couple for being late for the second time in a row, telling them there was no way the man could get to bellingham before 9pm now.
the man and woman broke into tears. his "nervous system hurky/jurkyness" became profound. he begged her to help him. nothing.

Alaska Airlines shared the following update on its page in response to the situation:
"We would like to share one last update about our customer who was traveling to see his daughter. We appreciate the community's concern about this passenger's welfare. Please know that we fly a variety of travelers with different  needs and provide a variety of services for them every day. Our employees stand ready to assist any customer needing assistance. While we're not allowed to ask if a passenger has a disability, which would violate their civil rights, we can ask if they have special needs we can help with.

In this case, our customer arrived late and didn't request our assistance or let us know of any disabilities. He was also exhibiting signs of inebriation and smelled of alcohol, something we were reluctant to share from an internal report issued immediately after this customer left the airport. We are doing so now to provide some additional background on what drove our perspective on the situation.

Our customer is now at his alternate destination where he said he would be meeting his daughter. And we are conducting a thorough review and follow-up. We're in the preliminary stage of our review and will respond directly to the customer within 10 days.

We appreciate everyone’s patience while we conclude our review. Thank you for your understanding.

We shared some other background information earlier today. All of that can be found here:

Have you experienced similar situations locally, why not tell us about it in the comments section below?

Read more on:    flights  |  travel international

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