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Read of the Day: Airline edition

Posted by Lissa on March 23, 2009

Short version:  For God’s sake do not, repeat do NOT, fly Alitalia:

The black man was hyperventilating and literally shaking while he tried with all his might to restrain himself from committing violence. A few passengers stepped between him and the manager. None of us wanted a riot. But a riot felt imminent.

“Do you know what’s going on with these Africans?” a woman said to me. “They’ve been here for four days, and now the airline is saying there’s no record they ever booked a flight at all.”

“We want to go home!” the five Africans yelled in unison.

Four days they had been waiting!

“Get it, man?” said the first African man. He looked ready to rip out the manager’s spine with his fingers. “We want to go home!”

“Where are you guys trying to go?” I asked one of the calmer African men.

“Nigeria,” he said. “Now he’s saying we never purchased a ticket.”

These men had Alitalia boarding passes. They wouldn’t have even been to pass through security without them.

“Unbelievable,” said an American man. “The staff is obviously racist against these guys.”

“Our luggage is right outside that window,” a man said to me. “It’s sitting there on the tarmac next to the plane.”

One woman told me she checked in her cat in its carrier two days ago. She was worried her cat might soon die. (In hindsight I can say that her cat almost certainly died.) [snip]

As we approached the front of the line, I noticed that the man in front of us was checking in luggage.

“Excuse me, sir” I said. “You might not want to check your luggage. The baggage handlers are on strike. The planes aren’t flying, and once you check your luggage, they won’t give it back.”

How dare you!” said the Alitalia woman working the counter.

“You aren’t warning this man,” I said. “So I’m warning him. Somebody should have warned me before I gave you my luggage. .”

“He’s checking in!” she said.

Sofocles and Tatiana laughed out loud.

“He’s checking in?” I said. “He’s not going anywhere. Nobody’s going anywhere.” I turned around and made an announcement to everybody in line behind us. “They’re on strike. You aren’t flying today, and if you get them your luggage they won’t give it back.”

“That’s not true!” the Alitalia woman said. “How can you say that?”

“How can you stand there and lie to these people?” Tatiana said.

Passengers in line behind us with luggage shifted and murmured to each other. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into until I told them.

“It’s not my job to warn people,” I said to the woman behind the counter. “It’s yours. Have a little decency, will you?”


(h/t Bookworm)

2 Responses to “Read of the Day: Airline edition”

  1. talker96 said

    Crazy. How could they just lie to the passengers? Crazy, that’s all I can say.

  2. mts said

    Because you’ll never see that passenger in your life again.

    But of course you’re seeing the story from a perspective of someone from a customer service private enterprise view. People who work for government organs, no matter which country, of course see customers as a hassle, and get paid the same for hurrying as they do for being pokey. I loathe going to the county government center here, for it is the Alitalia terminal mentality.

    Wait until our hospitals get Nationalized, Alitalia-style Health Care.

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