Alaska Air / Hates families
Alaska Airlines hates families. That's the only reason they'd treat a customer like this:
The weekend of October 11 was one of the most important in my life: my partner Colleen and I packed up our eight-month old son and traveled from our home in Edmonton, Alberta to Las Vegas to get married. It was an intimate ceremony with family and close friends, and a weekend we were prepared to cherish forever.
Unfortunately, our memory of the adventure was tarnished in its final hours, when an impatient and unreasonable Alaska Airlines agent in the Las Vegas airport decided to give away my wife's return ticket home to someone on standby.
The agent showed no sympathy for a new family with a small baby who had just soiled himself prior to boarding. When we complained, Alaska Airlines showed no more understanding than their agent, and we ended up being forced to buy new plane tickets home with another air carrier, spending an extra night in Las Vegas, and having to spend an extra $1, 300 that we really couldn't afford.
Things went from bad to worse shortly after we prepared to board our return flight in the Las Vegas airport. We approached the gate with 20 minutes to spare before the scheduled departure time when we realized our baby Levi had soiled his diaper. My wife took him to the restroom to get him cleaned up, while I approached the gate to inform the agent we would be a few minutes longer before boarding.
I did not expect a problem.
I see dozens of new parents in airports every time I fly. I've been a passenger on dozens of flights where the last people to board were a new family, scrambling to tend to their baby while hoping the other passengers understand the difficulties of traveling with a young child. Surely this has happened before, I thought. Surely the Alaska Airlines agent would understand.
Boy was I wrong.
As I began to tell the Alaska Airlines agent my wife would be along shortly, she interrupted me to say boarding was already complete and she was already planning to give away our tickets to passengers on stand-by.
At first I was worried, but soon became irritated. We had paid good money for these tickets. How could they just give them away because we were a little behind? The plane was right there, wouldn't stand-by passengers be boarding just as late as we would? The Alaska Airlines agent said you have two minutes to get your wife and son here, or else I am giving away your tickets.
I ran to the restroom to find my wife upset knowing we were running late, and frustrated that Levi had urinated on himself while she was changing his soiled diaper. Now she needed to change his entire outfit. I urged my wife to hurry and we rushed back to the Alaska Airlines gate with our son half-dressed. He was crying.
The agent took one look at us and said to me: You are one minute late. I have given your wife's ticket away. You can board alone.
We couldn't believe what we were hearing. The plane clearly hadn't left and someone who didnt have a ticket moments ago was being allowed to board with my wife's ticket! I told the agent I was not about to leave without my family, to which she replied: Fine, I'm giving away your ticket too". We were shocked. Now, my son and my wife were crying. Still, the agent did nothing.
Later, I managed to contact the couple who were on standby and took our seats. They witnessed our entire interaction with the Alaska Airlines agent, and said they were offered my wife's ticket the moment I fled to fetch her in the restroom. It sounds as though the agent lied to us; we didn't even get that 2 minutes she had promised.
After failing to get on our flight, the Alaska Airlines agent told us we had two options: join the existing standby list to get back to Edmonton, or book another flight with Alaska Airlines.
The standby option was out: we had a crying baby, and the waiting list was already 20 people long.
Booking another flight with Alaksa Airlines was out too: they had no seats available for Edmonton flights until several days later.
We were stranded.
We didnt even have our bags which remained on our original flight that had already departed (which, I think, is a violation of the latest air traffic safety standards but thats a blog post for another day). All of the things we needed for our baby were gone, and were left in Las Vegas without no flight home, no hotel, no baby stuff, and not a single person from Alaska Airlines who seemed to care.
Thats when I started thinking that Alaska Airlines hates families. Why else would they do this to us? What kind of airline looks a crying mother in the eyes and says Sorry, too bad so sad.
We ended up getting home by booking two seats on a WestJet flight the next day which cost us $1038.00. Getting our baggage back became a whole other headache that took a few more days.
All this time Id been trying to contact someone at Alaska Air to seek fair compensation but I was rebuffed at every turn.
I want other travelers to know that Alaska Airlines hates families. If they can prove otherwise Ill gladly update this story with a happy ending.
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