Those of you who just saw me at GenCon SoCal have heard this one already, but it's too outrageous not to share again. Alaska Airlines can officially kiss my ass.
When I made my reservations on Alaska to fly to GenCon SoCal, I used the seat selection tool online to select seats for the three of us together in Row 10. By the time we showed up at the ticket counter to check in, we were no longer seated together, and we'd been moved to the back of the plane, Kate sitting by herself in one row and Chris and I together across the aisle and in the last row of seats. The woman at the counter couldn't help us, but suggested that we try at the gate. We arrived at the gate not quite two hours before our flight and there was no one staffing it yet, no one available to help us. We decided to have lunch.
When we returned from having lunch, the guy at the counter said that he also could not help us. The person sitting in the seat we wanted had supposedly already checked in and had "already boarded" so we were told to deal with it on board the plane. We boarded and made our way to the back of the plane. When we got there, the row was empty! I said to the flight attendant standing there, "Do you think it will be a problem to seat us all together in the last row instead of split up like we are now?" Her response, "Yes, I think it will be. We're just going to have to wait and see." I was surprised and a bit irritated, but Kate and I sat down in the seats and Chris remained standing to wait. He decided to use the bathroom while we were waiting.
While Chris was in the bathroom and Kate and I were sitting there, I turned to the attendant and said, in a conversational way, "You know, when we booked these seats we were all together up in Row 10. I don't even know how we ended up back here." I swear, that's all I said and I did not say it in any way that was adversarial, I did not raise my voice, I did not do anything whatsoever to provoke what happened next.
The flight attendant went off completely and started to angrily lecture me. Maybe I would like to set a better example for my daughter and stop pouting and having my temper tantrum, she said. She had already told me she was going to help me, and she had the power to help me, but not if I was going to be "uncooperative" and the more I pouted and threw tantrums the bigger problem we were going to have. Maybe I would like to take a different flight, she said. I was stunned. I tried to maintain my cool. "I haven't even begun to throw a tantrum here," I said, "and I most certainly do NOT want to take another flight." That made her even more angry and agitated, and I tried to end the conversation by saying, "I think we should stop talking about this. I would prefer not to talk about it anymore," which threw her into a complete rage. She said, "That's IT. I think you need to take a different flight. They don't pay me to put up with this garbage," and she stalked off to the back of the plane, where she got on the phone to the front cabin and reported that she had a disruptive passenger in the back.
All in the time it took Chris to go to the bathroom.
At no time did I raise my voice, speak rudely to her, yell, cry, curse, storm around, or in any other way cause a disturbance! I was in complete shock. When Chris came out of the bathroom, I tried to talk quietly to him about it, since he had no idea anything had happened. I tried to bring it up in a delicate way, so as not to freak out the attendant any further, and said quietly, "Honey, there may be a problem. You can Kate may have to go on ahead, I may have to take a different flight," because at this point I was completely expecting security to show up and haul me off the plane at any moment. Chris, obviously, was blindsided and confused. I think his response was, "What? What's going on?" at which point our psychotic flight attendant launches herself into the conversation, railing about my attitude and telling him that she was doing "everything humanly possible" to help us and I just wouldn't leave the situation alone.
At this point I was genuinely angry, but still trying to hold it together so as not to provoke airline security. I protested, "I'm just sitting here! I haven't said anything!" and she retorted, "You're saying something now." I blurted out, "I was talking to my husband." She said, "I was
going to let that little aside pass, but I can see there's no point..." and I quickly said, "I thought he should know that he might have to go on ahead without me." She angrily said, "Oh, is THAT how it's going to be? Let's just go and arrange that! I don't need another two hours of this garbage." Next to me, Kate began to whimper that she didn't want me to have to take a different flight. The other attendant she'd called from the front arrived at this point to ask if there was a problem, and Chris and I both insisted there was NO problem. I ended up swearing that I would not say a word for the rest of the flight. The snarky stewardess said, "We're still deciding," and curtly told Chris to please take his assigned seat.
I honestly did not know, until the plane pulled away from the gate, if I would be hauled off the plane by security or if I would be allowed to take my flight. I did not say another word to anyone, I was afraid to even open my mouth to ask for a drink. It would not have surprised me one bit to have found security waiting to meet me at the plane in Orange County, the way that woman was acting. With things the way they are these days, I did not even make a snarky comment to anyone as we exited, I just bit my tongue and took it.
Meanwhile, in Chris's row, he ended up sitting next to a retired Alaska Airlines flight attendant, who quietly told him that he needed to get that woman's name and write a complaint letter, that her conduct was unprovoked and completely out of line. The attendant had been wearing a name tag during the whole confrontation, but after we took off she and the other attendant who'd come to the back took their name tags off! Chris took notes on their appearances, and noted the name of the attendant who'd remained uninvolved, so in our complaint we can say that it was NOT Jennifer who was involved in this ordeal.
Now, I understand that flight attendants need to be empowered to deal with rowdy, disruptive, belligerent passengers. I was none of those things! I was not rude, I did not curse, I did not rant, yell, threaten, cry, or cause a scene in any way. I was forced to quietly submit to treatment that was nothing short of abusive, my daughter was terrorized into thinking that her Mommy was going to be removed from the plane, at the hands of the very person I was told to discuss my problem with. Alaska Airlines WILL be hearing from us about this.
Thankfully, our flight home was pleasant as could be. We were all seated together in the bulkhead row, no problems. Our flight attendant on that flight, Wendy, was perfectly sweet, polite, and attentive. She got Kate a complementary coloring book, she checked to see if we needed drinks or needed anything from the overhead bin, and she wished us happy holidays. Much different than the horror show of our flight down.