When Your Airline Screws Up, It Pays To Complain

Last week, I was traveling in Thailand. Other than getting a little nervous as the coup was called four hours before my scheduled exit from the country I found that my four-hour wait in the airport became a little less comfortable than expected.

Like Lifehacker Australia's esteemed head honcho Angus, I catch my fair share of aeroplanes and spend more time than I'd like at airports. For that reason, I've invested in a lounge membership with Virgin. While it might seem to be a bit of a wank, having somewhere with a reasonably reliable network, access to power and decent coffee means I can get work done in relative comfort.

One of the neat things about Virgin's Lounge membership is that it has reciprocal rights with lots of other airlines. As I was going to spend about four hours at Phuket airport after a two-day media and service provider summit, I figured I'd take advantage of the access I expected at the Royal Thai Silk Lounge. According to Virgin's website, I’d have access even though I was booked on a SilkAir codeshare as I'd made my reservation through Virgin Australia.

However I was tuned back at the door by a polite, but firm, attendant. Apparently, the reciprocal arrangement only applies to actual Virgin Australia flights to Phuket and not codeshares. As I wasn't flying via Perth – the only direct to Phuket destination that Virgin Australia offers – I was left out in the cold.

The attendant showed me an email from her superiors explaining all of this.

When I got home, I filled in an official complaint with Virgin asking for clarification. It seems that the information on their website is out of date as the arrangement changed in February.

On the upside, they credited "10,000 Guest Relations Goodwill points" to my account – enough for a one-way flight within Australia.

Many Lifehacker readers travel extensively and find themselves in difficult or annoying situations. My advice is to always be polite to the airport staff. They really can’t do anything other than follow orders from those further up the food chain. Giving them a hard time will accomplish nothing and perhaps even make the situation worse.

Be polite and take notes so you can make an accurate, fact-based compliant if you want to take it that far. If they show you a document or email explaining things, ask if you can photograph it so you can attach it to your complaint.

This isn't the first time I've had a hassle with an airline. Last time I complained, after over eight hours of flight delays with Qantas, I received a $250 voucher. It's well worth making complaints where they are legitimate.

Not only will you receive some compensation, you may help improve things for the travellers that follow you.

Virgin Australia International Lounge Access


    waaaaah i couldnt have my couch and my coffee... compensate meeeeeeee

      Actually, no.

      He paid for a service (lounge access) based on its advertised description, and did not receive the service paid for.

      Guess who never flies or needs to get any work done ever... (Or understands the idea of paying for a service that you then expect to get.)

    As a person who works for a major international airline, and as a person who has in the past done customer facing support...

    Could you have picked a worse image to go with this article?

    Your two words "Be polite" don't seem to even start to be able to counter this juxtaposition.

    I'll put it to your readers straight, as you should have. If you get on the phone and start being a dickhead; doing an act as with that picture. If you treat the customer service agent on the other end of the phone like shit, you will get nothing.

    Remember that the person you are speaking did NOT cause your issue. They are just like a normal person with a family, hopes and dreams who just happens to earn a wage answering the phone and trying to make people happy.

    Same goes for the door staff. They are just following orders from management. Airlines are likely the worst in terms of layers upon layers upon layers of management.

    Don't throw a tantrum. Don't get angry.
    Honey catches more flies than vinegar.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now