A Tale From First Class: My Complaints And Gripes

I recently flew first class from New York to London. I was immediately impressed when I boarded and saw my seat, one of those private pods that folds down into a horizontal bed. The flight attendant greeted me warmly, gave me a hot towel, and handed me a menu full of delicious-sounding food choices. This, I thought, is going to be a flight to remember. Unfortunately, a series of service glitches quickly tainted my experience.

First, for breakfast, the flight attendant brought me a croissant. It was soft and cold, not warm and flaky.

Then the attendant served me coffee a full 15 minutes before breakfast was served. By the time the meal hit my tray, the coffee was cold. Did anyone come by to refresh it or offer to warm it for me? Nope.

In an attempt to remedy that situation, I pressed my call button to attract the flight attendant’s attention. It took two minutes—two whole minutes!—for the flight attendant to respond. Why am I paying for first class if they’re not going to be efficient enough to respond to a first class passenger’s needs more efficiently?

To help distract myself from the poor service, I rented a movie. Guess what? The pilot and flight crew continually interrupted the movie with announcements. Don’t they know it’s hard to get into a movie if people keep talking over it?

First Class Airline Seat
Okay, I have a confession. With the exception of the fact that I was fortunate enough to ride first class to London (that’s really my seat above), nothing in the introduction above is true.

But I wanted to lead off this piece with that litany of complaints to ask you a few questions:

  1. How did the introduction to this piece make you feel? Like I’m a whiner with a disturbing sense of entitlement?
  2. Did your impression of me dim as you read it?
  3. Are you ever guilty of lodging those types of complaints using social media?

Perhaps you don’t take to your social media pages to gripe that way, but I often observe people posting tweets like these:

Hey, @United, we landed 25 minutes ago and we’ve been sitting at the gate without being allowed to deplane. Guess your staff is on break? #Incompetent

Hey, @Delta, what’s up with flight 842? It’s already been delayed by 45 minutes—you can’t even keep flights on time during good weather? #morons

Blah Blah Blah2
Those tweeters should think about whether those petty complaints come at some small cost to their reputations.

Whenever I see one of those tweets, I think to myself, “With all of the problems in the world, that 25-minute delay is worth an angry tweet to a network of thousands of professional contacts? It’s airline travel. Stuff goes wrong. You should know that by now. Get over it.”

I know that sounds strident, so it’s only fair to turn the pen against myself. I’ve been guilty of sending similar tweets. As an example, I sent an unnecessarily snide tweet to AT&T last year for assessing a late charge because I inadvertently shorted the payment by a few cents.

The issue with my AT&T tweet wasn’t the “rightness” of my complaint—I thought then and still think now that assessing a late fee for an underpayment of a few cents is a lousy way to treat a long-term customer with a perfect payment history. Rather, it was the snaky tone I used. There was no reason for me to begin with such antagonism, particularly because they responded quickly to me and remedied the situation. I imagine the tone I used was off-putting not only to the AT&T rep who amiably fixed my problem, but to a few people who follow my tweets—and rightly so.

Social media offers a wonderful platform for customers and companies to speak with one another. All I’m suggesting here is that you remember the company you’re tweeting is only one audience you’re reaching. You’re also reaching everyone else who sees and judges the tone of your posts and the manner in which you deal with life’s minor annoyances.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.