COL Letter: I want a refund for 2011
NOTE FROM AUTHOR: This is the first in a series of Crotchety Old Lady (COL) complaint letters, which I will write from time to time as life experiences and subject matter merit. My first COL letter was written in 2003 following a horrific trip on Delta, and it is a favorite among my friends. (Second best letter was sent to McDonald’s after purchasing their “new organic” coffee, which tasted like burnt mold.)
Dear 2011 Customer Service Representative:
I would like a refund for my 2011 flight (departing 1/1/2011, arriving 1/31/11). Perhaps a free first-class trip to Ireland or Italy would suffice, as long as you don’t seat me next to a 350-pound woman with halitosis (who won’t stop talking to me) or two kids watching Toy Story on their laptop loudly, with no headphones. Instead, I want to be seated next to someone funny or cute, like David Sedaris or John Cusack. That said, what I really want is a full cash refund for 2011 and the promise that my 2012 flight won’t be as crappy.
When you sold me this overpriced ticket, you promised me great things: A lovely trip with a non-commitment-phobic boyfriend I love (with first-class accommodations and plenty of legroom), happiness (in lieu of being coked out on three different anti-depressants for Major Depressive Disorder), and a normal family, finally. What a load of crap you sold me; lies, all lies.
The flight was smooth in January, albeit with storm clouds on the horizon. In early February, we made an emergency landing in a snowstorm and were stuck on the tarmac in Buffalo for six hours. With no heat. By the fourth hour, my now-ex-boyfriend (NEB) freaked out, opened the emergency exit door and disappeared into a haze of snowflakes. I have no idea where he went and didn’t hear from him for a month.
Later in February, my brother and SIL boarded the flight in Florida and proceeded to get into an awful argument. There was another emergency landing, sigh, and my brother was removed from the flight and arrested. At this point, I thought: When the hell are we going to get to our destination? Snowstorms, emergency exit doors and violent fights. Your airline sucks. I know you can’t control the weather, but you CAN control the crazies you allow to board your flights.
I also think your airline has some nonsensical policies in place: In March you allowed NEB to re-board the aircraft, after he had committed the felonious act of opening the exit door. Whuh? Anyway, when he got back on the plane and plopped himself down next to me (as if the emergency exit incident had never happened), I started my downward spiral into depression (not his fault, I have poor coping skills following trauma). But I was in denial about it and refused to get help.
Throughout the late Spring and Summer, a couples counselor was seated across the aisle from NEB and me. She proffered her professional expertise, and after talking to us for months (during which she was so clearly delighted by the charming bullshit of NEB) she gave us her blessing to deplane the aircraft in Connecticut and cohabitate. It didn’t feel 100% right, but I was getting more and more depressed and more unhealthily obsessed with keeping NEB on the plane, while ignoring friends and loved ones. In short, I wanted NEB to save me. Yes, I was seriously screwed up at this point.
In late September while flying to Connecticut with my entire life packed into the cargo-hold of the plane, NEB opened the emergency exit door again and parachuted down to Hartford. Alone.
The last I heard he’s in prison, miserable and watching his back in the communal showers.
After bailout #2, I proceeded to Providence, and drank myself into a coma (booze is free in first-class!). We hit turbulence and because your brilliant pilot didn’t have the fasten seat-belt sign on, I hit my head on the overhead bin and passed out. I woke up in a hospital, where a team of brilliant doctors and counselors treated me. After a week, my head started to get better. It’s not entirely better, yet. But I’m hoping on my 2012 flight (should I choose to use your horrible airline again), the pilot will keep the fasten seat-belt sign illuminated during turbulence. (And while I’m on the topic of stupidity, I can’t get through security with a 3.1 ounce bottle of water, but you let someone take a parachute on board? Really?!?)
So 2011 Customer Service Representative, 2011 wasn’t a catastrophic flight (we didn’t crash) and I did learn some invaluable lessons: 1) The only person who can save me is ME; 2) I finally got help and am better equipped to deal with the 2012 flight; 3) Thank God I didn’t move in with him (although, I can’t let it go, a parachute? Really?); 4) I’ve learned how to process the grief that comes with losing someone you love; 5) My grandfather said, if you can leave this life with one good friend, count yourself lucky. I count myself lucky many times over and I thank people for sticking by me was I was down in the rabbit hole, being a depressed asshole and terrible friend (okay, I’m done beating myself up; lesson #6 learned from the 2011 flight).
Anyway, I still think you owe me a refund, sucky airline. And if you issue me a free ticket, I demand to be seated in coach between David Sedaris and John Cusack.