Subject: Re: Getting your way with airlines
Dear Anne and Ziners,

I am very sorry to hear you, like many others, have had problems that have cost you ADDITIONAL time and money (and aggravation) for your tickets. To answer your question directly, I doubt you'll receive money from an airline above your refund. However, if you're wanting to TRY to get back what you feel your owed, then here's what I'd tell you if you were my relative or best friend.

Most airlines have a special number to call when a customer or passenger wants to make a compliment or complaint. At Continental Airlines that department is referred to as Customer Care. I don't know what NW refers to theirs as or what number you would call. I'd call NW at their regular toll-free number 800-225-2525 and ask what number to call or who to speak to in order to compliment someone. You want that number because, in the case of Continental, the bucks stops there and THEY are the ones with the power to override what other supervisors, in other departments, have said.

Once you have that number you've got ONE shot to make it good. When you call, each time you call, the results of your conversation are probably documented. This is to assist the employee and company (not you) to keep people from abusing the system and being given multiple coupons, certificates and vouchers for ONE single mistake or accident made by the airline. People are known to have had ONE piece of luggage damaged and try to get as much as they can out of it - in the form of MULTIPLE pieces of free luggage, MULTIPLE free or discounted tickets, etc. - you get the idea. As with many things in life, a dishonest few makes life more difficult for the rest of us.

The reason why the first attempt is SO important is because if the first person says no and that they're not going to do anything for you then they document that and when you call back you'll just be told over and over that you've ALREADY been told no by another agent. In their defense they've been told NOT to override what another employee, in that department, has told you and are just trying to do their job correctly - right or wrong.

So, here's what you do! DON'T start the phone call by cheerfully saying Hey, how are you doing today? BAD kiss-up give away! DON'T start out or get to a point of whining or complaining or worse, raising your voice even the least little bit. That is the REALLY hard, but important, part because people don't realize or don't want to admit they're losing their cool (I'M NOT YELLING!). Don't expect money but they may offer the next best thing or something that, at the very least, helps take some of the frustration away. If you state your case well enough THEY will be the one to offer you something or ask you what it is you want or expect them to do. Even if you are a victim try not to come across like one with your hand out-stretched. Speak to the other person with the dignity and respect you'd want to receive a you may be pleasantly surprised at the result.

I know it's a lot to think about but it's also a part being a buyer AWARE.

I wish you my best and hope that no matter what the outcome, you make the choice to have a great trip - THAT is something you DO have control over.

Gregory in Houston