Yesterday I received a plaintive email from Todd Curtis, director of AirSafe.com, sharing the news that starting Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Consumer Protection Division will no longer accept complaints sent by email. Todd's main concern was that fewer passengers may voice their flight woes with the agency, due to the inconvenience of the other remaining outlets for outpouring -- mail, phone or the new Web form. So, in the interest of mass griping, I attempted a trial complaint.
Let's pretend that I was unfairly bumped on my flight from Miami and then was removed from the substitute flight after a giant squid attacked the air control tower. I was stuck sleeping in the airport, and to add insult, my shoes were stolen off my feet. I am fuming.
When I called the complaint hot line (202-366-2220), I was told to contact the airline first. However, the recorded message did give me the option to write, email (which at this point is as outdated as smoking in-flight) or leave a message on its voice mail system. Easy enough.
Now, Option 2: snail mail, which is too pokey for this experiment. Plus, the mail has already been picked up for the day.
That left me with Ootion 3, the Web form. The questionnaire was easy to fill out. It simply asks for contact info (yet oddly, not your name, though it would like to know if you are a passenger, family friend or lawyer representing the client -- hmm, wonder if that fast tracks your complaint), flight data and description of the problem. There is also space to add a file for supporting documents. The final step was to press send, cancel or reset. Simple.
To be sure, I was just faux-performing. What transpires from my submission is unknown (until a giant squid does take over Miami and I need to do this for real). But Todd does make a very crucial point: Don't let a major air disturbance slip by unvoiced. Only when we speak up -- by phone, pen or Web form -- will the industry's wrongs be righted. It may take some time, but in the end, we should never allow a bureaucratic change to clip our wings.
Have you ever complained to the DOT? What were the results? Did you get satisfaction?
By Andrea Sachs |
October 2, 2007; 6:37 AM ET
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