Travel Travails

Bullying in the workplace should never be tolerated. Being bullied as a customer in the travel industry sometimes goes with the territory. However, I try to cope with it as best I can.


Most business travelers frequently feel like the stereotypical skinny kid on the beach getting sand kicked in his face by the airline bully. It happened to me the other day. I checked in at the kiosk like I always do. It kept asking me to pay a five-dollar fee even though I had not asked for special seating or any upgrade.

The ticket agent explained to me that I had “preferred seating” and therefore had to pay the fee. Keep in mind that this type of seat couldn’t be reclined, was in the very back of the plane, and was next to the toilet. I told her that there must be some mistake as I certainly did not have “preferred seating.”

However, she explained to me that since it was an aisle seat, it triggered the five-dollar fee. Never mind the crippling angle my back would permanently be placed in and the fact that I would be flying next to human waste the entire time. This is what I mean about being bullied. You feel somewhat helpless. I coped the only way I knew how . . . by rearranging the magazines in the seat pocket in front of me so that the front cover of the magazines was obscured by the air sickness bags. Ah, sweet revenge!


I like to stay at a particular brand of hotel when I travel. Customer service is usually some of the best in the industry; rooms are clean, comfortable, and modern; and I’m with their frequent customer program which usually gets me some upgrades. Unless I’m in Norfolk. After inquiring as to an upgrade when I checked in, I was promised I would get one the very next day as they were booked solid at that moment. Upon coming back from training the next day, I learned that my “upgrade” consisted of moving me from the fourth floor to the fifth floor plus an extra bottle of water from housekeeping. Barely able to contain my excitement, I politely declined as I was too tired to pack and then unpack again for such an extravagant increase in status. Feeling that this could not go unanswered, the hotel felt my wrath on the concierge level as I consumed more than my fair share of cheese doodles and kool-aid.


It’s all a matter of how you play the game. Next week, I’ll share my coping tactics regarding what to do when the car rental companies give you the car with the manual roll up windows.

After you're checked in, check out these behavior management techniques.


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