8 Ways We Let The Airline Industry Treat Us Like Crap


There are pretty much only two ways to react to Monday's ridiculous news about United flight 3411.

We can either talk about how messed up it is that a man straight-up got dragged out of his seat, or we can talk about how messed up it is that the airline wanted him to give up his seat in the first place.

Either way, it's all messed up... just like the way airlines treat their customers.

There's no time like the present to just admit to ourselves that we let the aviation industry treat us like trash: repeatedly. It's clear why they get away with it, too.

It's an oligopoly: an industry where just a few big players dominate the market and maintain a status quo. That status quo involves you taking the crap, and very rarely doing anything about it.

On another day, we can talk about how much slack these companies actually deserve... since they're facilitating an uber complicated process.

For now, though, we'll all lament on what they do to us, together.

Just in case you needed to jog your memory about the last terrible experience you had, here's a reminder of all the ways we let airlines take advantage of us:

1. Overbooking

This whole fiasco started because United allowed too many passengers to buy tickets for a flight, which is not at all uncommon.

Airlines regularly do this because they anticipate other passengers will not show up, and they want to avoid losing out on profit.

There's just one problem with that policy: Everyone might actually show up.

And when that happens, one of us ends up having to miss our flight (or get dragged off it).

2. No Refunds

If you've bought a plane ticket, chances are, there's no way you'll ever be able to return it or get a full refund.

Unless you've shelled out a whole bunch of money for a premium ticket, you're on the hook for that purchase... regardless of whether or not your travel plans change.

The best you can hope for is to negotiate a voucher of some sort, which is the equivalent of getting store credit from H&M when you return that sweater that was bound to shrink after just one wash.

Everyone hates the store credit.

3. Lack Of Space

Gus Ruballo

Woe to the tall man or woman who has to board a cross-country flight today. That person will be uncomfortable because that's what flying is all about.

We all know what we're signing up for, and we have our knees practically pressed against our chests for hours. It's really not pleasant.

But we take it... because we have to.

4. Overpriced Food

If you don't eat at the ridiculously-priced restaurants in the airport, you'll have to pay for plane food, while absorbing even more ridiculous costs.

Plus, the food on the plane always tastes way worse.

5. Lack Of Competition

In so many industries, competition means lower costs for us: the consumers.

Airbnb gives us a cheaper alternative to hotels, and Uber gives us a cheaper alternative to taxis.

For airlines, there are few alternatives. One of the reasons that's the case is because airlines successfully lobby for protection of their dominance in the US.

If we actually had other up-and-coming airlines from around the world compete with United and Continental, we'd probably see better service.

But that doesn't happen.

And the airline industry is happy about that, regardless of if the customer is or isn't.

6. Lost And Found

If you're not bringing all your things in a carry-on, you'd better hope your luggage comes onto that assembly line... because there's a good chance it might not.


According to MarketWatch, over 24 millions bags are lost, stolen, damaged or tampered with while traveling... every year.

And you know what's the worst thing about that? Airlines never have good answers when it happens.

7. Cancellations And Delays

Very rarely will people travel via airplane and be able to afford being late by a couple of hours. Yet, airlines experience delays and cancellations regularly, wasting our precious time in the process.

It happens all the time, in fact.

Twenty percent of flights in 2016 didn't arrive on time, according to The Week. That's at least down from the 22 percent in 2015.


8. Unhelpful employees

Here's perhaps the most frustrating part: At the end of the day, when it's time to resolve any of these issues with an employee of an airline, you'll rarely be satisfied.

Even other companies that rip you off – like your cable and phone companies – tend to have customer service reps who reach solutions for you.

That rarely happens with airlines. The airline staff members tell us exactly what went wrong, and why we'll have to accept it went wrong.

And what do we do? Yes, we accept the fact that things went wrong.

Face it, guys: We let them treat us like crap.