Some smart marketing person with a great turn of phrase once said “if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will”. It’s true. An airline which does not care for their customers or deliver on promised benefits is both arrogant and foolish. When things go wrong, the jerk reaction of customers all around the world is to DYKWIA. In case you didn’t already know, it means “do you know who I am?”. Here’s why that just makes you look foolish.

a woman wearing a black dressTippy Top

There’s regular travelers, then travelers with elite status. Most airlines have more than 1,000,000 people with elite status. That’s an entire major city. But even at the tippy top ranks, there’s still thousands – not like ten. Invitation only programs, above any possible public airline status still generally have a minimum of 5,000 members. Picture a very large concert hall filled with 1000’s of people – do you still feel DYKWIA? If you really are important or the airline is good at their job (it doesn’t matter which is true) they already know who you are.

Forget These

“Do you know how much money I spend”. “I know ____ _____ (important person), he’s going to fire you”. “I am one of your best customers”. “I will share this with the news”. “You are a shameful employee”. “I’m going to tweet, Facebook, blog about this”. “This will come back to bite you”. Please, for your own sake – forget these phrases. Getting an airline to give you what you want is about righting wrongs, not flashing your credit card collection. Make them understand what is wrong, why it matters and what you’d like – in the most bare, naked and un brushed terms.


A self aggrandizing flyer is not winning any fans. Not from the people listening in on the issue and certainly not from the staff. When things go wrong you need an advocate, not a soap box. In fact, every successful customer service interaction I’ve ever encountered, has been about humanity. “I don’t care whose fault it is, it’s all good, I just need to get somewhere – and anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated”. You need people who “get it”. They’ll (quite literally) see how much it matters to their airline, but if they find you polite and thankful, they have discretion.

a reception desk in a roomIn The Moment

This may sound like I’m telling the collecting flying universe to go pound dirt, but i’m not. DYKWIA just won’t help you in the slightest at any point in your dealings and especially not in the moment. Grab your computer, go buy some ink and write a letter. Send it to the head of airline customer service and send a copy via email or web portal to the general airline customer service bit. Don’t write a daytime television drama about your money and loyalty. Just include your frequent flyer number and if you feel necessary, name of your status. If you’ve been wronged, or there has been a shortcoming – this is the way to address it. If they fail to address it, it’s on them.

Recurring Feeling

If these conversations and frustrations seep into a recurring feeling, remember – loyalty is a two way street. If you’re a loyal traveler, even one of the millions of regular members, impact the airline the only way that matters. Stop flying with them. Continuing to complain about constant issues while continue to ply an airline with money sends a terrible message. Airlines will often grant status matches (even if they don’t publicly say so) and there are still airlines who get the little things right.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. Correction
    Well said about writing the TOP executive with complaint.
    No subordinate likes getting email from the big boss saying
    ”what happened here??'”


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