As many of you know I have been furloughed from my job as a flight attendant. Even though I’m not flying I still like to keep up on what’s going on with my airline and the industry in general. I still log into the company website from time to time or get news from other sources but the fastest, easiest way to get the headlines I’ve found is through a saved Twitter search. Everything from finding out they switched contracts for the kind of toiletries that are in the amenity kits in first class to whether or not their stock is doing well.

One common theme I see is people swearing off a particular airline for one reason or another. Every once in awhile they have a legitimate complaint because they’ve truly been disserviced. Most of the time however the tweets are along the lines of:

“I’ve been delayed for 4 hours. ____ airlines SUCKS!”

” ____ airlines lost my bags, I’m never flying with them again.”

“I missed my connecting flight because ____ airlines didn’t hold the plane for me, JERKS!”

etc.

I can understand complaining about being stuck at an airport or having your bag lost but blaming the airline seems like a little much. There are certain risks you take when you travel by air. Just like you risk getting a flat tire, a rock in your windshield or getting stuck in a traffic jam when you drive. Flights get delayed and checked bags get lost, it’s a gamble you take when you choose air travel. I’ve been frustrated at situations but I’ve never blamed it on any particular airline because I know it could happen just as easily on any other airline in the world.

One flight I was on I had a passenger who was hysterical because we were delayed for a few hours. She was very upset because that two or three hour delay meant she was missing a competition she was in. She had scheduled her day to get in just in time to compete. While I felt bad for her, I’m never happy at someone else’s frustration, there was nothing to be done. It was a gamble and she lost. Sometimes I don’t think people understand how many ways a travel itinerary can been messed up and very few of them are the fault of the airline. There’s weather, air traffic control, security threats not to mention the inevitable mechanical or scheduling problem. If there is somewhere you have to be, plan to fly out at least a day or two in advance. If it’s around the holidays or to a city that frequently has bad weather (like Chicago) plan at least two to three days. If it’s important enough it’s worth spending the extra money on the hotel or dealing with the in-laws a bit more.

Want a 100% guarantee the airline won’t lose your luggage? Carry it on. Checked bags get rained on, snowed on, smashed, and sent where they’re not supposed to go. If you don’t check it you have complete control over where it ends up and how it’s treated. The people dealing with your luggage are human. They misread things, they have bad days and they make mistakes. It’s not a diabolical plot to make sure you spend your beach vacation in a sweater.

My best advice as a seasoned traveler is to expect things to go wrong. If you must travel at the last minute or check your bags cross your fingers and hope you’re not one of the unlucky few. But if you miss something important or your bag gets lost, please don’t blame the airline.