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Hey, ya wanna hear a sad story?


Sad indeed, but true none the less. Horizon Airlines screwed up my family's Thanksgiving weekend.  After comparison shopping a half dozen travel options for the Thanksgiving holidays, we selected Horizon Airlines.  The combination of schedule and price were just perfect.  We could arrive at our destination just minutes after 8 am, in time to participate in preparing the traditional family feast and share valuable moments with family members, some of whom are only available for the day.  We purchased our tickets the first week in September, two and a half months before our departure.

Last week (Oct. 29) I received a call from Horizon Airlines informing me that our flight had been canceled, and we had been rebooked on a flight leaving nearly five hours later.  Now, any other weekend, I simply would have accepted their offer to take a full refund of the discounted fair and called another airline and scheduled myself to arrive at a more acceptable time, and paid their higher rates.  Unfortunately, Thanksgiving weekend travel has been booked solid for several weeks now.  We are now planning to rent a car (who's going to interrupt fixing Thanksgiving dinner to drive to the airport?) when we arrive five hours late, barely in time to help set the table for dinner.  We'll spend a few minutes with family members that have other obligations for the weekend, but for my money, I wish I'd spent it on a more reliable airline.

To their credit, the people at Horizon Airlines were most apologetic, very nice and understanding of my disappointment.  That's why they're called the Customer Relations department.  They even checked their competitors to try to get us a more agreeable flight.  Maybe 2 months ago that would have seemed sincere, but they know as well as I that there's nothing available at this late date.  But, since they rescheduled us for another flight on the same day, we're not even eligible for travel discount coupons to Walla Walla in February.   As they told me, airline schedules are subject to change without notice and are not guaranteed in any way.  I was told by one agent that the aircraft we were scheduled on didn't even exist.  I don't know if it crashed somewhere last summer or what, but she said somebody forgot to delete its schedule.  Fine.  I just hope we get home.  Next time, I'll fly more friendly skies.

That's my story.  I guess I wish I'd heard more than a "gee, we're so sorry, but life is hard" kind of a response. And the part about "we're not obligated" to provide any higher level of customer service is a sad commentary on this company. I'd like to think that they viewed this as more than just a schedule 'adjustment', but rather an example of where poor planning on their part results in some real disappointment for their customers. 

As a result of the voice mail messages I received from 'customer relations', I've written a letter to the President and CEO of Horizon Air, Mr. George D. Bagley.

I have an idea.  Why don't you drop them a line and let them know how you feel about my story.  Thanks...

Oh, and for your information, Horizon Airlines is a part of Alaska Airlines so BEWARE!

UPDATE (09/27/2004) - It's been nearly six years since this incident, during which time I have avoided flying Horizon nearly a dozen times. While it might seem like tome to let go and move on, a more recent experience spurs me on. A few months ago I received an e-mail from a Horizon employee suggesting the company has improved service and the old president was gone, etc. Unfortunately, he concluded that sometimes there are situations beyond the control of the company that results in hardships for customers. I would suggest that is when customer service takes over.

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