Michael Rosen

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November 2011 Archives

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I love to write on airplanes. Especially during long trips - no emails to read and write, no phone calls to answer or make. Headphones and a little fold down table.

I was away, wanted to get back to see our sons, see friends. I got to the airport a day early, almost by accident, and Continental had plenty of open seats. I asked to change my ticket; $250, to push a button, print a boarding card, rearrange things. Since the plane had empty seats all the way to New York, an economist would say there was no marginal cost to Continental, only a marginal opportunity -- I gave them the chance to sell the seat I'd originally booked on a flight the following day.

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The man at the Continental counter was embarrassed by the $250 charge and suggested I write to the airline via their website. So I did.

Mr. David Risinger, Senior Executive Specialist, answered in an email. I'm "Case 5050495"

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If you can't see, he told me: "Service charges help cover costs associated with processing ticket changes, adjusting passenger manifests, and filling empty seats."

Pushing that button, and giving Continental the opportunity to sell my seat for the following day, probably cost the airline all of... $0.01 ? Or maybe an even $1 ?

I do love to write on airplanes. And I love reading corporate double-triple-zero speak. Mr. David Risinger was really saying, "Tough luck Baby, we gotcha!"

I'm going to write back to him now. They serve good ice cream. I read a great book, Why Read Moby-Dick, by Nathaniel Philbrick, while flying across the sea.

 

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