New Year’s resolution: Let’s boycott bad airlines!

boycott bad airlines

If you’ve ever had such a horrible flight that you promised you’d never fly that airline again, then this is your year to follow through. Make a New Year’s resolution you can keep: Let’s boycott bad airlines.

Jenny Lehman did. In 2002, after enduring numerous delays without apology or compensation, she decided to add American Airlines to her personal no-fly list.

“The employees acted like they enjoyed our misery,” she recalls. “It was a kick-’em-while-they’re-down mentality.”

Lehman, a college professor in Portland, Oregon, took her business to Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines. If American was her only choice, she drove.

Does boycotting bad airlines work?

But does boycotting an airline work?

A recent survey by Rasmussen Reports concluded that just over half of Americans believe boycotts are effective. (Whether they are is something of an open question, since it’s difficult to agree on how to measure their effectiveness.) Still, you’ll never know if you don’t try, and it seems Americans don’t try.

Travelers feel powerless to change an airline’s passenger policies. With customer service scores circling the drain, many feel that a boycott would achieve nothing. After all, we’re down to only a handful of major air carriers in the United States. Do we even have a choice?

We do.

Are you at the end of your rope?

“Somehow, it’s become acceptable for corporations to take advantage of the very people who keep them in business, the customers,” says Robert Smith, a business development professional and a frequent air traveler currently based in Costa Rica. “The corporate culture itself is broken, greedy, negative and uncaring.”

Smith says he’s added United Airlines, which he describes as “one of the worst companies in the country,” to his no-fly list because of poor customer service.

Have you reached your breaking point yet? What’s it going to take before you say, “Enough!” Another delay? A deceptive fee? Another policy that renders your ticket or frequent flier miles worthless?

Never want to fly an airline again? First, find a replacement

Ready to boycott? Not so fast. First, you’ll need a substitute. Finding a better airline may be a tall order. For example, when Air Canada accidentally sent Nick Galov’s luggage to China, it left him frustrated.

“Air Canada didn’t offer any compensation, not even a coupon or voucher of sorts,” recalls Galov, the co-founder of the review site Review42.com. “I had to wear the same clothes for a few days and even rent a suit for a meeting which went out of my pocket.”

But practically speaking, Air Canada was often his only choice when flying to Canada. So he decided on a soft boycott.

“I will avoid Air Canada in the future the next time I fly north,” he says.

Here’s the problem: The four major carriers control more than 80% of the market in the United States. To make your blacklist work, you have to cobble together a transportation strategy that includes driving, trains, smaller airlines and simple avoidance – as in, staying home.

So what’s stopping you from boycotting bad airlines?

Airlines are smart. They know that you’d rather stay home than fly with them. So they create incentives to lure you on board. Airlines like American, Air Canada and United have addictive loyalty programs that override the rational part of your brain. You see all the miles you’ll earn, and it quickly makes you forget about what you’ll have to endure.

But the rewards can be considerable. What if you cut up your loyalty program card and found some other way to reach your destination? What if a few of your fellow passengers joined you? We just might see airlines change a little.

Can you imagine flying on an airline where flight attendants take care of you? Or where you’re not being charged for everything, including those ridiculous seat-selection fees? A boycott may not be able to fix all that’s wrong about air travel, but it could make it more bearable.

Lehman, the college professor who boycotted American, says her efforts have cost the airline $36,000 in lost business over 17 years. It’s not a lot, but imagine if every disgruntled airline passenger did the same thing. That’s economic power.

Boycott bad airlines. Now that’s a New Year’s resolution worth keeping.

Airlines flyers rate poorly

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Spirit has the worst reputation with flyers with a score of 63 out of 100. Here are the airlines with the worst customer service, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. (Scores are on a scale of 1-100.)

Spirit Airlines (63)

Frontier Airlines (64)

United Airlines (70)

Allegiant Airlines (71)

American Airlines (74)

Delta Air Lines (75)

Posted in On Travel Tagged , , , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.