Take nothing for granted

for granted

I’ve been thinking about the 737 Max grounding and what it means for the rest of us, beyond having to rebook our flights.

As consumers, we take so many things for granted, including the safety of our planes. But as the family of the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 will tell you, you should never do that.

I’m not taking anything for granted either

You haven’t heard from me in a while. It’s been a difficult few weeks for me since I’ve developed complications from eye surgery I had earlier this year. I’ve always taken my vision for granted, but now as objects in the distance slowly begin to blur, I realize how shortsighted that was.

I don’t want to take anything for granted. So as I wait for dawn in a small rental apartment in Santa Fe, I wanted to inventory all that I — indeed, that we — have.

I’m grateful that I can still see and that my other senses are intact. I’m thankful that I have my kids with me and for my extended family of advocates that help me with my nonprofit consumer advocacy site.

I am grateful for you, too. Without you, I would not be here.

The dark side of American business

I spend a lot of time covering the dark side of American business — the complaints, the twisted corporate culture, and the absence of customer service. But there’s another side, which is often difficult to acknowledge. As I researched a story for the Washington Post about the fallout from the 737 grounding, a friend who works at American Airlines reminded me of that perspective.

“I hope you will be fair and even-handed in your planned story on the Max groundings,” he said. “As you can imagine, I can’t go on record with anything, but this grounding will cost the airlines considerably before any kind of remunerations.”

He explained that American and other airlines are trying their hardest to accommodate all the passengers after the Max went out of service. But that would be difficult during spring break, one of the busiest travel times of the year.

“Re-accommodating many thousands of people at a moments notice, with no empty seats, is an impossibility,” he added. “If employees try extraordinarily hard, there will still be thousands of dissatisfied customers.”

Yes, my friend, I will do my best to be fair and even-handed. And also, to take a moment now to give a hat-tip to the hard-working folks in the airline business and in corporate America in general.

We take you for granted. We shouldn’t.

Valuing every single opportunity

And now, I have a confession of my own: I’ve spent many years taking my editorial outlets for granted. But as the journalism apocalypse unfolded and as I lost my editors to layoffs and as newspapers began dropping my column, I understood how foolish that was. Every column is a gift, I now realize. This morning’s Forbes story about travel insurance — it’s a gift. Today’s Washington Post column about the perils of pet hair — also a gift.

My USA Today commentary about getting along with spring breakers — likewise.

Fact is, I’ve also assumed my stories would always find an audience, which means I’ve taken you for granted. As many of my journalism colleagues have left the business to find work in other industries, I know for a fact that’s not true. I won’t ever make that assumption and will always try to stay relevant and interesting and on topic.

There’s only one thing left to say: thank you.

This week’s stories

Please “like,” share and comment on this week’s articles. I really appreciate the support.

How to make a road stop with your family like a pro
There’s a lost art to doing a road stop. And that’s a shame since road trips are a time-honored American tradition. Shouldn’t road stops get a little respect too? But they are not. People don’t plan their road stops like they should, they show little or no discrimination about where they pull over, and it ends up being all about the destination, not the journey. It doesn’t have to be that way.

An Iberia lost luggage problem — where’s their compensation?
Benedict Valenti’s wife’s luggage is lost — and then found — by Iberia Airlines. In the interim, she buys $495 worth of clothing and toiletries. Why is the airline balking at reimbursing her?

Why won’t Delta Auto Protect refund my parents’ policies?
Jaime Ludwig wants a refund for two Delta Auto Protect policies — refunds to which he’s entitled under the terms. So where are the checks?

Travelers vs. spring breakers: How to avoid a conflict
It’s the time of year when regular travelers come face to face with young partygoers trying to escape the cold. But is it possible to get along with spring breakers when you’re on the road? Seth Beckerman, a consultant from Pittsburgh, remembers a recent confrontation with a crowd of young spring breakers at a Key West, Florida, hotel.

Tackling a tough travel problem? Hang up the phone.
If you want to fix a travel problem, hang up the phone. The phone — by which I mean voice communication — puts travelers at a significant disadvantage when it comes to problem-solving. But there’s a notable exception, a time when you should pick up the phone and then maybe hang up. If you understand the difference, you’re well on your way to resolving almost any travel problem.

Have a great week.

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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.

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

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