Sadly, most of my worst customer experiences come from my preferred airline. It’s sad because I fly. A lot. You might think that being an elite flyer for the past 15 years might count for something, but then again airlines are not exactly known for the wisdom of their customer service.

Earlier this week, I checked in at the airport. I had a middle seat on a flight to Los Angeles. Four hours of hell, so I asked to purchase a bulkhead seat. The attendant before security said only the gate personnel could help. When I arrived at the frequent flyers club, they said the bulkhead seats were available, only they could help only 50 minutes before the flight. They explained that prior to that time, the seats were for sale. No problem, I’ll buy one now. Except they can’t sell them. They have to be bought from the machine that dispenses boarding passes. But that machine refused to give me the option to purchase the seat.

Clint Eastwood’s word for this is “clusterf–k.” He is so eloquent and so right (Most of the time.)

So I tweeted the airline. The Rhodes Scholar that replied said the seats were held for chose needing assistance. That would be great if I wasn’t being told the seats were for sale. He tweeter then told me I had to be at the airport. Duh, try again. Then I was told “the airport can help you.” Really yay? The whole airport? The pathetic, ineffectual effort to help only served to anger me more (this is the genteel translation).

There is a moral to this story. Help needs to be simple. And it needs to be effective. Not to mention understanding. Airlines are really bad at this, but there is no reason they have to be. Great customer service may require a DNA transplant, but good customer service is simply about using your brain and making the effort.