This story bothers me, but for the opposite reason. I understand the polarity of opinions on this matter, and while I have some initial sympathy for the woman (what could have been so wrong in her life that she decided to pack up everything and move from California to Idaho with only $30? And such that nobody in her life could apparently help her when the issue came up?), there are three things that still really bother me about the story in question:
1. Why are we just hearing about this now? It happened in April, and according to the article, the laws have already been changed to make sure a situation like this (hopefully) won't happen again. So why is this suddenly newsworthy? The whole premise and timing of the article is wrong. Not to mention the misleading headline that made it sound like the woman was indeed held captive, much like Mehran Nasseri.
2. How did the woman, who only had $30, survive 8 days at the airport? Food and water aren't cheap, no matter how you slice it. Did she get donations from other customers (and if so, why didn't she use that money to pay the extra baggage fees?) or did she have food in her bags (which may be the case given that she was moving cross-country)? But as this is not addressed, we have no way of ever knowing what happened.
3. What is US Airways' version of the events as they took place? Obviously we'll never get this story, but was it truly a heartless gate agent, or did the customer overreact and bring it on herself? Please understand, I'm not pointing a finger in either direction. I just know that journalists love to blow things out of proportion, and I feel several important details are left out of the story that would give us a more complete picture.
Please don't accuse me of being heartless. I'm an airline employee myself and if I saw a woman having an issue like this at the ticket counter, as many of you have said, I would have done what I could to step in and help her. And I'm sure some people standing in line behind her might have felt the same. However, that depends on how SHE
If she was emotionally distraught and/or crying, but not belligerent about it (and especially if the gate agent was being rude) I, as many of you, would have donated whatever I could have given to her cause. I'm aware of how oblivious some people are to the ways of the aviation world (much as I am to vehicles or sports), and I would want to do my part to rectify their misconceptions/mistakes. And there is no reason anybody working in customer service should treat any reasonably polite customer with anything the utmost respect and dignity.
However, if the woman was pitching a fit, chewing out the agent, or willfully holding up the line and being rude to other passengers... nope. Sorry. You're holding me/other passengers up and being rudely demanding, so you lost my sympathy. It's the passenger's responsibility to be aware of the terms and conditions of any tickets he/she purchased, and getting angry and belligerent over something that is technically your own fault to begin with will not win you any friends, either with the CSR or your fellow passengers.
I don't always agree with our policies, and we do have some awfully rude agents, but if the customer was acting entitled and/or abusing the agent, then I have no problem with what US did. Rude and insensitive agents have no place in service positions, just as rude customers shouldn't have their demands given in to because that sets the precedent that everyone else will follow. If the agent was the one in the wrong, and the customer wasn't acting vile, then the US agent and staff definitely handled it wrong
But that all being said, this "news" story seems outdated, unnecessary, and, as per usual, incredibly one-sided. Especially that last line. Completely unbiased.
Afterthought/Side Note: when did they take that footage of her walking through the airport and approaching the customer service people? Was this all from 6 months ago and Yahoo just picked up on it, or is she flying US again even after her experience?