I was pondering this subject recently, and sent out the following tweet:
Am I in the minority that thinks people who try to hold airlines to mistake fares thru quasi legal efforts and general whining are douches?
Which apparently didn’t go down too well with the people who try to hold airlines to mistake fares through quasi legal action and general whining, and rightly so, nobody likes to be called a douche and who am I to say you are or are not? So, leaving that word aside, as attaching ourselves to it at the expense of debate is a cheap trick, I would like to explore my rationale for this statement, and I would love it for you to engage with me on your thoughts or position on this matter using the comments below.
I also would extend an invitation to any blogger, or budding writer to pick up the other side of this argument, the ‘its OK to try to hold them to a mistake fare’ which I would be happy to link to, or host here on Saverocity please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your article and I will post it providing it intelligently represents your perspective.
Whilst attempting to avoid a discussion of creationism over evolution, it is my firm belief that we are, as animals, embedded with genealogy that encourages our survival, which most commonly manifests itself as ‘survival of the fittest’ in that regard, I can see a trait of character that would put our own well being above those of others. It is a baseline reaction. I see this trait in myself when I look back over my life, and will share my experience of this with you here.
Steal Food, not Seats
When I first moved away from home to live in London I had little money, I first moved into a hostel for accommodation, sharing a small 12ft by 12ft room with 9 other men, I knew that if I could sit it out there for just a few weeks I could start my new job on time, and find something a little more permanent, which I did in the form of a room that was even smaller, with a shared bathroom, no kitchen (there was a plug in toaster oven on the table) a single bed, that took up much of the 35 sqft of living space. My first month was expensive, and most of the first few months were hard to get by on until I started hitting some overtime. I would frequently run out of money 5-10 days before the monthly pay check. For overtime, I would be able to visit our companies other establishment, which was much better operated and had a staff canteen with free food (free food when you are starving is pretty awesome) the caveat was that it was for consumption on site only.
I stole food from them. I would go by, do my overtime shift, and put a couple of sandwiches in my pocket, one for my dinner and one for the next day. I justified what I had to do by saying I was hungry, and genuinely I was, though perhaps in hindsight I could have changed my habits and avoided theft. The point of this story is that when a person has nothing, they are more inclined to break rules to protect their own self.
Fast Forward 10 years
I now not only support myself, but also my family, and complete strangers. By donations our family puts food on the table of others, in addition to cash we also donate our time to implement programs, and our energy into advocating support for programs that help those in need, it is amazing to hear people jokingly use the term ‘first world problems’ when I work with homeless and at risk teens in New York and my wife works with Children and Families that are homeless, often through the need to escape domestic violence. America has real problems. Don’t forget it.
Our sphere of influence has grown to what it is today by the growth in our wealth, both in financial and knowledge, we have moved beyond thinking of just me, to just us, to us and our society. 10 years ago I stole food to survive, today I teach kids ideas to help them not need to steal.But I know, for absolutely certain that at heart, that Gene of Survival is most prevalent, and should things change in our financial situation we would have to dial back any altruistic actions, since charity begins at home, it would be us again, us against the world.
If things got tight to the point where I couldn’t afford food for my family, I could easily justify stealing to survive. But I would also know, at heart, if something was right or wrong. Whilst I would have to make certain decisions differently, I would know when I was causing harm and negativity to others, based upon my previous encounters helping them.
So, yes, if I am that hungry that I must steal, I could steal food to survive. I am entitled to live.
But I would never be so hungry that I must steal an airline seat. I am not entitled to fly, that is a luxury.
Understanding the distinction between a Principle, and a Rule of Law
People in their attempt to justify their actions when holding an airline to a mistake fare suddenly become lawyers. It is like the American Bar Association opened their doors and welcomed everyone with an opinion, people scour over the terms and conditions for a clause that will get the airline off the hook, or perhaps look into a legislative body for its governance and conversely scour it for something that sounds like it could be used to protect their $0 Fare.
Here is a truth in life:
Laws are interpretations of concepts, argued between people often without regard to Principle. Laws that go against Principle are a disgrace to our society, but are nevertheless overwhelmingly prevalent. That doesn’t make them right. It doesn’t make supporting them right. It doesn’t make trying to leverage them when you know that you are in the wrong, right.
Here’s an example of a Principle moment that I experienced recently: I held the door open for a lady in New York, taking enough time for it to be a conscious effort. She did not thank me for it. Frankly, my first reaction to this was anger and indignation (this stems from insecurity I believe) however, I had an Epiphany. I was not holding the door open to be thanked by her, she did not break contract with me. I held the door open because I was raised to open the door to a lady (and a gentleman) not for their thanks, but because it was the right thing to do. I cannot control the reaction of that lady, and nor should it influence the next time I have the opportunity to hold the door for someone.
This wrongful act of this lady not saying ‘Thank You!’ to my gesture does not justify any action on my behalf. In the same way that the wrongful nature that any airline did something bad in the past, or changed their fare system in a manner that you didn’t agree with. It doesn’t change our inherent Principles, should you have them.
I will never chase after gaps or jump through hoops to garner a ‘win’ through the Rule of Law at the expense of my Principles.
This is not a case by case decision, it is a hard and fast rule that never changes
Principles do not change, sure, you might steal in some circumstances, and not in others, but theft is never off the table my set of rules, I simply decide to pay for food for others and me when I have sufficient funds, then just my family if the funds are lower, and then I just don’t pay and provide the minimum to sustain existence for those in my sphere of influence. This is the key to living with Principles, and more importantly living with others who have Principles. It is not our place to dictate whether the decision is correct, but once the decision, on Principle is made, it is our duty as citizens to stick to our Principles.
I cannot say that a guy from Texas who believes in guns, criminalizing abortion and the expulsion of all British people is wrong, his decisions are formed by the influences of his life, it would be Judgmental of me to say otherwise. However, once you know something is wrong, trying to trap someone into still getting you ahead of the game is wrong, because you are breaking your own Principle.
If you know someone has made a mistake then you have already come to the conclusion based upon your own course of thinking, and as educated professionals which I find most people who leap on these mistake fares to be I believe the decision has been thought out rather well. If you know they made a mistake then you need to let them go, because otherwise you are betraying your own Principles in order to get something that you should not have.
As we go forward, from being that person who had to steal to eat, to helping society, and perhaps back again depending on what the world throws our way, we need to be ever conscious of our decisions and our impact. Our misaligned sense of entitlement and sense of selfishness does no good to society, it is a ‘me first’ mindset for things that are luxurious. Every action that you decide to take has impact, if you push and punish a mistake on the airlines behalf there will be increasing pressure on the Line Manager to fire a person, a real person, just because it blew up due to the entitled. That mistake fare might have been loaded in by error by a new father, who has not slept properly in weeks but is so happy and proud of his family, but now, despite years of service and one slip up he gets fired.
If everyone let him off the hook, starting from you, the entitled consumer, it would flow to the manager who could say ‘hey don’t worry, it was just a mistake fare, everybody knows that mistakes happen, and they don’t mind’.