“Start Throwing Vouchers At Me”: My Boring Video Goes Viral

Sep 22, 2017 by

“Start Throwing Vouchers At Me”: My Boring Video Goes Viral

I secretly record a boring video of US Airways making me miss my flight, and it goes viral for no reason.

Background: You’ll recall an earlier, outright conspiratorial tale of launching the Jetsetting Terrorist blog, and finding myself on an enhanced watch list within 3 months, causing me to miss over 50% of my flights. It is in this context the following episode takes place…

The timeline is murky. I’d been on this new List a couple months. I was somewhere around my 3rd missed flight / 6th one-hour-plus delay. And I just had to get these creeps on video.

The plan was to document Grandma Ghosting. Covered in previous stories, this was where airline workers scan my passport, see something frightful on the screen, then clutch their pearls like old ladies and refuse to speak to me.

The Mystery Screen turns grown men and women alike to whimpering children. When they realize I won’t stop trying to get their attention, and they can’t get away from me, they tell me to go sit down somewhere.

And when that doesn’t work, they run in the back and hide.

The latter of which described the scene in May 2015, when some US Airways automaton named Alecia Garcia disappeared with my passport. And didn’t emerge for 42 minutes.

Indulge me if you will, in a little visualization experiment:

  • You swing by the kiosk to get your boarding pass en route to a flight leaving in 85 minutes.
  • The kiosk screen directs you to the desk.
  • The woman at the desk spends 10 minutes tapping on a keyboard, and almost immediately goes unresponsive to questions about what is going on.
  • Woman disappears into the back.
  • 10 minutes passes.
  • Then 20.
  • Then 30. And you just missed your flight.
  • Over 40 minutes later she emerges.
  • She offers no explanation.
  • No acknowledgement of the missed flight.
  • She hands you a pass for your new flight without apology, and tries to send you on your way.

What would you do?

I documented the tail-end of this exact sequence on my phone. Then I uploaded it to YouTube anonymously from the gate.

Here was the title and description I scratched out before going to sleep upright in a chair:

Title:

“Watch US Airways rep Alesia Garcia: Causes missed flight, calls police”

Description:

Where: Denver Airport.
When: May 23rd, 2015; 4:30 AM.
Flight time: 5:45 AM.

Upon attempting to check-in to a Denver to San Diego flight, a US airways ticket kiosk tells passenger it cannot “process” the check in. The customer approaches the ticket counter.

US Airways agent Alecia Garcia disappears in the back with passengers passport, and does not return for 42 minutes. No explanation is given.

What you see is the agent’s first contact with the passenger after having disappeared into the back for 42 minutes, causing passenger to miss his flight.

Her only explanation is that she was “on the phone.”

US Airways policies state customers will receive compensation if there are cancellations not due to weather or customer error.

Result: No compensation offered, no explanation given.

US Airways has yet to respond as to whether the following are within company policy:

  • Agents having such poor communication with passengers that they disappear for over 40 minutes and fail to offer any explanation as to why.
  • Agents causing passengers to miss flights with no explanation.
  • Agents causing passengers to miss flights with no compensation, when policy clearly states otherwise.
  • Agents blaming passengers, saying “they should have known,” when passengers show up well before stated cutoff time.

I uploaded the video anonymously, and forgot about it.

A week later I checked the You Tube account. My boring video was at over 100,000 views.

Of YouTube and Virality: An Insider’s Tale

You know the story: The kid next door films himself singing in the mirror, uploads it to YouTube, wakes up, and Amy Robach is on the line – ABC is sending a car. He’s the latest viral success story, and his life will never be the same…

100,000 views in one week won’t even get you on NPR (my phone didn’t ring once), but if you’re like me, you hear these “gone viral” stories and there’s some lingering suspicions the whole thing was engineered, or otherwise not wholly organic: There was a paid Fall Out Boy tweet in there somewhere, some sponsored Facebook posts, or invisible puppet masters to credit.

I’m here to report that the American Organic Virality Dream is alive and well. I went from 0 to 100,000 views in one week with no social media networking, no Jedi SEO, and no leveraged platform. I uploaded, walked away, and a ton of people whose attention comes cheaply took it from there.

If ever there was an indictment of the internet and the vapidity of it all, my 100,000-views-in-a-week story is your showpiece.

According to a study of the most emailed New York Times headlines, the #1 emotion that drove clicks was outrage. This is the out-in-the open secret of virality: The one who elicits the most outrage gets the most views.

Knowing this traffic wasn’t organic-search-driven, I Googled the video title.

I had gone viral in the little-known niche of “service worker rights” Facebook groups, where “entitled” customers are proudly shamed. Oh, and “reddit/cringe.”

Some early fan feedback:

Feedback 1

Feedback 2

On one hand, I generally side with the underdog. On the other, I’m firmly against working in all forms. I can’t endorse choosing a job, neglecting basic standards of decency, then acting inconvenienced when I put you on YouTube blast.

Here were how the Service Workers Justice Warriors were voting with their clicks:

Views

This is where I’m supposed to cower from the mob and go “Look, it was early and I was having a bad day, and…”

So let me declare publicly: I regret how I handled this. I should have thought it through and not been so quick to react the way I did. I should have weighed on the consequences of my actions, the intereconnectedness of all life…

A list of my regrets:

  • Not getting her fired.
  • Not getting her fired.
  • Whatever misstep resulted in her still having a job.

I would never get a job, but if I did, and they paid me a penny an hour, there is nothing the TSA could flash on my monitor that would cause me to abandon my humanity to such a level that I would do the following:

  • Be present for someone missing their flight.
  • Not acknowledge it in any way.

A person who does that isn’t “doing their job.” They’re just a groveling TSA groupie.

Final tally

I still got a flight. I got some fame. And I switched on Adsense around the 100k views mark, and got something else:

Revenue

Hey Alecia Garcia: If it were 1941 you’d be in Germany working for you-know-who.

-Jetsetting Terrorist

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