This happened at Stansted airport yesterday which currently has diversion routes on the way to some of its gates. Our gate was 34.

Travelling with a baby we decided to take the lift instead of an escalator on the way to our gate. The options were the current floor, staff only (required access card and pin), floor to gates 20-39.

Our lift ended up stopping at the staff only floor when we encountered a rude airport worker who told us we were lying as to how we got there and didn’t let us continue the lift to the correct floor but instead made us follow him through back entrances and locked doors. He then pointed us to the complete wrong direction and we ended up missing our flight. His professionalism was non existent and extremely condescending.

We have since been told by the gate staff, arrival desk, Ryanair customer service and airport information desk that the diversions were widely known knowledge by airport staff and the lift we took was the correct one and they would have advised the same when travelling with a stroller.

Have any of you ever had to file a complaint against airport staff and do you have any advice that would be most effective?

We do not have the individuals name however we were told by the information desk that they would be able to determine who it was if they check the cameras and logs on keycards used in that lift.

2 Answers 2


You should launch a complain with the airport, it’s their fault not the airlines. Their staff were:

  • Rude
  • Unprofessional
  • Misleading

You should explain all the details of your case to the airport, obtain the details of that worker and explain you want a refund of your ticket arranged with the airline (not your fault you missed the flight) and compensation from the airport for rude and misleading staff.

  • You forgot "on a power trip". But of course you can't mention that in a complaint... Stroking the ego of staff like that can work wonders, if you can do it without sounding patronizing.... which can be especially hard if you're in a rush, and have kids to distract you. Either that, or just do what you know is right and ignore their instructions, they might shout, but if they grab you that's going to reflect much worse on them, as long as you remain calm... takes practice to read the situation and pick the right option...
    – Dagelf
    Jun 7, 2023 at 19:06

Not specific to your case, but as general advice on how to get miracles out of uncooperative staff.

Remember that employees, including airport staff, are human beings who can be influenced by emotions just as much as by policies and procedures.

It's hard and takes practice, but if you can do the following, you are likely to run into less situations like these... I have ended up on wrong flights after having my ticket checked at 3 checkpoints, and I like to think that it has been purely based on my occasional charisma under stress, refined from years of waitering as a student.

Remain calm and polite: This is your first line of defense. Despite your frustration, always strive to maintain a positive, respectful attitude. If you missed the opportunity or you see it's not going to work, do what you need to do and ignore their instructions, if you see gap that you are sure will work - and if you can still remain calm while doing it, they will likely be the ones reprimanded, instead of you, if they cause trouble. Sometimes playing dumb or inquisitive works, who knows, maybe you just didn't understand their accent, or wasn't aware that someone was speaking to you.


Show understanding: Recognize that they may be dealing with difficult situations, long hours, or demanding customers. Showing empathy can make a difference.

Compliment them: Strive to be genuine, and without being too obvious, you might compliment them on something you observe. It could be their efficiency, their patience, or how they handled a previous difficult customer, or their neatness or attention to detail or procedure.

Ask for their expertise: Sometimes, asking for advice can make people feel valued. For example, you might ask about their experience with the airport, airline procedures, or even local recommendations if you're new to the city.

Express gratitude: Thank them for their help, and be sincere or at least polite.

Watch out

Crossing boundaries: Over-complimenting or being excessively friendly can come across as insincere or even inappropriate. Be careful to maintain a respectful and professional tone.

Unmet expectations: Even with your best efforts, the staff member may still be unable or unwilling to help you. In these cases, it could be helpful to ask to speak with a supervisor... or thank them and join another queue.

Enabling negative behavior: If the staff member is truly on a power trip, your efforts to appease them may simply reinforce their negative behavior. This is a difficult balance to strike.

Remember that while these techniques may help, there's no guaranteed way to change someone's behavior. It may just come down to how they're feeling that day, their personal character, or company policies they must adhere to.

General Guidelines

Be Genuine: Authenticity is key. If you give a compliment or show gratitude, ensure it comes from a place of sincerity. Fake or insincere praise is often easy to detect and can come across as patronizing.

Listen Actively: Make an effort to understand the other person's perspective. Listening is a sign of respect and can help to build rapport. Respond appropriately to what the person is saying, demonstrating that you value their input.

Be Mindful of Body Language: Non-verbal cues can often convey more than your words. Maintain eye contact and adopt a relaxed, open posture to show that you're engaged in the conversation, if their body language allows that might get them to see your situation. If not, and depending on culture, they may feel threatened and retaliate.

Speak Clearly and Simply: Avoid using overly complex language or jargon which can confuse or come across as condescending. Be straightforward and respectful in your communication.

Don't Overdo It: Over-complimenting or over-thanking can often appear disingenuous. It's better to express gratitude or compliments sparingly but meaningfully.

Empathize, Don't Sympathize: Try to understand their situation and express empathy, rather than offering sympathy, which can sometimes come off as belittling.

Avoid Unnecessary Tips: Unless asked, avoid giving unsolicited advice or instruction, as this can often be perceived as patronizing.

Every interaction is unique... with practice you learn to adapt to specific situations and people, and with time you learn to read people's responses and to adjust your approach accordingly.

Still, even the best people sometimes get things wrong. That sucks. Don't be too hard on yourself.

  • 3
    Useful information, but not an answer to the question
    – Berend
    Jun 8, 2023 at 5:49
  • 2
    Welcome to Travel. I think perhaps you have been on stackexchange long enough to know that a long non-answer posted into the answer box on a nearly-four-year-old question that already has an accepted answer isn't really what we're generally looking for on this site...
    – AakashM
    Jun 8, 2023 at 12:14
  • Wow what a great welcome, wonderful community. Why post a new question that's 90% adjacent when this one already pops up on Google? Why not just edit the question and add a line asking for general advice, to make the answer appropriate? ... Hmmm? I would've expected the travel community to be a bit lower on the spectrum. What I hear loud and clear is - "we do not want a larger community here, move along..." YWIMC
    – Dagelf
    Jun 9, 2023 at 20:15
  • Also, how is this answer not relevant to "Airport worker caused us to miss our flight?!!" This community will die off with this moderation attitude, when that happens, what's the point?
    – Dagelf
    Jun 9, 2023 at 20:23

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