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Crash and burn: aviation customer service in hindsight

Crash and burn: aviation customer service in hindsight

There’s nothing better then being pampered while you’re stuck in a metal cabin more than 30,000 feet above sea level. So why can’t some airlines do it?

June 5, 2011 6:54 by

The former is during a flight back on a work trip from Casablanca to Dubai.

Her flight had accidentally been cancelled by the company travel agent. When she asked them for help, the check-in staff proved to be rude and unhelpful. She called Skywards instead, and the person at the other end of the phone claimed there were still six seats left on the flight. But the woman at the desk said otherwise and refused to let her on board.

The travel agent in the UAE ended up booking her a flight for the next day instead and texted her the e-ticket code so she could get it printed at the Emirates ticket office. When she reached the ticket office, the person manning the office closed the blinds and shut the door, telling her that he was out to lunch and won’t be back for an hour.

And so Georgia waited for an hour in front of the ticket office. After another 20 minutes or so, she noticed a flicker of light inside. She peeked in and saw a woman playing Solitaire in the dark. Georgia knocked on the door furiously, causing the woman to move up from her seat “with sloth-like enthusiasm” and preceded to print the e-ticket as if Georgia just asked her to something repulsive (yeah, we’ve all been given that dirty look).

As for her experience with Singapore Airlines, Georgia flew home for her wedding in Australia in January. Her then-fiance sent an email to the airline requesting for the dress to be hung up, explaining that it had delicate silk and no big petticoats.

In Georgia’s words, “a very tedious saga ensued” where she was told her dress would cause problems with weight restrictions on the flight and then there was talk of extra charges. In the end she decided to put it into the check-in luggage and have it pressed in Australia.

“The whole thing was just petty and mean-spirited. We didn’t ask for any sort of wedding upgrade, just somewhere to keep my dress safe. On the flight to Australia, we got the flight with the idiot cabin crew – at one point I got stuck between three staff all trying to push trollies into the one space when I was waiting for the loo. ‘Three trollies! One narrow space! Figure it out!’ I may have yelled…”

There were a few more stories shared with Kipp. But the ones we illustrate above have been the most convoluted and, frustratingly, easily solved or ironed out. Some were of having to sit through a four and a half hour flight on a broken chair as the airplane filled up the plane without any empathy for passenger discomfort. Another was the cabin crew missing a whole row of seats when serving food.

And so, we all have to travel at one point or another. Seeing as we’re all in a confined space for more than a few hours, it’s a pity airline management don’t take advantage of their captive audience.

Nobody’s perfect. So when crisis like these examples come up, why don’t airlines use this as an opportunity to go make the passenger walk away with something nice to say about their flight? Or are we just so captive as an audience that our lack of real choices for carriers are encouraging airlines to look at us as cattle?

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  1. Matthew on June 6, 2011 2:01 am

    This passenger is absolutely in the wrong. He has shown total disregard for his own safety, and for the safety if those around him. Only last week, I was on a flight that hit turbulence with the seat belt sign on, and one idiot passenger who had taken his seat belt off even after being told by an attendant to fasten it, flew up and hit the roof, knocking himself unconscious. He had blood pouring from his head, laying motionless in the aisle.
    Your reader may well have ended up in the same condition. It is a criminal offence to disregard the seat belt sign for a reason. Crew are not meant to physically restrain people who argue about getting up. They need to be told no once an that is fair warning. Your reader should have been charged and fined without question. The crew in this case are absolutely in the right, and the reader is ignorant. I hope he never gets on a plane I am on.

  2. Farah on June 6, 2011 12:08 pm

    While I sympathize with this gentleman for being treated poorly, whats interesting about this story is that when the pasenger came out of the loo he claims that SCC was already waiting for him. This probably means he came out of the restroom only after the flight landed as SCC guards are usually not on flight and are only at destination, unless its a USA flight.
    If this is the case I can understand the airlines distress at having a man locked away in a restroom while the aircraft was landing as the security procedures for take-off and landing are pretty strict.

  3. Andrew on June 7, 2011 7:14 am

    Whilst I agree with the previous comments that the first passenger was in the wrong, it doesn’t change the fact that one bad customer experience can permanently colour the perception someone has of a brand.

    I had an atrocious flight on Singapore Airlines in the late 80s, and still refuse to fly with them even after 20 years. Whilst I’m sure things have improved, and heard great things from friends and colleagues, I’m simply not willing to take the chance.


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