Friday, July 14, 2017

Frustrating Airline Customer Service (A Non-Estate Planning Post for Once)

The airport (JFK in this instance) is a strange place in the middle of the night. There is almost a total disconnect with all of the planes preparing to depart while the vendors in the gate areas are all closing down for the night. Earlier in the evening, there was more bustle around the whole area, with everyone eagerly anticipating their flights. But at some point, the vibe in the terminal changes over because the late night flights are either
  • Flights that should have left hours ago (mine...)
  • Flights that are scheduled to leave in the middle of the night
For those in the second group, they knew they were leaving in the middle of the night and clearly planned their trip and were ready for a late evening at the airport.

For those in the first group like me, we've spent the last 6 hours at the airport just hoping to get on our plane and get up in the air. In a strange way, it feels like we're in a television commercial where the subjects are put through this waiting game with the promise of a smiling family at home when they arrive after a long journey.

As Murphy's Law would have it, mere minutes after getting through the security checkpoint, while settling in with my book (Give and Take), I checked my phone and realized that my 9:00 flight was actually scheduled to depart at 12:10. Not the best way to begin the trip. I could have stayed back for a while longer and done some more fun things. Oh well.

What shocked me even more was the lack of information at the airport. The departure screens took nearly an hour before they updated those in the terminal of the delay. In the interim, they announced a gate change, without mentioning that when you got to the new gate, you'd be waiting an additional 5 hours.

I can't imagine approaching your business in this manner, at least if you were in any other industry than the airline industry. Sadly, the state of air travel just seems to be that you can expect some kind of problem and it's easier to just approach your flight with the mentality of get on the plane, keep your head down, get off plane and hope nothing happens to you.

At this late hour, I can't think of any other industry where you can treat your customers in this manner, but I'm sure there is one out there. But as a business owner and counselor to small businesses, this is a lesson in the importance of customer relations.

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