October 5, 2009

Travel Tricks 7: A Game Airlines Play

My prior travel post was on luggage woes at airports or with airlines. This time I will let you in on a few things that I have seen airlines do to keep customers hoping and hopping, but definitely not satisfied.

Starting with a game I think they like to play that I call Terminal Turnover. Fore those of you that played the child’s games Fruit-basket Turnover or Musical Chairs you will quickly get the idea. Your flight is late or delayed, however the airline will not tell you this, instead they send you to another gate to await the plane or even worse another terminal within the airport. Gate changes are not so bad especially if they are close. However terminal changes can give the flyer undue stress and concern about getting to the new location before their plane does. Of course this never happens but traveler stress over it none the less.

If airlines would just be honest with their customers about what is going on, it is easier for us to be understanding and less stressed. Stress can lead to exhaustion or anger. This is not good for customer or employee satisfaction. Communication is one key to keeping customers content and employees happy.

Once when I was traveling just for my own curiosity, I thought I would count how many times the airline had me switch gates for a “delayed for weather” flight. I stopped counting after I changed gates 8 times because I was beginning to get a little miffed. During those changes they had me go to another terminal one time and then the next time they had us move we came back to my original terminal and gate for the flight. After that long trip dragging my luggage, I laughingly told the lady making the trips to/from gates with me that I would not have to go to the exercise room when I finally got to my hotel since the airline provided me with a great workout thus far. She thought it was funny then, but 2 changes later she was starting to get angry and anxious due to the lack of information we were being provided. Around change #7 many people gave up on the airline and arranged rental cars instead. Around midnight, the airline told those of us that stuck it out with what proved to be false hope that the flight was actually cancelled and there would be no other flights that night for us to get on.

What happened next? Well all the rental cars were gone, all the hotels were booked, it was pouring outside, and the airline began to give out tiny blankets to those left stranded at the airport. Many travelers ended up having to spend the night at the airport gate on a cold night where the blankets went so fast that not many people even got one. Ever try to sleep in those airport chairs with your feet propped up on your carry-on using your suit jacket as a blanket? Not pleasant. I’ve only had to spend the night in an airport twice. Both times it got cold; the place to eat, drink, or buy reading materials were closed; and very little sleep was achieved. Believe me, sitting for hours waiting for a delayed flight beats a night at the airport due to a cancelled one any day!

Tell me what you think and how you survive the games airlines play. Visit the blog soon for what may be my final post on this subject.


Tweet with reference: http://bit.ly/29FjuX

No comments: