How a delayed flight can make a customer for life:
I’m sitting at JFK airport in New York as I write this, waiting on a flight that was supposed to leave at nine thirty pm. It, instead, is leaving at 12:30am. This is a crappy situation, but it’s not how a company deals with a customer when things are going great that counts, it’s how a company deals with it’s customers when things go awry. Air travel is unpredictable. They need to deal with weather, and lets face it: no matter what we have waiting for us on the other end, the most important thing is to get there safe. We all, as customers, understand that bad weather happens, and it’s not American Airlines fault.
That said, the girl working at the ticket booth has been making announcments about the time being pushed back. If, instead, she had walked over to the seating areas and addressed us in small groups, it would have been much more personal and it would have come across less as a company, and more as a sympathetic face. Even better would be if they had a small budget set aside for food and drinks. Lets compare and contrast:
Announcement #1 via the intercom:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, The aircraft for flight 4750 has not yet left Boston, and is now expected to arrive at 11:20, pushing back our departure time to midnight. Flight 4721 should be arriving at 11:35 and is expected to depart at 12:30. If there are any further changes, we’ll make another announcment.”
Announcement #2, in person, walking over:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m really sorry, but we’ve got some more delays. I know it’s been a long wait, so we’re going to put out a table with coffee, and some snacks. The aircraft for flight 4750 has not yet left Boston, and is now expected to arrive at 11:20, pushing back our departure time to midnight. Flight 4721 should be arriving at 11:35 and is expected to depart at 12:30. I know it’s been a long wait, and we’ll let you know as soon as we know anything more.”
Use what you’ve got:
The worst part of the whole situation is all it would take is a little initiative. Airlines already buy coffee in bulk. Airlines already have snacks. The only requirement is the industrial coffee machines and some of those magic creamers that don’t go bad at room temprature (how do those things work?!). I understand that most people choose air travel on discount websites based on the lowest fair, but if it was well known that if you missed your flight you’d at least get a cup of coffee and some snacks.