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Posts from the ‘Air Canada’ Category

Managing flight delays 101: Do more than just say “sorry”…

April 12th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

AusBT’s David Flynn, describing his most-recent flight delay experience:

Fortunately I’d been kept up to date on these delays by Air Canada’s SMS alert system, so I left the office early afternoon instead of rocking up for a 9.30am checkin and spending the better part of the day in the airport. And lounge access, even when it’s Air New Zealand’s Sydney Koru Club Lounge, always softens the blow.

When it finally came time to board the flight, I noticed two Air Canada crew at the gate handing out cards offering delayed travellers a discount on future AC travel.

These are examples of some of the measures certain airlines take for major flight delays. In the case of Air Canada’s AC34, a 14-hour flight northward across the vast Pacific Ocean, it was only appropriate for the airline to offer up-to-the-minute pre-flight information for its passengers — while the offering of a discount on future travels with the airline was more about, in my opinion, maintaining a positive brand image.

The bottom-line requirement that all airlines should focus upon is maintaining their customer’s composure as best as possible when unexpected events occur. Obviously, not every passenger has the same expectations and understanding when it comes to such events. But where significant efforts are made to best rectify the situation at hand, most people will ultimately come to an understand or consensus — and vice-versa.

I had an interesting experience around a year ago, when my Singapore Airlines flight suffered a major technical issue in-flight, and was required to return to Singapore after almost four hours out. There were several unnecessarily-angry passengers, mostly businessmen, who got themselves worked up about the delay — a delay which was also affecting 300-plus other passengers, like myself, all patiently waiting for a replacement aircraft to bring us to our ultimate destinations.

(During the wait back in Singapore, people were offered refreshments at the gate area, and phone cards for people who needed to contact family and friends about the impending delay.)

In the end, the flight was 12 hours late. Singapore Airlines rebooked pretty much everyone who had an air-based connection onto respective flights. For those who had other arrangements, such as accommodation, transport, etc., they were asked to retain a copy of those receipts for reimbursement due to the flight delay.

I ended up having to claim for my train ticket and a night’s worth of hotel because I wasn’t able to utilise these due to the flight delay.

However, Singapore Airlines has yet to offer any kind of reimbursement, after having submitted all the necessary paperwork to the relevant department — twice. I’m not even sure what’s the status of my claim, because no one has bothered to return my calls or emails (after having made numerous enquiries about it!)

When companies make it a challenging feat for customers to offer their patronage, this is a clear (and inviting) sign of the customer being shown the door, never having to return.

Marketing 101: Acquiring a new customer is far more costly than maintaining an existing one, both intrinsically and extrinsically.

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