Airlines that are good at recovering from problems

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  MrMichael 24 May 2014
at 11:00

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  • Anonymous


    There’s a lot of talk on several threads right now about Airline issues and it is frequently said that although issues may be out of the Airline’s control how they recover from problems is what sets airlines apart.

    So let’s talk about airlines that are effective at solving problems, recovering from delays and generally helping out when things go wrong.

    So let’s begin.

    Until recently I used to live in Pittsburgh in the states and, broadly speaking, my choice for travel of any significance was Delta or United. Both airlines seem to land me with an equal number of problems, delays cancellations, lost bags. Some down to the airline some down to weather for other external forces.

    I quickly learnt that Delta is really proactive at sorting problems out, especially delays and cancellations. I’d receive a call, text and app notifications, often simultaneously, offering me rerouting options, usually before eI have left for the airport. In fact Delta were so good at offering upgrades to business for missed connections I started picking routing with tight connections to get a chance of scoring one. Really good delayed baggage service as well, which I got to use 9 times out of 10 I checked a bag, very quick to process and always at my office by 10am or so the next morning. Of course I’d rather they didn’t loose the bag but I put that down to tight connections entering the US.

    United on the other hand are a complete disaster area. I learned not to fly them often. One trip I arrived at the airport to find my flight to IAD had been delayed due to weather meaning I’d miss my london connection. Come back tomorrow they say. I walk away from check-in look on my phone, there is a united codeshare on Air Canada leaving in an hour to Toronto connecting to another united codeshare to London. I go back, can they put me on that, oh yes, we hadn’t thought of that. They give me a boarding pass to Toronto and something that isn’t quite a boarding pass for the flight to london. I get to Toronto and go to the transfer desk as requested and they can’t issue a proper boarding pass because United haven’t issued a ticket. I ask them how I got to Toronto, Air Canada aren’t sure, and call the United desk. They have, of course, gone home. After some frantic calling they find a united representative who fires up a computer and issues a ticket. I get a seat right in the back of the bus, aisle next to a tiny blonde women who is not only is the most flatulent aisle mate I have ever experienced but climbs over me several times in the night, waking m up every time (not United’s fault I know).

    On the way back I have extra luggage with me, including a bicycle, which they don’t know how to charge me for so don’t bother. I get to Newark, and get my bag, go to the oversized luggage ramp, and the bike doesn’t appear. I go and file a complaint with lost luggage and then run for my connection, making the last flight of the day by seconds. When I turn up at the carousel, what should be there but my bicycle. No idea how it got there, it was meant to clear customs with me in Newark and never did, which seems like a bit of a security failing. Probably fell off a truck, someone saw the PIT tag and put it on a PIT flight.
    I try to inform United, but their office is closed, it’s after midnight so I go home. Next morning I get a call from United, the only call I have ever received from them, offering me compensation for the lost bicycle, not being in the habit of embezzling anyone, even useless airlines that probably deserve it, I inform them that it arrived.

    I never flew united long-haul again and flew Delta long haul 20-30 times and short haul countless more, half wishing for bad weather because their service recovery often benefited me.

    So what other airlines are good at recovering from Screw-ups?


    I had a great experience with Sky Work Airlines flying from Berne to London a few years back. I had payed to travel with my dog in the cabin. Upon arrival in London—and unbeknownst to me or the airline—I was informed that dogs are only allowed to enter the UK by plane through Heathrow. I was told that I would have to fly from London-City to London-Heathrow via a European mainland airport. Skywork took it upon them to rebook me on a flight at their cost within a matter of minutes even though they did not have a full time representative in London-City. Not only that, they refunded my original ticket, offered me compensation and the next time I was on-board, a member of staff came up to me and apologised for my previous trip. That was the first and last time that I had seen such service from a “non-legacy” carrier. It almost puts the likes of TK, QR, BA customer service to shame.


    I’ll give BA, 10/10 for a quick resolution when managing my broken case incident.

    Returning from YVR, I discovered on arrival at EDI that the wheel on my smaller case had been broken. I reported it to the BA baggage office and was amazed at how empathetic and efficient the agent was, at sorting it all out.

    Some of you might recall that I was returning with my mother’s ashes, and I was held up as a customs officer stopped me to inspect my bags.

    So I’m not sure what passenger notes he could see, that were attached to my ticket, (you have to declare you’re carrying human remains).He recognized my status as well as updating my BAEC account so the replacement case could be delivered to my new address. He handed me a luggage catalogue and requested I choose a similar case to my now lopsided case.
    No quibbling, no intrusive questions, just acceptance of responsibility and there were no forms to fill out, I think I signed a print off, but can’t really remember

    A brand new Antler case appeared in Linlithgow 2 days later. Brilliant resolution management ,so well done to the BA man at EDI : )


    My recent experience with AA was somewhat mixed but i would have to say overall satisfactory how they recovered
    I was due to fly HVI-DFW then a 2 hour wait before going onto LHR.
    Flight was due to depart at 16.55 but by 20.00 we were still on the ground on hold as DFW was shut down for weather stretching all the way from ORD to DFW. I was flying first class and I have to say the crew were probably the best I have ever encountered on AA. They updated us every 15 minutes, even just to say sorry no news or to say even they cannot get through to Ops as the entire system had gone into meltdown. Every time someones connection was going to be missed they gave them the option of getting off the plane if they only had hand luggage and going to rebook the next day. They finally gave up when the Pilots went over hours and no crew was available. Crew kept us fed and watered and informed in all parts of the cabin, they could do no more
    Where process messed up was when the flight was cancelled instead of hitting a delay notice on ot. This meant those with luggage on board had to completely rebook for the next day’s flights. Even tho we were going to be on the same plane, same crew etc. This took almost 2 hours at the gate so that meant I had been there for almost 6 hours. Bear in mind HVI has only 6 gates…… I understand that the system was in tatters and asked if I could just get on the plane in the morning and then sort out my connection to LHR in DFW instead of waiting to rebook it all, I was thinking about where I was going to sleep! That’s not possible, either wait and get seat or don’t fly tomorrow…….

    The earliest I could get my same schedule would have been 3 days later so ended up going HVI, DFW, RDU, LHR. Not overly impressed. AA were in such a mess that they were offering 1000 USD to any passenger willing to give up their seat to LHR and fly the next day. After getting on the LHR flight in a plane that made BA’s 747’s look like they just rolled out of the production line with a miserable crew, dire service I wish I had taken their money! AA should put some of their domestic crews on the internationals, they are much more professional.

    In my experience it has to be AA.

    I may not be a frequent AA passenger but every single domestic or South American flight has either gone tech, been cxd or has had an aborted take-off (just once TF).

    And each time I have either been rebooked to the airport of my choice in the case of NY, put up in airport hotels or upgraded to Business or full Y.


    SAS are pretty good. As a regular user, whenever a problem occurs they go out of their way to fix it and compensate, often exceeding what they need to do or are expected to do.

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