Cake-Gate… do we expect too much?Back to Forum
I think there are two central tenets here. Firstly expectations which are unrealistic and form no part of the contract with the airline. Secondly the expectations created by slick marketing departments and designed to entice the unwary on board where reality often then clashes with expectations.
Expecting and airline to get you from A to B safely and on time is pretty basic. When they cannot, and for reasons that are within their control, they are required to compensate and make alternative arrangements. This seems entirely reasonable.
Expecting fine ding and a luxury environment on board; delivered by attentive and charming crew is also entirely realistic depending on the fare paid. This is because that is what is promised in the marketing blurb. BA unashamedly, and with no sense of irony, advertise their luxury seat sale. They promote pre-flight spa treatments, luxurious lounges and fine dining. The reality is often very different -spa treatments are notoriously difficult to obtain and once on board you may encounter filth, insufficient catering and crew who would rather be anywhere else.
Expecting complimentary upgrades, additional catering or treats is wholly unrealistic. Some airlines provide these extras at a cost and that is added value but when it is not offered then it is expecting way too much for your individual, and very specific requirements to met at 40,000 feet over the Pacific!11 Mar 2020
Like the title! Never flown on or celebrated my birthday on holiday so can only make general observations.
Having never experienced the standards of First and Business, can only comment on “down the back”. What you know about the airline’s service before travelling manages your expectations. If you’ve sampled, say, First on EK then a bucket and spade flight on TUI to the Med, the latter won’t match the former for comfort, service and those extras. Don’t think they’d be too bothered about wishing you a happy birthday either, unless you pre-ordered champagne.
My last flight was LGW-BGI on VS. Travelling alone, I engaged with cabin crew right from boarding. During after-meal drinks service, asked about their stopovers. For that brief conversation I was handed six chocolates, totally unexpected but a great gesture. The custom of giving free brandy/liqueur in Greek restaurants always welcome, again because it’s unexpected.
What irritates me is those who consider it’s their divine right to have preferential treatment. Seen many holidaymakers make a point of advising waiters that it’s their last night of holiday, in the hope of getting free drinks, desserts or both. Okay, if you go to the same place a few times, then they’ll probably work out when you’re leaving anyway. Have close family members who are always trying to get more for their money on package holidays. On recent VS flight to Orlando, they booked 747 upper deck seats after extracting promise they would disembark first. Horror when I pointed out it was up to the CSM and depended on possibly number of special assistance passengers on board. As it happened they got their wish. On another holiday, they thought it was a good idea to lie about wedding anniversary, in the hope of getting a room upgrade. Accommodation totally ignored it!11 Mar 2020
As a number of folk have said, the best experiences are the unexpected. A few years ago, we (wife, son and self) were flying KLM from Amsterdam to Beijing in Economy. At the gate, I was upgraded to Business (booked on a separate ticket and Platinum) and asked if my wife could have the upgrade as it was her birthday. The gate agent did not say anything, just looked at my wife’s passport and printed off 3 Business Class boarding passes. A wonderful treat, unexpected and certainly not sought.12 Mar 2020
Agreed. I and the other half were flying Delta in economy from JFK to LAX last year. We had a late inbound flight and missed our booked connection and were put on commercial standby for a very busy later flight. We both got seats and were even seated together. I thanked the gate staff for managing to get us sat together. Like TomInScotland the gate agent didn’t say anything and asked to see our boarding cards. And punched away at a computer and spat out two new ones for J.
It really is incredible in the airline industry how far a genuine thankyou can go with staff. As airline staff we become so used to constantly dealing with complaints and moans – some totally justified, some not. But it does become a downer at times. It’s always refreshing to hear something positive.12 Mar 2020
I may have mentioned this last year (apologies if I am repeating myself – its a sign of old age)…
My favourite “cake gate” experience was travelling back from BKK on my birthday, following a cancelled CX flight BKK – HKG).
Clearing customs in BKK, the elderly Thai officer, beckoned me closer to his booth and simply said “Happy Birthday Mr Sinclair”. In HKG, the Pier produced a cake (with candles) and a bottle of champagne (from behind the counter) which I shared with the tables next to me.
OK – the Thai officer saw my passport – well done CX though.. all very unexpected, but very enjoyable and appreciated.12 Mar 2020
As a number of folk have said, the best experiences are the unexpected. A few years ago, we (wife, son and self) were flying KLM from Amsterdam to Beijing in Economy. At the gate, I was upgraded to Business (booked on a separate ticket and Platinum) and asked if my wife could have the upgrade as it was her birthday. The gate agent did not say anything, just looked at my wife’s passport and printed off 3 Business Class boarding passes. A wonderful treat, unexpected and certainly not sought.
It certainly makes a difference when Airlines have their own ground crew rather than outsourcing to Swissport or Menzies.12 Mar 2020
The below post on the article about Finnair today goes a long way to prove the point:
I am a swedish national and wish to return home to Sweden before 15th March 2020. Please try to prioritise my return before shutting down ( I am originally booked to return to Sweden ( DEL-HEL-DEL on 11 April 2020)
I am a Platinum flyer with One World ( American Airlines)
The aviation industry is in an unprecedented state of flux and yet a FF wants special treatment!12 Mar 2020
An example for me is Alitalia. The first time I flew (which was only last year) them my expectations were very low going in as their reputation is not great. I’ve completed a few long haul trips with them now and i’ve found they have exceeded my expectations. Not that they are AMAZING but just they weren’t bad as I would have expected.
Emirates for me on the other hand were a total let down. My expectations were maybe high. And they didn’t meet them. But doesn’t mean they were any worse than Alitalia.
Technically, both airlines failed to meet your expectations. This is where I find post travel experience surveys too simple. They only seem to ask: Did we meet your expectations.12 Mar 2020
I think I have an answer as to why Mr Al-Baker, Qatar Airways head baker, was unable to provide our friend with cake on his honeymoon flight.
He was too busy studying Covid-19 and came out with this conclusion
DUBAI: Akbar Al-Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, has doubted the existence of coronavirus currently affecting 126 countries and territories and has infected more than 132,000 individuals.
There is no scientific evidence for that. It is just, you know, a fear factor’
Now get back to the bakery and start baking for your customers. Can you do me a nice Key Lime Pie please? I won’t fly on your airline but you could send it to me.
1 user thanked author for this post.14 Mar 2020
Over a great many years on many airlines and in many situtions I have experienced kindness, preferential treatment, upgrades, hotels for delayed flights, even in one case a limo to get me to a different airport after a delayed flight. Due, I hope, to being reasonable in my expectations, understanding of the situation, and above all being polite to the people struggling to deal with a tough day.
(Sadly I have also experienced exactly the exact opposite.)14 Mar 2020
Being nice and polite is always a nice thing to do. Once on a transit in Qatar, we did the free stopover with Qatar. We arrived at our hotel about 2am. The front desk was fully manned andthe staff were welcoming and very helpful, unlike you’d find in a western hotel at that time of day.
The next day in the lobby I saw a manager, it turned out he was a director. I stoped him, and he thought I was about to complain. I actually complimented him and the team for the service upon arrival.
When we returne dto our room later, there was a lovely thank you note, and a tray of fruit, chocolates and dates.Totally unexpected.
Then when we went to get our taxi back to the airport, we were told the hotel Limo, was at our disposal, and that we would be taken by this lovely Audi A8 Limo. My son was beaming. Such a nice memory on our way to the airport.( we gave the driver the taxi fare as a tip, for which he too was beaming)
There is a moral here.15 Mar 2020
Similar has often happened to me, I am as quick to praise good service as to complain about poor. I’ve often found that when you approach, or ask for, a manager, the reaction is as if they were expecting a complaint, rather than the opposite. Sadly, I suppose complaints are the norm.
A hotel I used to stay in had two boxes on the front desk.
One was quite big and was labelled : “Compliments about our wonderful staff”
The other was small and labelled : “Complaints”
The second one didn’t have a slot in the top!
It always produced a smile.
It was the same hotel where I had a booking including a weekend, and they knew I hated noise. About two weeks before I was due to stay there they phoned me to offer me alternative accommodation, and transport, at their expense, at a more expensive hotel, because they’d had a short notice booking for a wedding that weekend and they knew it would be noisy. If only such thoughtfulness were more common.15 Mar 2020