Covid-19: Good, Bad and Ugly in Travel Customer Service in 2020

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  • FormerBA

    This time last year I had several adventures booked and paid for and was looking forward to 2020. Nothing that was planned actually happened but I did get a last minute holiday to Turkey and a quick trip to Scotland, so I was better off than many.

    My experiences with customer service during this time have been very mixed. Not just for the trips that were planned but also for how firms have dealt with reward and recognition schemes during the period.

    In no particular order my list of experiences.

    Good..actually excellent – Hilton’s policy (note not actual experience of) on refunds, status and rewards.
    Good.. BA’s extension to status having dragged its heals
    Fantastic.. American Express Platinum. Insurance continues to justify fee on its own. Charge backs have been brilliant.
    Good.. Virgin money refund of part of annual fee.
    Bad.. BA in flight service and check in T5 in August
    Bad.. TK in flight service in August from LGW
    Ugly..Hertz – absolute scoundrels with no customer focus. No extension to points and ignored all covid-19 cancelled bookings
    Ugly..United Airlines – changed the meaning of the word cancellation
    Bad..Air Malta – Hopeless in every respect in dealing with cancelled flights.
    Ugly..Conrad Bali – Have completely ignored the Hilton policy but American express platinum stepped in.
    Bad – American Express Travel – sided with United Airlines.
    Excellent..The Higgins New Orleans. Swiftly refunded
    Excellent.. the Conrad Washington DC..Swiftly refunded.
    Bad.. New Orleans Visitor pass – no communication. Amex charge back worked
    Good..Ford Theater Washington DC -swift refund
    Good..The Kennedy Centre Washington DC -swift refund
    Great.. afternoon tea at Washington National Cathedral. Just lovely communications.
    Ugly..Royal Albert Hall – appalling. Virgin Money refunded via charge back
    Good..Hilton Glasgow. Great service in empty hotel 2 days after they reopened.
    Good..Hilton Dalaman. Despite its size and initial teething issue was a great 10 days.
    Ugly.. T5 7:30 am 2nd August. I believe this where 2nd wave started. No social distancing, no hand sanitiser absolute bedlam.
    Bad.. LGW August 23rd August. Almost no moving walkways operational.

    Many of the poor experiences can be mitigated as firms struggled to get staff into work and so things took longer to deal with. Hertz policy of expiring points after 18 months irrespective of circumstances and United’s ability to change the meaning of words are by far the worst experiences and will not be forgotten.

    2 users thanked author for this post.


    Regal Airport Hotel, Hong Kong – very good – they immediately refunded me in full for two prebooked, prepaid, non-refundable nights in March when I emailed them and asked. They have my future custom now, for sure. (Needless to say I am not associated with the hotel). I had to cancel the hotel stays when my airline cancelled my flights.

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Business Traveller May / June 2021 cover
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