Has an individual’s actions earned your loyalty to their airline?Back to Forum
Anonymous8 Jan 2012
Thought you may be interested in this…. have you witnessed an event which caused you to stay loyal with their airline?
HOW ONE NIGHT OF CANDOR LED TO TEN YEARS OF LOYALTY
Roger Parker (www.rogercparker.com) tells the story: “Whenever I fly up or down the coast, I fly Alaska Airlines even if it costs more. The reason is the strong emotional bonds created by actions of one of their pilots over ten years ago. Exemplary candor and credibility create long-lasting impressions.
“I was “flying high” when I left San Jose airport. We took off in “not a cloud in the sky” weather. Flying above northern California, however, I noticed scattered clouds….then more clouds than ground. By the time we were over Oregon, the ground was completely covered with clouds, with only the sun gleaming against Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta. “Uh, oh, not good,” thought I. And I was right. As we approached the Seattle airport, the pilot informed us it was temporarily closed and we were going to circle for a while. Things weren’t improving. My spirits lifted when he said they were going to attempt landing at Seattle’s Boeing Field–closer to the city–which would have permitted me to still make the party. But, as our wheels were just about on the ground, the pilot applied full throttle and we headed out of town. The pilot got on the intercom and said: “We probably could have made it, but I was uncomfortable and dec ided–as you probably noticed–to play it safe!”
“The pilot then announced that we would be returning to Portland. We had an uneventful flight back and landed at Portland. Then, everything all came apart. It appeared that the Portland, Oregon airport was the only airport open between Vancouver, BC and Southern California, and all planes in the air were being diverted there. We landed and proceeded to sit on the runway. At that point, the Alaska Airlines pilot gave us the greatest gift he could give us: uncompromising honesty and continual updates. “Well, folks, as you can see, we’re something like 46th in line for a gate, and all available gates are full. We’re likely to be here for a long time. But I promise you I’ll keep you informed. I don’t know any more information than you do, but whatever I do find out I’ll immediately communicate to you!”
“This went on for approximately two and a half hours as we inched forward, a hundred or so feet at a time, waiting for an open gate. The pilot never broke his promise to tell us either good news or bad news. His candor and continuing communications avoided the frustration that would have resulted if he hadn’t been so candid. He told it like it was and assured us that “We’re all in this together, I have no more information than I’ve told you and I can assure it’s no more comfortable up here in the cockpit than it is back there. I want to get to bed, too!”
Eventually we made it off the plane. An hour later, increasing winds in Seattle opened up a 45 minute window during which the Seattle airport was scheduled to briefly open.
We reboarded, made a fast run up the coast separating Portland and Seattle, and immediately landed….about six hours late. But no one was mad or impatient. All aboard clapped and many deplaning passengers congratul ated the pilot on his handling of the situation. If the pilot had not kept us constantly informed while waiting on the ground in Portland, passenger frustration and air rage might have resulted. But, instead, he told the truth and, in doing so, let us know he shared our pain. His communications eliminated uncertainty and “passengers as living freight” mentality.
“In those ten years, I’ve had many opportunities to fly from the Bay Area to Seattle and still, on the basis of that pilot’s exemplary customer care, still make it a point to fly Alaska Airlines. The confidence and trust inspired by that pilot’s actions is embedded that deep in my psyche. That pilot is still earning dividends for Alaska Airlines ten years after the event. On a sunny day, when things are going well, it’s easy to be friendly and customer-centric. But, a firm’s core values emerge when trapped for several hours on a foggy runway with nowhere to go except an airport with a four to one ratio of gates to planes awaiting deplaning. Will your actions on your equivalent of “a foggy night in Portland town” earn you ten years of loyalty?8 Jan 2012
Great article, thanks for sharing.
I’m always impressed by employees who go that extra mile to help out and certainly do reward that business with my custom when I can, though I’m not sure I’m quite as dedicated in my loyalty as Roger Parker is.10 Jan 2012
Not quite an individual’s actions, but certainly an airline’s actions!
During the cold and snowy winter of 2010/2011, we were momentarily stuck in sunny London, trying to return to Frankfurt, in order to catch our Delta Flight from FRA to SEA, the following morning. Our LH flight (LHR – FRA) was cancelled as FRA was experiencing intermittent closures. I called Delta and explained the situation. The agent told me that they had J Class seats available on the afternoon flights to JFK. I asked the agent if I could exchange my J Class seats (FRA – JFK) to the afternoon LHR – JFK flights. It seemed a simple request. If LH had managed to get us back to FRA, the airport might have closed again, and then we would have become a liability for Delta the following day! The agent said she understood all that, but changing the flight was not so simple. We had two seats; one award, one revenue. After 40 minutes on the phone, the best the Delta agent could do was switch us to the LHR-JFK flight that afternoon at a cost of 100,00 more FF miles and several thousands of dollars on the revenue ticket. Incredible, I thought, considering what was happening in European air-space, weather-wise.
At that moment, I heard an announcement by Lufthansa that they had set up special customer service desks to rebook FRA-bound passengers. I told Delta to leave everything as it was, and I hurried to the LH desks. LH gave us a choice: We could fly to Munich, Berlin or Stuttgart. And from any of those cities, LH would provide rail tickets to Frankfurt! Amazing! We chose Stuttgart, and off we went. At STR, we were given an envelope with our names on it. Inside were two rail tickets from STR to FRA, and a printed train schedule. We ultimately got to FRA 6 hours after the original plan, and I was amazed at Lufthansa’s handling of the situation. The rail tickets cost LH more than our ultra cheap flight from LHR to FRA.
Six months later, in Venice, the Italian airports labor unions called for one of those all-day strikes! We were booked on KLM to fly to FRA. The booking had been made via the Delta web site. The Venice airport was a madhouse, and here comes Lufthansa again. They accepted our booking on KLM, immediately set us up with a flight re-arranged to depart VCE half an hour after the strike was to end. Everything went like clockwork, and again we were amazed at Lufthansa’s response to our situation caused by the Italian mini-strike!
Then this December, Delta screwed us up again, by messing up our seat assignments ATL – CDG. That was the end. We had talked about switching our allegiance to Lufthansa for our transatlantic travel, and now we have agreed to do just that. Delta’s resolution (after getting my formal complaint) of the weather situation and the messed up seats was to give us 7500 FF miles for the weather mess, and 8000 FF miles for the seat mixup. Lufthansa’s performance, not Delta’s mileage giveaway, earned Lufthansa our loyalty.11 Jan 2012
Like MontananaKen, BMI earned my loyalty as an airline.
January 2010, the DUB-LHR red-eye was fully boarded and almost set for departure when the Captain emerged from the cockpit and took the microphone for the PA. This being a most unusual occurrence, I was curious as to what was going on.
Because of heavy snow at Heathrow, our departure would be delayer for three hours. The Captain remained at the front of the cabin dealing with the many queries from pax, some of whom had connecting flights. Some left the flight and made other arrangements, most remained on board.
Cabin crew made many runs throughout the cabin with trays of water.
I was in business, in 1A and the crew offered breakfast whilst we were on the ground. The Captain himself served coffee to those of us in the front.
What had the potential to be a nightmare was made almost bearable by a crew (even though they were facing a day of disruption) went the extra mile to alleviate the concerns of their pax.
When I arrived in LHR, my connecting flight was long gone, but the BMI customer service desk re-booked it immediately to my preferred dates, and even upgraded me on the return flight to Dublin that evening.
Truly an exemplary service and one which made a huge impression on my. What a pity these excellent staff are in a state of uncertainty about their future employment.
Safe travels to all,
Pat.11 Jan 2012
As crew, it is always a nice suprise when customers take the time to leave comments and feedback on a comments form, it ends up getting fed back to us, and gets placed on our file, which is always appreciated! A few years ago, myself and a colleague looked after a lady who was very poorly on a flight, towards landing, she asked us for our addresses so she could send us a thank you card so we gave her our work’s address. Two weeks later, I was callled into the office to collect a parcel, you could imagine my suprise at the contents, some very chic and pretty underwear, turns out she was an underwear rep and had sent me some samples, she even got the sizes correct! A bit of a suprise to say the least! My colleague also received the same and her sizes were correct also! I dont think that will ever occur again, I certainly wouldnt encourage a customer to send me underwear but i suppose it was the thought that counted!11 Jan 2012
For me no single event has ever caused me to immediately become loyal to an airline, but several poor events have caused me to steer clear of some airlines, particularly budget airlines.
I tend to fly mainstream airlines whenever possible, the ability to earn airmiles, get an extra inch or two seat pitch, and perhaps use a lounge with my frequent flier status are some reasons to pay a little more. But I find paying the extra is worth so much more if anything goes wrong.
On budget carriers I’ve had luggage damaged which they refused to replace (told me to claim it on my own travel insurance); and when left stranded I had to book my own hotel, and they then wouldn’t reimburse the whole cost, even though I booked the cheapest avilable hotel from the hotel booking desk in the airport which they told me to use. The lack of information provided when delays occur is often poor, and I have had to translate for fellow passengers too because their ground staff are only trained in one language to save money.
Similar experinces with Star Alliance members have resulted in a shiney new suitcase arriving at my hotel the next day, and another time a lovely 4* hotel being booked for me as soon as they realised I would be stranded due to a delayed connecting flight.12 Jan 2012
Usually, my decision is based on schedule convenience and value.
I will filter out airlines where I have had bad experiences in the past and my expectation is really limited to consistent delivery of the contracted service and efficient recovery when things go wrong.
If an individual from a supplier goes above and beyond, I’ll thank them personally and probably mail the company, but it doesn’t influence my decision process unless it happens very consistently and becomes obvious it is a corporate attribute.
Sadly, no airline consistently achieves this.
I have to be fair to locos and say that I have had luggage damaged on easyJet and Ryanair and both companies agreed the cost of replacement cases without quible and quickly. In other incidents, so have BA, Air France and Lufthansa. The only problem I ever encountered was with Egyptair, where a staff member agreed to replace a bag and left, without handing it over – so I have to go to my travel insurance.
But then again, I don’t book with Egyptair with any anticipation of high levels of service, in long haul terms, that company is a loco.12 Jan 2012
I have never been left behind or had to hassle with any airline in the Lufthansa Group. Any adverse situation that arose, has been handled with the passenger’s (me) best interest in mind.
27 Dec, 2010 I have booked two award seats using M&M for brother/his girlfriend. Their routing is ARN-DUS-EWR. I am booked on a revenue ticket on CO in Z on ARN-EWR.
Needless to say, there is the massive East coast snow storm on in the NYC area, most flights are cancelled at point of departure.
Two calls to M&M in Cape Town, gets them re-booked to EWR via OSL (no quibble on revenue vs. award). As we are standing in line, M&M Agent calls back: “Mr. Senator, did you say you are on CO yourself? if yes, two seats have freed up on your flight!”
I was flabbergasted by the pro-activeness and spirit of solving issues. Much appreciated.
Side note: Two flights left for the East coast that day: ARN-EWR and TLV-EWR. Needless to say, we never made EWR. We diverted to CLE where also 2x HKG, PEK, DEL and NRT were parked (B777-200) crippling CO little hub there. However, they dealt with it gallantly as well.12 Jan 2012