It’s 19:45, and I’m in the Aberdeen-based Business Class lounge of a certain airline. I shall refer to them as ‘the airline’, which is a much politer term than they deserve. The story goes something like this…
14:16 – I’m in the middle of a meeting with a customer and a text message from the airline arrives on the ‘Berry. As we were talking about Sametime Unified Telephony I was involving my phone in a demo and got a chance to look at the text message about ten minutes later. It told me that my return flight was cancelled and that I should call this number. And it ended with “Apologies”.
During a break in the meeting I called the phone number provided. I listened to the options and none of them really fitted the situation, so I waited on the line as instructed. After about five minutes of silence (no hold music) I gave up and called again, and this time decided to pick option 4. After another five minutes my call was answered, so I explained my plight and gave my booking reference. I confirmed that I was Mr Adams, and was put on hold.
After ten minutes of hold music someone came back, and the conversation went something like this:
Agent: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: My flight was cancelled, I’ve been waiting on hold for ten minutes for someone to tell me what happens next.
Agent: What’s your booking reference?
Me: I already told someone my booking reference. They went away to find out what the alternative arrangements are.
Agent: So what is your booking reference?
Me: Hang on (found booking reference again and repeated it).
Agent: Mr Adams?
Agent: How can I help you?
Me: Well, my flight was cancelled…
Agent: What would you like me to do?
Me: Get me home tonight please.
Agent: Would you like me to book you on another flight?
Me: If that’s possible, yes.
Agent: Okay, I’ll see what I can do, please hold.
Agent: There’s a flight at 20:30, would you like me to put you on that flight?
At this point I was severely tempted to respond with something like “unless you’ve got any other bright ideas about alternative methods of making a five hundred mile journey tonight” or just plain old “what do you flipping think?”, but Miss Customer Service Award Winner 2010 was my key to getting home so I decided to hold back the vitriol.
Me: Yes please.
Agent: Okay, that’s all confirmed, blah blah, flight details.
Any further apology? No. Clearly she was doing me a favour. Shame on me for inconveniencing her with my petty travel issues while she was trying to enjoy a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and read Heat magazine.
It’s now 20:11 – the replacement flight is delayed eighty minutes. I now recall that one of the options on that phone number was to let the airline know about your experience of their service. They can expect a call.