I know the past few months have been bad on air travel weather-wise, but something else is happening. And it doesn’t bode well for the airline industry.
Jet Blue’s passenger bill of rights notwithstanding, customers are continually subject to poor customer service, not to mention the hassles of getting through airport security. Security issues continue to alter our air travel habits, resulting in changing carry-on policies and new fees.
I remember back around 1999-2000 when air traffic was at a peak and passengers were up in arms about poor service. The airlines responded by improving their customer service and the situation began improving … and then there was 9/11. Airport security changed, and little by little the “frills” (such as on-board meals, pillows, etc.) began to disappear.
It’s not too much to ask, is it?
Even with the changes, I wonder why airlines aren’t doing a better job with customer service. Yes, it’s becoming more of a hassle to travel these days, but there’s an opportunity for airline brands to stand out by recognizing these challenges and being more (not less) empathetic to customers:
- managing customer expectations through up-front & honest communications (check out Jill's follow-up post for more on this)
- treating them courteously and, when appropriate, with a touch of humor
- ensuring airline staff are given the training and support they need to effectively work (and cope) with passengers.
This isn’t rocket surgery.
Summer vacation time is rapidly approaching. I’ve already heard from many friends & colleagues that they're considering “drive-able” destinations to avoid flying anywhere. That works for leisure travel, but us business travelers don’t have that same flexibility.
The question is: will the skies ever be friendly again?