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Something special in the air?

September 21, 2012

Luckily I don’t have to fly much for work, but my peak travel season is approaching with October trips to Orlando for our Sales kickoff, and Vegas for Technology Services World, then a Sin City sequel for KronosWorks in early November. I am lucky, because air travel these days is like a visit to the dentist, just with less comfortable seats. It’s either going to be a “that wasn’t too bad,” or an “oh, that sucked” experience. Those are the two most probable outcomes. It’s increasingly rare, but airline employees can still create great customer experiences. Yeah, the folks at Southwest get the whole customer experience thing. Too bad all the airlines don’t.

Speaking of not getting it, American Airlines is in the news this week, and not in a good way. Well, they did announce they’re deploying Galaxy Note tablets to their 17,000 flight attendants. American’s Vice President of Flight Service, Lauri Curtis said, “By giving a device to all of our active flight attendants we are better enabling our people to deliver an exceptional customer experience.” Yeah. An exceptional customer experience… I wonder if these two AA flight attendants were thinking “customer experience” when they began fighting on their aircraft this week.

“It was incredible, totally unbelievable that there was such little professionalism between these women.”
- Passenger Marge Lopez to NBCNewYork.com

I used to fly American all the time back in the day, and was a loyal, frequent flyer. I even fondly remember red-eyes coming home for college break, many trips to Sacramento for NEC, and a memorable trip to Cabo. My son, Kyle got a first-class customer experience on an American flight home from Phoenix in 2009. He loved it. I used 80,000 frequent flyer miles on a trip to France last year, and hope to do the same for a trip to Denmark or Italy. Now I’m doubtful, though. It’s very sad, but American… American Airlines is in shambles. This week they cancelled 300 flights because pilots called in sick. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal advises against booking on American due to their instability. Oops. Too late for moi.

I do hope American’s labor and management can work things out and regain the confidence of their customers and the public. The tablet thing sounds interesting, but technology is no cure for a poor customer experience caused by bad blood between employees and management.

Now where’s my anodyne for that November Vegas trip?

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