I spent a weekend in Utah and was trying to get back to Atlanta … Everything on my itinerary looked good – I booked a ticket that balanced my personal commitments with my work schedule. However, Delta and United had different plans for me.
So now I hate both Delta and United. I get better basic service from the bartenders at the airport bars — eye contact, a simple “I will be with you in a moment” (just a small acknowledgement that you actually SEE me and the other dozen customers waiting for your help).. And given my experience, I may just go back to AirTran.. at least they will fly an airplane in any condition.
So, my day began with a hug and kiss from my mom, coffee and conversation with my dad, a few hours of work, then a shower. My dad dropped me off at the SLC airport, and I was happy as a clam. I was in my own little world – remembering what a great trip I just had, bonding with my nieces… I love them so much, every time I’m in Utah I just wished I had more time… Ideally I’d love to live there part-time so I could be a greater part of their lives. Yes, I was in la la land… I get thru security (even with more than 3 oz of toothpaste), and head to my gate. Below is how the airlines fucked up my mood:
- Arrive at the Delta Gate Counter in SLC – hanging around are two gate agents, a bunch of pilots and flight attendants. Not a good sign. I finally reach the desk and ask about switching seats, and the gate agent says “I don’t know anything, but we aren’t dealing with seat changes right now”. I then remark, “to leave on time, you need to be boarding now, I see the airplane is here and you aren’t boarding, is something wrong?”. Her response the ENTIRE time people are asking her questions – “I can’t say”. Flight was scheduled to depart at 1:50pm.. which is exactly what the board said until about 2:10, which then it read cancelled. Instead of standing in line behind 300 passengers, I called Delta to change my flight.. they had nothing available, and put me on a United flight that works its way to ATL thru Chicago. I stop off to get a glass of wine before heading to another terminal.
- Arrive at the United Counter in SLC – one gate agent, a bunch of pilots and flight attendants, and security were standing at the gate. I got in line, behind the dozen or so other folks waiting to be serviced by the one gate agent who was running around like her head had been cut off. So I turn the “hard-working” (sarcasm) TSA agents and ask “why are so many of you here?” (I hesitated to ask because I thought the guy was retarded… but I had to, that’s what I do). They guy said that TSA had decided to “spot check” this gate (what, they don’t even trust themselves?? Talking about TSA just gets me going, a rant on them is coming soon). There are 5 of them, and they all are overweight and look like high-school drop-outs still living their dreams in too tight uniforms (think Reno 911!), eating cashews next to the gate desk… There is no gate agent in sight. The woman finally comes back, starts to help folks, I finally get my turn, ask for a bit of help with seat assignments (as I have none because Delta can’t give me seat assignments on another airlines flights)… She gave me one for the immediate flight, then told me to deal with my ORD to ATL flight in ORD. I said no, that I had been standing in line, waiting for her to help me, and I wanted a guaranteed seat. She then started berating me about her “bad day” (sounded more like a bad life.).. something about an ex-boyfriend, a dead cat.. I dont’ know. I just stared at her and then said (remember I’m not always nice), “You are here to help me, not give me excuses as to why you can’t help me. We all have troubles in our lives… I won’t even start in on mine. But I want to get to work so I can get home. Can you help me with this?” You know what she said? In a very heated, high voice she says to me, “Thanks for being such a nice person (sarcasm oozing from her tone), I’ve got too much to think about/on my mind right now to help you with future travel“… and a few other things.. then she turned around and walked away. You know, I didn’t feel bad at all. I got her name, and wouldn’t you know it, she is the Service Director. Yes, this is the person who is training/setting example for others on how to treat customers… No wonder “customer service” has all but disappeared in the airline industry.
- Arrive at the United Counter in Chicago. So I do finally make it to Chicago, I get to the gate,and wouldn’t you know it, the flight was delayed. No reason given, just delayed. For 2 hours. I was so exhausted, so tired, and I desperately needed to get into ATL at a decent time as my week was going to be brutal work wise. United didn’t care – the flight was delayed until 11:30pm (it was originally an 8pm flight). The gate agent was o.k.. didn’t look at me when I asked for a seat, but did give me a seat with no one next to me (which I specifically asked for).
I finally arrived in ATL at 1:20am (vs. my original 7:30pm arrival time) got to the hotel by 2am.. asleep by 2:30, then up at 7:30 … needless to say I was exhausted. I never made up for the lost sleep all week… by the time Thursday (yesterday) came around, I was completely spent.
Here is the thing. I get that things happen.. that flights are cancelled, delayed… but when they happen AND you get consistently horrible customer service, I just lose it. Its it so unneccessary for rude behavior, especially from someone who is “on the job”.. So, here are a few words of wisdom I’m going to share (for free) to the airline workers of the world:
- Focus on the customers. Airline managers, execs, and the like – your front line staff is the face of your company. if someone if an asshole, then you are an asshole. You are guilty by association.
- Get rid of folks that make you look bad. Just do it .. unions be dammed. If you don’t, you aren’t going to be successful.
- Focus on basic common courtesy. Yes, the same manners your mother taught you, extend these to your customers.
- Look at people when they talk to you. Not the computer, but into the eyes of the person standing in front of you.
- Listen. That’s right – listen. Listen for how you can help someone (not what you can’t do, what you CAN do).
- If you are busy but see that someone is waiting, acknowledge their presence and let them know you see them. For example, “I see you need help, I am busy at the moment but I will get to you as quickly as I can”. See how easy that is?
- Don’t mock your counter mate or other co-workers in front of the customer. It’s in bad taste and makes you look bad, and honestly, we don’t care what Shaniqua said/did/wore/etc., we just want to get home/to work, etc..
Fellow travelers, feel free to pass on other WOW that you would like to send/share with the airline industry.
O.k.. so now all I’m left with is Jet Blue, Virgin America or my own private plane. My experiences on Jet Blue and Virgin America have been awesome… I hope they keep up the good work.