Customer Service in Travel

By | Category: Travel rumblings

It’s one of those things that come to the fore when times are tougher. If there is little to differentiate one company from another when prices are similar then it is how the customer is treated that can make the difference. So the claim by Cityjet, which flies to regional and European destinations from London City, to give passengers free flights if they are not happy with the service provided by the airline is welcome news.
It is only for a trial period but it demonstrates that the management of the airline must be pretty confident about their treatment of passengers.
For once though I must add a note a caution. Passengers are a funny group and react differently. Why not, they are individuals. I once had a complaint from a lady who had flown Ryanair. Nothing surprising about that you might think. But she had paid just £1 for the fare. (yes, this is a few years ago when the airline regularly offered flights at this price) She wrote venomously about not having a numbered seat, a meal, a free drink and the fact that the airport she landed at was not the closest to her destination. Despite the fact that if she had read a little about Ryanair she would have known all this. But she was, unreasonably in most people’s view, dissatisfied. So Cityjet, be careful. There are unreasonable passengers.
BAA, the airports operator says that “improving customer service has contributed to strong financial revenue.” How can this be true? How can an airport group which few of us have alternatives to (especially if you rae in the M90 belt in Sctland or live on England’s south east coast )provide sufficient of an improvement for us to want to use it more often? The answer must be that that in this sense the customer is the airline and the retailer. We, as travellers, have little alternative in London. By and large US and Far Eastern services fly from Heathrow rather than Gatwick. European leisure flights tend to be Gatwick based rather than from Heathrow and a 60 mile trek to Luton or over 70 to Stansted is not that appealing. Maybe this will change now that Gatwick has been sold but there are few signs yet of competition between the two.
But in other ways BAA is making a difference for the passenger. It is altering its fee structure for airlines so that carbon emissions will play a large part as will the number of passengers on a plane. Why does this matter? Because it may force airlines to buy more modern, quieter and more fuel-efficient planes.
Finally, Southern Railways has announced a guaranteed full money refund on tickets. Even, as it says, you change your mind and decide not to go.

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