Needing to Know

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Some people were trapped on Eurostar trains for 12 hours and claim they were told nothing. It has been said that one driver even locked himself in his engine cab. Allbury Travel went into liquidation yesterday (they own Libra and Argos Holidays) and passengers claim they were kept in the dark. On Thursday when flyGlobespan went into liquidation I was at Glasgow Airport and there was no information at their desk in the airport. When there was the terminal 5 debacle earlier this year, one major complaint was the delay of both British Airways and BAA to come and talk to passengers.

What is clear in that each of these cases information was not given to the passengers quickly enough for them to feel that that they were kept up to date. It seems sometimes that travel providers adopt an almost bunker mentality hoping that the issue will go away. It doesn’t happen. Telling passengers quickly is important for them so they don’t get too concerned. For the company, quick information helps protect the company’s image.

On the two flights I made last week both were delayed by human error. Both issues were explained to the passengers (and in the case of one pilot, it was obvious from his voice that he was unhappy) and nobody complained. Mistakes do and will happen and the traveller will expect that, provided they are told.

This morning the Chief Executive of Eurostar, Richard Brown, has been giving rather nervous TV interviews trying to explain their position. It was probably about 24 hours too late because by then, the media had latched onto single cases of problems. Training is given to staff to be able to respond to passengers. But why does it seem to be used so infrequently? In the case of Allbury or Globespan, staff on the ground should be used immediately by the company or the liquidator to tell passengers what their options are and to explain what has happened. Posting a notice on a website or a desk is insufficient. In the case of Eurostar, train crews could have walked through the trains every 15 minutes or so letting passengers know what was happening. Maybe they did but that hasn’t been reported.

The whole issue of how companies respond to problems and deal with passengers is still one that seems at worst badly handled and at best, badly reported.

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