The widespread reporting about the dismal on-time performance of the airline industry means a lot of passengers were left stranded, missed flights, or had luggage lost this summer. According to government figures reported by Reuters, complaints about travel-related problems rose nearly 50 percent in the first half of 2007. And this is just the people who reported a problem, which means a lot of people were very unhappy and asking for help.
When a large number of flights are delayed, customer service representatives get overwhelmed with requests and may or may not be able to help with the extent of passenger requests. Keeping a few strategies in mind when seeking assistance will greatly increase the likelihood of getting rebooked earlier, better seats, hotel vouchers, or lost luggage assistance.
Be patient, because you have time. After a flight delay, fellow passengers will be queuing up at the nearest customer service desk, whether it is at their gate or at the check-in counter. When the screens are showing your flight is delayed 2 hours or cancelled altogether, this means you have a few minutes to regroup and figure out what to do next. Take a look at the monitors and see if other flights are going to your destination so that when you get to head of the line you have information about possible options.
Use the telephone. The in-airport monitors sometimes do not have the most updated information about flight status so call the airline customer service number to verify current data. Pre-program the number into your cell phone before leaving for the airport, and make sure you have all your flight information at hand. When offered, give your cell phone number for flight status alerts that may inform you about problems before you arrive at the airport, or so you can ask for help right away. Customer service representatives can sometimes re-book flights on the phone, or at least provide more information before you get up to the desk.
Take names, and be polite. Don’t take your frustrations out on the front-line employee, it’s probably not his fault that he can’t give you want you want or need. Make a mental or physical note of the name of every airline employee that you talk to so that if you are talking to someone down the line you know who you have interacted with. How they treat you, what they tell you, and how they help (or don’t) are all relevant information. Airlines do not necessarily have to offer hotel accommodations or food vouchers during weather delays, or put passengers on the earliest flight, but how you speak to him may affect what perks or consolations he offers.
Put it in writing. If you don’t get what you want at the airport, follow up with a written account or complaint, and include the names of any employee you spoke with, all flight information, and what you would like the airline to do. Airlines don’t always give consolations vouchers on day of, but may be more inclined to work with you after a written complaint.
Flying is rarely a pleasant experience anymore, and as complaints go up, customer service seems to go down. But with a little patience and preparation, you can get what you want after a delay.
To sum up, customer services are similar to private jet services in that both are seen as full of hassles when it comes to delays and have proven to be quite a headache as you have to wait at the airport for many hours lying in wait for the next flight to be booked and therefore lose all interest in traveling after a certain period of time.