Survey: After Various Airline Incidents, Many Would Choose Another Airline

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What frequent flyers had to say was constructive. One person, a frequent flyer for over six decades, suggested airlines send customer-facing staff to the Disney Institute for training on how to interface with customers. A long-time Delta flyer with Platinum Medallion status said that airlines should retrain their staff to improve “both communication and customer satisfaction.”

Flight attendants, according to a long-time American Airlines customer, should be “genuinely welcoming to passengers and seem less hassled.”

One United Airlines million miler noted that customer expectations haven’t necessarily changed as airline fares moved downward. Customers, he said, “need to improve on how they deal with the airline employees. I see people expecting first class service and paying the lowest possible coach fare.”

Literally dozens of flyers across multiple airlines told us they felt they were treated like cattle or property and almost as many said that they felt they were being treated by customer-facing staff as “annoyances” and “enemies.” “Don’t treat all pax like criminals,” one commented.

Some passengers’ motives were transparent to frequent flyers. One Delta Diamond noted that “there is a class of passenger who thinks that throwing a fit will let them get their way.”

Many people taking the survey made constructive suggestions for the airlines to follow as well. Several said to return the focus to taking care of customer needs and to listen to customers. Loyalty, as one flyer told us, “is a two-way street.”

To this end, a frequent flyer with higher status on both United and American suggested that higher-level managers and executives at airlines be required to travel incognito, making their own reservations, several times a year, in order to see what the passenger experience is really like from start to finish.

Finally, perhaps foreshadowing a comment by United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz on a recent interview on CNBC, a full 5% of those taking the survey commented on the rigid rules that airlines follow and that employees do not appear to be empowered to make independent on the spot decisions based on what would be good both for the airline and the passenger.

Yet there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have such rigid rules,” Munoz said during the interview. Instead of rules, Munoz said, there can be “policies and procedures that can be adapted for the moment… when things do go wrong.”

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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