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Airlines. Customer Service. Does anyone work in it?

(14 Posts)
TruffleOil Wed 02-Apr-14 10:01:49

Does anyone work for customer service for an airline, or have any secret insight? Because I'm convinced that they absolutely do not give a shit about customer service, because it's dire across all the airlines and they know that it doesn't matter. Is this unreasonable?

Example: I flew with United for many years when I travelled for work, and I knew my FF number by heart. They merged with Continental and unbeknownst to me, my FF number was changed. I carried on entering my older number when flying on partner airlines in Europe, and it was never rejected. Now, I've lost 100K miles on United because of... an idle account! I was, of course, using the wrong number because they changed it.

I've been sending emails back and forth to United and they just do not give a shit. When I try to explain this situation, they see idle account and they just say Dear Mrs Truffle we took your miles because your account was inactive and here's a link to our policy.

I actually have ticket stubs from partner airlines with my old FF number on it and they still don't care to see them.

canyou Wed 02-Apr-14 10:16:22

Forget customer services contact the CEO or to management. any problems I had with Ryanair I just contacted Mr O Leary I found that solved the problem very quickly. Customer Service Reps are usually a different company contracted in and can only work within strict guidelines and can not over turn a decision.
I always work from the top down now I find the problem usually lands on the right persons desk very quicklywink

TruffleOil Wed 02-Apr-14 10:18:23

I forwarded the email string onto the CEO's office. I got an apology for the woman being rude (just yesterday) but nothing about the miles.

aermingers Wed 02-Apr-14 10:40:15

I flew with Aer Lingus recently and was delayed for 14 hours, offered terrible service and they threatened to dump me, my husband and one year old infant at the wrong end of the country in the middle of the night.

YANBU. Hence the username.

TruffleOil Wed 02-Apr-14 10:48:09

Blimey. They wanted to send you to an airport other than your origin?

Cleio Wed 02-Apr-14 10:49:23

I worked for a large (non budget) European airline in customer service about six years ago. I can confirm that they don't care, unless you're a very frequent flyer and spend upwards of a hundred thousand a year. We were basically told to try and get away with giving the passengers as little as possible money wise. This included essentially breaking European regulations.

Only thing that worked was bringing in a solicitor (just threatening legal steps won't work, they'll know you're most likely bluffing), or going straight to head office, if you can manage to find contact details for them.

It was a shit job, by the way, and most people were only in it for the cheap flights. We got treated very poorly. Memorable occasions were the mars bar which was supposed to be our Christmas bonus and the time we were told that we were given new (worse) contracts, take it or leave it, and don't bother contacting a union as you'll be sacked straight away. I left just before the entire office was sacked as they moved their costumer service operations elsewhere. Best decision I ever made, it was absolutely spul destroying work.

I imagine things have only gotten worse since I worked there, with rising costs and airlines struggling more and more to stay profitable.

Pleasejustgo Wed 02-Apr-14 10:52:41

No, they don't give a shit YNBU neither do most bus drivers, mobile phone call centres or our local council wink

Heathens the lot of them.

I feel better getting that off my chest.

OP I feel your pain, I really do.hmm

TruffleOil Wed 02-Apr-14 11:18:34

Please, I think you're onto something there. Although I just got a really nice email from a person at my utility company (I'm going to give them a shout out here: first utility) with an explanation of why my bill is wrong. [confusion]

Clelio thanks for your post. As much as I loved the "status" on airlines when I flew for work, I now hate it equally as a family traveler. I just find it mind-boggling that I can spend 5,000 GBP for me and my family to go to the US for Christmas and then be treated like absolute shite by everyone at the desk.

Another United episode: We got to the head of the queue for checkin at and inexplicably, the woman at our checkin desk just got on the phone for 15 minutes. We were just standing there staring at her. I finally said: "Are you speaking to someone about our itinerary? Do we need to move to another line?" and she waved her hand at me. She hung up the phone and just moved along checking us in. I felt like screaming at her. My husband and I were just agog.

Cleio Wed 02-Apr-14 12:34:57

Yeah, the airline isn't interested in your £5000 as it's only a once off. I know it's shit but it's the reality. On the other hand, they'll do pretty much anything to keep the big corporate customers happy. And I mean anything; they get their own personal contact they can ring day or night to sort whatever they want for them.

As far as customer service from the individuals goes, I think part of the problem is that you end up with a vicious circle of unhappy customers (often justified), agents who have very little power to do anything about it and are going to get shouted at no matter what they do. No excuse, I know, but I found myself I had to stop caring or it would destroy me.

TruffleOil Wed 02-Apr-14 12:37:11

Your comment re: the 5K makes sense, but is there any fear of losing a portion of one-off income due to poor customer service? Surely one-off income comprises at least 50% of airline sales - or am I wrong?

Pleasejustgo Wed 02-Apr-14 12:41:48

My utility company will never deserve a shout out from me. Ever. wink

As for my mobile phone company, rant, rant, rant. Insert a multitude if expletives.

TruffleOil Wed 02-Apr-14 13:52:32

Yes. Mobile phone companies. Rage.

Cleio Wed 02-Apr-14 13:57:48

Obviously I wasn't privy to the company's finances but that's the impression I got. Also, you'd be amazed how much the corporate accounts are worth. A first class long haul ticket can easily cost €10k. Some companies have a number of people flying on such tickets any given day. It adds up to an awful lot of money.

In addition, I suppose the airlines know that people tend to fly if they want/have to one way or another. If your airline is cheapest and/or most convenient, they'll come back.

Maybe I'm too cynical. It was quite an eyeopener though. In the end it's all about profit. Costumer service only goes as far as it doesn't get in the way of money.

TruffleOil Wed 02-Apr-14 14:13:31

I would love to know what fraction of revenue business travelers comprise.

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