End of the Runway for Airlines

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It used to be when an airline had a problem or even went out of business that other airlines would honor the ticket. In fact it was a law up until 2006 when Congress let it pass into oblivion.

Why did other airlines need a law to take advantage of a huge customer service opportunity? You have a competitor’s customer calling you for help – wouldn’t you think the airlines would want to jump on that opportunity? Wouldn’t you think they would have a special phone line set up with employees who would turn this opportunity into a lifetime customer?

It seems that isn’t the case. An article by Scott McCartney in Tuesday, April 8th’s Wall Street Journal states that when Aloha Airlines and Skybus Airlines all but shut down last week, United and American said nope – we’re not honoring the tickets. It’s not the law anymore.

Is it possible that the airlines as a group are the worst managed businesses with the absolute worst customer service in the country? I think without a doubt. Today, American canceled over a third of their flights nationwide to do maintenance on planes that should have been done weeks ago. They have to implode soon.

Airports themselves aren’t much better. By coincidence, I met my daughter at the Philadelphia Airport (Often referred to as the worst in the nation.) yesterday afternoon. She had a 7 hour layover on trip to her home in Erie, PA and we had dinner together. I parked in a lot that I was directed to for her arrival gate. Of course, her gate got changed about ten minutes before arrival to another concourse a half mile away which is not unusual at that airport. Then when I left the parking lot I was presented with a parking fee of $38.00 for about 4 hours parking.

Airlines and airports have all hung up the phone a long time ago when it comes to customer service.

Seth Godin has an interesting post on his blog today about Who Answers The Phone that talks about a similar problem.

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