Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Airline Woes! Don't Think It Only Happens Here!

A few minutes scanning local consumer websites will reveal a general feeling of unhappiness at the lack of customer service and professionalism experienced by many travellers at the hands of airlines. While one understands the needs for extra precautions in terms of security in this age of global terrorism, there is no need for airline staff or airport staff to treat passengers, regardless of which class they are flying in, with disdain.

It has almost become customary for South Africans to dismiss this type of service as "typical in Africa". This type of South African pessimism is uncalled for, unhelpful and possibly could even be construed as racist. The poor service levels experienced by many in the airline industry have become common-place the world over. I came across this account of a gentleman from San Diego who missed his flight to Johannesburg due to unbelievable hassles at the San Diego airport. Go ahead and read his story and realise that these problems happen all over the world.

I am convinced that our service levels need drastic improvement in many areas but let's not fall into the trap of thinking that poor service is unique to our country!


Steve Hayes said...

My daughter had a similar problem with British Airways.

She had been studying in Greece for 5 years, but because there was a strike she could not write one of her final exams, so she came home and thane had to return for her final exam and graduation.

Found a place called "Student Flights" to book her flight and they said British Airways has a special offer, and she thinks it will make a change from the usual Olympic, so she books to go via London. Bad choice.

Also, there was a change in Greek bureaucracy, and different people were supposed to process residence permits, and they weren't equipped to do so, so the government automatically extended student residence permits to the end of the year (31 December). They don't have stamps for putting in passports, but they give her a copy of the government gazette with the announcement of the extensuion, stamp that with their office stamp, and tell her to show that to the immigration officer when she gets back. He'll let her in.

But when she gets to London, British Airways won't let her board her flight to Athens, because her residence permit has expired. She explains that all residence permits have been extended, shows the document she was given, but they say that is not good enough. She asks them to phone the Greek Embassy, so that they can explain, but they won't let her talk to the people at the embassy to explain what the problem is. She missed her flisht, and was stranded in London with no money (all her money was in her Athens bank account).

She manages to get to a cousin who works in London, borrows some mone from him, goes to the Embassy, explains the problem, but now Brirish Airways don't want to let her fly because she missed her flight, and the conditions of her ticket don't allow her to change her booking. She phones the man at the Foreign Office in Athens who handles foreign students, and he phones the embassy, and eventually she gets to Athens three days late.

I will never, never, never ever fly British Airways!

Rednose said...

I booked a ticket with Virgin Airways through an online ticket company. I booked an affordable ticket that looked absolutely perfect.
Except the domestic flight from PE to Johannesburg was delayed and check in had closed before I could get to the international departures counter.
Turned out that the ticket I'd been sold was actually invalid, because it wasn't within airport time regulations for arrivals and departures.
Never-the-less thanks to a further delay I had to spend 28hours in Johannesburg international and neither the internet website nor Virgin Airways would accept responsibility for putting the ticket on the market.
SAA however got me on a flight back to England. Not the best end to a holiday and not the service that I forked out hundreds of pounds for.