Archive for August, 2012

How Much Stress Are you Willing to Exchange For Bare Naked Air Fare?

August 19th, 2012

Customer Service is a reflection of how an employee partner is valued by their employers. I had the chance to fly 2 different airlines on back to back weekends this month and what a huge difference in attitude, cleanliness and overall pricing.

I will avoid Spirit Airlines in the future for so many reasons but the first notable reason is the overall attitude of their entire team. This is the only airline I know of that charges more for a carry on than a checked bag. Zero bags are permitted with your ticket price. The aircraft is filthy, the magazines in the seat backs are all dog eared and nasty. Not only is there nothing to eat without a charge but you pay for coffee and water. The staff is curt, stiff and straight faced … not a friendly voice or warm smile to be found.

On my return flight I encountered a family that was sending their 12 year old daughter on my flight and they accessed them an additional $100 for an unaccompanied minor. I told them I would be happy to assume responsibility for the child as I was traveling with my adult daughter and overheard the brutal exchange. The desk clerk glared at me and said “That is not the way it is done.” At the time they purchased the ticket they inquired about any additional fees and were told there weren’t any. The response at the ticket desk was “Because THEY didn’t do their job doesn’t mean WE won’t do ours.” The frustrated family requested a supervisor and got the same cold curt response. Either you pay the fee or she doesn’t fly. Can you imagine what was going on in the mind of that child?! I was incensed that it was handled so unprofessionally with no regard as to how it impacted the big picture of the business success. It felt like they were held hostage and such a great injustice was proudly exhibited by the team members. It was obvious that they were whipped if they showed any empathy and even though they may hate their job, they were happy to have one. If Spirit Airlines expects to survive, they need to treat their employees with dignity and their customers with respect and gratitude.

This week I flew Southwest Airlines. What a refreshing difference! My long flight from Tampa – LAX was complete with TWO complimentary checked bags PLUS a carry on. Beverages of choice were included in the ticket price along with snacks of choice … and it wasn’t limited to one bag of 10 peanuts! Each time I had eye contact with a flight attendant I was greeted with a smile and “Can I get anything for you?” There was fun banter as opposed to the usual crackled drone on the microphone. The flights are loaded quickly with great efficiency and the flight crew participates in assisting the patrons and thanks you for choosing their airline … not with a scripted insincere monotone scolding of the aforementioned airline.

I had to comment to Steve, one of the flight attendants who was over the top delightful. It was so obvious he loved his job as he let the entire plane know that his co-attendant, Marianne had just won flight attendant of the month. His response to me was that he worked for the greatest company in the world and this was his 25th year with them. Is that the kind of response YOUR employees would give when YOU are not watching? Everyone I encountered was an absolute delight.

I can say with all sincerity that I will choose Southwest Airlines even with connecting flights as opposed to direct flights with the surly Spirit. Southwest has earned my business and deserves recognition for their outstanding customer service. Spirit needs a wake up call before they find themselves out of business.

We all have choices on who we support and I support companies who recognize that they are only successful when they treat their teams’ right.