By Cora Bledsoe
Last week, a few teammates and I took a trip to sunny Arizona to visit our new Phoenix office. The weather, scenery and people were wonderful and the trip was almost a complete success. We flew a major airline carrier and the flight back to Detroit, Michigan threatened to ruin my memories of the otherwise good trip.
To begin with, our flight was delayed one hour. No big deal, I thought, flights are delayed all the time, although I immediately began thinking of the extra hour of sleep I could have gotten. I got over the one hour delay and when the time came to board, I was ready to go, with a smile on my face.
After every…single…last person had boarded, the captain tells his captives – I mean passengers – we would be making a detour through Minneapolis, MN. Never once had this been mentioned before and even now, very little information was given. We were told that if the flight crew went all the way to Detroit, they would exceed the amount of time they are allowed to work based on Federal regulations. No new landing time was given and none of the flight attendants were able to answer passengers’ questions adequately. We ended up sitting in the plane an extra 45 minutes, before we actually took off.
The young lady who sat next to me was especially concerned. Before our original flight was delayed, she was supposed to catch a connecting flight out of Detroit at 7:00 p.m. She was going home to Kentucky for her bridal shower the following day. After the hour delay was added, she was switched a 9:00 p.m. connecting flight. And now that we had to take a detour through Minneapolis, she wasn’t even sure she’d make the 9:00 flight, which, of course was the last one that night. When she asked the flight attendant about her situation, the woman responded, “I’m sorry, we’re not given those tools to be able to help you.” I immediately thought about all of those companies who claim that customer is number one, but if the employees are not able to do what is necessary to satisfy the customer, then how can that claim be true?
At any rate, I propose that it would’ve been far more respectful and professional of the airline to alert passengers of the change before boarding the plane. Although this may have cost them a few seats for that particular flight, it would have saved them some customers in the long term. For those people like my row-mate who had connecting flights and other important appointments to make, they could have possibly flown on different carriers and the airline would have been “the bigger person” for letting their customers go, because it would have meant they were satisfied. At the very least, the airline gate attendants should have found alternate arrangements for those people with connecting flights, especially since it was toward the end of the day and not many flights were left.
I know there are always monetary reasons factored into making business decisions. However, when a business decision is made based on a one-time monetary gain and it costs the company dozens of unsatisfied customers, that is definitely not the DIFF.