Private airlines: A show of poor customer care

Published: November 25, 2010

Maybe it’s time for us to demand their exit from the airways for other potential competitors.

What’s worse than having a flight repeatedly delayed?

Is it that you might be delayed by up to twenty four hours?

No.

Is it the annoyance at the added wait with a dash of inconvenience at having to locate the next possible flight?

No, not even close.

Perhaps its the irritation you feel at having to hold the line, while the delayed airlines’ operators finish laughing at your misery.

No.

Close.

The worst thing about a delayed flight is customer service.

There is nothing worse than when you’ve been clutching the phone receiver to your ear, breathlessly waiting for a voice on the other end to shine a glimmer of hope on your hopelessly desperate situation, and the computerised voice on the other end says:

Thank you for your patience; your call and business are valuable to us.

The “value” of my call was made abundantly clear to me by a privately owned airline’s centralized operator, whose tone made me wish for that friendly computerised voice again. After persisting that a solution to my problem be found, I was put on hold again to wait for a “supervisor”, in a mistaken attempt to get rid of me.

But this airline’s blues were far from over. After 45 minutes (yes, I was stubborn and angry enough to not hang up) the supervisor picked up.

Kudos to him for his politeness. But after a twenty minutes long conversation in which I demanded the company pay for a substitute ticket with another airline (as opposed to merely refund the original ticket price of the delayed flight, which was approximately Rs10,000 less, and would not have enabled me to purchase a new ticket with another airline on such short notice), he resorted to the helplessly pathetic, age old “There’s disturbance in this line; I can’t hear what you’re saying” tactic. So, I decided to give up.

Are we to blame for poor service?

The sad part is that this kind of behavior has become almost routine for private airlines. Our helpless acceptance and the consequent ‘it happens’ attitude has almost shadowed our exploitation at the hands of airlines. Consumers continue to pay the cost and be dissatisfied.It’s high time that airlines get penalised for their concurrent shortcomings.

It’s not an outrageous demand for an airline to reimburse the passenger the current price of the ticket, for example, so that if they choose to, they could purchase a substitute ticket with another airline. And it’s not outrageous to demand that these “customer care” centers actually do more than act as a punching bag for enraged customers like myself.

If all that is flying are their excuses instead of the actual planes, then maybe it’s time for us to demand their exit from the airways for other potential competitors.

Isn’t this the ideology behind having private airlines anyway?

tooba.akhtar

Tooba Akhtar

The author is a final year student of Economics and Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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  • Saad

    I would say this is the case with our national airline too.Recommend

  • Amer

    All of us are fimilar with the attitudes that you mentioned here. The simple solution is not to fly with them in the future. That’s the best action customers can take, Period. If I am flying international, I would never deal with the blues of the private airline you have talked about. Besides their safety records is not that great either…Recommend

  • Lawyered

    Whereas I can empathize with your feelings in the matter Ms. Akthar, I am afraid that under consumer protection laws and aviation law and even aviation custom there is no legal obligation for the private airline to provide you with a ticket on an alternate airline. A simple refund will suffice for in cases of delay.
    The only real recourse you have is to lodge a complaint against the private airline with the regulatory body for aviation, i.e Civil Aviation Authority. This is not likely to yield any direct results but maybe if enough complaints are received action may be taken.
    I might also suggest emailing a link of this blog to the marketing / PR manager at the relevant private airline. Perhaps negative publicity will prod them to focus on customer care.Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Let me guess a Lahore Karachi flight delayed due to fog?Recommend

  • Obaid Ahmed Khan

    About time someone pointed out the problems that us consumers face due to these airlines. There should be some collective action taken against these airlines if they do not improve the quality of their service, especially customer service. A point well made, Ms Akhtar. Recommend

  • Khan

    Your lucidity is heart warming Ms. Akhtar. You do not work at some writing center by any chance, now do you? =)Recommend