The Highs and Lows of Airline Customer Service
Earlier this week, my colleague Keith Alexander wrote about the current attempts by United Airlines to improve its customer service in his Business Class column. As he noted, United has a long way to go, considering in February, it was the second-most complained about airline (after US Airways) at the Department of Transportation.
Well I had the fortune (or was it misfortune?) to fly on United last week. This week, I flew on Jet Blue and even though one leg of that trip was late because of mechanical problems there is no question that Jet Blue wins my support.
It's the simple things that count. In this case, it was the food! My four-hour flight on United, or rather on its no-frills division "Ted" was strictly that: no frills. The flight attendants offered only one CUP of soda. If you asked for a can, you were sternly rebuffed. If you were lucky, they gave you another cup half full. And you only got a little packet of snack mix. There were boxes of snack food to buy for $5, but they were out of the most popular (and healthful) version. The flight attendants were surly and bristled if you asked for anything.
By contrast, my one-hour flight on Jet Blue was a treat. Not only were the attendants friendly and helpful, but the food was more plentiful--and better--than the paltry selection "Ted" offered on a flight four times as long. First, everyone got a CAN of soda. And then a choice of snacks--and the attendants encouraged us to take more than one, even a selection so we could have salty nuts and sweet cookies.
Admittedly, these are small issues in the world of customer service, but the small issues add up. No wonder Jet Blue recently emerged as the most favored carrier based on customer complaints filed with the Department of Transportation in 2005.
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