The inspiration for this blog post is another viral post on LinkedIn about a bad customer experience by a passenger traveling in one of the leading low-cost airlines in India.
Here is how the incident in the original post unfolds:
A flight of the said airlines has landed at one of the modern airports of India and is waiting for ladders and ground buses so that passengers can disembark and reach the arrival lounge. Not expected at this time of the year in that area, but it’s raining heavily outside. Naturally, from the passengers’ point of view, they see hardship, and one of them (the author of the original post) takes the matter up with the cabin crew requesting them to explore the option of an aerobridge. The staff refuses to act on it. The passenger then calls the Airport ground personnel and confirms that the aerobridge is available and not allotted to their flight because the airline didn’t ask for it. So, the passenger goes back to the cabin crew and escalates to the captain when no response is received. Nothing changes. The lack of empathy by the staff agitates the passengers, escalating the situation and resulting in some sharp reactions.
The post generated many responses, and naturally, almost all the comments shared passengers’ PoV, finding fault with the airline.
Let’s Switch Sides!
Each coin has two sides, so let’s switch sides. It is not to support one side or the other, but to gain a whole and balanced perspective on the issue.
If asked, the airline company certainly will have a version that supports their staff and how they handled the situation.
If we step back a bit, we will appreciate the turbulent conditions the airline industry is going through. The impact of pandemic and the rising fuel costs, to name a few, would have put massive pressure on their balance sheet. So, if they are extra cost-conscious, that’s not unfounded for a low-cost carrier.
From the airline company’s point of view, maybe this was how it was planned and executed for numerous such flights before this specific flight. From the ground and cabin staff’s point of view, the situation was unique in itself that it wasn’t probably part of their SOP or most likely not covered as part of their training.
So, what could be the real problem that agitated passengers on the flight?
Is it that the airlines had not planned for an aerobridge in the first place or that it failed to provide it when passengers asked for it?
Or is it just that the ground staff didn’t show the desired responsiveness, given the unusual weather condition, and planned for the aerobridge in time?
Could the cabin crew have done something else to address the passengers’ concerns? Maybe they could have requested umbrellas for passengers or a covered landing ladder or something else?
As it appears from the original post, the core issue is that none of the airline staff members—either ground or cabin—seemed to feel they had the authority to make those decisions.
What Could The Airline Company Have Done Better?
The original LinkedIn post seeks Government intervention. That may or may not work, but we will not delve into that.
Many organizations face these kinds of problems where teams are up against unique situations, but they need to respond to them.
What would you do if you were at the helm of this airline and were keen to see that your teams don’t create this kind of customer experience in the future?
- Would you introspect to assess where you stand regarding how things work and invest in training?
- Do you think it’s time to update SOPs and add more prescriptions for handling such situations?
From our perspective, it’s an opportune time for the airline company to reflect and invest in building a culture that enables everyone to take ownership, feel truly empowered to do what is right at any given moment to create an experience that the organization is committed to do.