Thank you for your patience

I’m sitting on an Alaska Airlines flight back from Seattle to
Oakland. The flight has been delayed by two hours. It happens. In fact,
it happened several weeks ago on this same trip with Alaska.

The reason the flight has been delayed, they say, is that the pilot
is on his way from Spokane. Makes sense – can’t take off without a
pilot.

While Alaska may think this represents good customer communication,
I’m afraid it doesn’t. Sure I know why the flight is delayed but not
the root cause. Why is the pilot en route from Spokane? Doesn’t he have
an appointment flying this plane? That would be nice to know.

More importantly, what is Alaska doing to prevent this happening
again? That might make me think these are isolated incidents, and use Alaska again. That’s communication, not simple explanation.

"We’re sorry about the delay of flight 314 to Oakland. Thank you for your patience," chirps the flight attendant.

Trouble is I am not patient. I’m certainly persistent, but patient –
not really. Reason being this phrase is so insincere. It assumes
customers will understand and sympathize. And perhaps we might. But not
unless we’re told the cause of a problem, rather than just an description of events.

In adversity, more communication and explanation is better than assumption.

And guess what? The attendant even tried to sign us up to their
frequent flyer program as we landed. Seems they’ve forgiven themselves
already. I wonder whether their customers will.

  • Wasn’t Alaska Airlines the same company that stretched its servicing schedules so far that a plane fell out the sky in 1993(?) killing 88 people? Didn’t the the FBI and air transportation department flay them? Didn’t they falsify maintenance schedules? I’m pretty sure it’s them.

  • I’ll never forget the UA flight I didn’t take from SF to Paris. The chief whatever came over the microphone and said: “Did anyone bring a handgun on the place? It’s just we’ve found a bullet in the jetway.” My instinctive reaction was: “Sure, it’s me, I’m the dumb ass that plans to hijack the drinks trolley.” Almost as good as filling in the US immigration green card thingy (abbreviated and re-interpreted):
    Qu.1 – Have you been convicted of hate crimes, sex crimes or crimes against humanity?
    Qu.2 – Have you been convicted of war crimes?
    Qu.3 – Have you been refused entry into the US before?
    Qu.4 Are you carrying bananas, oranges, apples or mushrooms?
    etc etc…and the answers are in ‘yes’ ‘no’ format??

  • Nick

    Re: Alaskan Airlines plane crash, you’re spot on Dennis. I know because I sat through an hour-long Channel Five docu-drama on the subject (‘When budget short-haul airlines from cold outlying States go bad’ type thing, you know the drill) the other night.
    Its the sort of programme that you get drawn into channel-surfing by accident, then twenty minutes later you find you’re still watching the bloody thing even though you’re really scared of flying and you know it’ll screw with your head forever but some strange masochistic force won’t let you turn away even though there’s something much more benign on the other side, and then it happens and the naive unsuspecting crew go into a sudden flat spin, then the plane is inverted (yes, inverted) and they scream upside down at a zillion MPH into the drink with no survivors and, oh God, you’re flying to Berlin on Friday why did you watch it you’re now browning your Calvins at the thought of that two hour Easyjet slice of living hell awaiting you in two days time…
    Aaaarrrgggghhhh!!!!

  • OK so here I am worrying about Alaska’s communications approach and what you are telling me is that I should be glad just to have arrived, nevermind the delay or bungled customer relations.
    Perhaps I’d better fly SouthWest next time, like the guy who sat next to me swore he would. Just gotta love that scramble for seats since they don’t allocate them. I’m always on a tight timeframe so check in last, get allocated to the ‘C’ queue which makes you feel like a third-rate citizen. But that’s a whole other customer care debate.