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
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.