Unplanned scheduling issues upsetting your customers?
Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Airline Company,
I’m writing you this letter at 4:00 am having just got home from one of your flights. It was supposed to arrive at 10:00 pm and instead I’m just getting home now. The delay reason started out typical (especially for Boston): weather. However, the reasons kept adding up once we boarded the plane over 3 hours after the scheduled departure time:
- 3 hours after scheduled departure: Your passengers took their time stowing their luggage and getting seated. Why? Are they not excited about their final destination? This made me think about my delayed flight out the day before: we were late boarding (again, weather) and everyone took their sweet time getting seated. It was just long enough for the co-pilot to “time out” so your airline had to call around for another co-pilot. My neighbor then announced with passion, “This exact same thing happened the last time I was on this same flight and they had to cancel it!” I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that she wasn’t happy. Anyway, back to this flight…
- 3.5 hours: Two employees from the cleaning crew rush down the aisle to the bathrooms as a flight attendant explains that someone was “feeling sick.” They removed Sicky from the plane and the cleaning crew had to clean up her “bathroom decoration” before we could depart.
- 4 hours: Two upset looking flight attendants walk up and down the aisle speaking to specific customers. Another attendant makes several announcements: “Can Mr. or Mrs. Smith please ring their call button?” No one does. She asks again. No one does. Several minutes later, another announcement: “Ms. Lawrence. Can you please ring your call button. Ms. Lawrence?“ Either your flight crew was trying to get to know each of us on a last name basis, or…
- 4.25 hours: …a flight attendant announces that the computer had a glitch and they have no idea who is on this flight and who is not. The only way to confirm attendance is to collect flight ticket stubs from each of us, and manually reconcile who is on the plane. An attendant begins walking down the aisle collecting everyone’s ticket stubs while your customers start scrambling to find their stub that they had already stuffed into pockets, bags, food bags, shoes, or whatever else.
- 5 hours after our scheduled departure time, we finally push back from the gate.
Mr./Mrs./Ms. Airline, I understand that unplanned scheduling issues happen: weather, illness, corrective cleaning/maintenance, and sometimes (gulp!) inaccuracies with data in the computer. However, while some delays are true anomalies, many can be prevented through better planning and scheduling.
Your customers, 150 of them on that plane, didn’t really care about the reasons for the delay. They were all tired, and just wanted to get the right results (go home) at the right time (now). If the delays above don’t seem like a big deal to you, please know that I heard several people grumble that they will fly other airlines next time. Word of mouth is powerful, too. As we deboarded the plane at the other end and people called friends and family, you can believe that the first thing out of their mouths were, “You wouldn’t believe the flight that I just had…”
Someone who understands your scheduling challenges