Sunday, October 17, 2010

Airline companies should reward on time passengers and good customers...

Just another upgrade story

I just flight with US Airways and I would like to relate some interesting story that happens to me and is, I think, shared by most of the airline industry.

I was late for various reasons :
  • somehow, my Nexus card was flagged as "deactivated" and I spend half an hour at the custom instead of my usual 2 minutes as it is the case when Nexus is working as expected (+30 minutes).
  • The airport parking was full (because of work done on the parking lot) and I had to use the the shuttle parking (+10 minutes)
  • Security was finding again and again some "large metallic item" in my bag and it was emptied and scanned 8 times (IIRC). It look like it was my keys that causes this (I used the same backpack and the same keys on more than 50 flights without any problem !] (+30 minutes).

During my security adventure, I could see the departure gate emptying and every passenger getting on board. I was not able to hear the announcements but when I was finally able to present myself at the gate, the lady told me "too late, you were supposed to be on board 10 minutes ago, your seat has been re-assigned". Been there, done that anyway so I remain calm and ask the only meaningful question I can think off :"are you sure the plane is at complete capacity ?".

The lady recounted the boarding passes (by hand, not using any computer which I found funny and slightly disturbing) and then visited the plane.
At the end, she came back in a hurry and told me I was lucky : some place were available ... in first class.

Another happy first class passenger  ...  but wait : is this ethical ?

Of course, I was happy with the experience and I'm writing this post from
a very comfortable seat with first class service reflecting on this particular
fact from a marketing and ethical point of view.

I'm not a bad customer as I fly quite often and from a business point of view
it make sense to give me some reward. However, the decision to upgrade me was not at all based on this information but on the sole fact that I was a bad
customer : I was late for the flight.

How come I have been rewarded for a bad behaviour ? Does it encourage me to
come up early ?

My advice to airlines companies 

I'm sure that passengers that came early and are good customers are the one you want to reward. Not the one that are randomly late !

Please encourage ethical behaviour and reward
  • your on-time passengers
  • your good customers

In 2010, this should be an easy function to implement in your CRM : as long as
it will not delay the flight departure, moving a couple of passengers and then
assigning the remaining seats to the late passengers seems way more ethical and
that assigning the remaining (and sometime excellent) seats to the latest passenger...


  1. Glad to hear you got lucky, at least :)

    I often wonder why they are so terrible, everyone has some terrible airline experiences at one point at another, but if you think that's bad, I think the process for applying for visas for Canada and the US is way worse :) (at least compared to countries in Europe and the Middle East)

  2. Well, I had a good experience but this is not fair for the other passengers : I was simply the latest in the queue !

    VISA & co : I agree with you however, most of the citizen of those country never had to fill one of these (beside the immigrant!) so I'm not sure this is going to change any time soon.

    The only external force that would encourage countries to remove most of the red tape and help immigrants is the so called "talent war" but, once again, I'm afraid this treatment will be restricted to only a selected few...