Flying the Friendly Skies? A Tale of Two Airline Experiences…By Mark Niblo

mark-nibloPost written by Mark Niblo, Marketing Director at Durvet | Long Distance Runner | Iowa by Birth-Kansas City by Choice

I fly often for work and I think I notice things over time that the occasional vacation traveler probably doesn’t.

I fly Airline A most of the time and I have gotten to where I really like them. They’re almost always on time, don’t have an “Executive Lounge”, and they don’t give me free First Class seating on their planes.

I fly them because they have respect for all of their passengers and treat everyone like First Class travelers.  

My bag fees are included in the price of my ticket and I get to choose my seat. If I don’t get a good seat, it’s because I forgot to check in on time… not because they decided I wasn’t worthy of anything but their most uncomfortable seats in the middle of the row, all the way to the back of the plane.

Recently I had to fly Airline B, who doesn’t get my business very often.

I thought I’d done everything correct to make my trip fairly comfortable. I bought my tickets well in advance, did my seat selections on flights they’d let me do in advance, and I even pre-checked my bags… for a fee, of course. I arrived at the airport in plenty of time to check in and not be rushed through security or be rushing to board at the last minute.

When I went to find new seats as they opened up right before the flight, it was amazing that the only seat available to me was in the middle…in the back of the plane…next to the restrooms. All other seats appeared full EXCEPT these great seats in mid-plane that I could upgrade to for an extra $50. The bad part was that they were all center seats.

I thought to myself…”Ok, full flight. I understand.”

airplaneThey announced boarding for the plane and there are only enough people in the boarding area to fill about half of the plane.

I think to myself, “Wow, there are a lot of people in the bar still! I hope they make the flight.”

We start boarding and there are at least three different levels of preferred status. I have the number 4 on my boarding pass. This has to be good, right? I mean 4 is better than 5!  They then call group 1, then group 2, and finally group 3. By this time, I’m the only one left that hasn’t boarded and they announce all others can now board.

Wow, really?  Who else is left besides me? 

So I’m now the last person getting on the plane and I walk by all the aisle seats that are unoccupied, then past mid-plane that’s partially empty, and finally take my seat close to the bathroom.

I think to myself again, “Maybe this is good. After all, I drink a lot of coffee.”

After I was done with my trip, I vowed that I would do everything possible to avoid ever again stepping foot on one of their planes unless it was absolutely necessary to reach my destination. I will pay a little more to stay on Airline A…and avoid Airline B. Airline B appeared to do everything possible to make sure I DIDN’T enjoy my flight while irritating me…their occasional customer.

passengersWhat a lousy business model.

I challenge anyone that sells to the public to stop and think about how they treat their customers.

Are you Airline B and trying to make sure new customers don’t want to shop with you ever again? Do you leave them on their own to wander around looking for what they came in for? Do your employees do everything they can to avoid showing them products or where items are located? Do your employees avoid offering them alternatives if you don’t have their specific need?

Or are you Airline A, who greets everyone through the door and makes them feel welcome when they walk in? Do you offer to help them find what they need without being pushy? Are your employees educated on what you sell so they can help anyone that comes in?

I challenge everyone in your business to be Airline A whenever you can. Because if you’re Airline B, you better be the only store in town.