Flight Delay – Customer Service Case Study

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The typical frequent flyer navigates a number of travel issues throughout the week. When things go wrong it’s nice to know you have an elite line to call that will not only be friendly but helpful to provide timely and accurate information.

A common week for the frequent flyer can include multiple cities and multiple flights. Because multiple flights require good weather, aircraft coordination and people coordination, often things can go wrong. That is it why it is important to have the airline elite line on speed dial.

Case Study

This week was not unusual for me, but the customer service I received tonight was unusually unhelpful.

I saw a window to get home early so I jumped on it by booking a last minute refundable ticket on American Airlines. I knew it was the last flight of the day which means things can and will go wrong.

The check in process was efficient and things were looking good when the upgrade cleared. The five guys cheeseburger was tasty and the beers at the were flowing at the airport bar. There was even a game on the bar TV. This is where things took a turn for the worse.

An announcement was made by the agent who appeared out of nowhere. The flight departure was delayed.

There was no mention of what caused the delay or when the arriving plane would pull up to the gate. It is important to know when the plane will arrive that will take you to your destination. After all, you can’t leave without it.

When things go wrong, it’s the perfect time to call the elite line and check in to see what is really going on. This is also the perfect time to start contingency planning on the fly because you will know what is really going on when others are just trying to finish their words with friends games on their iPads.

Here is an overview of the rather poor interaction with the AA elite line agent.

  • Me: Hi, My confirmation number is xxxxxx and my flight number xxxx is delayed. Can you tell me what is going on?
  • Agent: Sorry, your flight is delayed, but I don’t know why
  • Me: Ok, can you tell me when the plane will land to take us to our destination?
  • Agent: No, I don’t have that information
  • Me: Ok, can you tell me when the next flight from ORD will arrive here?
  • Agent: No, I don’t have that information either
  • Me: Time to hang up

It was difficult to believe the airline didn’t know where the plane was coming from, but it was even more difficult to believe they didn’t know when the next flight from one of their major hubs was going to arrive.

Bottom Line

The AA customer service agent obviously didn’t want to provide any customer service or provide helpful information. Maybe it was late in their shift, maybe they didn’t know how to get the information, but surely AA (don’t call me surely) provides their customer service agents the ability to get that basic information.

As any good frequent flyer would do, I simply took it in stride and found out why the flight was delayed by using flight tracker.

Any other stellar customer service stories this week?

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. Wow. I wonder if she knew the answer to anything? Sigh…

    (I went to pay a traffic ticket today, and I swear that same agent works for Dallas City Hall).

  2. I use and love FlightCaster on my iPhone. I tend to know about potential delays before the agents do!

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