Friday, June 09, 2006

Two hours on the runway

What agony.
What boredom.
What a set of broken lies.

That is one way that it might turn out.

Or it could be a powerful marketing opportunity.

We landed late May 31, 2006 at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
It was an Air Canada Regional Jet. We spent more time on the runway than we spent in the air.

It wasn’t Air Canada’s fault. There had been a lightning storm and the whole airport was shut down. And frankly that was a lot more reassuring then a terrorist attack. So we weren’t worried – just bored and frustrated.

So how did Air Canada handle this opportunity?

Mediocre at best.

What did Air Canada do well?
We received several reports from the pilot about our status.
About one hour into our wait the flight attendant came around with water for everyone.
A couple announcements were made about connecting flights.

What did they do poorly?
It was difficult to clearly understand most of the pilot’s announcements.
Every promise of time was broken.
The flight attendant was mostly invisible during this time.
I am still not clear on what the problem was or why the possibility of lighting shuts a whole airport down. (I just want to understand.)

What might they have done differently?
The pilot could have given updates when the timeframe he stated was up – even if he didn’t have new information. We just want to be informed.
The flight attendant could have spent more time walking the aisle and talking to customers.
The airline could have sent every passenger a letter or short note apologizing for and explaining the inconvenience.

Could Air Canada have done even more?
Lots more.

I wonder, is their motto ‘It’s not our fault’?
Or ‘We’re no worse than the others’.

How many companies follow that customer service standard?

Don’t be part of the ‘Not-our-fault’ mob.

George Torok, co-author
Secrets of Power Marketing

1 comment:

Curt Skene said...

George... The airport has a protocol when there is a threat of lightning that all ground services stop. In some cases planes can land or take off but if they require any ground assistance they just have to wait until the threat is lifted. Sounds like you got stuck in one. I forget what it is called but they were in the same situation during the AIR FRANCE accident.

Hope it helps...