Dealing With A Delayed Or Cancelled Flight: Tips For the Airlines

Last weekend, I travelled to London and was nearly stuck there due to the mass of fog which overtook the city. Naturally, my flight was massively delayed, but luckily mine was one of very few flights that wasn’t cancelled. These things happen and the finger of blame could not be pointed anywhere except for at Mother Nature herself. However, they were some areas which could have been improved to make the experience much more comfortable for passengers. Take note airlines!

Inform passengers of a delay as soon as possible

I was aware the minute I entered the airport that my flight was delayed. However, there were many flights where passengers were not informed of any problem until their flight was eventually cancelled. In my eyes, this is not good customer service.

Make announcements as clearly as possible

Further information about the status of my flight was not clealy given. It was more a matter of who you could eavesdrop on to find out what was happening. Also, remember that you are speaking to a large crowd. Make sure everybody can hear you and all passengers are together in the same spot before announcing anything.

Have your best staff dealing with the situation

Naturally people will become agitated when a flight is massively delayed, which of course can also result in staff becoming irritated. However, staff should be trained to deal with situations like this. Anybody sent to deal with customers should be professional and polite – in no case should they walk away from questions and avoid any sort of eye contact.

Create a smooth transition if alternative arrangements are available

My flight was transferred to another airport, but it was not a smooth process. Once we arrived at our new destination, nobody was at hand to assist passengers in going through security or boarding the plane. The information provided was very vague and resulted in confused and distressed passengers, especially elder passengers and those travelling with children. Clear and helpful instructions would have cut the delay time.

I guess the main message here is that the customer is the main priority. While airlines can claim that weather situations are out of their hands (and of course they are), it is the manner they take with passengers which is the determining factor when it comes to further use of their services.

Have you ever experienced a massive delay or cancellation when travelling? What advice would you give to airlines?

(Header image: Simone Ramella via FlickrCC. This post is not based on events which occured with the airline pictured here)

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