Saturday, July 16, 2011

Airline Woes

Is it just me, or are airlines competing to see who can provide the worst customer experience possible?

When I found a direct flight from London to Edmonton at a reasonable price, I was so excited! I booked with Air Transat because it was a little bit cheaper than Air Canada.

Well, it looked cheaper through Expedia.

Air Transat has a reasonable weight limit for long haul flights, but what they don't really tell you up front is that Thomas Cook, who actually operates the flight, only allows 20 kg for your checked baggage. And while I have a handy fold up bag that I can attempt to stow some of the excess weight, they put a 5 kg weight limit on your carry-on (I was allowed 10 kg on my 50 minute flight from Dublin to Edinburgh), AND you're only allowed one bag. So forget carrying on a purse and extra bag.

Air Transat also sent me a very helpful email today, three days before my flight leaves, to tell me that I can select my seat ahead of time. Yay! So I called their customer service, only to discover that Thomas Cook requires you to book at least five days before the flight leaves. Five days? Seriously? So yippee... I get to show up to the airport super early on Tuesday morning or risk being sandwiched in the middle seat. Thanks Air Transat and Thomas Cook for your assistance with my stress-free travel.

The frustrating thing is that if I'd known to look for this, I could have checked before I booked my flight and made a decision knowing all the relevant facts. But I feel stupid for not looking into it, and am now paying the consequences. It won't be a big deal: worst-case scenario, I pay an extra $100 and have to spend nine hours between two linebackers. It just frustrates me that the entire airline industry seems to be in a competition to outdo each other to belittle and nickle-and-dime the customer. If JetBlue can make air travel low-cost and low-hassle, with no hidden costs and a pleasant experience, why have so few other players caught on?

I've heard Virgin Atlantic is supposed to be good. And the fact that JetBlue has started to codeshare with them instills some confidence in that conclusion. Having a home base in Boston will hopefully offer a few more options so I'm not stuck with Air Transat ever again.


Shuffleboard Tables said...

A sort of hard to be a profitable airline in the region without a vision and a lack of expansion. To what extent will the airline actually go to the air fleet is made up of a ... Well, there are better options, and increases by other airlines and Accra, and Virgin Atlantic and United will begin service in the near future!

Al said...

You're not the only one feeling this. It seems that people are unsatisfied with airline service, regardless of whether you hold first class airline tickets or not.

pimalai said...

It sure seems that airlines are focusing more on sheer profit and less on the actual services they provide. I am a little scared to think of how far this trend will go before something finally forces airlines to clean up their acts.

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