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I’m writing this post on 2 hours of sleep. Not because I stayed up late thinking about this post or I was out enjoying the NYC Sunday night club scene, but because my routine flight from O’hare to Laguardia (LGA) last night turned into an aeronautical tour of the Northeast. I’m sure everyone who reads this post will relate to a very similar experience, we all have had awful airline experiences. I just needed to vent and in the end see a direct correlation with my experience last night and that of the online shopping experience.
LAST WEEK’S EVENTS!
When I initially arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, I was informed that the flight would be delayed 10 minutes. 10 minutes turned into an hour and an hour turned into two hours, before it was finally time to board the flight. Not too stressed out yet because I was able to sit at the bar and watch Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, my stress levels began to increase as the pilot came on before pushing back and informed us that Laguardia was shut down for now and we wouldn’t be taking off for another hour.
After sitting around for an hour on the runway, the flight took off with the pilot’s “promise” that we would be arriving at LGA before midnight. After two hours of a very unevenentful in-air flight experience, the plane started to turn in circles. Those dreaded circles that mean YOU CANT LAND YET. After 15 minutes of the circles, the Pilot finally came on the speaker system and with a brief laugh he stated: “Well, looks like Laguardia is still backed up, we are running out of gas so we are going to have to head down to Philly and refuel then come back and land in Laguardia.” So off to Philly it was. When 45 minutes went by and still no descent into Philly, I became suspicious. Just in time for the pilot to come back on the speaker system and say “Well it looks like Philly is all backed up too, so we’re going to head down to DC and get gas then turn around to Laguardia and land.”
So it was off to the nations capital! After another 15 mintues or so heading towards DC, the pilot came on again with that same laughing voice and muttered “Well it looks like Laguardia is closed for the night, so we are going to turn around and take you guys to Philly so you can get a hotel for the night”.
What started as a routine 2 hour flight from Chicago to NYC had turned into a flight longer then it would take to go across the pond to London.
So when we finally got off the plane I expected an army of Flight Agents to help out the 150 or so travelers who were in need of a place to stay, a way home or just a glass of water. Instead, nothing. Not one agent at the gate to assist the people who just got off a 7 hour flight from Chicago to NYC. So I marched on to baggage claim, expecting that help would be awaiting there. I arrived to the site of a group of angry travelers surrounding ONE agent. The ONE agent was helpless. All she could say was come back tomorrow and we’ll get you situated, but tonight you are on your own.
After getting into a hotel at 4AM sleeping 2 hours to catch the train from Philly to NYC this morning, 14 hours later, my routine flight from Chicago to New York had finally arrived safely.
Thinking back to yesterday, I keep coming back to one thought that could have made last night’s experience so much more tolerable.
The major problem with last night started with the pilot and entire flight staff’s lack of communication with the travelers. We were helpless, along for the ride for wherever the plane took us. When we finally landed in Philly, no one was there to speak to us. The flight attendants had no idea about how to rebook or what the airline’s policy was.
This experience reminds me of why some shoppers resist shopping online, they have this same feeling of helplessness. How can I return a product? Who can I talk to about the product? How do I know the right product will be delivered? It is imperative that the retailer clearly communicate their customer service offerings and make the customer feel comfortable when shopping. We often see sites that have customer service information spread throughout the site; finding it is like solving a Sunday Times crossword puzzle. A shopper goes in wanting to buy and is turned off because they can’t find an answer to a simple question about shipping policies.
At STELLAService, we are trying to clearly display to shoppers sites that will offer you a great customer experience. Through retailers displaying our STELLAService seal, consumers can feel confident in their decision to buy from those sites. If they have trouble finding core customer service data, they can visit one of our profile pages.
Share with me an awful flight experience please, so I feel better about myself.