Airline Quality

The Inmates Are Running The Asylums by Bill Waddell.

For instance, I found something called NWA’s [Nortwest Airlines] “Customer First” Customer Service Guide. Incredibly, it includes the statement, “Ensure that you receive a response to your written complaints within 60 days of their receipt by our Customer Relations department.” That’s right – you tell them about a problem in writing and, by golly, within two months they’ll get back to you.

I flew JetBlue Airways last week. The help at the counter was polite and friendly. While this is only one data point (and hardly a “high bar” to meet) it contrasts with most of my flying experience (in my experience Southwest has a good likelihood of meeting this goal). It would be nice if more airlines could be like Southwest (which manages to be profitable in a very challenging industry – LUV stock info).

“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”

JetBlue also offers free live TV. Not exactly a big deal to me as a customer, but as I watched I thought of all the times I hear people say it is not possible to improve and thought about the contrast. I would like to compare the challenge of making those improvements and getting live TV on planes flying across the country.

Airline quality worsens, report finds: “Southwest Airlines had the lowest rate of complaints, 0.18 per 100,000 passengers; US Airways had the highest, 1.86.”

Airlines’ service loses ground in quality rankings: “New York-based JetBlue (JBLU), which started flying in 2000, ranked No. 1 for a third-consecutive year in the study, which is based on various indicators of customer service.”

It would be nice if Jetblue can add a pleasant flying experience alternative. The frustration caused by poor airline management has to rival that of poor management at GM and Ford. I must admit I wouldn’t likely go into the airline business but there could be great opportunity since I imagine many others also avoid it given the history of losses that industry generates. But given the incredible dissatisfaction of customers, perhaps just managing sensibly will allow a good business opportunity. Southwest has done well for a long time, but they are really the only example (looking only at the US market).

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