Airlines have policies. What if it’s customers had one too?

One of my core tenets is reasonability. If an argument doesn’t appeal to my reason it’s basically stupid. But there are policies and rules that we all have to abide by. And not because it’s the law. It’s just too much of a hassle to ruffle some feathers or shake the system up a little.

Consider this — trying to cancel or change your flight attract a certain amount of fee that’s roughly equivalent to 85-90% of the value of the damn ticket! And they would charge a flat “convenience fee” on top of that! Ridiculous as it sounds, I even asked a customer representative the logic behind this fee when I clearly have been inconvenienced. His response, “Sir, we can’t help it. It’s the company policy.”

Don’t you just love it when someone says that to you? I can imagine.

My argument is that if airlines policies require customers to pay a penalty for cancelation or rescheduling their tickets, shouldn’t we expect them to give us a refund when they cancel or reschedule their flights? But I know that’ll be a disaster for the aviation industry.

The next best option is to take prompt action and provide an alternative. Impractical? How? Well, I don’t care because that’s not my problem. I’m the one who paid money for the tickets, remember? And if you aren’t in a position to offer refunds (for the inconvenience caused due to the company’s inability to arrange for an alternative) you might as well do a better job than send automated text messages apologizing for the delay and inconvenience caused.

That’s not customer service. That’s automated bulk messaging.

The best solution I can offer to an airline is this — operational efficiencies aren’t the customer’s fault. And if such an event does surface, airlines should be prepared to compensate their customers by either refunding 100% of the ticket’s value as store credit. This would force them to look for creative ways to reduce these “operational efficiencies” and actually focus on serving their customers.

Such a move might also force airlines to reconsider the penalty they inflict upon customers when they request a change or have to cancel their flights. And who knows, it just might have them look into a genuine way to delight their customers instead of mindlessly repeating the “company policy” mantra when you ask for an explanation. Or perhaps do a better job than shamelessly apologizing for the inconvenience caused to you.

Until then, I think the customer’s agenda needs to be addressed by the aviation authorities. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? The companies are going to go on a strike? What would happen if they do?

Of course, there are nuances that I haven’t covered or go beyond the scope of our interest but would the ideal customer interested in all that? They just care about being treated fairly and right now they are not.

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