Air Travel – A Lesson in Customer Service

September 14, 2006 at 6:39 pm 2 comments

Why is it that there is nothing worse than business travel? For all of the advancements we have made in the past 50 years, air travel has continually deteriorated. And no, I am not just talking about taking off our shoes, or checking in liquids, I mean the entire flight experience.

Last night I flew to Mexico City to visit our customer service office. I have never had such a horrible experience. My flight left at 1:50am and was supposed to arrive at 6am. Not only was the flight delayed, but everything about the flight experience was terrible.

One hour and fifteen minutes into a redeye flight, as you can imagine most passengers were sleeping, yet that is exactly when the flight crew decided to turn on all of the lights to serve drinks. This was incredibly insensitive to the needs of the passengers, and completely unnecessary. It would have been just as easy to serve with the lights dimmed or even off. There was no need to wake up the entire plane.

This might be a unique and extreme example, but it points to a deeper issue; flying comfortably is no longer a concern of the airline. They want to get you from point A to point B, much like they would any other type of cargo.

This is not just a rant against the airlines – there are great business lessons to learn about customer service and customer satisfaction. I believe that the problem’s the airlines are having with customer satisfaction doesn’t stem from the reduction in services (food, blankets, pillows), but from a change in the airline’s culture and attitude towards the customer. When Delta or American Airlines stopped providing pillows, they sent a message to all of their employees that customer service was secondary to cost cutting. The message they should have worked very hard to communicate was that everyone in the company will now have to work especially hard to satisfy its customers to make up for the lost perks and benefits of flying. Think about JetBlue or Southwest, by far two of the most beloved companies in the sky, and neither of them ever served meals. The difference? Their culture and attitude towards the customer.

So as a CEO, whenever you think of your customer don’t automatically think of adding extras and perks to keep them happy, but perhaps consider working on the culture of your business, and making it as customer friendly as possible. The customer knows when a company is trying to serve them because it loves them, or when they are throwing in perks because they want to get more out of each customer.


Entry filed under: Start-up.

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Exactly one year ago I set off on the most exciting journey of my life; I started Emerging Demographics Inc (the parent company of

Along the way I was selected as one of the top 20 young entrepreneurs by and the 21st coolest young entrepreneur by Inc. magazine. I have also appeared in ABC7, Telemundo, NPR, and been quoted in,, Entrepreneur Magazine, and various other publications.

Over the next few months I will recount some of the stories and lessons learned from building, developing and creating a business from scratch.

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