As you may have read …. we recently came back from a scuba diving trip in Egypt, a brief chance for some Winter sun before Christmas, a chance to rest and unwind, ready for the New Year celebrations. Little did we know that Gatwick airport would strike again ….
We went away over New Year 2007/8 and had challenges with flights out of Gatwick … at least this time we took off just the once 🙂 However getting home was more difficult than initially planned. I wouldn’t have minded if the plane was delayed because of the snow, or of course, if we had been kept accurately informed ! Instead having left the pool, washed and changed we sat there at 2pm in reception to be told that our flight was delayed (in fact it was delayed by three hours already) !!
Little by little information was revealed, dribs and drabs keeping us on tender hooks and sat in the hotel reception area with a mountain of suitcases, dewindling light and increasing mosquitos ! When boredom and rebellion finally took over, a group of us set off to town to have dinner (it was 7pm by then) of course, the coach immediately showed up to take us to the airport! As midnight approached we finally boarded the plane and found out that the flight had been rescheduled to Geneva, causing us the seven hour delay, its seems that there are real issues around marketing of charter flights and calling them cattle class might be more apt! Is it so hard to respect your clients, to keep them informed, maybe even to apologise for any inconvenience?
To add insult to injury, the baggage handlers at Gatwick had gone off shift and our flight plus 3 others were left in a drafty baggage hall at 4am, with no food, drink and few chairs for two hours. We started off creatively thinking of reasons why our cases were delayed (health and safety – too cold, unions – too wet, H&S and Unions – need new gloves) and then moved on to creative solutions to speed things up – including off loading the plane ourselves or just abandoning our cases! Again little or no information was forthcoming and certainly no apology. I finally gave up on creativity and lay down where I stood and slept for 90 minutes, who would have thought a concrete floor could have been so comfortable?
It strike me that as more businesses outsource components of their business, which is then re-outsourced – no-one has any responsibility to the client. We bought tickets through a travel company – in this case they bore no blame at all,
they bought flights through an airline, who did redirect the flight leaving us stranded
the airline employs a local Egyptian agent who was merely the messenger (we nearly shot!!),
the luggage is handled by the airport agent who in turn outsources it to the baggage handlers again – they ultimately did nothing wrong and therefore who should have paid for the baggage handlers overtime to off load the bags !!! OMG see what 2 hours on a cold floor can do to you !!! 🙂
I suppose my plea is for the return of customer service and valuing the customers, this is a recessionary time and those with money to buy holidays do have a choice who they spend their money with. If a Charter flight means unreliable flight times and only a slim possibility of getting your bags back at the end of the holiday, then maybe it needs to say that in the brochure !
Vicki – the ranting holiday maker – it was a brilliant trip though 🙂