It seems to me that the entire customer service industry has been slacking lately. I might be picky about most things, but since I travel alone for a living, it would be nice to experience a bit of extra care and attention once in awhile.
Let’s consider the baggage handling consortium at most airports. I have so many questions, and although I’ve received answers to most of them, I’m befuddled as to why a manager somewhere in the system hasn’t said, “Hey, we can do better than this.” Here are some of my favorite questions and the subsequent answers I’ve received:
Q: Why do some airlines charge a $50 fee to check a bag that weighs more than 50 pounds, but they charge nothing to check two 49-pound bags?
A: This boils down to a “safety issue” for the people working at the baggage counter. It is a worker’s compensation insurance issue when the employees routinely lift more than 50 pounds. The fewer employees with this designation, the cheaper the insurance premiums, even when they’re only lifting the bag to move it 6 feet to the conveyor belt.
The solution to this one is to check your bag at the curb. Tipping a porter $5 or more per bag is certainly cheaper than $50 at the counter. This is especially true for international trips when most airlines charge double the “heavy baggage” rate (even though the bag is still lifted the same 6 feet to the conveyor belt).
Q: I noticed that first-class passengers get a special “priority” tag on their checked luggage. Does this give them special consideration at the baggage carousel when they retrieve their bags?
A: Absolutely not. As a “Platinum” flier for many years, I’ve received many of these tags and I can tell you that my bag has never come out in the first 10 to 20 bags. I asked a handler once, “Why do you still use the tags?” He looked me right in the eye and said, “It gives customers a sense of importance.” Enough said. I believe those tags help tremendously on overseas flights, but not domestically.
Q: Why does it take longer to receive your bags at some airports than at others?
A: This effort is strictly controlled at each individual airport. For example, the Minneapolis airport is one of the worst. I routinely wait 45 minutes after landing before the bags start tumbling down the carousel. I asked an employee at the baggage counter, “Are you sure the bags are still scheduled for turret 7?” “Yes,” she said, “we strive for a 40-minute window between landing and delivery.” She was actually proud of that goal. Her manager should consider a more effective strategy than the “teamwork” motivational poster that was hanging behind her head.