When American Airlines Flight 1348 was stranded on an Austin, TX airport runway for nine hours, it made news around the world. And although incidents of this magnitude are rare, for many it was just another in a continuing series of uncaring acts by an industry that doesn´t place a priority on customer service. Sure, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue are exceptions, but overall, the public perception is that airlines care more about making a buck than caring for their customers.
Now two of the passengers on that flight have created a blog organized around getting a petition before Congress advocating for a "Passenger´s (sic) Bill of Rights." When I checked, more than 1400 people had already signed it. More than 50 people have left comments, some pro, some con, some accused of being plants by the airlines.
In an excerpt in a guest column at the Austin American-Statesman, Tim and Kate Hanni wrote:
it’s time to pass a real Passengers Bill of Rights – a set of standards that guarantees customers a basic level of customer service and protects them from horrific, nightmare scenarios like ours. We believe a Bill of Rights should include compensation for “bumped” passengers; clear, real-time information about schedules, delays and frequent flyer program requirements; and accommodations for disabled passengers. We also need to create an independent Passenger Review Committee made up of non-airline executives to promptly and fairly address customer complaints. And of course, a Bill of Rights would prevent passengers from sitting on the tarmac for over four hours and require adequate food, water and restroom facilities during long delays on the ground.
I wish the Hannis luck although I don´t think the PboR will pass. Those airlines with the worst reputation for customer service are focused on fixing their outdated business models or just trying to remain solvent. Improving customer service means a major shift in their various corporate cultures. In other words they have to want to change, then be prepared to pour resources into improving customer service. I don´t believe they are willing to do that now.
I´m going to do everything I can to make sure the organization I work for is never perceived in the same light as the airline industry. I challenge you to do the same for your organization.