When I missed my flight…

It hasn’t been long when I pleasantly missed my flight! Yes, I pleasantly missed my flight. I had to travel from LA to Buffalo via Charlotte. While I left for the airport a bit tight on time, it was good enough to reach there in time. However, the LA traffic had something else in store for me. The slow moving traffic almost for the whole stretch, made it impossible to make there in time. While I reached there half an hour before the scheduled departure, it was already too late to check-in my baggage as most of the airlines have a cut-off time of 45 minutes before they stop accepting any baggage for the particular flight.

As I walked into the airport, I was almost relaxed. I knew that I had missed my flight so no need to hurry and all. I started thinking about plan B’s and plan C’s (which I didn’t have). Anyways, I had a US airways flight, so I reached the full-service counter. After the initial greetings, I simply told that lady that I think I’ve missed my flight. I didn’t know what to expect. And to my surprise, she gave a very reassuring smile and said, “Let me see what I can do for you!”. Wow, never I would have expected such a reassurance while traveling in India. Within a couple of minutes, she said “You’ll reach your destination half an hour later than your initial itinerary”. That was so relaxing. So simple it was. I immediately gave my nod to proceed. Nothing could have been better that day (except for not missing the flight.). Well, no point mentioning the rest of the story. It was a usual longish travel day. I was in Buffalo a little later than I had planned for.

I don’t think I could have had any smoother experience of missing a flight and then reach with an alternate itinerary and that too without spending an extra penny! Even through they say US Airways  is not the best when it comes to the customer service, I don’t see any scope as to how the whole process could have been better. I was completely sold.  And let’s keep in mind that it is a low cost airline. Full marks to the airlines.

I can understand that I was lucky to find a seat on an alternate itinerary. At times and on busy routes, the process may not be smooth. But then, missing a flight is the passenger’s fault. So we can only be grateful if we find an alternative and certainly can’t crib if the airline is not able to manage one. What matters is the attitude. Logistics is not always in one’s control.

I haven’t heard of such a customer experience in India. Or may be, I don’t even know what happens if I miss a flight here! Traffic in Indian metros is no better than LA.  But I am eager to know. I don’t want to miss a flight to know this, so if you’ve had an experience, please share it here :-). I hope we have everything it takes to provide a similar customer experience. In fact, we may be doing so, just that I am not aware of it.

So next time when you are traveling in the US and realize that you are getting late to catch your flight, do not press hard on the accelerator and increase the chances of an accident! Relax and reach safely. Missing flight is not all that bad after all!

Happy missing flight! (well not recommended though)

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Amit Srivastava

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Ankit - February 24, 2009

So true. My best customer service experience so far has been with Amazon.com — they shipped duplicate copies of a couple of books that I never received, at their own cost, even though I had opted for the cheapest shipping option (USPS).

Somehow, everytime I speak with an Indian company, I get the feeling they are blaming me for their own faults.

yayaver - February 25, 2009

You must be lucky man.I have read one more incident like it but in negative sense.The service provider was none other than Air india.Here is that link– http://www.ce.cmu.edu/~svo/AirIndia.htm

Amit Srivastava - February 25, 2009

@Ankit: Yeah, customer service makes such a huge difference.

Amit Srivastava - February 27, 2009

@Yayaver: Thanks for the link. Sad but true, our airlines need to spruce up a lot in terms of customer service to match those in the developed worlds.


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