There’s More to Customer Comfort than Leg Room

This article found on todayonline.com talked about how Singapore recently modified some seats in its public transportation system to offer riders more leg room, at an additional cost of course.  Though intended to please customers, this action received harsh criticism from those whom for it was meant to appeal.  Riders complained that because of the premium seats, the leg room in other parts of the bus was reduced.  Some complained about their wasted tax dollars.  The biggest complaint, however, is that the comfier seating arrangement does not address the main problem: overcrowding and long waiting times.  All this brings me to a recent experience and my loyalty to one brand.

When I travel, I usually choose a well-known global carrier, which I’ll call “Airline A.”  I initially preferred them for what I perceived as being quieter planes and smoother rides.  I also appreciate the captain’s comforting words anytime we hit rough air.

On a recent trip to Baltimore, I chose “Airline B,” a well-known competitor of Airline A.  While prices between the two airlines were comparable, I gave B a chance because their ads boast of on-time arrivals and more leg room.

As we descended into Baltimore, we hit some rough air.  The plane accelerated to account for wind speeds.  While I’m not a fearful flyer, I found my hands getting sweaty as the plane roared and surged closer to the runway.  The two passengers in front of me made nervous jokes about the plane going down, resulting in worried looks from others seated around them.  Needless to say, the plane landed safely, and we all got off unharmed.

I trust the airline industry and all its pilots, and I know what I experienced was noting out of the ordinary.  It was just another routine landing in rough air.  What I found bothersome was the lack of announcements from the cockpit.  In fact, as we deplaned, the cockpit doors remained closed.  In my experiences on Airline A, the pilots always thank the passengers that walk off.  As seemingly mundane as this might seem, this courtesy not only alleviates concerns of passengers, but it also demonstrates an appreciation for our business.  It shows me the flight crew wants me to know I’m in capable hands.  The pilots’ presence is simply comforting.

Rough landings are not unusual, but all passengers are not aviation experts, so on the final descent into Baltimore, some words from Airline B’s pilots would have eased any tensions of those in the cabin.  Something to tell us we were fine, a little of the “human aspects” of service can go further than needless bells and whistles like extra legroom.  Landings can be rough.  We all know this.  Just tell us, and you’ll maintain my trust in your company.  I’ll certainly return to Airline A just to receive this courtesy.

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