You may have seen this press release a couple of weeks ago from US Airways. After announcing some pretty impressive first quarter earnings, they decided to talk about some of their “customer service initiatives” going forward. The only problem is that a lot of these points didn’t actually say very much. I decided to wait to write this post until I got more info from them, but it doesn’t look like there’s much more to get.
See, it appears to me that the airline was feeling the heat from the bad press they’ve received recently about poor performance and decided to rush out a list of all the initiatives they’re working on. Now, I don’t doubt they understand there are problems, but I’d rather they tell me when the problems are fixed instead of telling me what they’re going to do in the future.Â No sense in raising my hopes when there’s nothing actually happening yet.
But, they did announce something, and while it was a long press release, there really wasn’t that much meat. Here is what I’ve been able to glean from the release:
- They’ve realized that they’re understaffed and they’re hiring people to work the gates, the ticket counter, and on the ramp throughout the system to get up to acceptable levels (obviously more will be focused on the hubs). This should mean shorter lines and airport staff who aren’t overworked (which hopefully means they’ll be in a better mood).
- They’re creating Passenger Operation Control centers in Charlotte, Philly, Boston, and Washington/National. I was at America West when we first created these in Phoenix, and they really are great. Basically, there is a group of people that are focused on searching for late flights coming into the hub. When they find one, they take all the people who are going to miss their connections and rebook them. If they’re stuck overnight, they give them hotel and meal vouchers as well. When you get off the plane, someone is waiting with everything you need so you don’t have to wait in line.
- They’re replacing 600 of the old US Airways kiosks with the same type used by the old America West. Find anyone who tried to fly out of Charlotte the first Sunday in March and you’ll know what this is about. The old US Airways kiosks just aren’t working right with the new system, so this will be welcome.
- Remember that $25 fee for standby on an earlier flight that I was told applied back in Charlotte? Yeah, well I thought it wasn’t true, but apparently it is. Now it’s waived for elite members. I consider this a very small step toward adding value to the elite program. I’d really like to see a waived or at least discounted change fee, but I’ll hold my breath on that one.
As you can see, these are just steps they’re taking to fix their problems, but it doesn’t mean the problems are fixed.
When we start getting to specific improvements on the planes themselves, the PR-speak gets pretty thick and the promises are more vague. Yes, there are some concrete moves here. For example, in First Class they’re bringing back glass and silverware for the meal service. That’s long overdue. But other than that, it’s full of promises for improved service, better food, and better drinks without getting into detail.
My favorite change was this: “Modify in-flight service procedures to enhance our customer’s overall experience.” What does that mean?!? Nothing to talk about yet. It could very well be important, but who really knows?
Come talk to me when the changes have been made and then maybe I’ll get excited.