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5/09/2008 – Airline Courtesy To Its Passengers During Delays?
There are times when airlines can be frustrating. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure you don't want to spend any more time than you have to in your seat...........especially in an cramped economy class seat, such as the one I am in sitting as I type this from seat 14A in the back of a US Airways Airbus A321, as we sit on the ground waiting for Flight 1449 from Philadelphia (PHL) to San Francisco (SFO) to push back from the gate.
Immediately upon arrival at PHL I pulled out my iPhone and checked two iPhone Apps, FAA Wait and Airport Status, as well as AeroChannel.com to see what was going on with delays. All three sources showed a 31-minute 'ground stop' in place at PHL due to traffic congestion. With the waiting area bustling I approached the gate agent and asked if we would be delayed in boarding due to the 'ground stop.'
As I asked this question the gate agent smiled and cheerfully informed me that all flights will be boarding as normal, despite the 31-minute delay in place on traffic.
I understand boarding flights when there are delays. I understand an airline does not want to have to rush to board the flight, or miss a departure slot due to passengers who wandered away from the gate area. This makes sense from an airline point of view, and I don't dispute this point of view.
As much as I understand the passenger point of view, as a passenger I have little desire to sit on an airplane, in a cramped seat, for 31 minutes longer than I have to, especially when departing on a 6+ hour flight across the continent.
As airlines in the United States continue to shed loyal passengers who shop only for the lowest fare, these airlines might want to look to their alliance partners, and other carriers, in Asia and Europe for customer service and winning over passenger loyalty. While not all airlines in Europe and Asia are the best with their customer service they seem to have a better understanding of overall customer 'happiness' and customer retention.
Now it is time to lean back, hope the air comes back on, and see if the in-seat power works in my seat......otherwise it is six hours of not working and staring into the back of a grey-blue seat as I cross the continent.