As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a somewhat frequent traveller – typically over 150 days a year of business travel. One thing you learn is to roll with the punches and to expect bad things to happen—like losing your luggage. My worst experiences were with Air Canada, who wanted me to come to Beijing airport to collect my bag when it finally arrived, even though I was about 1500 km away in outback China, or United who lost my bag for 10 days between Los Angeles and Washington D.C. I wrote up that experience here, and shared the great music video ‘United Breaks Guitars’ about someone else’s less than satisfactory experience with United.
Recently, I had my first trip ever with Virgin America from San Francisco to Washington D.C. and, unfortunately, they left one of my two bags in San Francisco. However, they largely turned the situation around by providing what is now a totally abstract concept with most airlines: customer service. So much so, that in the future I will do what I can to fly them. How did they turn a bad situation around? It was actually quite easy:
- When I exited the flight there was a fellow with a sign with my name on it. He said my bag had not been loaded in San Francisco and they did not want me waiting at the baggage carousel for it when they knew it would not arrive. I was told to talk to a customer service agent at the carousel.
- At the carousel the woman said – you must be Mr. Bennett. She had a form ready to fill out and for me to sign.
- The next morning at 10:00 when I got up (I arrived at midnight) my bag was at the place I was staying.
Talk about minimizing inconvenience to a passenger! If United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Qantas and other airlines who have left me waiting for the carousel to stop turning and the lights to go out to realize my bags would not be arriving would adopt practices like this they would get customer loyalty. Well done Virgin America.