Last week, we posted a question on our Facebook page, which sparked a lot of comments and back and forth “debate” so to speak. “If you have to choose what is more important to you, would it be airline prices or customer service satisfaction?” I actually did a tally of what people’s answers were and was surprised to discover that more people chose customer service satisfaction over prices. You would think with airfare being as expensive as it is, that travelers would find any way possible to cut costs, especially on their plane tickets. But it seems as though more people are opting for good customer service over cheap prices, because in many cases, you get what you pay for.
If you recall our article from last week, we addressed this issue in the frame of Alaska Airlines receiving (for the 5th year in a row), the highest rankings in customer service satisfaction of any other airlines. To recap, here is what Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power and Associates said regarding the topic:
“The airline industry is caught between trying to satisfy customers who demand low prices, high-quality service and comfort, and contending with the economic challenges of profitably operating an airline. Passengers want it all, but they are not necessarily willing to pay for it all. Carriers often must make decisions for financial reasons that they know will negatively impact passenger satisfaction, and therein lies the conundrum.”
So airline customers can’t necessarily “have it all”, as so many of us want to believe is possible. We demand excellent customer service but also cheap airfare, and the two do not go hand in hand. Unfortunately, I see this as a common problem in many circumstances within the customer service industry. I just don’t understand it though. If you’re paying money for something that directly ties into receiving customer services, shouldn’t everyone receive the same treatment, regardless of the amount of money they spend? And I don’t mean everyone should get a slice of chocolate cake, a comfortable chair on the plane, or a no-waiting-in-line passenger status, I am simply referring to the way customer service people treat their customers.
Reading through the Facebook comments, it appeared that customer service satisfaction directly related to the way people were treated by front desk operators, flight attendants, and other airport service people. Not the amenities that were provided for the flight, such as free baggage check, a free meal, or leg space on the flight. People are much more affected by bad customer service than they are unfortunate circumstances (such as a flight delay or a bad seat on the plane), which points not to the airline carriers, but rather, their staff.
And for whatever reason, (maybe workers feel underappreciated or are not paid enough) the customer service industry has plummeted, in my opinion. It is rare to find a smiling face to greet you at the airport counter. It is also rare that a customer service agent goes above and beyond their standard duties to make the client happier or more comfortable or more satisfied. It just doesn’t work that way anymore. Perhaps it’s due to customer service agents being repeatedly verbally abused by angry customers, and now they are jaded to all customers and treat everyone the same, indignantly. Whatever the reason, customer service has gone down in satisfaction.
Now because of this, I believe more travelers (if they could realistically choose- which we can’t- because even first class passengers get stuck with grumpy front desk people) would opt for great customer service satisfaction over prices. It sticks with us longer and creates our experience. We are far too affected by irritating communication than we are saving a buck or two. Customer service satisfaction is what we base our opinion of the airline on, whether we believe it or not. Prices are just the face value aspect that dictates which airline we are choosing to fly with. If people have a really bad experience, chances are they will refuse to support that company in the future. And since airfare prices don’t deviate too much, what’s an extra $100 when you’re already paying $800 for a good experience? Which segways us into our next topic of Allegiant Airlines being a real life example of our above discussion.
Here’s the skinny: if you’re planning on flying Allegiant Air to Hawaii consider this; you can’t pick you’re own seat, so if you want to sit with your partner or kids, it might not happen. If the computer assigns you separately, then you’re stuck, and assigned seats cost an additional $50 (per segment). If you want to carry on a bag (other than your lap top or purse/personal item) it’s another $10-30 (per segment) and any additional bags cheeked in are $15-35.
But before you flip your lid, remember that all airlines have their fees. It’s just that this is the first seating and transpac flights that won’t let you bring a bag on the plane to put overhead with out paying since the ATA days. However, checking out the Allegiant Air prices for Christmas has me rethinking this airline. The dates of December 23 – January 2 are priced at $588.00 per person plus fees of $125.00 (for the assigned seat, 1 overhead bag and 1 check in bag) bringing the total to $713.00, compared to Hawaiian Airlines with the exact same dates costing $970.00 per person plus the $24.00 bag fee. The difference is $257, which is a lot of money when booking a vacation to Hawaii!
So, the moral of the story is that there are some huge savings to be made here in spite of the fees, and if you pack light and don’t care about seats you can really save a lot of money. Also, ultimately it is up to the consumer what they prioritize more, low prices or great customer service satisfaction. There is no right or wrong answer, unless you can prove otherwise!
If you need more info or want to book with Allegiant we sell their inventory at the same prices online, combined with our great customer service here in Hawaii, which is a win-win! Give us a call at 800-843-8771 to learn more or book your Hawaiian vacation.