Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > Air France, KLM, and Other Partners | Flying Blue > Air France Frequence Plus
Reload this Page >

The day after the night before: how should AF regain passengers' trust post-strike?

The day after the night before: how should AF regain passengers' trust post-strike?

Old Sep 29, 14, 3:04 am
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist, Ambassador, British Airways Executive Club
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Somewhere between 0 and 13,000 metres high
Programs: AF/KL Life Plat, BA GfL+CCR, Aclub Plat, Hilton Diam, Marriott Gold, blablablah, etc
Posts: 24,970
The day after the night before: how should AF regain passengers' trust post-strike?

I'm borrowing Goldorak's idea to start a new thread of suggestions on how AF (and conceivably FB) should take initiative to rebuild trust and custom after the devastating strike.

As a preamble, while I personally think that AF handled the strike better than other airlines have done in the recent past overall (I know others disagree), I think that after the massive strikes of a few years ago, BA had been very good at the post-strike incentives to ensure that some apparently definitive damage could be partly reversed. It worked.

I'm thinking that maybe we could have a discussion on what initiatives AF could take and maybe our moderator could alert AF's attention to our suggestions so that they can decide whether to take or leave any of them?

Here are some first suggestions from me:

(1) To me there were three different types of passenger victims of the strike a) people who were satisfactorily rebooked/rerouted, b) people who were involuntarily denied boarding and/or involuntarily disrupted by long enough to get statutory compensation, c) people who accepted a voluntary cancellation or inconvenient rebooking that would not entitle them to compensation. a) we do not need to worry about, and arguably, b) are getting formal compensation anyway, but I think that c) (as well as any case of b) for which statutory compensation would be deemed insufficient) should benefit from gestures of good will (travel vouchers, upgrades, or miles) because right now they are the only people to have been explicitly disrupted without any formal compensation;

(2) I think that "thank you for bearing with us" sales are a must. In my view, in all travel classes and from all origins as people were disrupted regardless of point of origin and travel class. The broader ranging (e.g. "30% off all our fares for any booking made this week for travel on any date") the better

(3) Even though I am not concerned, I would suggest lower requalification thresholds for FB levels this year, explicitly in reference to the strike and its impact on people's ability to accrue (e.g. 10,000 miles "discount" on every level or alternatively, add 10,000 status miles to every FB member's account this year).

(4) Consider a review and entrenching of the strike-related rebooking behaviour on other travel disruptions/irrops. Perhaps make it a chart so that people know that AF will treat them well in case of irrops. To me, this should also include a notion (absent during the strike I think) that FB Platinum and Gold should always get the best possible treatment in case of IRROPS, perhaps including an exceptional entitlement of rebooking on other airlines if AF/KL's own rebooking options would significantly worsen travel times or conditions, and/or a guarantee of being rebooked in the same or higher travel class whenever possible

People, the floor is yours
orbitmic is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 3:50 am
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 11,750
Regaining trust will be a very tall order, to say the least.

What would have been my very first AF flight back in 1970 or thereabouts was canceled due to a strike. Since then I've flown exactly two AF segments. I am of course in the fortunate position of having no need whatsoever for AF to begin with, but this latest strike has ensured that the airline has become my choice of absolutely last resort. When walking is not an option, that kind of thing. If nothing else, I have no desire to contribute even a single cent to the pilots' payroll.

Johan
johan rebel is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 4:50 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: EUR
Programs: FB Plat./BA Gold (thanks BD)/A3 *Gold/HH Diamond/A Club Gold
Posts: 905
Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
I'm borrowing Goldorak's idea to start a new thread of suggestions on how AF (and conceivably FB) should take initiative to rebuild trust and custom after the devastating strike.

As a preamble, while I personally think that AF handled the strike better than other airlines have done in the recent past overall (I know others disagree), I think that after the massive strikes of a few years ago, BA had been very good at the post-strike incentives to ensure that some apparently definitive damage could be partly reversed. It worked.

I'm thinking that maybe we could have a discussion on what initiatives AF could take and maybe our moderator could alert AF's attention to our suggestions so that they can decide whether to take or leave any of them?

Here are some first suggestions from me:

(1) To me there were three different types of passenger victims of the strike a) people who were satisfactorily rebooked/rerouted, b) people who were involuntarily denied boarding and/or involuntarily disrupted by long enough to get statutory compensation, c) people who accepted a voluntary cancellation or inconvenient rebooking that would not entitle them to compensation. a) we do not need to worry about, and arguably, b) are getting formal compensation anyway, but I think that c) (as well as any case of b) for which statutory compensation would be deemed insufficient) should benefit from gestures of good will (travel vouchers, upgrades, or miles) because right now they are the only people to have been explicitly disrupted without any formal compensation;

(2) I think that "thank you for bearing with us" sales are a must. In my view, in all travel classes and from all origins as people were disrupted regardless of point of origin and travel class. The broader ranging (e.g. "30% off all our fares for any booking made this week for travel on any date") the better

(3) Even though I am not concerned, I would suggest lower requalification thresholds for FB levels this year, explicitly in reference to the strike and its impact on people's ability to accrue (e.g. 10,000 miles "discount" on every level or alternatively, add 10,000 status miles to every FB member's account this year).

(4) Consider a review and entrenching of the strike-related rebooking behaviour on other travel disruptions/irrops. Perhaps make it a chart so that people know that AF will treat them well in case of irrops. To me, this should also include a notion (absent during the strike I think) that FB Platinum and Gold should always get the best possible treatment in case of IRROPS, perhaps including an exceptional entitlement of rebooking on other airlines if AF/KL's own rebooking options would significantly worsen travel times or conditions, and/or a guarantee of being rebooked in the same or higher travel class whenever possible

People, the floor is yours
Good idea for a thread.

I think we/they also need to take into account the type of customer which leads to a fairly big paradox.

A very anecdotal observations based on TV/Radio and Flyertalk/Airports would lead me to believe that:

1) Those that fly once a year on holidays - have been the most disrupted, and these are obviously the ones that the media always use to sell papers and win ratings. The TV shows us people who went to the airport to see if flights were operating, Seriously?

These people would enter in the C category above, but do not represent loyal/high revenue customers for AF anyway.

2) People who fly a lot (Platinum, etc.) - mostly, apparently, were well treated, and most of us take these things in our stride. If I chose to never fly with a company that had had serious strikes or with whom I had had missed connections or been late for a meeting or had to spend an unplanned night in an airport hotel... well I would be spending an awful lot of time in my car.

These people however, are more likely to avoid AF a little, at least in the meantime, until things really calm down.

Based on normal compensation attitudes, type (1) will cost a lot and will not generate a lot of revenue. Category (2) however, determines a lot of future revenue - I have spent about $1k over the next two weeks on other airlines, not a big sum but I am sure there are thousands of people like me many of whom are spending a lot more.

But what can AF do for type (2), a $x00 voucher for future flights really won't do much for me. A bonus of 1000 miles for each of my flights that was cancelled in the past two weeks... maybe, but bof...

Interesting conundrum!
jsfr is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 4:53 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 443
I suppose :

(3) Even though I am not concerned, I would suggest lower requalification thresholds for FB levels this year, explicitly in reference to the strike and its impact on people's ability to accrue (e.g. 10,000 miles "discount" on every level or alternatively, add 10,000 status miles to every FB member's account this year).

Will be chosen by AF, because granting Plat Status is not a big expense (I simply cannot figure out what are the differences between Plat and Gold (albeit some more miles which are completely devaluated)).

FB is, for AF, a "Necessary Evil", I realised that to late. A PLAT business traveler, with no luggage, has no real perk with FB : about a quarter or a third of the passengers are SkyPriority, upgrades are granted first to people of AF and then at random (maybe I am wrong, but the opaqueness of the system is well known ; when flying Delta, you exactly know where you are on the list), and I am not sure more seats are available for rewards because I cannot chek with another status).

For all these reasons, I think that a granting of maybe 10000 miles and a subsequent devaluation of the mile will be the solution.
jmbfrance is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 4:58 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: London, UK and Southern France
Posts: 16,180
The difficulty, though, is that unless you can be sure that the storm has passed, any attempt at rebuilding goodwill through various initiatives could be instantly destroyed by a new strike. The priority must surely be to get to a clear agreement on a way forward.
NickB is online now  
Old Sep 29, 14, 5:01 am
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: London, UK and Southern France
Posts: 16,180
Originally Posted by johan rebel View Post
Regaining trust will be a very tall order, to say the least.

What would have been my very first AF flight back in 1970 or thereabouts was canceled due to a strike. Since then I've flown exactly two AF segments. I am of course in the fortunate position of having no need whatsoever for AF to begin with, but this latest strike has ensured that the airline has become my choice of absolutely last resort. When walking is not an option, that kind of thing. If nothing else, I have no desire to contribute even a single cent to the pilots' payroll.

Johan
Sure. You will always lose customers following events like that. The question is not how to convince the unconvinceables but rather how to keep those who are shaken but have nonetheless not completely given up on AF.
NickB is online now  
Old Sep 29, 14, 5:19 am
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Netherlands
Programs: Gold: A3, KL Silver: AZ, BA
Posts: 24,285
They should rename the company.

Not a major name-change - just add a few letters.

Change "Air" to "Transavia".

irishguy28 is online now  
Old Sep 29, 14, 5:33 am
  #8  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Hong Kong
Programs: FB AF Silver, BA Gold
Posts: 11,655
Originally Posted by NickB View Post
The difficulty, though, is that unless you can be sure that the storm has passed, any attempt at rebuilding goodwill through various initiatives could be instantly destroyed by a new strike. The priority must surely be to get to a clear agreement on a way forward.
I fully agree with you.


Given the hard times ahead, AF should first review how they can improve their response to such strikes. I know that general opinion on this board is that the response was not bad given the size of the strike, but it can always be improved. One part is providing some satisfactory compensation to those affected. If qualification levels is an issue than some level miles credits could be a solution.

In the short run, AF will need to fill its planes. Hence, I would expect some emergency sale campaign even if more turbulence could be expected.

As a side comment, I do not think that giving a few thousands miles make a significant difference to most people. And we all know how quickly AF has devalued miles in the recent past. IMO, the only way a more "risky" airline can become attractive is by offering lower prices. Until AF can convince the public that strikes are behind it, it will be hard to rebuild goodwill by mere advertisement or miles gift.

Like Orbitmic, I feel that BA was very good in handling the post-strike period (BTW, I also felt that they were very good in handling irrops during the strike). But the strike ended as a clear win for BA and a later agreement.
brunos is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 6:45 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CDG/AMS
Programs: FB Plat for life, FB PC, M&M FT, Hertz President (+ many low tier cards)
Posts: 2,758
Originally Posted by johan rebel View Post
Regaining trust will be a very tall order, to say the least.
Indeed. I am reconsidering some future travels. Okay, if possible it will go to KL, but other options will also be used. I don't see anything stable coming out of this strike, and I find there is too much risk of more strikes with AF. And I consider myself a somewhat "educated" (as in knowing some background) AF traveler. I can understand that someone who isn't would go: "I'll never fly AF again!" and actually stick to that.

Last edited by Zembla; Sep 29, 14 at 6:53 am
Zembla is online now  
Old Sep 29, 14, 9:20 am
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Netherlands
Programs: Gold: A3, KL Silver: AZ, BA
Posts: 24,285
BusinessTraveller has just put a poll up to gauge their readers' likelihood of booking with Air France as a result of the strike, but already an overwhelming 74.3% of respondents have stated that they are less likely to fly with Air France
irishguy28 is online now  
Old Sep 29, 14, 9:55 am
  #11  
2020 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 3,286
Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
BusinessTraveller has just put a poll up to gauge their readers' likelihood of booking with Air France as a result of the strike, but already an overwhelming 74.3% of respondents have stated that they are less likely to fly with Air France
Polls like this tend to have a severe "recency bias" meaning it's fresh in everyone's mind so of course people are less likely, until a few months from now and the strike gets chalked up to just another one of those things that happened, and now AF is the cheapest/most convenient option for me.

There are certainly a number of people that will never fly AF again, but I think the number saying that now is going to be significantly higher than those who will follow through with it.
kop84 is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 10:13 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CDG/AMS
Programs: FB Plat for life, FB PC, M&M FT, Hertz President (+ many low tier cards)
Posts: 2,758
Originally Posted by kop84 View Post
There are certainly a number of people that will never fly AF again, but I think the number saying that now is going to be significantly higher than those who will follow through with it.
Good point. And that number will be even lower if AF does some clever damage control.

I stick to the fact that at least in the coming six months I'll be careful when booking AF, that may be prolonged if more strikes occur.

An idea. hard to resists mileage deals (both earning and spending) may change my mind
Zembla is online now  
Old Sep 29, 14, 10:48 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Malta
Programs: FB Plat, Petroleum Club (Ha ha), EK Gold, *A Gold, BAEC,KM
Posts: 161
Like I already stated, I have options and now my preferred option is EK to hit Platinum in the next 4/5 flights (I already qualified again for AF Plat next year anyway). It will be a while before I want to contribute again to the "delusionists" and AF can kiss 50k USD in lost revenue bye bye in the meantime.
RigpigMalta is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 11:14 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Programs: UA 1K, BA Gold
Posts: 1,500
AF has a lot of different types of customers who will respond differently. I can only speak for myself, though I suspect there are a lot of AF flyers like me. I fly about 4 to 6 times a year TATL on business. Always either paid business class or upgraded with miles. I prefer AF, though fly others, with UA (which I fly a lot domestically) the second most common. I just re-qualified for AF silver (if my re-booked flights all show up in my mileage statement, and right now only some are, though I have made claims for the rest). Based on bookings I had already made for the rest of the year, I will be gold by the end of 2014. (I will also likely be UA gold by then).

The strike is just a factor, but it is not an insignificant one and it is a negative factor. If the price and convenience of TATL flights was about the same, I used to tilt towards AF, but am now I think I will be more likely to tilt towards my prior second choices UA or LH (my next TATL is on UA - where, as someone said, you worry about the planes being on strike rather than the pilots), even if the connections are not quite as good.

I am currently contemplating two bookings TATL in the Spring. Additional miles, unless level qualifying miles, are unlikely to entice me towards AF. A price of 7k, as these currently are, will just cause me to continue to wait, while I constantly check price and upgrades of various airlines till usually about 3 months in advance or so. A business class price closer to refundable economy is the kind of thing that would cause me to buy right then.

So for this type of business traveler, a sale on business class tickets would be the only thing that I think would likely entice me to book AF before next January.
Artpen100 is offline  
Old Sep 29, 14, 2:06 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: PDX
Programs: Delta Diamond, AF-KL Flying Blue life Plat. Hertz Plat., Marriott & SPG Platinum.
Posts: 12
May be a free (or low cost) upgrade voucher (on a return ticket of course) for the people who had to cancel a trip?
WilyB is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: