Emirates over rated?

Old Oct 6, 15, 4:48 am
  #121  
 
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Originally Posted by groundops View Post
I think you seriously underestimate the number of DYKWIAs at airports demanding all manner of services and lying through their teeth about how such and such an airline allowed them this or that. I would say about 70% of pax are great and 30% are painful!
I'll have a more thorough reply to the points raised above, but alas, it is not yet a slow Tuesday

But I did want to highlight this and fully agree with groundops - befriend some ground staff who work for airlines and not outsourced check-in and you will be surprised and disappointed with humanity upon hearing some of the stories that appear.

In the past six months I've seen, amongst other things:
- A Gold EK pax loudly demanding that EK arrange buggy transport to and from the lounge because she was an "important customer"
- Multiple people, arguing for minutes, that they came on a J ticket and have an onward Y ticket on a different carrier that they should have lounge access because "they paid Emirates for a J ticket"
- A passenger who was so angered by the lack of Financial Times in this outstation lounge that he shouted at the lounge receptionist to go and buy him a copy because he was a Gold member
- A passenger who wrote several emails complaining there was no egg white only omelette at this particular outstation (but there were at others): actually I think they added that for him because of his flight history with EK, but now his nickname internally is "Mr. Omelette"
- A British passenger with the EK MBNA Elite Skywards Credit Card who vehemently insisted that his credit card gave him lounge access at this Asian outstation
- A Gold passenger that insisted he gives so much business to EK that he should be allowed a guest travelling on a different airline to enter with him (the lounge agent of course can easily check a passenger's entire trip history with EK - and did: turns out he only ever bought Saver Y from South Africa)
- Multiple platinum passengers who want to guest additional people into the lounge by saying "that person is my Gold nominee" - and then wasting minutes of agents time by having them phone Skywards who will tell them the same thing, that you need to nominate them online first, then they will process it to add the status to the account
- Multiple QF CL passengers travelling in Y/J, who expect complimentary F upgrades as a matter of course, unlimited baggage and iO ground services (as well as Australian magazines and newspapers in lounges and shout a lot about "this would never happen on QF") as well as guesting x amounts of passengers in: husbands/wives of political QF CL appointees, I'm looking at you!

Some nationalities I have to admit have much worse reputations than others when it comes to demands (and they do love to fall back on what they think are "the rules" - even when they are wrong!)

It's less 70% great and 30% painful, I think it's more towards 90%/10%, but half of those 10% take up 90% of the time of staff - and incidentally I think force even the most professional staff to stop going the extra mile / engaging in "common sense" - i.e. using their full discretion to help out.

Check-in is a slightly different story of course, where the issues are:
- baggage overweight, which cues a lot of DYKWIA status pax to argue with them to waive the excess fees (which themselves take time to process)
- seat selection issues (e.g. being moved by the airline)
- last minute SPML requests at check-in
- travel document issues
- people taking up additional time trying to charm an upgrade

The problem is that these issues take even longer to resolve because most check-in staff not at the hub are outsourced agents who work for multiple airlines, who literally do not care at all if you travel with the airline or not.

Last edited by eternaltransit; Oct 6, 15 at 4:56 am
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Old Oct 6, 15, 6:13 am
  #122  
 
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Originally Posted by eternaltransit View Post
I think it's more towards 90%/10%, but half of those 10% take up 90% of the time of staff - and incidentally I think force even the most professional staff to stop going the extra mile / engaging in "common sense" - i.e. using their full discretion to help out.

...

The problem is that these issues take even longer to resolve because most check-in staff not at the hub are outsourced agents who work for multiple airlines, who literally do not care at all if you travel with the airline or not.
Worse is that outstation agents who are performing under contract and aren't employees of the airline, are that they often have little to no authority for anything other than basic functions (regardless of whether they care or not). Generally there is one actual airline employee supervising these contract agents who has any real authority ability to deal with such matters, and for some but not all airlines they'll generally keep their distance from pax anyway.

As you highlight, a lot of issues seem to be over lounge access (and abuse there of) and really there's no pity for such chancers (I'm not offended if someone asks the question, but it's scorn only for those who already know or are well aware that there's no access but try and push away, as if it will make a difference).

My worst pax annoyance at check-in is those with overweight bags for check-in who then will attempt to repack at the check-in station holding everyone up instead of doing the right thing and moving aside while they pack (especially as nearly all agents will not required them to go to the back of the line, but deal with them once they are done packaging and the agent is free again).
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Old Oct 6, 15, 7:37 am
  #123  
 
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Originally Posted by aceboy44 View Post
What do you folks think? If I take that extra flight (flex Plus fare for 8k miles) with Emirates then Iím feeding them my $$$ which they donít deserve. On the other hand, it would be "foolish" to miss my gold status because of a bad incident with Emirates.
If you think that your Gold status will change your life, you are running into a lot of disappointments.
Apart from the contractual perks (like lounge access), you'll have higher probability of upgrade. That's all. You'll be one Gold among tens of thousands.

Don't get me wrong : I have no illusion concerning Plat either.
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Old Oct 6, 15, 7:57 am
  #124  
 
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Originally Posted by ioto1902 View Post
Don't get me wrong : I have no illusion concerning Plat either.
Can definitely vouch for that.
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Old Oct 6, 15, 8:59 am
  #125  
 
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I think it's important that we don't conflate the term "common sense" with both service recovery and asking airline staff to "go the extra mile" for customers.

Firstly, service recovery is a separate issue and I totally agree that should be in the domain of a member of staff who can make decisions and make up for a customer not getting what they reasonably agreed with the airline through purchasing a ticket. I don't think any disputes that every airline could improve this aspect, no matter the complexity of products on offer.

The second issue is more nuanced I think - you've got two competing sets of interests here, the customer who wants more than what he or she is strictly entitled to, and the airline, which wants to maximise profits by making sure costs are minimised (e.g. making sure there are no delays, staff are productive) and revenue is maximised.

In a sense, the entire front facing operation of a hospitality business is to keep customers very, very far away from the revenue people and the cold hard truth - that customers are just revenue streams to be maximised in order to generate maximum return from capital invested. More bluntly, that really means expectation management - both trying to spark some positive emotions (e.g. wow, IFE is really awesome on EK), and reducing the impact of negatives, which is why in someone's rational calculation somewhere, it's better to irritate with a "computer says no" response, rather than give an understandable but unpleasant explanation of "it's not worth it to us to do this for you".

I'm sure everyone posting here has one or two memories of a really exceptional hospitality experience - invariably it's because the staff involved have gone above and beyond and really done something special where they didn't "have" to. The trick for the company though is to make that feeling happen without sacrificing your profit margins - which means it has to necessarily be exceptional (or at least factored into the business plan) or it becomes part of the pricing.

However, the fundamental mismatch here is that customers are spending a lot of $$$ and therefore expect "exceptional if required" to be part of the pricing, whereas for the airline, the price and product are already factored into the business plan and the big $$$ a customer spends gets entitles them to an exact product which is fully costed and fully transparent.

That's why when the term "common sense" is used, I think you have to be very careful that you actually don't mean "I've paid a lot of money so you should give me a little more that I don't think costs you anything; in fact, as I don't think it costs anything I don't see why you don't do it for me" - because passengers might not appreciate that there are actual costs involved.

In the example about moving to an earlier award flight on CX, I'd say that was a situation where the customer is asking for a favor from the airline. From the customer's point of view, there are empty seats and they are all the same, so why can't it be done?

However, from the airline's point of view, what you are asking is to make all Z class seats fully flexible on the day of travel, on a space-available basis. Which means that somewhere, some effort needs to be put into thinking about: logistics (what if the pax on the late night flight comes in the morning, we need to have catering and perhaps crew for the cabin if it's empty), revenue (if we now have 2 Z pax all day and 6/8 on the morning flight, what's the potential lost revenue if those two Z pax move to the morning flight and then a couple willing to spend full F for those flights comes afterwards?), among other things. What about marketing: do we really want to be seen as packing our cabins with award travellers all the time - does it damage the product? What if the cabin crew mess up their training and don't serve the full fare pax first? etc. etc.

Are the additional real costs of flexibility (additional logistical costs) or opportunity costs (could have sold that empty seat to a last, last minute traveller for lots of money - and the airline will have historical data on the probability of that) worth it to please someone who has already paid x amount of cash? Or is the award ticket revenue enough for all this hassle? Especially in an era of no loyalty to airlines anyway?

One could then say: "oh, but it's only just this once for this one traveller" - but of course that is never true as the same encounter is repeated tens of times a day, every day. That's why you run through the scenario and process and come up with an answer: no, Z class is opened on a per flight basis only, end of story.

Do you want to explain the reasoning behind denying a request from a passenger, or is it much, much easier, for everyone concerned to simply say: "I'm sorry sir, there is no availability in the fare class of your ticket on that flight". Slightly irritated is, imho, a better expectation outcome than telling a passenger he's not worth it to go to the extra trouble to do it for him - or to explain that if they gave it to him, they would have to do it to everyone else who is the same or a better customer than him - and to do it for so many people would undermine their profitability.

You get the same story with things like baggage allowance and change fees. Imagine you fly a lot with an airline and you ask for a waiver on baggage and change fees - say once in 100 flights. You think it would be common sense for the airline to be lenient given your history, but the airline are inflexible because to the airline, allowing it on a case-by-case basis takes up a lot of time (review history/override system/write reports) but to allow it for every high status pax might cut 10-20% of your ancillary revenue - in the millions.

So in the end, what seems like a common sense request to an individual passenger is usually quite an often repeated request which has already been evaluated by the airline as to what happens if a significant percentage of their customer base asks for this additional thing. In the case it's not usual, then you have revenue saying - what's the point, why give them more than they already paid for. The worst thing that's going to happen is that they are gonna give you 8/10 instead of 9/10. So what - they'll still fly with us.

The balancing act comes for the airline comes in marrying the customer's exceptional/common-sense request, with the reality that these exceptional requests happen fairly regularly and have already been factored into the product's pricing and the company's systems.

That's probably why you shouldn't let the revenue management tail wag the operational dog, but that's my own personal opinion of the hospitality business
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Old Oct 6, 15, 9:09 am
  #126  
 
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One more question, if I achieve gold tier and don't make enough flights to renew my tier, do I get downgraded to silver or blue?
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Old Oct 6, 15, 9:13 am
  #127  
 
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Originally Posted by aceboy44 View Post
One more question, if I achieve gold tier and don't make enough flights to renew my tier, do I get downgraded to silver or blue?
You will go down to Silver after 14 months of achieving Gold.

However, I would not go out of my way to chase status on an airline as you will be invariably disappointed - price and schedule (especially being based in Kuwait where you have a lot of one-stop options to travel) for my travel needs would be my top priority.
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Old Oct 6, 15, 12:35 pm
  #128  
 
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
What's the point of taking a flight on an airline which you have stated that you will not fly on in order to get benefits that you will not use
Because he'll change his mind in the next couple of months and it might come in handy then.
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Old Oct 6, 15, 1:03 pm
  #129  
 
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Originally Posted by ft101 View Post
Because he'll change his mind in the next couple of hours and it might come in handy then.
Fixed that for you
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Old Oct 6, 15, 2:13 pm
  #130  
 
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Originally Posted by ft101 View Post
Because he'll change his mind in the next couple of posts and it might come in handy then like hand lotion.
Further refined.
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Old Oct 6, 15, 4:23 pm
  #131  
 
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Originally Posted by eternaltransit View Post

It's less 70% great and 30% painful, I think it's more towards 90%/10%, but half of those 10% take up 90% of the time of staff - and incidentally I think force even the most professional staff to stop going the extra mile / engaging in "common sense" - i.e. using their full discretion to help out.

Check-in is a slightly different story of course, where the issues are:
- baggage overweight, which cues a lot of DYKWIA status pax to argue with them to waive the excess fees (which themselves take time to process)
- seat selection issues (e.g. being moved by the airline)
- last minute SPML requests at check-in
- travel document issues
- people taking up additional time trying to charm an upgrade

The problem is that these issues take even longer to resolve because most check-in staff not at the hub are outsourced agents who work for multiple airlines, who literally do not care at all if you travel with the airline or not.
You are correct...

5-10% of pax cause most problems. Of that 5-10% or so, most are amusing in their deluded sense of entitlement and can be sent away relatively easily, just disappointed! A minority are true DYKWIAs and are a PITA!

But certain airports/regions have their own problems... DXB does not really have this but certain outstations do...

- Drunk pax - in certain stations many pax go on all day drinking binges whilst awaiting check in to open. After being warned to calm down they persist in getting increasingly drunk and end up offloaded and then get aggressive. This can be up to 30 pax - I have offloaded 30 before - almost 10% of a full 777-300.

- Baggage quibblers - in many stations pax like to transport something in short supply. Often food, sometimes gadgets. Despite having paid upwards of $1000 for a plane ticket, these pax never have money for excess baggage and become irate at paying excess baggage fees. They also have a nasty habit of arriving at gate with a lot more luggage than they had at check in! This group can be 0-15%.

ETA - these tales don't necessarily apply to EK and may have occurred wholly/somewhat on other carriers... No tale should be assumed to have any link with EK whatsoever.

Last edited by groundops; Oct 6, 15 at 4:51 pm Reason: Fixed fault in DYKWIA abbreviation - DYNWIA - DYKWIA...
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Old Oct 6, 15, 8:32 pm
  #132  
 
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Originally Posted by m3red View Post
Further refined.
As I previously mentioned, I have pumped enough $$ into EK to achieve gold. Bailing out now would turn out to be a loss for me and a foolish decision, so I have to swallow the bitter taste for the next 28 months (14 months gold + 14 months silver) to enjoy my status benefits in the cheapest economy fares. I do find it though that EK's business cabin is inferior compared to Srilankan and CX business class.

Last edited by Zol; Oct 7, 15 at 2:53 am Reason: Removed post on RC
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Old Oct 6, 15, 9:06 pm
  #133  
 
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If I could Cope with y then that would be a good plan because you get decent benefits as gold in y I've j check in and lounge access worldwide, excess bags and a chance of an op up. The problem I'm seeing these days for my platinum or gold preferred in y class is the planes are going full in j and f and a few seats left in y.

Aceboy I'm not sure I agree with your comment on Sri Lankan but cx is a decent product. I think I'd still prefer the a380 for a long flight over those two. I do hope your next EK experience is good (please do report back) and you enjoy the benefits of being a gold member although please do not expect anything other than the written benefits - there are thousands of golds and platinums. You should also note that op ups are still a little random and at the discretion of the load controller but they are supposed to be done in order of status and miles...

^
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Old Oct 7, 15, 12:26 am
  #134  
 
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Meanwhile on the more serious discussion
Originally Posted by eternaltransit View Post
...befriend some ground staff who work for airlines and not outsourced check-in and you will be surprised and disappointed with humanity upon hearing some of the stories that appear.

In the past six months I've seen, amongst other things: ...
I agree that in the cases you described, someone was asking for something they're not entitled to and (especially if flying enough to be Gold, Plat, CL, etc) should have known they're not entitled to.

Lounge access after a J flight and before a Y flight, however, is something that's asked regularly in airline fora on FT, so clearly it confuses some people. For some, it may be their first time in J and they've bought the marketing hype that flying business class means red carpet treatment throughout. Asking, I think, it understandable; arguing, of course, is not.

Similarly, the rules for guesting at lounges is complicated and I think it's reasonable that people might ask. My QF-Plat colleague tried to guest me into the EK DXB First lounge even though we were on different flights. He's not pushy or difficult, he just was more familiar with QF rules than the EK rules.
Originally Posted by SuiteFlight View Post
Generally there is one actual airline employee supervising these contract agents who has any real authority ability to deal with such matters, and for some but not all airlines they'll generally keep their distance from pax anyway.
But this is where the point that "passengers don't know the details of your business arrangements" kicks in. If someone is sitting at the EK desk wearing an EK badge checking in passengers for an EK flight (or controlling access to an EK lounge, or collecting BPs at the top of an EK jetbridge), then they are the face of EK as far as the passenger is concerned. If EK cares about its reputation, it needs to understand that, not just hide behind "they're not really our employees".
Originally Posted by SuiteFlight View Post
As you highlight, a lot of issues seem to be over lounge access (and abuse there of) and really there's no pity for such chancers (I'm not offended if someone asks the question, but it's scorn only for those who already know or are well aware that there's no access but try and push away, as if it will make a difference).
Originally Posted by eternaltransit View Post
The second issue is more nuanced I think - you've got two competing sets of interests here, the customer who wants more than what he or she is strictly entitled to, and the airline, which wants to maximise profits by making sure costs are minimised (e.g. making sure there are no delays, staff are productive) and revenue is maximised.
And here is where the complexity I described earlier comes into play. Two examples from my personal experience:

My first EK flight was Australia-Europe in the first month of the EK-QF partnership; at the time I was a paid Qantas Club member. I wrote after the trip:
Originally Posted by RadioGirl View Post
At DXB on the outbound a week ago, the lounge attendant (concourse A) claimed that QC members could only enter the Business lounge if flying on QF. I produced a printout of the QF website that said:
Qantas Club Members will be welcomed at the Emirates Business Lounge in Dubai when their next onwards flight that day is with Qantas or Emirates.
She went off to consult with a supervisor (carrying off the website printout, my BP and QC card), and came back and said I was correct, apologized, and said that the whole system was new and confusing. I was sympathetic and went on to enjoy the lounge. ^
If you’d been standing behind me at the time, I may have come across as someone who was "well aware there's no access" and who "wants more than what he or she is strictly entitled to." You may have shown your EK Gold or Platinum card or J BP and disappeared into the lounge, laughing at the pathetic Australian trying to game her way into your lounge. But in fact (a) the rules were confusing, (b) the rules were new and (c) the lounge agent was wrong. In this case, because I was prepared and persistant, she discovered her mistake and apologized.

Fast forward one week though, and they were still confused and not nearly as polite:
Originally Posted by RadioGirl View Post
Yesterday, coming back, I was prepared to have the same discussion and had the printout ready. But this time they said that I needed to have the QF FF number printed on the boarding pass, not the EK one. They scanned the BP and there was no data about QC membership encoded so it rejected my right to enter the lounge. I escalated to a supervisor who got quite unpleasant about it, and insisted that they needed to change my booking to link the flights to the QF FF number, which would mean no QF status credits or EK tier miles, but they ignored that point.

In the end, I let them reprint the boarding pass with my QF number, the supervisor was quite sarcastic about "you can enter the lounge; enjoy your flight" and then once inside the lounge I contacted Skywards to change the link back to the EK number. Checking today, I've been credited the full tier credits.

I was willing to write the first event off to teething problems, but not the second.
Again, I had to stand my ground and argue, but not because I was trying to get something undeserved, but because the staff didn't know the (still confusing) rules. Maybe they personally hate the QF partnership. Maybe they've been told to use any excuse to keep QC members out. Maybe it's just easier to say "no" and hope I'll go away than to check the actual rules. By the time I went back to DXB I was EK Silver so I never found out if they changed the rule.

My second example is EK Gold access at QF domestic lounges. I've now let my QC membership lapse since – I was told - EK Gold would also allow QF lounge access. For the first few months, at 5 different airports, I showed my EK Gold card and QF BP with QF FF number and entered the lounge. This is consistent with the (somewhat convoluted) wording on the QF website.

Then early this year, the lounge attendant at SYD pulled me up with "Oooh, no, no, NO! Not with a QF FF number - you have to have your EK number on the booking!" She followed up with "It's always been this way" and "all the airports do it", despite my earlier experience at ADL, PER, CBR, MEL and even that exact lounge in SYD. From behind the counter, she produced a laminated sheet of "special instructions" as proof which were quite different to the website text, and called her supervisor to come down and explain it all again to me. I'd only had 5 - 10 minutes spare before my flight, and this discussion had consumed that; on my return flight I grudgingly let them change the FF number.

I rang QF FF the next week and the woman there said that the lounge agent was wrong, it shouldn't matter which FF number. She even checked with HER supervisor to confirm. But the FF desk was unwilling to contact the lounge staff to discuss, so the next trip I got the same treatment at the lounge.

It's still not clear who's right. But one part of the airline says one thing, another says the opposite, they won’t communicate with each other, and I’m stuck in the middle. The website still supports my POV. Yeah, they’re minimizing costs by keeping me out of the lounge (except that my colleague came out and guested me in anyway). But minimizing costs by denying something a customer is allowed is poor business.

I have other examples (AA lounge/LAX/QF Gold, Air Pacific lounge/Fiji/QF Plat) but they’re much the same. Various combinations of operating airline, marketing airline, lounge operator and FF program lead to confusion.
Originally Posted by eternaltransit View Post
In a sense, the entire front facing operation of a hospitality business is to keep customers very, very far away from the revenue people and the cold hard truth - that customers are just revenue streams to be maximised in order to generate maximum return from capital invested. More bluntly, that really means expectation management - both trying to spark some positive emotions (e.g. wow, IFE is really awesome on EK), and reducing the impact of negatives, which is why in someone's rational calculation somewhere, it's better to irritate with a "computer says no" response, rather than give an understandable but unpleasant explanation of "it's not worth it to us to do this for you".

That's why when the term "common sense" is used, I think you have to be very careful that you actually don't mean "I've paid a lot of money so you should give me a little more that I don't think costs you anything; in fact, as I don't think it costs anything I don't see why you don't do it for me" - because passengers might not appreciate that there are actual costs involved.
I don't disagree with your overall point about revenue management. I don't imagine that my just-barely-Silver travel on QF domestic or my 2 – 3 trips/year in EK Y are anybody’s priorities. I don’t, to be honest, pay a lot of money. I just want what I’ve paid for (or earned via status).

But I think you are only looking at the case where “computer says no” and the computer is right. In my examples, the lounge attendant said “no” and was either wrong or was at least contradicted by others in the same airline. The customer is not always right, but they’re not always wrong, either.

And one final experience on moving to earlier flights. For many years I did 10 or 12 day trips/year on QF domestic, usually on the cheapest Y fare. Often it was a route with flights every hour or every half-hour. Without fail, if I was at the airport early for my return, the check-in agent would proactively offer to move me to an earlier flight, very often a “run now and you’ll just make it” choice.

Then suddenly they stopped. I would be at the airport 2 or 3 hours before my scheduled flight and politely ask “Is it possible to get on an earlier flight?” The agent would look at my booking as if it was a dead skunk, say “Oh, no, this is a CHEAP ticket, you can’t change THAT,” shove a BP at me and go to the next customer. Presumably some internal policy changed. Fine, they’re entitled to do that. But there’s no need to be rude about it.

I’m sure I don’t understand all of the actual costs involved in moving me from one 35 minute flight with a cookie and juice to another 35 minute flight with a cookie and juice. But I’m fairly confident I can work out the probability of them selling an expensive walk-up fare on the flight leaving in “run now and you’ll just make it” minutes versus selling a walk-up fare on a flight in 3 hours.

Most recently, I’ve booked flexible fares for my return. Now the policy is that they can’t change those either; I’m meant to ring my TA while standing in line and get them to re-issue the ticket! And again this has been explained quite rudely as if it should be obvious.

I’m not asking for what I’m not entitled to, but as “what I’m entitled to” seems to change without notice (or from person to person within the company), I think “I’m sorry, we used to do that but our policy has changed.” or "The rules are new; I'm not sure, let me check for you" would be better than treating me like I’m a criminal for asking.
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Old Oct 7, 15, 12:28 am
  #135  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
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Sometimes rules may go against some specific cases of "common sense", but they are made, so that, as a whole, revenues are maximized and operations are optimized.
When you have, say, 90% of satisfaction, it takes a heavy investment to grab the additional 1 point. At this stage, the company will weight the additional revenues that it may generate, and the cost of the service before going further.

If you are a top premium player, you can target 100% satisfaction, because your clients are ready to pay for it.

But, EK is not a luxury carrier. It's mass-market, it's growing very fast, and fares are usually cheap. Therefore, they need to have strict rules, which, in few cases, may appear stupid.
Everybody have examples of lost opportunities for "common sense".
To avoid that, you need to have staff that are trained, that have experience, that know very well the functioning, that have networks, that have imbedded sense of service, that are truly dedicated to the company. All this is indeed a cost.
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