I have been flying in business around the year, around the world and with many airlines for almost 20 yrs. As I create strategies and new businesses for living, I also keep my eyes and ears open while flying and do My One Man Research how the customer expectation – really my own one – matches with the reality. Marketing communication and talks are not the same than actions and in-flight reality. Or maybe it could be right that some day, right?
Over the last week and half, around 18000 miles three airlines and plenty of airports naturally – that’s pretty god basis for an quick analysis. Airports I am now leaving to wait for some additional words but let the word fly over very fresh and latest comparison between three airlines, somehow very different, at least from their general image point of view; Austrian Airlines, Thai Airways and Emirates. Let the story begins.
Thai Airways, smooth as silk, smiling and polite Asian airlines – that’s the general image, isn’t it? Where as I wrote about positive development on Austrian airlines, I would also go back to this quick response from the Bangkok airport earlier. And here comes the sad point; smile is gone and I think forever. Honestly, the Thai staff members smiled when we boarded and they tried to smile when we left the plane after 14 hours towards Los Angeles. I don’t really get it. How it is so difficult to smile, even to play a few hours theater front of customers who actually paid plenty of money for that play? Sometimes it’s only about smile, so simple really.
As one of my companies is really involved with broadcasting the cuisines, I probably need to say few words about that as well. Or maybe just one; c’mon! Take a look on this and make a comparison on these.
Thai above V.S. Austiran below…not a fair game, right?
Oh’ Thai, Oh’ Thai - why are you doing this? If you don’t know the secrets, why don’t you call the Austrian kitchen, your dear Star Alliance friend and ask how they jumped back to their own gastronomical crown jewels and then bring in best of the Thai cuisine? Why are you serving this mess we known from domestic US flights? Honestly, why? You don’t have to. I am sure you have professional people working at your company understanding the requirement of good service and even good food over those long flights and if you don’t, I am sure you can find some company to create you a Loved Set of in-flight Thai cuisine.
Emirates, full of anticipation and very professionally built customer expectations. Said all that, I know some of my friends cannot stand Emirates but I have never really got why. I strongly believe that the wisest move Emirates ever did was the recruitment of so many professional people from around the world. In most cases Emirates works as perfectly as their brand new airlines – smoothly, much more smooth as Thai silk, actually – and there is nothing to complain. But that’s their challenge too.
As long as everything works it is all nice and beautiful, and much more smiling as Thai. But when something goes wrong, the tradition of taking care of customers is missing, maybe just because everyone has been hired from somewhere else and the the Dubai airport, realy my reference here, is a bazaar designed by Middle-East standards. When the planes are late and there are some technical problems – something that eventually happens with even newer airplanes, unfortunately – passengers are left in clouds but at the airport. I once wrote about this, the inability to make one call if you first class or business class passenger has not arrived to the gate by boarding time. I don’t know, I assume that to be one of the most obvious things to be taken care.
But honestly, Emirates works, no question. I also had a personal chance to experience what happens as passenger suffers of a sudden health attack, unfortunately. Fortunately, the Emirates staff and their doctors – in Phoenix, Arizona I was told - handled the situation so professionally that at least I know that whatever happens I know I’ll be safe. Very important part of flying, I believe. And once again, thank you Katherine and other staff members! You saved my trip and possibly my life, too.
I have already shared my very positive experience with Austrian Airlines so not so much more needed anymore. If I can make one wish, in addition to that Sacher cake of course, I hope plenty of passengers will find Austrian Airlines bringing you plenty of money to be used for even better and newer airplanes. Your attitude to serve is where it is supposed to be, no questions about that. Pleased to Serve, as the Marriott guidelines put it.
I promised a comparison so here it is. What comes to my own personal customer experience Emirates and Austrian are equal, both doing things right and at the right time, both have challenges with their home airport but that’s not their fault, frankly. And it’s harder to change set-ups of steel and concrete as the behavior of in-flight staff. Thai Airways is nowadays a strange combination of expectations of smiling service and reality of more low-budget airline type of set-up. Even your website looks like that, I think. I don’t know, maybe it’s only the too high expectations of the smiling airline? Maybe those times are just gone?
But one more thing – connectivity! This modern world is about communication, that’s why you are reading this, right? And this is the subject making Austrian Airlines to win this round at least. They are on twitter (@_austrian), they answer emails - even that did not do that during the Icelandic volcano mess - they seems to browse for any messaging linked to their name and service, they are active – something you need to be in this modern world. For reason or another, it’s pretty complicated to even find an email address you can contact Emirates customer relations and actually, I guess the only way is to log in as member of Skywards and then send response. Please correct if I am wrong but that has been the case. Ref. Twitter, I still don’t know whether Emirates is using the Twitter or is it even their (@Flying_Emirates)?
Thai, again, why? I know there are plenty of professional people for online and social media in Thailand so please go and ask for consulting help! The reality check is so easy; go to Thai Airways’s website and click the Twitter logo and you will be taken to Twitter.com, not their Twitter account! Click the Facebook logo and same happens! DearCRM and marketing people at Thai; have you ever visited your own website?
Three airlines, 18000 miles, four corner seats and just based on the activity and connectivity I am now announcing Austrian Airlines as the winner for this round. I strongly believe customer relations are all about communication and recognition and in this area someone at Austrian Airlines has made his or her homework so well so big cheers for that!
P.S. Today it was announced that American Airlines might see the Final Curtain. Personally I have only positive memories of AA as they once saved our family holiday and took us under their wings from London towards Los Angeles when Star Alliance member Air New Zealand jumped, or flew deeply into stupidity. But that was years ago so maybe something has done wrongly since then?