In his magnificent speech in the movie, The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin employs his audience not to let the powers that be treat them as cattle. Bravo Charlie!
Let's stick it to airlines who treat us like cattle
All too often, humans are treated as neither they, nor cattle, should be treated – especially by airlines.
I was recently due to fly back to Australia from Malaysia, departing Kuala Lumpur at 4.35pm and arriving in Perth, via Indonesia, at 10.30pm that same Friday night. In the end, the plane was delayed in Kuala Lumpur and Denpasar -- not leaving Malaysia until much later than scheduled, at 9.30pm. We didn't arrive in Perth until 6am on the Saturday morning.
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I was furious, not just because of the delay and how it disrupted my sleep and plans for Saturday, but also because neither the airport nor the airline advised anyone of the delay. We learned nothing until they were questioned by customers -- and told by customers that good manners alone dictate that we be advised.
I was also annoyed that the airline staff lied to passengers about the issues and, until pushed very hard, refused to offer any form of compensation. In the end, only a handful of passengers -- those who complained very vocally -- were offered entry into the business class lounge until the plane was ready for boarding. The airline had previously offered the complaining passengers $8 to buy a meal, while non-complaining customers were offered nothing but a 90-minute late notification of the delay.
This airline, Malindo Air, treated its customers with contempt. That said, they are not alone in this regard.
I was given to reflect on how so many airlines treat its passengers like cattle so often. Even the high-profile national airlines such as Qantas, MAS, Garuda and Air New Zealand treat their customers as if they are doing them a favour. Else>>>ten than not, this applies equally to business and economy-class passengers,
When I undertake with a client to start a job at an agreed time, complete that job at an agreed time and complete my work to agreed specifications, they would not expect to pay if I did not deliver. Why should I be paid if I don't deliver as agreed?
But airlines seem to think they are exempt from this kind of commercial accountability. They all seem to think that they can depart as late as they like, freely lie about the reasons and pay no penalty. They seem to think that they can arrive as late as they like, blame everything but themselves for it and pay no penalty. They seem to think that they can forget my vegetarian mean, run out of mineral water or fail to deliver anything else, and pay no penalty.
Airlines seem to think they are a law unto themselves and, to a point, they are. They take your money up front, make it almost impossible to get a refund, make themselves as unable as possible, teach their staff to lie with alacrity and demonstrate evasive tactics that would make the military proud, while all behaving much the same, making it difficult for passengers to identify a superior alternative. They are, if not a law unto themselves, a cartel unto themselves.
Everyone I know who has ever been in a plane has a war story to tell. Most can sit around all night telling them. There are hundreds of times that my flights have run late and the airline has blamed the weather, the airport, stray dogs or a flock of geese, rather that admitting it did no plan ahead, foresee issues or do its job as it should be done. I also have memories of special meals being forgotten, food running out, failure to load food in the first place, lost luggage, planes taxiing before being refuelled and having to return to the dock to remedy the situation, having to change planes due to the late identification of a fault and so on, and so on.
Worse than all of these incidences, however, has been the refusal of any airline to take full responsibility for what has occurred -- and take genuine and sincere steps to make amends.
I have no respect for the management of most airlines and the way they train their staff to avoid taking responsibility, making amends and genuinely trying to make sure that the customer gets what they pay for.
Tell us your war stories!
What problems have you had on one or more of our airlines?