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In the good old days, traveling was less stressful. But after the disaster of 9/11, flying especially has become much more problematic. Baggage screenings, metal and chemical detectors, full-body scanners, and manual pat-downs are between you and your flight. A child can be treated as a suspect as well as elderly grandparents. A chocolate bar, juice box, or favorite toy or electronic gadget are treated as possible threats.
Our dignity is placed in the hands of the TSA workers, who may treat us as if we are criminal by default. With the power of social media, we become aware of many upsetting incidents, such as questionable searches, in-depth pat-downs of children, injuring passengers, or irresponsible bumped flights.
To top it off, the airline industry is suffering from a lack of good customer service, both on the ground and in the sky. Passengers deal with rude counter staff before boarding, as well as issues with flight attendants. And if you are traveling with a person with special needs? Be forewarned that not even children with autism are exempt from aggravation.
These episodes have caused large airline companies to get on the nerves of customers. The article below by Christopher Elliott expresses the negativity that people experience on their travel routes.
When it comes to respecting, sometimes little things make a big difference for travelers. For Don Brauninger, it’s travel industry employees who replace the
words “you’re welcome” with “no problem”. Brauninger, a manager for an emergency services company in Haymarket, Virginia, has heard it from airline
agents, hotel clerks, and car rental employees. “No problem” – as if his patronage and his presence might be a hardship. “It’s my customer service
bugaboo,” he says. It also raises a question or two about modern-day travel: Has respect between the travel industry and the people it serves deteriorated
to such a point that we, the customers, are a problem? And if so, what can we do about it?
Respect is a hot topic in travel again. For any Business to succeed they will have a marketing plan to attract customers attention. Big businesses like Uber
and then Frontier Airlines started soliciting tips from passengers. A tip is a gesture of respect – an acknowledgment that the customer is happy with the
service. But for travel experts, soliciting a tip is a mile marker in the race to the bottom. Airlines and other travel companies have cut services to such an
extent that customers no longer feel respected. They say it’s insulting for companies to ask for a gratuity when they’ve reduced service to the point where
it’s almost unrecognizable from a few years ago. “Will I be courteous?” asked etiquette expert Lisa Grotts. “You bet. Will I say please
and thank you? Always. Will I be tipping? No.” In other words, we do have a problem.
Travelers accuse travel companies of starting this tailspin and say they no longer respect their customers. “Airlines have continued to create new reasons to
charge fees and they have begun charging for what was once free,” says Kryss Shane, a frequent traveler, and social worker. “It feels like a racket and the
flyer is getting taken advantage of.” Shane sees the effects whenever she travels. It’s the tense moments when passengers take their frustrations out on
flight attendants. Crew members must deal with the backlash, even though they aren’t directly responsible for reductions in service.
It isn’t just the cuts, but also the constant upselling that bothers travelers and underscores the lack of respect. It’s all the extra charges on the plane – a fee
for a carry-on bag, a fee for a seat assignment, a fee for early boarding. But it’s also the prices at hotels: the $7 bottle of water and the mandatory $25-a-
night “resort” fee.
“When a consumer feels nickel and dimed when the travel experience takes a back seat to profit, then respect suffers,” says Ted Scofield, an attorney and
author based in New York who travels frequently. “When you are measured and promoted and possibly compensated based on your ability to drive profits,
customers become cash machines.”
Scofield says the incentives are all wrong. It shouldn’t be about maximizing return on investment, but about maximizing the customer’s travel experience.
Maybe we’re the ones who have lost respect Talk to folks on the other side of the counter, and it’s clear there’s another perspective.
“The lack of respect that I have seen is firm with the customer,” says Patricia Hajifotiou, who owns Olive Odysseys, which offers tours of European
“People are harried, out of time and so much more often feel entitled. And that adds up to a real lack of respect towards the person on the other side of the
Hajifotiou says a little patience and politeness would easily restore the lost respect. “Say ‘hello’ or wish them a good morning and then ask in a calm voice,
clearly what it is you need. You will find so many better outcomes for yourself,” she says.
It’s clear that asking for a tip won’t bring back the respect between flight attendants, hotel workers, and car rental companies and their customers. Nor,
probably, will platitudes from experts. “Respect breeds respect,” explains Beverly Randolph, founder of the Protocol School of Indianapolis. “Companies
must foster a culture of respecting one another from the top down. In respectful workplaces, employees are more engaged and productive;
they’ll also be less stressed and genuinely happier – translating into happier travelers” Shamila Nduriri, a frequent traveler who founded Dalasini, an African
jewelry company, agrees. For her, it comes down to observing the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” she says.
“Unfortunately, until people view others as equals, and act accordingly, this will be extremely difficult to achieve.
Nevertheless, it starts with you and a hope that your good attitude will be contagious and others pay it forward.” Then again, maybe we’ll know that we
respect each other when people like Brauninger stop hearing “no problem” when they’re at the ticket counter – and get a
“you’re welcome” instead.
How do customers rate them? Check the American Customer Satisfaction Index for a list of top-rated companies. Last year’s top performing airlines were Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue.
How do employees rate the company? Happy employees offer a respectful service. A Glassdoor ranking of employees found that Southwest was the top travel company, followed by Delta Air Lines and Kempton Hotels & Restaurants.
How does the government rate them? The Department of Transportation publishes monthly report cards for airlines. The annual Airline Quality Rating summarizes the data into a ranking. Last year’s winners: Alaska, Delta, and JetBlue.
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