I am officially in love with Air Canada’s London Heathrow team. Just a week ago, they appeared like angels at the end of a painfully long travel experience. (See the post). This morning, they again delivered a standout customer experience – a stark contrast to the experience I’d had just five hours earlier at the Air Egypt counter.
I had been in the Cairo airport trying to give Air Egypt a bit more money – paying to upgrade a ticket to business class from Cairo to London. The first counter I went to was the ‘ticket counter.’ Seemed like a logical place to start. The young woman looked at my stuff, shook her head and said, “It was issued by Air Canada, so we can’t change it.” When I told her I had done it the last time I was on this flight, she just shook her head. She didn’t even want to bother. When I persisted, she finally asked a co-worker, who nodded. Of course they can change it, he said, and proceeded to make the arrangements. She shrugged, and went about her business, happy that it wasn’t her having to do the ‘extra work.’
After fifteen minutes of filling out paperwork, he turned to me and said, “Go to counter 322 to pay.” I reluctantly left my bags and my passport, and walked two aisles over to counter 322. The sign above said “Cashier.” Two men were sitting their looking bored. One looked at me, shook his head and said, “Not here.” I told him that I had been sent there by the nice man in the ticket booth, her just looked at me flatly and repeated, “not here.” Again, I persisted. Finally the second man in the booth said, “counter xxxxx.” He stood and gave me a ‘follow-me gesture’ and said, “Come.” I followed him three aisles over to a counter that said “Business Class.”
I finally found someone in this booth who was willing to take my money. I handed him my Diners Club card, he inserted it into the machine, and handed it to me to type in my pin #. I did, and we waited for the machine to make the wireless connection. After a minute, he looked at the machine, then at me, and said. “You have another card?” I told him there was nothing wrong with the card, and asked him to try again. This was clearly going to be too much work for him, and he assumed I was just being difficult. He jammed my card back in the machine, and began typing on it. I was waiting for him to hand it back to me for my pin again, but he just held on to it, and stared at it. After a while, he shook his head and said, “There’s a cash machine over there – you go use it.” It was my turn to stare at him. I finally said, very slowly and very firmly. “There is nothing wrong with this card. Try it again, and this time do it properly.” He shrugged his shoulders, re-input the card, handed it to me for my pin, then we waited for 10 seconds. Success.
My whole ordeal at Air Egypt lasted about 40 minutes. It should have been 10. All because, at every turn, individuals were looking for the easy way out, instead of what was best for the customer. Fast-forward now, to the departure lounge in London’s Heathrow airport.
As I sit down in the crowded departure lounge, waiting to board my flight from London to
Toronto, I realize with horror that I had left my Kindle e-reader in the security area. (You now have to take those out of your bag along with laptops for screening). I walk over to one of the Air Canada agents and explain the problem. Sarah gave me a dazzling smile, and said in a cheerful English accent, “Not to worry, let’s see what we can do!” Moments later, she had contacted security, confirmed it was there, and confirmed that someone would be down to retrieve it. I was ready for a sprint to security and back, but she said, “You just sit down in the plane – I’ll go and get it for you.”
I did, and she did – bringing it to the plane, and apologizing to me for the inconvenience! (Like it was somehow her fault I was stupid enough to leave it in security.). Where Sarah could easily have taken the easy way out, as I suspect the people at Air Egypt would have done, she chose the more difficult route. The result – why would I fly with anyone else?
I’m finally home. A few side trips to Montreal and Toronto, but then off to see what customer service looks like in LA. Then, let’s see if Princess Cruise Lines does a better job than the last time!