Flight Delayed

As we near the end of summer here in the States, and many are in the middle of what is a heavy traveling season. Whether its for a vacation with the family, a conference or workshop, or just business as usual. Many of you have caught a plane or two or more in over the past few months, and probably have more travel plans in the future.

For most people this is something that they dread. We’re all too familiar with the frustrations of flying: expensive tickets, delays, long lines, grouchy employees, lost luggage, wall-to-wall people in the terminals, more delays.

Sadly, the airline industry has become a necessary evil for most of us.

Back in March, Al St. Germain, Global Director for Airline Practice at Landor Associates, wrote an article titled Said and done: Stories from on board the airplane. He highlighted many of the overwhelming problems that the industry is facing, as well indicating how important an asset customer service is in the mix.

I clipped out his tips on developing great customer service because of how hand and hand customer service is to the concept of Human Talk. Who better to give a company a human voice than the people on the frontlines interacting with customers on a daily basis?

Germain writes:

What makes great customer service?


The bigger you get, the harder it is to achieve, but nothing makes a customer happier than knowing what to expect every time they step on board. Every time a customer buys a ticket, it’s a promise from your brand. No one likes a broken promise.


The airline industry is a classic example of employees rarely experiencing what its customers do (pass-riding does not count!). It takes significant effort to ensure that folks truly understand what a customer may be going through. And in the often high-stress world of travel, a little empathy goes a long way.


Wonderful customer experiences are the result of a lot of hard work behind the scenes. As a frontline employee, it’s much easier to create better interactions when your product works, the process is designed to make sense, and most of all, when your efforts are recognized by your leadership.


While not everyone can (or should) be hip and cool, everyone needs to stand for something. What is the uniquely memorable aspect of your experience? Being “friendly” is great, but I guarantee every other airline has “friendly” in its service standards. What will your customers talk about when they get to their destination?

As you will notice, one thing that didn’t make it to Germain’s list is the need to explain break down the airlines cost structure to the passengers. I wonder what airlines are thinking when they decide to clutter procedures with extra fees for passengers to agree to, like extra costs for carry-on luggage, for example. Then there is the rabid slash and burn of any extra service that used to be included in the ticket price.

We all know that the price of gas is rising. Therefore, anyone with half a brain would realize that airline ticket prices will also rise. No reason to inconvenience and annoy passengers even more with added steps and decisions to make. All it does is add stress to what is already a stressful situation.

One airliner that seems to get it is Virgin Airlines. They realize that a little humorful Human Talk can go a long way.

Virgin Airlines Bag Limit

Photo Credit: Flickr 

Virgin Baggage Carousel Rides

Photo Credit: Flickr

Virgin Airlines Jet Engine

Photo Credit: Flickr 


This post is part of the Human Talk series. 

If you would like to contribute your good or bad Human Talk examples, Email me. I’ll accept photos, stories, videos, audio, etc. and give credit where credit is due.