Lately, we’ve seen passengers get more and more frustrated with delayed flights, getting angry and even belligerent. While we can look on from the outside and judge these people, putting yourself in their shoes can give you a new perspective on the situation and what they might have actually been dealing with.
While I will never excuse physical violence, or completely going off the rails, I can sympathize with how they must have felt. Much of this thought stems from my return flights from Beijing. I routed oddly to pick up some additional miles. My return flights went as follows PEK to ORD to CLT to PHL. My Charlotte to Philadelphia (CLT to PHL) flight was delayed for a few reasons, and this is where my frustrations kicked in.
This was my last flight of the my trip and despite getting great sleep in business class on my flight out of Beijing, I was still ready to get home at this point. During my layover, I hung out in the Admirals Club literally 2 feet from the flight displays. Prior to heading to the gate I checked both the gate departure displays, as well as my American Airlines app for any update to gate or time of departure.
Nothing had changed, so i headed to the gate about 10 minutes before scheduled boarding. Upon arrival, the board read that the flight was to Syracuse… where was the Philadelphia flight? I then wandered back to the flight information area and saw that I was indeed in the correct place. Back at the gate I noticed that the Syracuse flight was delayed and finally an announcement was made that once the flight had left, our incoming flight was arrive, deplaned passengers, take on the new catering, and then we could board.
This is when I started to get frustrated. There were many open gates, why could they not use another gate to board us? Well after a little while and some searching on my part, I found that the incoming flight was delayed as well. None of this was communicated to us at first. In fact, the entire time we waited, the flight continued to say it was one time… even after we still hadn’t boarded the flight and the departure time had come and gone.
Ultimately we were delayed about 40 minutes, not a huge deal in the grand scheme. The frustration comes out of keeping people in the dark. Not updated passengers, and not even updating the flight to show that it is delayed. The flight delay wasn’t ever added to our flight until we had already boarded the aircraft.
Transparency goes a long way to easing passengers frustrations. Keeping us up to date and letting us know when we can expect to board the aircraft is a big deal. Let us in on what's happening, and we will likely be far more forgiving. This is a lesson many companies need to learn, hiding things from your customers rarely works out for the better. Open, transparent, clear, and as much information as you can give. Trust me, it works wonders.