On a recent sojourn, I had to carry a rather cumbersome item onboard a flight: a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Edward Cullen. It was a gift intended for a dear friend, to be given during a destination birthday celebration. I did my due diligence, contacted customer service ahead of time, got the standard “policy” email just before my trip and crossed my fingers that all would go well. After all, the item was little more than a large piece of cardboard (folded in half, it was about 3′ long, 2′ wide), weighing only a couple of pounds, and thinner than my Macbook Air. It was essentially a poster. Certainly, something could be done to get it from point A to B.
I was pleasantly surprised. Southwest Airlines not only accommodated the request, but did so cheerfully and made the experience fun. Airline staff commented on how “cute” he was, waved me to the back of the plane, and allowed me to slide the cardboard behind the back row seats on two flights. For the duration, the item caused no inconvenience or harm to anyone, it arrived without so much as a ding and the gift was a huge hit.
|Eating baklava in the Denver airport with Edward and Rollerbag Sis.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.
On the return flight, my friend had the opposite experience on a competing discount carrier, Sun Country Airlines. The airline refused to allow her to transport it back home. Edward had to be abandoned at the airport.
Of course, policies exist for a reason. Yet Sun Country Airlines sent us a clear message: that we were an inconvenience. Out of the wrapper, Edward was 1/2 his original width, smaller, lighter and easier to accommodate and he took up far less room than a stroller or musical instrument–both of which frequently are allowed on flights.
Good customer service isn’t complicated. It’s about taking care of people, making them feel important and showing that they are valued. Southwest showed me (and told me, in flight) that they realize I have many choices when it comes to air travel, and they want me back. In turn, they won my loyalty.
I fly Sun Country in two weeks. Moving forward, I’ll fly Southwest instead.
What is the most inconvenient item you’ve brought on a airplane? How did the airline employees react?
What airlines have earned your loyalty? How did they do it?